Grub Guide

In the next two months, the Citizens for Constitutional Rights coalition vows to ask all of Costa Mesa's estimated 7,000 businesses to put up a sign expressing opposition to Mayor Allan Mansoor's immigrant-nabbing ways or face a boycott. Visit the following before it becomes a liberal faux pas.



¢ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less than $10!

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$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡Eres muy rico!

While the Avanti menu is strictly vegetarian, with faux meats and even cheese, the steak-and-potatoes crowd will hardly notice or care. Every entrée, appetizer and dessert springs with flavor and heftiness; is there anything more mainstream than a morning cup of joe washing down crunchy waffles? 259 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-2224. $$CAPTAIN'S TABLE
Located within the Orange Coast College campus and run entirely by OCC culinary students, the Captain's Table is the supreme example of students loving their homework. The menu changes from week to week, but all the entrée/main course/dessert meals are under $10. Their take on Thai and New England lobster is spectacular. 2701 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-5835, ext. 4. $COSTA MESA OMELETTE PARLOR
Good job, Costa Mesans: when Vons Supermarket threatened to shutter the Omelette Parlor in late 2003, y'all rallied to save this blue-collar haven (you should've done the same for Kona Lanes, though). Now the rest of us can continue to scratch our bellies in bewildered satisfaction after eating one of the Omelette Parlor's fabulously stuffed omelets named after some long-dead Costa Mesa City Council member—give me the one with cucumbers. 179 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-0740. $FRANK'S PHILADELPHIA
There are no frills at Frank's Philadelphia when it comes to their Philly cheesesteak: humongous loaf (even the small is ginormous), beef bits chopped into portions so teensy you can absorb them through your fingertips, grilled pepperoncinis that remain juicy and fleshy even after meeting cast iron, and melted mozzarella that pours into your innards like milk. 2244 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-8725. $

Sausage is but one appetizing aspect of Globe European Delicatessen, which has been hawking German, Dutch and other European produce from the same address for more than three decades. There's beer, jams, chocolates, even wafers that taste like fruit. Load up on these and other goods—if you're a sucker for pickled herring, the fine liberal German weekly Der Spiegel or cheese wheels large enough to fire from mortars, Globe European Delicatessen is your lollipop. 1928 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-3784; $

Most of the people here are college students from the equidistant Orange Coast College, Santa Ana College and UC Irvine campuses desperate for nightlife, attracted to Graffitea by its 2 a.m. last call and sleep-staving espressos. Teas are liquid defibrillators; the smoothies and snow bubble drinks are remarkably flavorful, from nutty almond and zesty lychee to hearty mango and strawberry. Though students won't get much homework done at Graffitea, they can relax knowing the smoothies will mitigate the summer school to come. 3030 S. Bristol, Costa Mesa, (714) 436-5798. ¢

This is the only Soviet-centric business for the local Russian community, and the three stout women who run the store ensure their creations don't disappoint. Produce is the primary reason the doorbell jingles throughout the day—Armenian rose-petal preserves, buttery Slovenian cheese, bubbly Ukrainian apple soda and a funky Georgian caviar. 3015 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-3354. $

The food is scrumptious, and their buffet lunch (open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) is accessible to those of us whose incomes are in inverse proportion to our big appetites. Dinner entrées include the stuff of dreams: a half-dozen lamb dishes in a variety of sauces and curries ranging from mild to fiery; tandoori quail, kebabs, lentil soups and fried samosas. 688 W. Baker St., Ste. 8, Costa Mesa, (714) 668-9661. $


Plum's Café is the county's premier place to enjoy the timber-soaked flavors of the Pacific Northwest. It's also what independent dining should be: a spare design, gallery-deserving artwork and owner/chef Kim Jorgenson's ever-evolving experiments. We like the apple-infused pancakes, salmon platters redolent of the Chinook and the marionberry cheesecake that forever elevates marionberry to our favorite obscure fruit—barobo, take a hike! 369 E. 17th St., Ste. B, Costa Mesa, (949) 722-7586. $$


The hole-in-the-strip-mall takes special care with its pupusas, which have a crispy yet malleable crust encasing thick, sticky cheese. Meanwhile, an oily, impossibly sugary plantain lying alongside refried beans is like a battle between the lush tropics and the spartan plains of El Salvador on the tongue; a side of sweet sour cream negotiates a tasteful truce. 1940 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-2952. $

Sushi Shibucho: artistry in a strip mall. Next door? In-N-Out. 590 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-2677. $$

This well-kept restaurant excels with such supper-club standards as steak Diane, salmon Provençal and beef Wellington by expanding on these dishes without compromising their integrity. The flame-broiled pork tenderloin, classically marinated with olive oil, garlic and rosemary, also comes with a dab of sweet soy ginger sauce. A bracing sweet-and-sour sauce comes alongside the usual honey mustard and ketchup for the sturdy, flavorful beer-battered fries. 2675 Irvine Ave., Ste. D, Costa Mesa, (949) 574-4995. $$

Visit Orange County's best damn dining guide on our Food page (look in the Go box). If there are any bugs in it, e-mail Gustavo at


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