We continue where we left off last week with our one-sentence reviews.
DINNER FOR TWO:
¢ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less than $10!
$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10-$20
$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20-$40
$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡Eres muy rico!
SANTA MONICA SEAFOOD CO.
Tucked inconspicuously in the corner is a takeout counter with cheap chowders, fried seafood, sandwiches, stir-fry and grilled fish. 154 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 574-8862; www.santamonicaseafood.com. $$SEASIDE BAKERY
Nothing soaks up the booze like a nice warm croissant stuffed with ham and Cheddar cheese. 2108 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, (949) 675-2533. ¢SHEHNAI
Brea's best Indian restaurant, decked out in fancy linen tablecloths and Ganesh water fountains, serves hot plates of tandoori, vindaloo, curry and kebabs at unfancy prices. 705 E. Birch St., Brea, (714) 990-8989. $$THE STAND
The special Oriental burrito's ginger- and tamarind-doused vegetables hint at new fusion possibilities for Mexican cuisine: Sino-Sinaloan. 238 Thalia St., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-8101. $
This restaurant primarily serves German-inspired food, but such dishes as the chalet fischteller (sautéed shrimp, scallops and clams in a white wine-tarragon cream sauce and served on linguine) and the pfeffersteak (filet of beef tenderloin sautéed in clarified butter on a four peppercorn-whiskey cream sauce) display interesting Italian and French touches. 216 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 492-7931. $$
THAI BISTRO CUISINE
Orange County's Thai curry king will surprise you: Thai Bistro Cuisine in Yorba Linda, a saffron-colored, porcelain-plated place that offers an incredible eight, including gentle red, sweet pineapple, musky eggplant and a masman curry that combines Buddhist cuisine's austerity with the heartiness of Islamic food to create the best interreligious mixer since the Nicene Council. 21560 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 693-2888. $
TONY'S LITTLE ITALY
They also sell subs and such Italian-American classics as spaghetti, ravioli and mostaccioli, but the focus is on the pizza—it says so on their window. 1808 N. Placentia Ave., Ste. B, Placentia, (714) 528-2159; www.tonyslittleitaly.com. $
Although the food menu isn't particularly extraordinary—an unimaginative, though tasteful, tour of northern and southern Italian favorites, with weekly chefs' menus of American fare—Tannins' wine execution and presentation make the place a must-dine. 27211 Ortega Hwy., Ste. C, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 218-3560. $$
TOOBER'S CHIPS, DIPS, AND CHEESE STEAK
The nacho cheese steak—a U-boat of a sub, parts Philadelphia and East Los Angeles—is the Liberty Hall of Toober's, a clean-kept Huntington Beach hoagie haven that, in a moral world, would exist on the beachfront rather than the asphalt river that is central Beach Boulevard. 19092 Beach Blvd., Ste. T, Huntington Beach, (714) 968-2299. $
UGLY MUG CAFÉ
Funky coffee joint with hair-salon interior. 261 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 997-5610; www.theuglymug.com. $
UNCLE AL'S SEAFOOD
Though most of the entrées appear mundane on the menu, "Uncle Al" Fadonougbo's massive-but-delicate hands combine Cajun complexity with West African subtlety to inject some much-needed energy into Long Beach's soulless soul-food scene. 400 E. First St., Long Beach, (562) 436-2553. $
VAN HANH VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
Vietnamese cuisine includes a proud tofu tradition, and Van Hanh's menu represents its full, finest flowering. 9455 Bolsa Ave., Ste. D, Westminster, (714) 531-4661. ¢
Order the braciole alla barese (pancetta, garlic and pecorino cheese rolled into a tender flank steak) or the ab-fab rotolo di spinaci. 3966 Barranca Pkwy., Ste. B, Irvine, (949) 654-1155. $$
WHOLE PITA GREEK ISLAND GRILLE
Pitas are Doric-big; the casseroles are hearty, meaty and teeming with layers of flavor. 3940 S. Bristol St., Ste. 113, Santa Ana, (714) 708-3000. $
Highly recommended: sizzling three flavors (sliced shrimp, chicken and beef) and orange chicken (deep-fried breast of chicken drenched in sweet hot sauce). 23684 El Toro Rd., Ste. U, Lake Forest, (949) 837-1181. $
Eighteen whoppers are flipped at this Santa Ana foodmark, but the best is a triple cheeseburger that could out-$6-burger Carl's any day—and at only $4.60. 2860 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 545-8219; www.yellowbasket.com.$
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Order their steak Palomilla, a husky chunk of marinated steak topped with a garlicky garnish called mojo. 550 Pacific Coast Hwy., Ste. 111, Seal Beach, (562) 430-4422. $$
Their 1,000-year-old family kibbe recipe has been passed down to Zena's charming owner, Shouki, who bakes the lean ground beef, cracker wheat, onions and mild spices just like his father's father's father's father's father did. 2094 N. Tustin St., Orange, (714) 279-9511. $
ZOV'S BISTRO AND BAKERY
In his 1992 thriller Hideaway, Dean Koontz's main characters dined at Zov's on calamari and black-bean soup that was "such a perfect sensual experience that the monochromatic bistro seemed ablaze with color." 17440 E. 17th St., Tustin, (714) 838-8855. $$
Need a restaurant recommendation before our damn dining guide is up and running again? E-mail Gustavo at email@example.com, and he'll answer within the day!