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Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant

16563 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 418-0658

Au Lac specializes in a variety of vegetarian, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. All are prepared without eggs, wine and MSG. If you're worried about feeling less-than-fulfilled without some meat in your meal, restaurant owner Mai Nguyen assures you, “You can fool your palate into thinking you're eating beef, fish or chicken without getting the bad effects from cholesterol.” Convinced yet? Give Au Lac the opportunity to prove its vegetarian philosophy when you come in for lunch or dinner. Takeout specialties are available, and some side orders are only $1 each (weekdays only, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.).

Services: Takeout available. Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Auto Bistro3100 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 515-9060

The best fast food in Orange County! It's not often you can find gourmet fast food, but this is exactly what you can expect at the Auto Bistro drive-thru, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served seven days a week from a wide ranging menu. Great tasting breakfast meals include: the coffee N scramble combo, the smoothie N bakery combo and, for a pick-me-up, try the quiche N latte combo. For lunch or dinner the bistro burger combo is delicious. On the healthier side the chicken Caesar pita combo is an excellent choice. This drive-thru is unique in its design, almost like a restaurant on stilts, and is an unforgettable experience as the food is dropped down to your car via an elevator!

Services: Drive-thru only. Hours: Mon.-Sun., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. AmEx, Visa and MC accepted. Azteca Restaurant/Crooner's Lounge12911 Historical Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 638-3790

Grease up those pompadours because Crooner's bills itself as Southern California's only “Elvis Lounge,” a full bar featuring music and memorabilia from the Rat Pack and the King himself. Weekends feature rockabilly to the nines, Friday nights feature Main Street's Classic Car Show outside, and Saturday nights feature Elvis movies on the TV. You can also re-create Elvis' Fun in Acapulco vibe with some great Mexican food at Azteca restaurant, which offers a menu filled with the owner's original recipes. Try the garlic tacos and garlic salad to set the party off, or ask about the daily special.

Services: Takeout available. Full bar. Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; lounge open till 1 a.m. or later. All major credit cards accepted. Bayside CenterBayside Dr. at Jamboree Rd., one block south of Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach

Start your day at Java City, which features fresh-baked breads and pastries; gourmet-brewed and whole bean coffee; and sandwiches, soups and salads. For fine Italian cuisine, Sapori Ristorante is sure to satisfy your appetite for lunch or dinner. But if you're pressed for time, Pavilions Place offers pre-packaged salads and a service deli for your convenience.

Birraporetti's3333 Bristol, Ste. 2078, Costa Mesa, (714) 850-9090

A great stop any time, Birraporetti's is located inside South Coast Plaza. There is a huge mahogany island bar where you can people-watch to your heart's content and enjoy a 14-oz. draft beer like Guiness or a black and tan. The bar keeps well-stocked with a grand selection of whiskeys and scotches in the Irish tradition. And don't miss Two-Dollar Twosdays, featuring $2 drinks and $2 off all appetizers after 4 p.m. Monday is swing night with the Don Miller Orchestra, when young and old come jumping and jiving—show up at 6:30 and get a free swing lesson. The restaurant offers eclectic Italian cuisine, so try the delicious classic lasagna or the fresh Atlantic crab. Nothing but fun here!

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Mon., 11-1:30 a.m.; Tues.-Wed., 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight; Fri.-Sat., 11-1 a.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. The Block at Orange

1 City Dr., Ste. 1010, Orange, (714) 769-4001

If you're looking for recreational dining, this is the place. Wolfgang Puck's, Grand Cafe, Left At Albuquerque, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Alcatraz Brewing Co. and Johnny Rockets are just a few of the 16 eateries. For a snack there's Starbucks Coffee or Ben N Jerry's. All are surrounded by hip shops like Borders Books N Music, Virgin Megastore, Old Navy, Ron Jon Surf Shop (the largest surf shop in CA) and Hilo Hattie, the first Hawiian fashion and accessories store to open on the mainland. For the playful purist check Gameworks, where you can try games of skill, while you munch, at the adventure, sports, sci-fi/terror, racing and prize zones. Dave N Buster's offers virtual games as well, with table shuffleboard, pocket billiards, a “Million Dollar Midway” and a restaurant and bar for adults. Skate in the largest skate park in the world, offering an 80-foot vertical ramp and an indoor street course. Or take in a movie with style at the AMC 30-screen theatre featuring LoveSeat stadium seating

Blue Beet Caf

107 21st St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-2338

The venerableness of the restaurant is reason enough to dine at the Blue Beet, not to mention the killer menu, live music every night, and a happening happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. seven days a week. This place is a steak oasis: sample the bacon-wrapped filet mignon or the prime rib, served with a side of homemade garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables or caramelized carrots. Seafood lovers should experience the encrusted halibut topped with pesto, or the fish and chips, made with halibut instead of cod. Dinner specials include a heaping plate of linguine with succulent clams on Monday nights. Wed. nights feature baby back ribs covered in head chef Jorge's superb BBQ sauce. All the portions are large and the Beet also has an extensive martini and wine list.

Services: Takeout available. Full bar. Open daily 11:30-2 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested for large parties. Brooklyn Pizza2278 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-9399

What do racing and the best pizza in Orange County have in common? Nothing, unless you put world-champion jet skier Frank Romero together with a self-proclaimed authentic New York pizza man, Lou Scotto. These two have joined together for a volatile mix of arguments, bickering and truly authentic New York food. Their food will truly jump in your face. The calzones are so huge they can feed a small country, and the pasta plates are so tasty you would think mama is in the kitchen. They have mama's recipes, but the only mama in the kitchen is Lou. Their special niche of customers have to meet certain criteria: they'll race anything with a motor, nine of 10 have tattoos, and there are a ton of New York transplants. In a nutshell, if you want a real wacked place to eat, come to Brooklyn pizza—the real deal!

Services: Takeout, delivery and catering available. Beer and wine only. Open Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-midnight. MC and Visa accepted. BuzZ at the Beach3450 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, (949) 673-4700

This new club spot appeals to the gaming side of life. Food is served throughout the game rooms and there is dancing nightly. Dining is a grazing experience because you can eat from anywhere, while playing a video game. The concept here is shared dining, and the orders come in the form of appetizer sample plates, served on a long skateboard plank. The longboard special is a killer combo of California rolls, beef stick, Jamaican chicken wings, lamb chops and coconut shrimp; every Sunday features Balboa's ORIGINAL reggae party with live bands and dancing—other reggae parties can't come close—and a buffet brunch of waffles, omelets, fruit, pastries and desserts. Live music or DJ entertainment happens every night and there's a sports bar if you'd rather watch than play.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11:30-2 a.m.; Sun, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Validated parking available. All major credit cards accepted.

Catalina Fish Kitchen N Seafood Deli670 W. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-8873

You can have fish five ways at Catalina Fish Kitchen: a fish taco, fish sandwich, fish salad, fish pasta or fish plate. Choices include salmon, halibut, sea bass and ahi, and don't forget the deli, where you can order fresh fish over the counter right out of the case. Tuesdays feature fish tacos for $1. The restaurant is casual, with roomy picnic tables and a beachy feel. And there's lots of surf shops nearby for shredders who want to eat and shop for gear in the same locale. An excellent place to eat fish the way you like it.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Beer and wine only. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. The Catch Seafood Grill/The Catch Steakhouse N Blues1929 S. State College, Anaheim, (714) 634-1829

Don't be confused…it's two adjoining restaurants and a unique dining and entertainment experience at The Catch. The Grill side caters to a low key, watch-the-game dinner, while you enjoy fresh grilled seafood such as the unbeatable Alaskan king crab legs or Australian lobster tail. There's also an oyster bar where you'll indulge in luscious long-neck oysters and shooters. The Steakhouse side is a steak-lovers' paradise, offering you a choice of New York, filet, rib eye or prime rib—all meat comes from corn-fed Midwestern beef cut by hand and aged a minimum of 21 days. Romantics will find the patio stimulating, especially sitting near the blazing fire pit. There is always live music and dancing in the lounge with no cover.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours (Seafood): Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs., 5-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-10 p.m. Hours (Steakhouse): Mon.-Tues., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 4:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.-1:30 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Valet parking available. Chevy's Fresh MexAnaheim Hills, (714) 974-6703; Fountain Valley, (714) 974-3008; Irvine, (949) 559-5808; Laguna Niguel, (949) 489-5511

Can't wait until Tuesday? Then try Chevy's Margarita Mondays from 4-9 p.m., including half-priced appetizers and $2 domestic draft beer, cocktails and well margaritas. On the food side, Chevy's original mesquite-grilled fajitas with succulent jumbo shrimp or fresh barbecue chimayo salmon will send you to the moon with delight. And their salads are made fresh daily, featuring a nonfat salsa vinaigrette dressing for health nuts—try this over the mixed greens ceasar's salad to augment your entre.

Services: Takeout available. Open Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested. Cliff's Ragin' Cajun18609 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 593-0355; Plaza de Cafes, 4881 Birch St., Newport Beach, (949) 476-8284

Cliff Huffstetler is the main man behind this award-winning bastion of Southern food. You'll be ragin' over his great food and atmosphere, which are destined to spice up your life. Come to Cliff's new Newport location, and enjoy such Southern delights as crawfish etouffee and chicken-turkey sausage jambalaya. Meat lovers, check out the tri-tip, their melt-off-the-bone barbecue ribs, or the masterfully roasted fowl. You're sure to walk out full-bellied and speaking in a Louisiana accent.

Services (Fountain Valley location): Takeout, delivery and catering available. Open Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 10 p.m. Most major credit cards accepted; Services (Newport Beach location): Takeout, delivery and catering. Open Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Cash only. Crab Pot215 Marina Dr., Seal Beach, (562) 430-0272

Boasting the only full-service outside bar in the area, the Crab Pot offers casual patio seating, king crab specialties and a children's menu. Moderately priced, the adult menu includes New York steak and an herb chicken dish for those pesky few who don't partake of seafood at a seafood restaurant. The Crab Pot serves fresh seafood daily, all mesquite broiled, and is home to the famous sea feast! Inside you'll dine in a family-friendly atmosphere while surrounded by nautical dcor, i.e. fishing nets, a big stuffed salmon, and a dinghy hanging from the ceiling. Landlubbers are welcome. Open for lunch at 11 a.m. everyday.

Services: Full bar. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Crossroads/Westpark Plaza DiningBarranca Pkwy. N Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 857-2606

The Crossroads Shopping Center in Irvine features a variety of dining choices from food-court style to sit-down restaurants. Enjoy the tranquility of the great outdoors, complemented by a beautiful fountain, as you sit and eat lunch with friends or coworkers. For dinner, whether it's take-out or courtyard dining, choose from a great selection of fast-food restaurants, such as California Chopstix, La Salsa, Pasta Bravo, Sagami, Steak Escape, Subway and Wienerschnitzel. Listen to a variety of musical entertainment Wed. evenings from 6-8 p.m. For a more leisurely lunch or sit-down dinner, try Hof's Hut, the Soup Exchange or Vessia Restaurante. Vessia now features patio dining and evening entertainment.

Westpark Plaza on Alton Parkway in Irvine caters to a variety of diners—the “dinner and a movie crowd,” the “weekday business lunch crowd” and the “family-night-out crowd.” Conveniently located in this shopping center are popular sit-down restaurants including Chili's, Chinez Restaurant, Claim Jumper and the Olive Garden. The Food Faire section of the plaza offers Noah's Bagels, Goro Japanese, Jalapenos and Round Table Pizza. In addition to the variety of restaurants here, Luckys features convenient freshly prepared meals for busy, working people as well as for “on the go” families. Just visit the refrigerated section.

Cuban Pete's1050 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 501-3449

For a taste of Cuban charms and Caribbean romance, try some of the authentic dishes like the Ropa Vieja or the Zarzuela Basque. Seafood delights include camarones enchiladas en salsa verde, pargo frito and the delicious paella Valenciana and Marina. Got a craving for a stogie? Take brandy and have a smoke in the cigar-friendly lounge. Also check the unique collection of authentic Cuban art that augments this dining experience. The ambiance at Cuban Pete's is thick with warmth and culture that makes it hard to leave!

Services: Catering available. Full bar. Open Tues.-Sun., 5 p.m. on. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested. Din Din at the Bamboo Terrace1773 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-5550

Din Din was added on to the family-owned restaurant's name, Bamboo Terrace, to signify the transfer of operations to the family's third generation. They are committed to serving great-tasting Chinese food using only high-quality ingredients, such as 100 percent white-meat chicken and USDA-choice flank steak, all sans tenderizers and MSG. The dining area resembles a bamboo terrace, and the walls are adorned with Asian art and early 20th-century black-and-white photographs depicting Chinese immigrants. Other aspects reflect the current owners' assimilation into American culture complete with hip music to groove to and big-screen TVs in the Asian beer-house-style bar. Tuesday through Friday features Bingo in the bar, with the winners receiving $20 off their bills.

Services: Takeout, delivery and catering available. Full bar. Open Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs. N Sun., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m. AmEx, MC, Visa and Diner's Club accepted. Parking available. Dublin's Irish Whiskey Pub4225 Campus Dr., University Center, Irvine, (949) 823-1030

There are pool tables, dart boards, karaoke, air hockey, and 15 beers on tap with a vast selection—over 100—of bottled beers for you belly-uppers at this pub. Hang out in a low-key sports bar that boasts more than 100 TVs, a daily happy hour from 4-7 p.m., and an “everybody-knows-your-name” kind of vibe when you walk in the door. Before you get bloated with beer, though, try the killer bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes, Irish-style) to sate your “man's” hunger. And the staff is a hip hodgepodge of gregarious friendlies who make you feel right. Is that so wrong? On weekends check out Dublin's house party, featuring a happening DJ crew throwing down dance tunes.

Services: Takeout available. Open daily, 11 a.m.-2: p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Eastbluff Village CenterEastbluff Dr., off Jamboree, Newport Beach

A tradition you can count on! Restaurants include Bistro Le Crillon, with incredible pizza and French cuisine, and the critically acclaimed SAGE restaurant, featuring a menu of grilled and roasted meats, fresh seafood, mouth-watering pastas, gourmet pizzas and sumptuous deserts. And if you're too busy to dine, Ralphs features a make-it-yourself salad bar and service deli for a speedy meal.

Farfallina19881 Brookhurst St., Huntington Beach, (714) 962-7777

Northern Italian cuisine in a quaint romantic atmosphere is what one can expect at Farfallina. For dinner, the Fettucine Del Pouvero is a splendid composition of chicken, broccoli and sundried tomatoes, or try the Risotto Di Asparagi that features delicate crab meat in a white wine sauce. Meat lovers must partake of the veal chops baked in a cognac and mushroom sauce, served with broccoli. For an appetizer the Carpaccio Di Manzo is a sumptuous serving of thinly sliced pure filet with arugula, capers and artichoke hearts. Different Italian specialties are created daily, and don't forget to try the homemade tiramisu. Bring your own wine and have a romantic interlude on the new smoker-friendly patio or stay inside with the rustic Italian dcor.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Open Tues.-Sat., 5-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Glide 'Er Inn1400 Pacific Coast Hwy., Seal Beach, (562) 431-3022

Since 1930, the Glide 'Er Inn has been perfecting its fine seafood dishes. The melt-in-your-mouth mountain trout, the sublime snapper and the fish kabobs will keep you running back. In 1996, the restaurant received the Writer's Association Award for best all-around seafood. Besides the menu, the dcor is also enticing: there are model airplanes frozen in flight above your head while you dine in this homey, full-service atmosphere.

Services: Takeout available. Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested. The Grasshopper1749 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-4026

Formerly the Rock 'N' Java, the Grasshopper boasts the largest patio (3,000 square feet) in either Costa Mesa or Newport Beach. The menu includes everything from patty melts to vegetarian plates, and all the bread is baked fresh daily. The roast beef sandwich is quite tasty, made with Boar's Head meat, as are all the sandwiches. You'll want to try the stuffed French toast for breakfast: it's filled with cream cheese, topped with fruit. There's always entertainment to dine by, from Irish folk music and poetry readings, to a fire dancer every Friday night. And the chess club keeps you cerebral folk in check.

Services: Delivery and catering available. Hours: 6-2 a.m. daily. Most major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Habana2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-0176

A little bite of Cuba located in the Lab. Besides being a great place for cocktails, this hip hideaway is the place for nueva Latina cuisine. Some of the sandwiches are humdingers, packed with meat and served in a heavy bread. Eat one of these, and you can forget about work for the rest of the day. If that doesn't work, try a Lemon Drop Martini during happy hour from 5-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. On certain nights, the place heats up with Latin flamenco guitar and two wild flamenco dancers. And the steel drum Sunday brunches are amazing. There is terrific ambiance here, created by a myriad of candle trees and the dark wood dcor.

Services: Catering available. Open Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Reservations suggested. Heroes305 N. Harbor Blvd., (714) 738-4356

A traditional American pub established in 1990, Heroes has 202 different beers on tap. It's a peanut shells on the floor kind of place, so don't worry about the mess you make while gorging on complimentary peanuts. The menu features terrific steak and seafood dishes, served in generous portions on huge pewter plates called sewer caps. The homemade meatloaf is as big as your house and will give you enough leftovers for the rest of the week! There's also live jazz music every Sunday evening, usually featuring the indubitable Ed Slauson Band playing traditional standards from the early jazz era.

Services: Takeout available. Full bar. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Fri. N Sat., 11-1:30 a.m. Parking available. All major credit cards accepted. Huntington Beach Beer Co.201 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-5343; www.hbbeerco.com

Huntington Beach Beer Co. is fast becoming a downtown landmark. As the name implies, HBBC is known for its fresh, hand-crafted ales, which are brewed with local flair evident from names such as Huntington Beach Blond, Pier Pale Ale and Main Street Wheat. The constantly expanding menu features everything from appetizers (like breaded calamari and grilled quesadillas) to main dishes (like grilled mahi mahi, jambalaya and brick-oven-baked pizzas). Because everything's made fresh to order, you really can't go wrong for lunch or dinner. One outstanding dish is the Chinese chicken salad, which doesn't skimp on the good stuff, including grilled chicken and a homemade dressing with pizzazz. Since the beer company's located one floor up from the hustle and bustle of Main Street, its two heated patios are perfectly situated for kicking back and swilling a tasty brew.

Services: Takeout available. Beer, wine and cider only. Open Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (light menu available until midnight); Fri.-Sat., 11:30-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Inka Grill260 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 444-4652

Mystique and music from the Andes on Friday and Saturday nights is what awaits at the Inka Grill, where one can enjoy and partake of an extensive list of wines from around the world. Also voted the No. 1 restaurant, unbiasedly—by their customers. And this is a great little nook to bring a date if you're looking for ambiance and tucked in conversation. Don't miss the chupe de camarones, a milk-based shrimp soup that is like shiatsu for your tongue. This authentic Peruvian restaurant offers a 42 entre menu, entirely derived from family recipes, featuring quality ingredients and moderate prices.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Open Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. till 10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations accepted. Jolly Roger640 W. Katella, Anaheim, (714) 782-7500

Located inside the Jolly Roger hotel, this restaurant offers rib-sticking American food in a casual, family-oriented surrounding. The dcor is nautical, hearkening back to pirate days. Steak lovers should partake of the prime rib, aged, seasoned and oven roasted to perfection, or the Monte Cristo sandwich—a layered composition of turkey, ham and Swiss cheese, battered and deep fried and served with fruit. Fowl fans will heartily enjoy the famous fried chicken, three pieces in a special batter, deep fried and served with mashed potatoes. There's also a lounge for a more hushed dining and drinking haven. Ahoy!

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. All major credit cards available. Parking available. Le Diplomate Cafe2122 Brea Mall Dr., (714) 256-0303

With leanings toward continental cuisine, Le Diplomate Caf serves a good variety of dishes from Mediterranean to California bistro style, all created by the Caf chef in a nontraditional fashion. Popular and enticing are the Greek and Caesar salads; also, the roasted egg plant is an excellent appetizer with fresh tomatoes topped with fete cheese, basil and fresh garlic. Or try the scrumptious angel hair pasta with tiger shrimp. The wine list changes almost weekly, keeping up with the latest products, and features over 100 bottles to choose from. Located inside Brea Mall, Le Diplomate recreates a Parisian street caf with tables on an upper level overlooking a fountain.

Services: Takeout and delivery available. Beer and wine only. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (seating stops 1/2 hour before closing); Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Lido Lounge N Caf3636 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 723-9240

This Caf is a haven for the non-clubbing crowd who want to sidestep barflies and pickup lines, preferring the casual vibe of a coffeehouse. And because it stays open until 3 a.m. on weekends, the Caf attracts a lounge-by-night following of subterraneans who play poker or billiards, or hide in the video game room (high scorers receive a gift certificate) to fend off reality. The menu includes sandwiches, bagels, bottled water and, of course, gourmet coffee, espressos and mochas. There's also a chessboard and an internet-ready computer terminal, perfect for those of you who like to get introverted in public.

Services: Takeout available. Hours: Tues.-Thurs., 6-2 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 6-3 a.m.; Sun.-Mon., 6-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Lima City Fast Food N Catering2540 Main St., Ste. J, Irvine, (949) 553-1401

Wow! Peruvian fast food at its finest—because speed doesn't have to mean compromise in quality cuisine. The recipes are all contemporary Peruvian, made with fresh ingredients, and they are well-described on the menu, so you know exactly what pleasure awaits you. Try the delicious combo plate or the scrumptious Beef Saltado. The spicy chicken, ceviche or Peruvian paella are also must-tasteitems. Proprietors Charo and Saul Haraguchi will be delighted to take your order. A daily buffet is offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lima City is conveniently located in the Main Plaza Food Court.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Open Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Longboards217 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-1896

Just steps away from the beach, Longboards is a bitchen pub that offers a full menu, 14 drafts on tap and 12 sports monitors. The California cuisine is prepared by executive chef Ron McClin, formerly of the Rusty Pelican and JC McClin Restaurant, and features everything from pub style sandwiches—try the resplendent corned beef—to clam chowder or Maine lobster. Have a brew on the new patio and order up some long neck or Manila clams to eat under the sky. The buffalo wings and the garlic bread also make excellent appetizers that go perfectly with a cold one. If there isn't a game on you can watch the wacked out surf videos that showcase vintage longboard jamming.

Services: Beer and wine only. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight; Fri., 11-1 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 9:30-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Mark's Restaurant858 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6711

Light California cuisine is what's on the menu at Mark's, where you'll find a beachy, naturally lit setting with palm trees, crisp-linened tables and a pleasant outdoor patio graced with ocean air. The filet mignon is a delectable mouthful, topped with a roqueforte chalet sauce and served on a bed of mashed potatoes. Another fine meat repast is the roasted pork chops served in cranberry sauce. Going seafood? Try the wondrous salmon, black-peppered and corn crusted on a bed of red wine chalet sauce. The chocolate souffl for dessert adds a finishing touch to a perfect evening.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 5-10:30 p.m.; Sat., 5-11 p.m.; Sun., (starting July 11th) 5-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. Memphis Soul Caf N Bar2920 Bristol, Costa Mesa, (714) 432-7685

Just when you thought there wasn't a hipafied, West Coast-cool restaurant around, this caf opened. Microbrewed beers, soul music, and a '50s vibe are what await inside. The menu offers an excellent choice of Southern, Southwestern and Midwestern dishes. The grilled pork chop with a cherry glace and an okra gumbo is a brilliantly prepared delicacy. A seafood special is offered daily. On the lunch menu, try the turkey-breast-and-pesto sandwich, with the house salad, the Memphis greens. Memphis also has an extensive wine list and offers live entertainment. Check out the Todd Oliver Quartet on Thursday nights for some smoldering hard bop jazz Services: Takeout available. Beer and wine only. Open Sat.-Sun., 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri. N Sat., 5-10:30 p.m.; Sun., 5-9:30p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations accepted.

Merlin's Magic Dinner Theatre2710 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 633-8760

Merlin's is a night of magic and comedy, whimsically done up in a Renaissance-themed show. It's all hosted by Merlin the Magician (remember him?) while you dine in an intimate showroom, your meals served to you by costumed “serving wenches.” Merlin performs his signature magic, telling tales and delivering jokes, not to be outdone by the “wenches” who whirl around telling their own humorous side of things. It's an eat, drink and be merry sort of evening, with the food always being prepared by the Rib Trader restaurant, where Merlin's showroom is located. The adult menu features plentiful barbecued ribs and chicken with cornbread, coleslaw and baked beans. Dinner shows are Thursday through Sunday evenings.

Services: All major credit cards accepted. Reservations are essential for all shows. Adults, $19.95; children 12 and under, $11.95. Group, senior and student discounts are available. Newport North CenterMacArthur Blvd. N Bison, Newport Beach

Whether you're there for a healthy meal or fine cuisine, Newport North offers the perfect atmosphere for both. Champagne's Market N Deli is an upscale New York-style deli market, featuring Boar's Head meats and cheeses; fresh salads; a fine selection of beers, wines and champagnes; and a Diedrich Coffee bar. For tasty, guilt-free enjoyment, visit Cathay Newport Restaurant—Chinese food for the health-conscious! For a morning treat, Mag's Donuts N Bakery specializes in high-quality donuts, croissants and muffins. Marco Polo Pasta House has fine northern Italian cuisine in a casual yet stylish atmosphere. The menu features fresh pastas that are made on the premises and gourmet pizzas in wood-burning brick oven.

Newport Pier Seafood N Bar1 Newport Beach Pier, Newport Beach, (949) 675-9771

For unmatched ocean ambiance, you'll want to enjoy a superior dining experience on the sunset patio. The view is spectacular as you sit over the water at the end of the Newport Pier. This restaurant offers seafood at its best. Prefer to eat inside? Try the upstairs, window-walled lounge area, where varnished wood and nautical dcor create an inviting, comfortable mood. The bar features live music every night from 6-9 p.m., and yes, there is a sushi bar where you'll find the yellowtail or the tuna spice roll to be superb. From the regular menu, the live crab or lobster will exceed your expectations. If you're an early riser, Newport Pier opens for breakfast at 8 a.m., or enjoy brunch over the ocean on a Sunday afternoon.

Services: Takeout available. Open Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested. New Orleans Caf seafood steak N pasta18552 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 593-9080

Let's say you are an aficionado of seafood and Cajun cuisine, but you are picky about atmosphere and like to keep things quaint. Well now there is relief at this fabulous and fun caf, where all the dishes are served up New Orleans-style. Specialties include the bounteous blackened Chilean sea bass and seafood gumbo, and get festive with Mardi Gras pasta; but the stuffed filet mignon and lobster is paradise found. Feel like ending it all? Then you must try the Suicide Chocolate Cake; it's to die for. The caf also offers a children's menu and features blues and jazz on most weekends to enliven your visit.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Open Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 11a.m.-10 p.m. Rafi's Cuban Cafe425 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 505-4071

Fortunately, getting a taste of authentic Cuban cuisine is a bit easier than getting an authentic cigar; all you have to do to get the real thing is stop by Rafi's in old-town Tustin. The chicken in sofrito sauce and steak with garlic and onions are spicy Caribbean masterpieces. The congri—a confection of black beans and rice—adds zesty flavor to every dish. With large servings of great food at reasonable prices, Rafi's has everything you could ask for and can actually make Tustin feel like Havana.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Beer and wine only. Open Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-9:30 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested. Rock Bottom Restaurant N Brewery71 Fortune, Irvine, (949) 453-0777

Located in the Irvine Spectrum, Rock Bottom produces 3,120 barrels a year in-house. Tasty brews include Cryin' Coyote Pale Ale, Regatta Red, Bogie Brown and Sticky Tongue Stout to name but a few. Besides the full service bar, live music and billiard tables, the Brewery offers a fine food selection, from interesting pizzas, bountiful salads, to hearty meats, ribs, chicken and other favorites. Try the adler smoked salmon, the Mediterranean pasta or the sizzling shrimp salad. Larger than life desserts include carrot cake, cheese cake and deep dish apple pie. The atmosphere features a Colorado mountain feel with rich woods, high ceilings, and bright open seating.

Services: Takeout available. Beer and wine only. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Valet parking available. Romeo Cucina249 Broadway, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-6627; Rancho Niguel Center, Crown Valley Pkwy. N Greenfield, Laguna Niguel, (949) 831-4131

For a taste of southern Italy, visit Romeo Cucina, a family-owned restaurant run by a clan of four brothers and two sisters from the Cambria region of Italy's boot. The siblings adhere to Italian traditions and view cooking as an art form. Fire flashes from the open-hearth oven against the warm woods and brightly colored ceramics as romantic Italian music is performed live. An assortment of pastas, vegetables and fresh seafood are among the delectable items offered on the menu. The interior of this ristorante is warm, personable, and reflects the artistry of the cuisine.

Services: Takeout, delivery and catering available. Laguna Beach location open Thurs.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. N 5 p.m.-late; Mon.-Wed., 5 p.m.-late. Laguna Niguel open Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 4:30 p.m.-late. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations accepted. Free parking available. Santa Monica Seafood154 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 574-8862; 1700 N. Main St., Orange, (714) 921-2632

Not just a restaurant, but also a gourmet specialty seafood market—sidewalk tables included—and what you'll find at either location. It's to your benefit to try the clam chowder, the California or spicy tuna sushi, all of which are fresh beyond the call of duty. For an entre, try the splendid grilled swordfish, served with rice pilaf, vegetables and garlic bread. Of course, the fish tacos or the crispy fish and chips make super standbys for fish fetishes. And while you're there, do your produce or beer and wine shopping . . . it's all one stop.

Services: Takeout available. Costa Mesa location open Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. till 8 p.m.; Sun. till 7 p.m.; Orange location open Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat. till 6 p.m. Most major credit cards accepted. Scampi Trattoria Bar N Grill1576 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949)645-8560

Good Italian food, good wine and good candlelight ambiance create a well-rounded dining experience at Scampi. If you're a martini connoisseur there are 12 flavors to choose from and a full bar at which to do it. For an antipasti appetizer, the mozzarella caprese is a cheesy delight: fresh buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes N extra virgin olive oil. The lasagna di mare, homemade seafood and fish lasagna with lobster sauce, is an entre your palate will always remember. For dessert the homemade tiramisu goes great with a nice espresso or cappuccino, so save room! Scampi also has a large banquet room available, holding up to 400 people, for special parties.

Services: Takeout, delivery and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun.-Thurs., 5-10:30 p.m.; Fri. N Sat., 5-11 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested. Parking available. Serra's Bar N Grill859 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Canyon Rd., (949) 497-2566

Craving Turkish?? OK, how about trying the manti, a plate of heavenly prepared Turkish ravioli? Or the luscious lamb kebab will do your palate proud…. What about some handmade pita bread with Cacik, a Turkish yogurt dip? For a little variety, there's always the mixed kebab combination plate. All right, now it's time to cut a rug to Turkish, Persian, Arabic and Latin tunes via live music or a dynamite DJ. If that's not enough, the crazy staff at Serra's will keep you entertained with their antics.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Open daily, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations are essential on weekends.Skewers298 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-6459

The first and only full-blown brewery in Costa Mesa, Skewers boasts a fine selection of in-house beers. “Yeast” lovers must try the Yellow Tail Pale Ale—an award-winning recipe that won a silver medal in the National Brew Festival in 1996. The food menu features wood-burned pizzas, steaks, seafood and chicken dishes. And, of course, you'll choose from a variety of fantastic tasting skewers (kabobs), such as the Maui beef kabob, which features top sirloin marinated in a blend of teriyaki and fresh pineapple sauce, ginger, garlic, green onions and sesame seed. Come in and fill up!

Services: Takeout available. Open Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 4:30-9 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested.Steelhead Brewing Company4175 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 856-2227

Steelhead Brewing Co. is an authentic microbrewery in the heart of Irvine. The resident brewmaster creates the potent Steelhead Amber on the premises and features a number of quality international wheats and stouts for your drinking rapture. They also offer a great selection of food. Wood-fired pizza or juicy steak are the perfect complement to a pint of Steelhead Amber. Located in the thriving University Center across from UCI, the place is always jumping and can accommodate large parties. The outdoor patio has heat lamps to augment the cigar friendly ambiance, with special cigar nights happening every three months. Live entertainment busts the house Thursday though Saturday, 9 p.m. till closing—no cover charge. Sunday and Monday nights offer a special late-night happy hour, 9 p.m.-closing.

Services: Takeout available. Full bar. Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-midnight (or later). All major credit cards accepted.Sushi of Naples5470 E. 2nd St., Naples in Long Beach, (562) 434-1122; 735 E. Green St., Pasadena, (626) 578-1123

Sushi of Naples doesn't offer salmon skin rolls in Alfredo sauce. What it does have is authentic, strictly Japanese sushi made from the healthiest cuts of fresh, quality fish around. Sushi lovers can enjoy a fulfilling evening of good, artistically prepared entres or sushi. They have four experienced chefs who create such enticing entres as their beef sukiyaki: thinly sliced prime beef with tofu and vegetables simmered in a unique special sauce. Also take advantage of the sundry house special rolls, including the tiger roll with shrimp tempura, avocado, masago, cucumber and spicy sprouts. Sayonara!

Services: Takeout and delivery available. Beer and wine only. Open Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10:45 p.m. AmEx, MC and Visa accepted. Parking available.

Taste Of Orange CountyEl Toro Marine Corps Air Station

This is Southern California's longest running, best-attended restaurant and entertainment festival, highlighted by a diverse sampling of cuisine from Orange County's best restaurants, three stages of continuous live music, world class chef demonstrations, family entertainment and activities designed for children from the “Kid's Stuff Expo,” and nonstop comedy from the comedy showcase. Featured bands include: The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bobby Redfield (hot Latin jazz), The Delphines (with Go-Go's Kathy Valentine N Gina Schock), and Parkaimoon (power rock). There will also be a 10, 25, N 50-mile bike tour on Saturday, June 26th and a 5k N 10k run/rollerblade event.

Admission: $8, adults; 12 and under free; $10 weekend pass. Sign up online in advance at www.tasteofoc.com.Thai Wave211 62nd St., Newport Beach, (949) 645-3078

Lots of loving spices like chiles, gingery galanga root, lemongrass and garlic in Thai Wave's gourmet servings. The chicken Panang has a chile paste mix in a base of coconut milk that gives the mouth a unique zing! The seafood is also spicy, punchy and delectable. You'd be wise to try the catfish served with curry sauce or the whitefish filet dashed with chile sauce to make you sweat a little. The sticky rice with mango is utterly terrific. This cuisine is purifying and salubrious to the system!

Services: Takeout, delivery and catering available. Beer N wine only. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 4-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Tropics Lounge8901 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 848-3886

Karaoke rules (Sun.-Thurs.) at the Tropics, so there's always entertainment while you dine on seafood or steak. Everything is made fresh to order, including the homemade Caribbean sauce and salad dressing that comes with most meals. There is something for everyone on the menu, from the heavenly ribs and salad bar to the blackened salmon with Cajun spice, served with a baked potato, rice and vegetables. Steaks come in petite or supreme cuts, and there's also a children's menu. The restaurant has multiple levels and big but quaint booths, or you might dine outdoors on the smoker-friendly patio.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available.University CenterCampus Dr. across from UC Irvine, (949) 854-3779

The University Center is the heart and soul of Irvine's night life. The proximity to UCI gives it a hip college vibe, which lends itself well to the famous Irvine Improv, Art House, and Dublin's Irish Pub. But entertainment is just the beginning of what the University Center offers. More than a dozen restaurants suit every taste, lifestyle and price range, from the simple perfection of In-N-Out's burgers to the fine cuisine of Sagami Japanese restaurant. Asia Noodle Caf and China Town lend their continental tastes, and Noah's Bagels, Spoons and Mrs. Fields offer authentic American foods. Steelhead Brewery and the new Trocadero are great places for drinks and tasty food, but Diedrich Coffee delivers the caffeine. Z Pizza is also here for your casual dining pleasure. At the University Center, you can do it all.

Services vary by restaurant.Viva644 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, (562) 435-4048

After a hard day's morning walking an art exhibit, Viva is a mandatory stop to recharge the intellectual batteries and the growling stomach. It's all about Latin American cuisine in a casual and stylish restaurant located next door to the Museum of Latin American Art. The moderately priced menu will periodically offer special dishes that reflect the changing exhibitions at the museum. For intimate conversation or budding romance, the outdoor patio is secluded, a perfect setting for an appetizer, coffee or dessert. The warm and cosmopolitan ambiance makes this a revolucion of the senses.

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. AE, MC and Visa accepted. Parking available.Westcliff Plaza17th St. N Irvine Ave, Newport Beach

With its great variety of restaurants, you're sure to find whatever you crave at Westcliff Plaza. Pasta Bravo specializes in a variety of healthy, homemade pastas and pasta salads. All menu items are cooked fresh-to-order and can be quickly prepared and packaged to go or delivered. Pick-up Stix serves up contemporary Chinese cuisine. Don't miss their full “heart-healthy” menu. In the mood for Mexican? La Salsa uses only the freshest ingredients for all its meals and serves them at extremely reasonable prices. Although Mrs. Beasley's Muffins and Miss Grace Lemon Cake Co. are famous for their gift baskets and tempting treats, they also have lunch menus featuring sandwiches and salads. Don't forget the goodies at Helen Grace Chocolates, and top it off with the fresh-roasted coffees at Starbucks.

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