Next to Aliso Viejo, no OC city is more forgotten than Placentia. It's a town usually more remembered for what it isn't (that is, it's not Fullerton or Brea or Yorba Linda or even La Habra) and for breeding shady council members and politicians the way Huntington Beach produces surfers. Landlocked and sunbaked, most Placentians get the hell out of there come summertime, decamping to the beach or other, better-manicured parks than their own, ever since the City Council tried to put fences around Placentia's open space. Nice!
With nothing to do, residents are driven to eat and drink. Mornings in the city still start at the Mini Gourmet (1210 Yorba Linda Blvd., 714-524-1611), the legendary diner where legendary sports columnist TJ Simers is known to spend many a breakfast interviewing everyone from Tommy Lasorda to good ol' folks. Omelets and waffles and pancakes fuel the fire for a mostly fiftysomething crowd.
Lunchtimes should be spent at Tony's Little Italy (1808 N. Placentia Ave., 714-528-2159; www.tonyslittleitaly.com), makers of one of the finest deep-dish pizzas in OC: as thick as a Tom Clancy novel, with the circumference of a basketball hoop. It also sells subs and such Italian-American classics as spaghetti, ravioli and mostaccioli. But the focus is on the pizza—just as it says on the window. Afterward, head to Old Town Placentia and walk down one of OC's few remaining original downtowns. Walked off your pizza? Now submit to the gargantuan wet burrito at 301 Cafe (301 W. Santa Fe Ave., 714-996-8001), a mass of beef con chile colorado, with the ever-present melted yellow cheese and canned red salsa on top. It's a seemingly mundane thing, and the puréed guacamole looks like something out of a Sunset article from the Nixon era. And yet . . . it all works.
And maybe because it is one of OC's least appealing summer towns, Placentia features a vibrant bar scene, with no place more hopping than the beer-only TJ's Cocktails (1164 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., 714-996-0929). Ladies, ask for Vic the Gent, and your night will be complete.
And if entertainment's your thing, the place to go is Sunday brunch at Tlaquepaque (101 W. Santa Fe Ave., 714-528-0110, www.tlaquepaquerestaurant.com). The iconic restaurant quietly reopened some years ago after a mysterious fire nearly shut it down for good. Back and better than ever, the buffet shines while the mariachis sing—ask for “Tu Enamorado” or “La Cama de Piedra,” and the mariachi may buy you a shot or four for actually knowing your classics.