Behold the beginning of our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2016 listicle! Every day through the publication of our Best Of 2016 issue (and sometimes, twice a day), we’ll be bringing you our favorite dishes across Orange County, leading up to the best in the land. Enjoy!
At SeaSalt, former Weekling Alicia Whitney’s follow-up to her highly successful SeaLegs Wine Bar, you want everything that’s been licked by the leaping flames of the open-pit fire. They’re fueled by logs from native California red oak—the thing that defines Santa Maria BBQ.
You want it all: the pork chops, the multitude of steaks, even the veggies such as the grilled cauliflower, which is singed black after being roasted over the flames, its smokiness permeating down to the stem.
But perhaps even better than that are the grilled broccolini, which absorbs so much of the smoke you’ll smell it coming out of your nostrils as you chomp on each tender-crisp stalk, and then for a few hours afterward. When it comes to traditional Santa Maria-style BBQ, it turns out that not only is smoke as essential a seasoning as salt to the meat, but also the vegetables.
84. Spicy Tuna Roll at Yard House
85. Amber Roll at Orange Roll and Sushi
86. Frito Chili Cheeseburger at Burger Parlor
87. Maui Sunrise at The Original Banzai Bowls
88. Meals from The Performance Kitchen
89. Pizza-Sized Quesadilla at Los Sanchez
90. Filipino Brunch at EATS Kitchen And Bar
91. Mexican Chocolate at the Pie Hole
92. Biscuits at James Republic
93. Mushroom Flatbread with Kale and Kumquat Salad at Lemonade
94. Mexican-Style Gelatins from Santa Ana’s Gelatina Goddess
95. Hot Pastrami Caesar Salad at Bruxie
96. Jalapeño Pupusas at Las Cazuelas
97. Meatball Sliders at Fresh Brothers
98. Buffalo Cauliflower at Mead’s Green Door Cafe
99. Raindrop Cake at Sunmerry Bakery
100. Doughrito at Surfin’ Donuts
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.