Restaurant Reviews

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Colombian Cuisine Back In OC!
[Hole In the Wall] Colombian Cuisine at Mitzi's Kountry Kitchen in Laguna Hills reintroduces the hearty South American cuisine to OC stomachs
, January 06, 2011
My two-decades-long OC culinary dreams were answered in 2010. I wrote in this column about six months ago about the opening of Tacos Jerez in... More >>
Bruxie Is a Euro-Smash Bruxie Is a Euro-Smash
The waffles are Belgian at this Old Towne Orange eatery, but the stuffing is pure Americana
, December 23, 2010
For a city that can’t agree on a common language, the people of Brussels are united in pride on the waffle, their defining regional foodstuff. To... More >>
Nina's Indian British Grocery Stocks the Commonwealth Cupboard
[Hole In the Wall] Indian, South African, Pakistani, even Sri Lankan specialties abound at this Lake Forest shop
, December 23, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I met a nice South African lady; the conversation, naturally, turned to food. She was impressed I knew about African Hut,... More >>
Happy Family Mocks Meat Happy Family Mocks Meat
The Buddhist vegetarian fare might help you forget the beloved Costa Mesa Chinese restaurant it replaced
, December 16, 2010
More than six months have passed since Happy Family Vegetarian replaced May Garden in Costa Mesa, but practically every other person who walks in... More >>
Fond of Fonda La Meche
[Hole In the Wall] Mexico City-style dishes abound in this tiny, homey Stanton dive
, December 16, 2010
You know a Mexican restaurant is ballsy when it blasts Javier Solís. The legendary ranchera crooner nowadays is only heard in households, his... More >>
Olive Gourmet Grocer Is the Anti-Whole Foods Olive Gourmet Grocer Is the Anti-Whole Foods
This Long Beach storefront offers specialty products and delicious hot food without demanding your paycheck. Imagine that!
, December 09, 2010
Let’s face it, foodies: Eating at Whole Foods is a crapshoot. Sure, potential gems lurk beneath those sneeze-guarded buffet islands and behind... More >>
Umami Mongolian Grill Has Pinoy Panache
[Hole In the Wall] This Buena Park eatery masters the stagnant culinary genre and even advances it
, December 09, 2010
“This is just like Mexican flan,” I told the young Filipina waitress about the slab of leche flan she placed before me.“No, it’s not!” she... More >>
Mariscos Licenciado #2 Turns Both the Flavor and the Volume to 11 Mariscos Licenciado #2 Turns Both the Flavor and the Volume to 11
The Sinaloan seafood specialties here will oom-pah their way into your heart
, December 02, 2010
If you follow this rag faithfully, you should know this is a re-review of Mariscos Licenciado #2, an Anaheim restaurant Gustavo has long... More >>
Thanh Tam Is a Corner Bakery
[Hole In the Wall] Visit this Garden Grove Vietnamese star for big bánh mìs
, December 02, 2010
If you want to show out-of-towners modern-day Garden Grove—not the city that was once America’s fastest-growing ’burb, not the faded glory of the... More >>
Liang's Kitchen's Lines Don't Lie Liang's Kitchen's Lines Don't Lie
The Taiwanese fare at this new Irvine eatery is worth the wait, and comes with a side of history
, November 25, 2010
They say you need money to make money. You also need customers to attract customers. Witness this principle in action at Liang’s Kitchen, a... More >>
Mondo Molotes at the El Moctezuma Empire
[Hole In the Wall] El Moctezuma Nos. 1, 2, and 3 all sell great Oaxacan food
, November 25, 2010
Not all locations in chains are created equal—consider the El Moctezuma empire of Oaxacan restaurants in Orange County. Its original location in... More >>
A Family Affair at Les Amis in Fullerton A Family Affair at Les Amis in Fullerton
From grandma to grandchild, the Montecristos keep this bistro humming with their Lebanese meals
, November 18, 2010
Everyone gets hummus at Les Amis, even if they don’t ask for it. It’s just a thimble of the paste, accompanied by a paper basket of shatteringly... More >>
A New York Slice of Mind at Al's New York Café
[Hole In the Wall] Costa Mesa pizzeria offers a beautiful slice of the Big Apple
, November 18, 2010
When it comes to the physics of a New York-style pizza slice, you want a slice that droops—but just slightly, just at the cheese-heavy tip,... More >>
O Fine Japanese Cuisine Pleases O Fine Japanese Cuisine Pleases
Visit this Laguna Beach sushi place for rolls and traditional Japanese food
, November 11, 2010
The way I see it, there are two kinds of sushi-eaters in this world: those who abhor rolls and those who adore them. By the same token, there are... More >>
Drunk Food 24 Hours a Day at Alejandro's in Costa Mesa
[Hole in the Wall] This drive-through sells a California burrito that's muy bueno
, November 11, 2010
Alejandro’s needs no introduction to a certain segment of Orange County: hipsters who think the intersection of West 19th Street and Placentia... More >>
Capital Grille Has Big Meat for Big Money Capital Grille Has Big Meat for Big Money
South Coast Plaza's newest eatery will set you back a paycheck, but the steak will have you happy in the poorhouse
, November 04, 2010
Everything at the new Capital Grille at South Coast Plaza follows the expensive-steakhouse rulebook. Bedroom-sized, temperature-controlled,... More >>
Peter's Gourmade Grill Is Gas-Stop Gourmet
[Hole In the Wall] Peter Stavros sells gourmet takes on gas-stop grub from a Valero station in Tustin
, November 04, 2010
One of the serendipitous side effects of our Great Recession is finding overqualified chefs in locations that seemingly don’t deserve them—in... More >>
It's DIY Time At Bari Bari Japanese BBQ It's DIY Time At Bari Bari Japanese BBQ
OC's latest yakiniku lets you take the teppan into your own hands
, October 28, 2010
What happens when a successful teppanyaki restaurant decides to branch out without its showboating chefs? You get a yakiniku: the same dishes... More >>
Duck Soup and Beyond at Tri-Village
[Hole In the Wall] More love for the much-blogged-about Northern Chinese eatery
, October 28, 2010
The good and bad thing about modern-day newspaper publishing is that an alternate universe now exists online, and sometimes, the web and... More >>
Aji Limon Is the Chifa Champ Aji Limon Is the Chifa Champ
This Buena Park eatery just might be the county's first restaurant to specialize in Peruvian-Chinese food
, October 21, 2010
Ah, saltado. Here’s a stir-fry that neatly summarizes Peruvian-Chinese food, known as comida chifa, in one fell swoop of meat and veggies. Not... More >>
Harry's Place Is Roadside Retro
[Hole in the Wall] And oh, those pastrami burgers
, October 21, 2010
Mile for mile, the Garden Grove Freeway has more roadside attractions than any other major highway in Orange County. There’s the Crystal... More >>
No Sushi, No Problem at Izakaya Meijiya No Sushi, No Problem at Izakaya Meijiya
Another (delectable) attempt to make a small-plates Japanese eating-and-drinking concept work in OC
, October 14, 2010
A guy walked into Izakaya Meijiya one quiet Sunday night. “Takeout?” he asked. Since the waitress didn’t show up for work, it was up to the chef,... More >>
Kush Bowl Is a Stoned Groove
[Hole In the Wall] Yes, they have dish called the Wake 'n' Bake. But it's actually good!
, October 14, 2010
I’ve eaten at many car-wash restaurants—great Chicago dogs, terrible tacos, passable bagels and more lunches of Reese’s Pieces washed down with... More >>
Civilized Swilling Civilized Swilling
Boozy but never barbaric, Fullerton's Pint House blazes its own path on the pub scene
, October 07, 2010
In the evolutionary time line of pubs, the Pint House sits at a crossroads. Looking behind, it would see the dank neighborhood watering holes... More >>
Go for Ricas Gorditas
[Hole In the Wall] One of the longest-standing loncheras, it serves up a masterful version of the Zacatecas religion
, October 07, 2010
Ever been to Orange County’s Lonchera Lane? Main Street in Santa Ana from 17th Street to Warner Avenue. Its side streets host about 20 loncheras... More >>
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Eureka! It's a Burger Discovery Eureka! It's a Burger Discovery

If I told you that you can have a burger and beer at Eureka! (their exclamation point, not mine), the new restaurant in Huntington Beach's Bella Terra, that'd be enough,… More >>

Sahuayo Primo Offers Pig By the Pound

They sit there at Sahuayo Primo in SanTana all the time: golden sheets or strips of chicharrones, fried morning, noon and night, slowly baking under hot lamps. The stacks of… More >>

Wei Shian: A Noodle By Any Other Name Wei Shian: A Noodle By Any Other Name

If you happen to find yourself slurping braised beef noodle soup in Irvine, you're likely in a Taiwanese restaurant. The big names in town—A & J, Lao Dong, Chef Hung—are… More >>

Burrito Madness at Paul's Famous Burgers

California is America's burrito empire, from the Mission cylindrical god of San Francisco to San Diego's California burrito to the Inland Empire's garbage burrito, which I described to a friend… More >>

Samurai Burrito: The Subway of Sushi Samurai Burrito: The Subway of Sushi

Do you turn up your nose at those sushi bar Know-Nothings who would make a thick, creamy sludge out of their soy sauce and wasabi? Do you know what brand… More >>

Ellie's Table At North Beach: A Line of Good

Don't mind the sign near the entrance of Ellie's Table At North Beach that says, "Line Starts Here." Actually, scratch that: If there is a line, follow it. But in… More >>