Sample size was, frankly, a little thin, but the results were better than either of the print papers' responses, perhaps because the Chowhound community tends to be a little bit more obsessive about food than your average Orange Countian.
The Chowhound poll is divided into two sections, over $25 and under $25 for a single person. What exactly that $25 is for is not made clear (entree? meal? tax and tip?), so mid-range restaurants may fall on either side. Readers list their five top choices in each category, in order (first choice is given five points, second choice gets four points, etc.)
The results in the over-$25 category, with the number of points they received:
1. Marche Moderne, 52
2. Mastro's, 29
3. Old Vine Café, 19
4. Sushi Shibucho, 18
5. Maki Zushi, 14
Nothing surprising there, and Marche Moderne does deserve to win (though with nearly twice the points of anywhere else?). Mastro's is where you go for steak and martinis; Maki
Zushi was a bit of a surprise, though, because they've yo-yo'ed with their menu
and the experience is so different if you sit at a table than if you sit in front of Yoshi at the sushi bar.
The under-$25 top five were as follows:
1. Thai Nakorn, 28
2. Mariscos Puerto Esperanza, 25
2. Santouka, 25
4. Shin Sen Gumi, 17
5. Veggie Grill, 12
I'm absolutely willing to concede that
Thai Nakorn is probably in the right spot. I have heard some disturbing things about the service at Mariscos
Puerto Esperanza in the wake of the Register's review; I haven't been
able to get there to verify for myself, though, so those things are
firmly in the “hearsay” column.
Break of Dawn should have been in the top five, and while I like Shin
Sen Gumi it's neither the best yakitori nor the best ramen in the
county. And Merhaba getting five votes to Tana's two? Are you bloody well kidding me? And whoever voted for Avila's El Ranchito needs to be locked up and not allowed to have input on where to eat dinner.
Free tip to Pizzeria Ortica: you're not higher on the list because people think you're impossible to get into and they think you're twice the price you actually are.
Read the entire results here, and thanks to longtime Chowhound OCAnn for running the poll and crunching the numbers.