Hangovers aren't pretty, and they're almost never subtle. They aren't things we really plan for--it's not like our calendars will reflect being hung over; your phone will never go off with a reminder that you're supposed to be hung over at any given moment. They aren't planned events; they're eventualities.
Everybody has his or her own personal remedy for hangovers, usually something makeshift or delivery on the morning (or afternoon) after a night of forgotten, hazy debauchery. There are a few common threads among most people's methods, barring the extreme (I still refuse to chug pickle juice): grease and protein. You have to have something to sop up the giant, alcoholic mess wreaking havoc in your body, after all.
If you're lucky enough to have a friend (you know, the person who took care of your drunk ass and will now continue to do so) who'll drive you around, here are some local suggestions for places to have the kind soul take you to.
5. China West Express in Tustin
Tucked into a triangle between the avenues McFadden, Newport and Walnut in Tustin is this little gem of greasy Chinese deliciousness. China West Express is the exact kind of hole-in-the-wall, inconspicuous operation most desirable when hung over; it makes no pretension to be anything than what it is. Just like you, you dreary-eyed, sluggish, poor excuse for a functional human being. 17292 McFadden Ave., Ste. E, Tustin, (714) 544-2222.
4. Mexican Food
I'd give a more specific recommendation, but in Orange County, there are just way too many great options. To narrow it down, though, make sure you don't go anywhere that might attract too much attention--after all, you probably look as bad as you feel. Chains such as Chipotle (which isn't even really Mexican food, but that's an argument for later) and Tacos & Co. are okay, but chances are you already have a favorite hole-in-the-wall down the street from your house. A tip, though: If you opt for Taqueria Zamora in Santa Ana, one of my personal favorites, you might want to wait in the car while a friend goes in to order for you--between the radio and the soccer match likely blasting on the television, it could get a bit overwhelming. 3121 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 557-0907.
3. The Shore House Cafe in Newport
I once made the mistake of going to an IHOP while hung over. Mistake. The combination of bright, friendly décor, brunching families and screaming children sent my partied-out brain into a shame spiral, and I ended up having an existential crisis over my hash browns. Denny's is a good alternative, but the Shore House is an Orange County standard that serves as a catch-all for hangover cravings--as long as you can stand the sight of alcohol. If the old "hair of the dog" trick is your method, this place is also a functioning bar. If you weren't here the night before, you'll end up here the morning after. 801 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 673-7726.
2. Pho 54 in Westminster
They say that pho is one of the best cures for a hangover, and if you're anywhere close to Westminster, you've got to go to Pho 54. Even disregarding the fizzy drinks, which you get free with your food and are sure to calm the storm inside your gut, you'll enjoy the most categorically shady pho joint without risking making yourself any sicker than you already were. Just make sure you bring cash; there's an ATM at the front of the place, but with a sign that releases Pho 54 of any responsibility should you have complications with your bank account after you use it. If you're absolutely strapped for cash, there's a CVS across the street (it took my friends and I a surprising amount of time to figure out we could get cash back and not risk our life savings going missing). 15420 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 839-9096.
1. Laventina's Big Cheese Pizza
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My personal hangover remedy is pizza, and though I prefer to get it delivered, Laventina's is easily the best soother of the alcohol-soaked soul. If you didn't come here the night before, in advance of being hung over (or even if you did, come again), your body will thank you for putting mass amounts of protein and bread into your stomach. If you can wrap your head (or stomach) around the wings, get those, too. 2819 Newport Blvd., Ste. B, Newport Beach, (949) 675-1980.