Restaurant Reviews

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White Wasabi: What's a Wasachio? White Wasabi: What's a Wasachio?
The Long Beach restaurant does crudo and other things that make it distinctive, even if it looks like every other sushi bar
, November 07, 2013
If you've been to your share of sushi bars, White Wasabi Sushi + Beer will resemble most of them. Take the floor plan of a random neighborhood... More >>
El Pollo Norteño: Chicken Politicians
[Hole In the Wall] This OC chain makes some of the best pollo asado around, bureaucrats be damned
, November 07, 2013
This is how progress works in Orange County: find a strip mall that houses two legendary Mexican restaurants, places that have fed generations of... More >>
Eat Meat At All That Barbecue Eat Meat At All That Barbecue
All you need to stuff yourself silly at this Irvine Korean barbecue palace is $20
, October 31, 2013
It has been two days since you digested the equivalent of three meals' worth of meat in one sitting at All That Barbecue in Irvine. It took... More >>
Orange Cafe: The Spirit of Earl's
[Hole In the Wall] This Orange breakfast spot is the best in a street full of them
, October 31, 2013
Remember Earl's Home Cooking in Orange? God, how I miss that place. The room in which you could legally smoke, a pleasure indulged in mostly by... More >>
Taco Maria, Full of Grace Taco Maria, Full of Grace
Carlos Salgado is making waves with his Costa Mesa brick-and-mortar
, October 24, 2013
There are meals that cease to be meals and become experiences you think about for days afterward. Carlos Salgado's four-course prix fixe at Taco... More >>
Aleppo's Kitchen Is a Syrian Stunner
[Hole In the Wall] This Anaheim restaurant in Little Arabia offers nine different types of kibbeh, as well as other specialties
, October 24, 2013
They weren't prepared for me—or anyone, for that matter—the first time I visited Aleppo's Kitchen. The Little Arabia restaurant hadn't been open... More >>
C4 Deli: Cure for the Common Reuben C4 Deli: Cure for the Common Reuben
This new Santa Ana deli by the guys who gave us Chapter One is on its way to becoming great
, October 17, 2013
The kitchen makes a fabulous Reuben at C4, the new deli opened by Jeff Jensen and Jeff Hall, the guys who gave us the equally fabulous Chapter... More >>
Mariscos Hector: Seafood for Real Hombres
[Hole In the Wall] This Santa Ana Mexican seafood chain is for the brave
, October 17, 2013
Most of you don't have the countenance to weather either of the Mariscos Hector. If you're a group of women, the nearly all-male clientele will... More >>
Seasons of Japan: East Meets South Seasons of Japan: East Meets South
This Irvine restaurant shows how people from Georgia like their Japanese food
, October 10, 2013
There are thousands of Japanese fast-casual chains akin to Seasons of Japan across the U.S., but only nine are actually called "Seasons of... More >>
Spice India: Buffet Your Day
[Hole In the Wall] This Lake Forest restaurant offers a great selection of Indian standards and rarities
, October 10, 2013
It's great to report that the Indian buffet has gone beyond novelty and become such an OC mealtime tradition—as have breakfast burritos, a bowl... More >>
The Blind Pig: Off-Broadway The Blind Pig: Off-Broadway
This Rancho Santa Margarita restaurant has a great view and a slew of young talent, but the food is still in progress
, October 03, 2013
My buddy Chris and I are old-school: Instead of Twitter or Instagram, we still text food pictures to each other. Random times during the week,... More >>
The Cheese Shop: Frontin' for Fromage
[Hole In the Wall] This Costa Mesa store at the OC Mix stocks great cheeses and even better sandwiches
, October 03, 2013
You gotta respect any young chef who knows the world of delicious possibility known as quince paste. Most Americans only experience it as limp,... More >>
Pier 76: Under Pressure Pier 76: Under Pressure
The Long Beach restaurant makes great seafood at California Fish Grill prices
, September 26, 2013
I don't know when I've had a better moules frites than the ones Pier 76 Fish Grill is cooking right now. When I pried open that first shell,... More >>
Taqueria Guadalajara Lonchera: Tapatio New Wave
[Hole In the Wall] This Santa Ana food truck serves specialties from Guadalajara
, September 26, 2013
The Mexican state of Jalisco has long governed Mexican culture in Southern California with its vital contributions of mariachi and tequila, its... More >>
Papa Hassan's Has a Brand-New Bag Papa Hassan's Has a Brand-New Bag
The legendary Middle Eastern restaurant is now in Anaheim but serving the same great comfort food
, September 19, 2013
Do you remember your first shawerma? I do. It was 15, maybe 20 years ago. As with a hazy memory of a movie in which I can recall the actors but... More >>
Joe Schmoe's: House of Meat
[Hole In the Wall] This Cypress hot dog stand serves regional hot dogs, great hamburgers and wonderful frozen custard
, September 19, 2013
I've been mad at Cypress ever since its high school beat my alma mater, Anaheim High, in the CIF Division IX football championship back in 2007.... More >>
Surfas Is a Chef's Toys 'R' Us Surfas Is a Chef's Toys 'R' Us
The Costa Mesa branch of the legendary Culver City market has everything a serious cook needs, plus a café that makes a damn-good burger
, September 12, 2013
If the SOCO Collection in Costa Mesa weren't already a cool scene with its permanent farmers' market sheds; the OC Mix; and its eclectic grab bag... More >>
Lynda Sandwich Says Bye-Bye, Bánh Mì
[Hole In the Wall] The Little Saigon eatery switches its focus to beignets
, September 12, 2013
What a difference a decade makes: In 2002, when I began my reign as this infernal rag's food critic, I still had to explain to readers what a... More >>
Lark Creek a Lark Lark Creek a Lark
The Northern California-based chain's dishes are delicious, if a bit gentrified—which means it's perfect for Fashion Island
, September 05, 2013
Unless you're one of those Chicken Charlie guys who deep-fry everything imaginable—even unimaginable—for a living, I bet you've never wondered... More >>
Cuzcatlan: Class of Casamiento
[Hole In the Wall] This Anaheim restaurant serves Salvadoran food—and the best breakfast dish around
, September 05, 2013
Hugo Castro was a friend of mine at Anaheim High School—class of 1997, just like me. We weren't in the same social strata—he usually kicked it... More >>
Thai This Now: Coconut Rabbit Thai This Now: Coconut Rabbit
Is the still-undiscovered Los Alamitos restaurant the best of its country's cuisine in OC since Thai Nakorn?
, August 29, 2013
It was Saturday around 7 p.m. Prime time for a restaurant. Yet there you are, one of only two parties at the Coconut Rabbit, a 3-month-old Thai... More >>
Pizza e Vino: Reppin' the RSM
[Hole In the Wall] This Rancho Santa Margarita restaurant sells artisan pizzas from a tiny storefront
, August 29, 2013
The Blind Pig in Rancho Santa Margarita is going to be a fabulous restaurant, with a team that draws from places we've deemed best of the best... More >>
Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking: Cajun Steampunk Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking: Cajun Steampunk
This Santa Ana Cajun restaurant uses a novel cooking apparatus to bring you in, but it's the food that's keeps you coming back
, August 22, 2013
Everyone who sat at the counter in front of the steam kettles had questions. "How does it work?" "How much did it cost to install?" Chef Ritter... More >>
Yogis Teriyaki House: Gospel of the Bowl
[Hole In the Wall] This Tustin restaurant keeps it simple with teriyaki bowls
, August 22, 2013
I might be the last food writer left in Southern California, if not the country, who still takes the humble teriyaki bowl seriously, who pays... More >>
The Woods: Meatloaf and a Pint The Woods: Meatloaf and a Pint
Behold downtown Fullerton's latest star in its constellation of watering holes
, August 15, 2013
If the Woods looks like a bar, it's because it's just that. Imagine a long, narrow room the width of three bowling lanes, lit dimly not for... More >>
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Little La Lune: Over the Moon Little La Lune: Over the Moon

Little La Lune is located on an unpretty part of Pacific Coast Highway, in a strip mall with less than 10 parking spots—and they're all taken. But stay in your… More >>

Il Barone Bottega: Third Wave Italian

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O'Neill's Breakfast of Champagne O'Neill's Breakfast of Champagne

"Would you like a mimosa or champagne?" the server asks as you're seated at O'Neill's Bar & Grill inside the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. "A mimosa, please," you… More >>

Front Porch Pops: Just Lick 'Em

So . . . I'm getting married soon. I've picked some of my favorite businesses to help out with the catering—Taco Maria's Carlos Salgado and Roland Rubalcava to do aguachile… More >>

Santa Ana Revival at the North Left Santa Ana Revival at the North Left

The North Left is what replaced the Crosby, which closed abruptly earlier this year in the wake of a tragic beating death that occurred outside its doors. But for all… More >>

Tamarindo Truck: Maestro de Meats

Tamarindo Truck doesn't need this review. It's already a popular luxe lonchera, finding a loyal following with its twists on Mexican food using organic produce and meats. I've delayed reviewing… More >>