Great delis in Orange County office towers or office parks are notoriously rare. Irvine has Mick’s Karma Bar (makers of OC’s best hamburgers) and South Indian stalwart Vishnu; Orange has Dean Kim’s OC Baking Co. And . . . that’s about it—almost all other entries in this genre serve the same tired croissant sandwiches for breakfast and wraps for lunch, closing by dinnertime with no one giving a damn.
And then there’s Amarith Cafe in Orange, perhaps the most inaccessible office deli of them all. It’s inside one of the two towers on the corner of Main Street and La Veta Avenue that currently houses a Union Bank. There is no sign for it on any public street, and the tower directory still identifies Amarith by the name of its space’s previous tenant. To enjoy your meal, you’re going to have to park across the street at CVS to avoid paying at the tower’s parking structure or incurring the wrath of Union Bank’s 20-minute parking-space policy. But here is a delightful place, a quick-bite type of spot that exudes happiness. Flat-screens around Amarith broadcast daily specials or rotate graphics extolling the virtues of superfoods (turmeric and moringa were in heavy rotation recently). The soundtrack plays everything from Belle & Sebastian to “The Final Countdown”). And if there’s an adult running Amarith, I’ve yet to see one: All I’ve ever met are Asian-American kids who look a year removed from pledging Kappa Zeta Phi.
For being such a small eatery, Amarith is boldly ambitious. It makes 16 scrambles ranging from paleo to carnivore to Mexican and even Cambodian. A turkey sausage brioche with a Sriracha aioli deserves its own Instagram hashtag; daily specials range from homemade hummus on Wednesdays to bún on Thursdays to an all-Mexican affair on Tuesdays featuring nearly perfect nachos. And then there’s the best item here: a Cambodian bánh mì that’s a take on Manhattan’s famous Num Pang sandwich empire, down to the garlicky chicken and a chile mayo that actually singes. Too much talent at Amarith’s current spot is being wasted on ungrateful office drones—someone find an investor, stat!
Amarith Cafe, 500 S. Main St., Ste. 102, Orange, (714) 667-8045; www.amarithcafe.com.