Always lost in conversations about OC diversity is our European folk. People know about Anaheim's German heritage and probably remember the Segerstroms came from Sweden, but what about the Poles of Yorba Linda? Costa Mesa's Russians? Stanton's Romanians? The Danes, Ukrainians, Greeks and Swiss spread across OC, uniting only for the Orange International Street Fair? Over the past 20 years, they've set up churches, ethnic markets and restaurants to sustain their own and entice the rest of us.
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The latest community to step into the mainstream are Czechs, with OC's first full-fledged Czech restaurant: Milan's Grill. It hedges its bets by offering Italian dishes held over from the previous tenant, but you should ignore those good dishes because before you is pure Czechia. Hockey is inevitably on the flat-screen, and jerseys from the Kings and the national team hang on walls (though not, interestingly enough, of NHL legend Jaromir Jagr). On tap and in bottles are Czech beers such as Staropramen, Budweiser Budvar and Krusovice. And on the menu are some of the heartiest dishes this side of the late, great La Palma Chicken Pie Shop.
You know you're in for a heaping good time when the most famous Czech dish is fried cheese: smazeny syr is a gooey-crunchy block accompanied by potato slices. Order that alongside the cesnecka, a powerful garlic soup enlivened with marjoram. And then come the actual entrées: fluffy schnitzels, beautiful gulash, pork covered in cream sauces, with almost all dishes accompanied by massive flour dumplings that resemble slices of pale pork roll. Regardless of what you order, you get a couple of slices of homemade bread flavored with caraway seeds—the best tableside bread in OC not made by Dean Kim.
This isn't food for the light-stomached: Just a couple of bites at Milan's, and you'll ask for a to-go box. And that's fine. Enjoy yet another reminder why OC's the best place on Earth—and end with an impossibly flaky apple strudel out of The Great Czech Bake Off.
Milan's Grill, 1721 W. Katella Ave., Ste. G, Anaheim, (714) 254-1940; www.milansgrill.com.