Dueling Dishes: Battle Funnel Cakes

It is patently unfair to compare a previously-frozen Jack in the Box funnel cake that goes for a dollar a piece to one made-to-order by a family business at Habibi's Funnel Cakes. But the fact that both are available for purchase literally on opposite sides of one Tustin street seems to warrant some sort of discussion.

Habibi's is at one end of El Camino Real (where it meets Redhill); Jack in the Box is at the other (where it meets Newport). Both are equidistant and within walking distance to Tustin High School, which supplies the majority of their funnel cake consumers.


Jack in the Box has their funnel cakes on special, along with caramel-filled churro bites that are entirely unfit for those who wish to stave off diabetes. Their funnel cakes though, are surprisingly good. It's true that they're refried from frozen and fit loosely to the funnel cake definition only if you squint your eyes and excuse its flatness; but what it reminds me of are the crispy, crumbly crusts of a cake donut. It's quick, instant gratification for when you crave a fried piece of sweetness that you can eat with one hand.

Meanwhile, Habibi's funnel cakes are true funnel cakes. They're made to order, employing a gigantic metal spout in which the batter is slowly weaved around in a stream to form the matrix that solidifies and browns in hot oil. A liberal dusting of sugar and some fruit topping later, and your crispy nest of fried dough can easily become a dessert that eclipses your dinner. Fork and knife are often required. At last check, their cheapest model, a 4-inch mini funnel cake, retails for $1.99–a more than fair price for a proper funnel cake.

So who's the winner? I'm not going to pick one. I like both. But I'll give the slight edge to Habibi because of the fruit option. When you add fruit to funnel cake, it automatically becomes good for you right? Right?

Habibi's Funnel Cake, 1450 El Camino Real, Unit B, Tustin; Jack in the Box, 14002 Newport Ave., Tustin.

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