Well, you've definitely improved, Gentle Readers.
You picked Kéan Coffee once again as the best coffeehouse in OC, and I wiped a tear of pride from my eyes. My heart swelled as I read that the Bruery is your favorite brewery, that Slater's 50/50 is where OC loves to get a hamburger, and that Rachel Klemek has won the heart of naranjeros with her baked goods at Blackmarket Bakery.
Native Foods (best vegetarian/vegan) and Harbor House Cafe (best late-night), both excellent choices and a firm line in the sand against the pod people who actually choose Subway given other options.
I understand the choice of Duke's as best waterfront dining and Dosa Place for best Indian, and if I put on my fratboy-colored glasses I can kind of see RA as best (or at least most entertaining) sushi, sort of. If, however, you think the best dessert in OC is the Pizookie at BJ's then you might as well stop eating after the cheese course.
The ratio of ranters to ravers about the fries at In-N-Out has always seemed high to me. People don't give them much love, which means their choice as best fries confuses me. (Have you tried the beef fat fries at Side Door?) It's a sin--an averah on the order of punting a puppy--to think the best ice cream comes from Cold Stone, and your penance should be forced sampling at Strickland's, Hans's or Frati Gelati: sweet, sweet punishment, indeed.
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But for the love of masa, please stop this chingada about Javier's being the best Mexican restaurant in Orange County. I'm not expecting a win for the tiny loncheras and beautiful holes-in-the-wall that dot the northern half of the county--I'm not that naïf--but I can think of five sit-down Mexican places that are better than Javier's without even pausing the flow of words to the screen*. You can have much the same experience as Javier's with a high-end escort service and an El Torito.
And then--as though picking that den of silicone strumpets were not egregious enough a crime against good taste--then you voted for P. F. Chang's as best Chinese. Again. What is this, Topeka? I spent six weeks teaching you about Chinese food. I gave you local recommendations. Irvine alone has more great Chinese food than Iowa. You can get amazing Peking duck, Sichuan almost the equal of New York, and Shanghainese that would assuage the homesickness of a permanent expat. We've got fantastic Chinese Islamic food and Taiwanese delis aplenty, but no, you picked P. F. Chang's, a restaurant whose claim to fame is minced chicken breast lettuce wraps with sauce mixed tableside by a guy with deliberately-messy bleached blond hair named Tyler, a chain restaurant so bland and straitlaced that it does well in the Anaheim Gardenwalk, serving "ooh spicy" orange chicken to tourists from Saskatoon. The glories of four millennia of Chinese tradition and gastronomic innovation lost to lemon pepper shrimp, and to chicken salad with mushy canned orange segments.
Readers, you did do better than last year, but stick with us, try our recommendations, and for the love of all that's holy please let's do better next year, yes?
* Raya, SOL Cocina, Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, Taco Rosa and El Farolito; and that's without stopping to think too heavily.