This Week in Southern Comfort
Here's a list of Orange County soul food and Cajun restaurants, in remembrance of the calamity in New Orleans. Grace them with your business and company. Ask them to donate any extra food or profits to America's Second Harvest (www.secondharvest.org), a nationwide network of food banks. Second Harvest will also accept your stored goods or loose change.
DINNER FOR TWO:
¢..............Less than $10!
$$$.........¡Eres muy rico!
For years, Fred Burrell has smoked ribs, hot links, chicken legs and more in his beloved shack, his North Carolina-style 'cue still sublime, the pulled-pork sandwich as vinegary as a slow roast in Raleigh. No matter what time of year, lunch at Burrell's picnic-table seating is our communal Fourth of July party. 305 N. Hesperian, Santa Ana, (714) 547-7441. $
Cajun purists will howl that there are no outposts of this rapidly expanding chain actually in the Crescent City, so therefore the food cannot possibly pass muster—hell, they don't even got gator! But Crescent City is no Disneyfied Big Easy. The shrimp po'boys are just the way they oughta be: a flaky French bread roll bloated with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, spicy mayo and fried, bite-size prawns, and messier than a dip into the Mississippi. 2933 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 453-3555; www.crescentcitybeignets.com. $$
So authentically Cajun they hand out beads to patrons, Iva Lee's is a haute-cuisine take on the Big Easy. Crawfish cakes are topped with a dollop of saffron aioli, and the pan-fried pork chops are thick and juicy. The chicory coffee crème brulee is so tasty it's like eating crack pudding. 555 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 361-2855. $$$
JOHNNY REBS' SOUTHERN ROADHOUSE
With plastic flamingos and a stuffed catfish wall trophy the size of a walrus, the South lives on here. Delight in the Yankee cheese grits and fried green tomatoes, but don't forget the catfish. 4663 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 423-7327. $
LUCILLE'S SMOKEHOUSE BAR-B-Q
Side dishes at Brea's hottest spot—two per entrée—would serve a family for a month in some sub-Saharan nations. But these servings are mere crumbs when weighed against the feral bulk of a Lucille's barbecue plate. After plowing through one of these, you'd better waddle out fast before the Lucille's owners size you up as ready for a dance on the grill, so plump will you be. 1639 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 990-4944; www.lucillesbbq.com. $$
M & M SOUL FOOD
Ask the folks at M & M to comment on the peach-hued walls, lowered ceilings and general bunker-like atmosphere (livened up only by an animatronic James Brown doll and a display case full of dolphin-shaped oil burners for sale), and they'll decline. But the food—perfectly grilled short ribs, snappy okra with nary a touch of sliminess, nummy peach cobbler, amongst others—they'll praise with the intensity of a Sunday-morning gospel choir. 5400 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, (562) 422-8395. $
MEMPHIS SOUL CAFÉ
If you've ever been to the South, then you know what a po'boy is. Take a bite of this catfish po'boy sandwich, lean back in your patio chair, and close your eyes. You'll swear it isn't traffic along busy Bristol or Main Street you're hearing, but a lazy river. 2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-7685; 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-1064; www.memphiscafe.com. $$
PoFolks is a rustically eccentric restaurant—tin and wooden agricultural-company signs on the walls, a working train that chugs the perimeter—specializing in Norms-style home cooking with a Southern bent, the kind of place where fried chicken livers with red beans and rice is a daily special and peach cobbler isn't some ironic/iconic treat but what's for dessert. 7701 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 521-8955. $$
RAMOS HOUSE CAFÉ
After Burrell's and a couple of Santa Ana Mexicantaquerías, Ramos House is probably the only restaurant in Orange County that operates in a living, noisy neighborhood. Its Southern-fied breakfasts—fried green tomatoes topped with goat cheese is the most imaginative spin—are a Capistrano Valley institution, the bitter Bloody Marys Orange County's best. But it's the comforting cinnamon beignets that make the long Saturday-morning drive and the one-hour wait all worth it. 31752 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 443-1342. $
ROSCOE'S CHICKEN ?AND WAFFLES
Put simply, everything is good. When He's just not up to creating anything, much less cooking, God orders the waffles here. If you're one of those chicken-skin eaters, you'll figure you've died and gone to heaven—where there'll be waffles. 730 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 437-8355; www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com. $
Open here for 11 years, Ruth's Place carries a tough-to-read sign out front advertising Southern-style soul food. You'll always find Ruth here, cooking catfish steamed and piled fist-high, yams as sweet as Sade (the singer, not the sadomasochist), cornbread as greasy as Pam Houchen's palms, and black-eyed peas that are soft and plump and just the proper earthen hue. 1236 Civic Center Dr. W., Santa Ana, (714) 953-9454. $
A tour of barbecue traditions within the confines of a gleaming Surf City development, Smokin' Mo's redeems the red states from which it pulls its stuff. Tennessee shines with vinegary, massive, great pork ribs; Louisiana appears with hot links that please like a boat ride through the bayou. Better than that, we love its pig mascot—wide-eyed, holding a massive wooden spoon, grinning at the thought of eating its brethren, the happiest cannibal since that weird gay German guy. 301 Main St., Ste. 107, Huntington Beach, (714) 374-3033; www.mosbbq.com. $
New Orleans feel, Mediterranean taste: the kung fu shrimp and blackened ahi are excellent, but the jambalaya over fettuccine will leave your innards glowing. 110 McFadden Pl., Newport Beach, (949) 723-4105. $$
THE TULSA RIB COMPANY
An open-minded place with a sense of adventure. The ribs rule, coming in a broad range of styles from traditional to Cajun to Caribbean. 954 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 633-3760.$$
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