Virtually every family has their own special way of preparing turkey for Thanksgiving–but what about the rest of the year, when you don't feel like picking stuffing out of the cavity of a dead bird? Not enough OC restaurants have non-Thanksgiving turkey dishes on their menu beyond turkey Cobb and sad slices of grey deli meat–but those that do usually take care to make it worth your while. So the following are turkey dishes you can enjoy outside of your dinner table and away from your annoying cousins.
10. Turkey Tacos at Del Taco
I'm still trying to figure out why last year, Del Taco and other fast-food chain put out a huge push on turkey tacos–a glut of pavo? Takeover by the turkey cartel? A move to make us less fat? Anyhoo, Del Taco's turkey tacos proved surprisingly good–but they'll never beat their half-pound bean-and-cheese burrito…
9. Bobbie at Capriotti's Sandwich Shop
In the grand scheme of outside chains trying to take over OC, Capriotti's falls behind Lee's but is ahead of Jersey Mike's. Their best offering is the Bobbie, which is essentially Thanksgiving dinner all year long: turkey, sauce, and stuffing. As Kristine put it, "Capriotti's doesn't joke around about portions: the shredded turkey is abundant, and the stuffing and cranberry jam are chunky enough to grab and eat with your fingers."
8. Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich at Lucca Cafe
Okay, so this dish isn't on Lucca's current menu, which is why its ranking is so low. But let Anne Marie explain why this is usually one of the best turkey sandwiches in OC: "Made from a free range gobbler plucked locally from Shelton Farms, don't let Cathy Pavlos' choice of turkey fool you into thinking this is a light meal. Flanked by OC Baking Company francese (a ciabatta/baguette hybrid), our meat slice rests on crisp romaine heart and sweet pepper jelly. To shake things up, she includes cipoline in agrodolce, a.k.a sour and sweet onions. I love the sharp, Fiscalini cheddar melted over. It's finished with chunky tomato marmalade and a slice of house-made, applewood smoked bacon that'll bring you back for brunch." 6507 Quail Hill Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 725-1773; luccacafe.net
7. Turkey Tails at Boutique Samoa
This Samoan grocery store in Anaheim will never get foodie buzz, partly because hipsters still think Samoans only play for USC football, but also because Samoan cuisine makes bacon taste like kale. Primary among the fatty finds: turkey tails, something so gut-busting that the government of Samoa actually banned it for a while. Find out what all the fuss is about here. 1217 S. Western Ave., Anaheim, (714) 220-9675.
6. Turkey Burgers at Slater's 50/50
The local chain has always loved playing with turkey, whether it's the above seasonal special (cranberry sauce and stuffing? Yes, Cerritos!), or their current Turkey Cobb or Rosemary Turkey. But a challenge for you folks: TURKEY BUFFALO WINGS!!!
5. Turkey Leg at Disneyland
A humongous, year-round leg? Yes, please.
4. Halal Pizza at San Giovanni Pizza
While moron Republicans demonize Muslims, us sane folks keep gorging on the halal pizzas at San Giovanni in Anaheim's Little Arabia district. Turkey bacon along with pineapple? A salaam alaik-YUM! 1001 N. Euclid St., Anaheim, (714) 999-1500; sangiovannipizza.com
3. Anything Turkey at Crave
From a roasted turkey sandwich to turkey chili to the option of putting turkey on everything to their insanely large, surprisingly cheap prices, Crave remains on top of the sandwich game in downtown SanTana. And with another restaurant to come soon, can they up their turkey game? We say sí. 410 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 907-0063; www.crave410.com
2. Monte Cristo Sandwich at Blue Bayou
For years, if not decades, the one distinctive dish Disneyland offered was that edible sweet pillow known as the Monte Cristo: a lightly fried ham-and-turkey sandwich dusted in powdered sugar. It's all too much, but then there's the setting inside the Pirates of the Caribbean, which takes you back to your high school days when you were trying to make it with your second cousin–or was that just me?
But the #1 choice, of course, is…
1. Tandoori Turkey at Clay Oven
Yes, it's only a seasonal specialty, but Chef Geeta Bansal also teaches classes on how to make her legendary bird–rubbed with furious spices, then delicately blasted in a tandoor. Throw out Grandma's recipe, and get thee to Clay Oven for a bird or 60–then beg Geeta to place the tandoori turkey on the menu FOREVER. 15435 Jeffrey Rd., #116, Irvine, (949) 552-2851; www.clayovenirvine.com/