Sausage Party In Orange County!

Sausage might just be the most universal meat in the world—hell, even vegans have soyrizo. And Orange County, unsurprisingly, hosts a United Nations worth of tube steaks, from the tried-and-true hot dog to South African monsters that resemble pythons ready to strike from the grill. Behold, then, 40 great places to enjoy all the chorizo, bratwurst, hot dogs, kielbasa—a veritable sausage party—you can stand to stuff down your gullet this Labor Day weekend. We've broken it up into two parts: delis and restaurants. Enjoy, and don't forget the liverwurst!

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You wouldn't think it, but the Chinese-centric 99 Ranch Market chain has an overwhelming selection of longanisa, the king of Filipino sausages. Pampanga and Martin Purefoods—the Hormel and Oscar Meyer of Filipino tube steaks—dominate the frozen aisle with varieties that range from a spicy longanisa to a sweet version called hamonado longanisa to a chicken variant. You can opt for skin or no skin. There's even an option for vegan Filipinos (a species of human rarer than honest politicians). And if you think the frozen section is where it ends, you're wrong: Racks of fresh Filipino sausages in just as many varieties hang near the butcher's section as well. Find your nearest location at

You may not have forgiven Costco for swapping out the $1.50 Hebrew National food-court hot dogs with its Kirkland brand, but when the Aidells sampling booth shows up at the mega-warehouse, you'll miss them just a little bit less. Aidells' sausages are available at other markets, of course, but the fun is in the sampling. When the brand comes to Costco, it brings its entire roster, all of them heating in crockpots. You can even get seconds. And you'll want more of the chicken apple sausage, one of its most popular. When you get home after not being able to resist buying a year's supply, there's not much you have to do with them—they're fully cooked (though a nice sear on a griddle to burnish the casing with char will only do wonders). Find your nearest location at

People literally swoon upon eating the sandwiches at Cortina's. No, really. We've seen it happen. One that inspires such a reaction? The sausage sandwich, in which two fat, subtly spiced homemade links are split in half lengthwise, sliced, and then layered with near-liquefied sweet peppers on a pillow of bread. It's the kind of messy, overstuffed hoagie that disintegrates if you hold it wrong. You eat half, and tell yourself you'll eat the other half later, realizing only when there's nothing left but crumbs and puddles of juice and sauce that you just unknowingly ate the whole thing by yourself in one sitting. And just wait until Cortina's reopens its original Anaheim location—place has more sausages than Oktoberfest in Munich. 964 N. Batavia St., Orange, (714) 997-3663;

Ochoa's chorizo is nothing new to the region—for the past 35 years, the barrios of South Santa Ana have consumed with glee the green chorizo prepared by the Ochoa family, hand-cranked individually by the progeny of Aurora Ochoa. She's well into her abuelita years now, but a couple of years ago, her children decided to legitimize the family trade, found the current location and bought professional equipment to boost production. And boy, have they: Whereas the family traditionally made around 500 pounds of chorizo links per week, the current output is around 2,500 pounds per week—more than a ton. Its fame is now countywide, its devotees hipsters and wabs alike—and the family continues to churn on. 220 W. Warner Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 850-0052.

El Gaucho Meat Market is famous around Anaheim for its Argentine restaurant, its flat-screens perpetually tuned to one soccer match or another, and its massive deli case. And if you're at an Argentine meat market, the sausage of order is the morcilla, turgid blood sausage that plumps up perfectly on the grill. But also available, playing the McCartney to the morcilla's Lennon, is the chorizo. This isn't your Mexican chorizo (and never compare an Argie to a Mexi again, carajo): This is pork at its leanest, with just the slightest bit of fat to gush out of its taut case, to make the sausage curl up ever so slightly once you're heating it up. Regardless of sausage selection, douse them in copious amounts of El Gaucho's homemade chimichurri. 847 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 776-6400.

OC's South African expat community is large enough that it has supported African Hut, a store specializing in South African produce, for more than a decade. It's a tiny shop, about the size of a living room, but it stocks nearly everything a South African needs to re-create home, from curries and beef jerkies right down to the tubes of Ingram's Champhor Cream for skin rashes. But what gets orders from across the country are the boerwors, spicy beef sausages that are the national meat of South Africa: perfect for grilling and stuffing into sandwiches or slicing for a scramble. It's so popular it sells them by the coiled kilo, and it has even recently introduced droerwors, the dried version of boerwors that just happens to be the best beef jerky on Earth. 27601 Forbes Rd., Laguna Niguel, (949) 582-9546;


Try the bratwurst first. The snappy natural skin is so crunchy you have to pierce it with your fork as if you're trying to deflate a tire. Then, in your mouth, you marvel as its peppery overtones and coarse texture follow. Next, try the knackwurst, a plump, meaty tube as smooth as mousse and pinkish in hue that tastes like the biggest, fluffiest, most garlicky hot dog in the world. Once you've eaten your share of sausages, either on a plate with a homemade potato salad or washed down with a hefty stein of German beer, take a few more home from the case, which houses the aforementioned sausages and many more such as liverwurst and blutwurst (German blood sausage). 1510 W. Imperial Hwy., Ste. C, La Habra, (562) 697-0333.

Aurora's tiny pie-wedge of a building houses a family business that makes only one thing: chorizo. Its commitment to make only the best chorizo with quality pork shows when you slice open the natural casing and fry one up: just enough fat, but no grease puddle as you would find with supermarket brands. Aurora's makes a mild red spiced with only paprika and no chiles, an exemplary spicy red, a meat-free soy chorizo, and a spicy, green chorizo that you won't easily find in most carnicerías. 1001 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 571-0383;

Whereas most sausages get their fame from their mix of spices and herbs, the small breakfast link popular in Japan has a flavor profile that's the opposite: subtly unspiced, with a restrained use of salt and pepper. You can taste the pork and its satisfying richnesss, with just a hint of smokiness, always encased in natural sheep casings that snap when you bite into the juicy links. In our county, the brand to buy is Sato-kun's Sausage, available in the fresh-meat case at Japanese supermarkets such as Mitsuwa and Marukai. Mitsuwa, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6699; also at 14230 Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 559-6633; Marukai, 2975 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-8433;

Yes, Cerritos isn't OC, but it might as well be, since our Filipinos usually trek to Island Pacific Market for their longanisa needs. There are always at least three or four varieties of them in the butcher case piled up in big heaps, each link a plump, short twist of natural hog casing. Some are dyed a bright crimson-red; others are a natural pork color but studded with large flecks of black pepper. Some are fresh, others cured to a drier consistency. Served with garlic fried rice and egg in the longsilog, it'll make you rethink your standing weekend appointment with pancakes and Jimmy Dean. 11481 South St., Ste. D, Cerritos, (562) 809-8889;

While a smattering of British-only grocers dot Orange County, the best source of British sausages is Nina's Indian and British Grocery in Lake Forest. Irish and English bangers from brands such as Jolly Good, Piccadilly, Glen Ri and Letsbuy British are available in the frozen-meat case. As for breakfast pudding, Nina's has the Shannon's brand. White pudding? Yep. 23542 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, (949) 583-2789;

The neighborhood butcher shop has been fading ever since Sam the Butcher went off the air with the rest of the Brady Bunch. But the Meat House is one of the good guys fighting the meat-industry tide. Every day, its butchers prepare a half-dozen fresh sausages made from pork, chicken, lamb and beef in an ever-changing range of flavors from bratwurst and bockwurst to a Moroccan merguez. 415 S. Associated Rd., Brea, (714) 529-6328; also at 103 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-6328; and 23982 Alicia Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 587-1013;

Whenever you taste the sweet snap of lap cheong—the rose-scented, sweet Chinese sausage that's arguably even more popular in Vietnam—think of California Sausage #2, a tiny storefront next to Garden Grove's Habitat for Humanity ReStore that makes tons of the treat for use on rice, in bao or next to eggs. The hours are wonky and inconsistent—go early—and there isn't always someone who'll answer the door, but it's worth the effort for the best pork or pork-chicken Chinese sausage in the county. 12821 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 539-5309;


There was no Taste of Newport this year, which meant there were no intoxicating wisps of sausage-scented smoke rising from Sabatino's centrally located, enormous charcoal grill. It doesn't matter; there are now three locations for that addictive, cheese-riddled, fennel-scented Italian sausage after years of stubbornly sticking to just one. Do you go to the original location, tucked away in the Lido Shipyard of Newport Beach, the pizzeria on the Balboa peninsula, or the freeway-convenient Lake Forest location? It doesn't matter so long as you go—and if you grill at home, don't pierce the sausage before you cook it. 251 Shipyard Way, Newport Beach, (949) 723-0621; also at 24301 Muirlands Blvd., Ste. M, Lake Forest, (949) 595-0210; and 406 32nd St., Newport Beach, (949) 723-1920;

It's crowded, it's cluttered, and there are always a million people who want the same thing you do, but it doesn't matter: If you want sausage to take home or a sandwich, Mattern is where you go. Ignore the ugly-ass Wienerschnitzel you have to pass to park, take a number, and wait your turn patiently. You'll hear German being spoken across the counter, and you'll see an impossible number of sausages in the display case, many of which were made right there. It's worth the wait, even at Christmas. 4327 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-3550.

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The tip jar is called a “collection box.” Happy Hours are called “Mass,” with a late-night one called “Midnight Mass.” The waitresses wear Catholic-schoolgirl uniforms with pleated skirts hitched far above the knee. Despite these blasphemous details, Congregation Ale House is downright liturgical with its sausages. The knife-scored bratwurst is roasted until the snappy casing nearly bursts, laid down not on a hot-dog bun or a roll, but rather a thick, halfway-folded flatbread that actually complements the sausage the same way a plain cracker highlights a piece of fine cheese. Before that, take on the sausage platter as an appetizer—a duck-and-bacon sausage and a pork-and-goat-cheese link are cut into coins and speared by toothpicks, ready for dunking into two kinds of mustard, one of them beer-infused. 201 E. Broadway Ave., Long Beach, (562) 432-2337;

Unlike other Irish pubs, Dublin 4 isn't a forced caricature. It is, instead, a tasteful, respectful, conscious attempt at a neighborhood bar that just happens to be owned by an actual Irishman. But because we've been conditioned into thinking a certain way about these kinds of bars, you don't go to Dublin 4 without ordering the fish and chips (which are exactly what you expect) and the bangers and mash (which won't be). Dublin 4 classes up its sausage-and-potato staple two ways: in one dish, the sausage is beer-braised and served alongside mashed potatoes so smooth they must be called pommes purée, and in another, the sausage is cut up and battered as though mini corn dogs and served with pickled onions and whole-grain mustard aioli for dipping. 26342 Oso Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 582-0026.

Cream Pan will forever be known throughout the annals of history as the bakery that produces the most wonderful strawberry croissants the world has ever known (you didn't know Cream Pan for this? Get thee to a Best Of!). But this pastry juggernaut has other items up its flour-covered sleeves. One of them: a sweet roll with a hot dog rammed up its dough-hole, the tops brushed with a sticky-sweet glaze that make them sparkle. You eat one knowing that every Asian bakery from the Korean to the Chinese to the Taiwanese makes its own version, but it's only here at Cream Pan that you can chase it with one of those strawberry croissants for dessert. 602 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 665-8239.

Berkeley Dog takes its name from Top Dog, a legendary stand in Berkeley that any Cal alum remembers fondly. With the blessings of the Bay Area restaurant, Berkeley Dog buys its sausages and buns from the same vendors and makes sandwiches as close as you'll get to the wellspring without booking a JetBlue flight to Oakland. The things to get? The bacon/hash brown dog. Or the German bratwurst, scented with nutmeg and marjoram. Or the kielbasa. Or, possibly, the classic natural-casing beef frank sluiced simply with chili and Cheddar. With two locations, in Downtown Brea and across from UC Irvine, Berkeley Dog leaves happy tube-steak memories for another generation of college grads. 215 W. Birch St., Ste. 2, Brea, (714) 257-0988; also at 4249 Campus Dr., Ste. B148, Irvine, (949) 387-2111;

The sole Laotian restaurant in OC, if not Southern California, Vientiane makes everything in-house because it's not like the Sysco truck can drop off a case of Lao curries in vacu-sealed boil-in bags. Foremost among the appetizers is an order of three small Lao sausages. Deep-fried until crisp-skinned, each slice of pork and rice offers an exotic vacation: slightly sweet, powerfully tart, aromatic with lemongrass. Served with a small dish of sauce equally complex on its own and complementary at the same time­­, it becomes a clanging gamelan of flavors and aromas. 10262 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 530-7523.


What's not to love about the sausages from Mattern Sausage & Meats? Nothing, except for the early-bird hours that make getting there before it closes impossible if you don't work anywhere near Orange. If Mattern's sausages are driven to you instead, what you have is the Viking Truck. And if those sausages come expertly grilled—for example, in the Thunder Dog, a Mattern brat topped with dark-ale chili, Cheddar, sour cream and spicy “Viking” ketchup—what you have is a delicious wonder of modern convenience beaten only by porn via the Internet. Follow the Viking Truck on Twitter: @TheVikingTruck.

Chicago is home to a gargantuan hot dog rivaled only by the oversized deep-dish pizza, with strict rules dictating an authentic experience. Only a Vienna Beef frank will do. It must have the bright, traffic-light-green Chicago-style relish. It must have tomato slices and hot, pickled sport peppers heaped in a poppy-seed bun. You can customize yours with bacon or cheese, but if the basics aren't there, it's not an authentic Chicago dog. How this overloaded monstrosity came to define the Windy City is a mystery lost in the fog of time. But in our fair county, only a handful of restaurants serve the real deal, and one of them is the ironically named Just Hot Dogs, which also happens to make a proper Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich. 15223 Beach Blvd., Westminster, (714) 379-5200;

Are the grilled Vietnamese “meatballs” called nem nuong still sausages if they're not encased in a skin and shaped as a nighstick? Think of it as a rebellious pink slab of sausage meat raising an indifferent middle finger at the rest of the sausage world because it's its own, very delicious thing: a dense slab of pork and garlic that takes on the smoky flavors of the grill on which it was char-marked. The best place in the county to experience it is a restaurant that's named after both the dish and the part of Vietnam known for preparing it. Here, the nem is grilled fresh to order for the spring roll called nem nuong cuon, so it's piping-hot every time. Rolled into a fresh rice-paper skin along with fresh herbs, lettuce and a cucumber spear, it's the perfect textural triad of crisp, crunch and chew. 9738 Westminster Ave., Ste. 102, Garden Grove, (714) 539-3710;

Look at it from the top, and you'll think the Baked Italian is a piece of freshly cooked lasagna rather than a sausage sandwich. Melted and fused over the gap is a circular slice of provolone sealing it like a drum. Then there's a chicken mole sausage for which the kitchen smears garlic aioli, spoons on beet relish, then lays down a sunny-side-up quail egg whose yolk is destined to burst all over as though a sauce. And there's this: every sausage is cradled in bread that should always accompany sausages of this caliber—a roll made by bread genius Dean Kim of the OC Baking Co. Taut and shiny on its crust, fluffy and supple in its interior crumb, you enjoy it as much as you do the sausages themselves. 436 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-9453;

If you've not been to Thai Nakorn yet, what's wrong with you? Go already to OC's best Thai restaurant, and order the Thai sausage, two tangy links mottled by char, sliced in slits, then served with a wedge of raw cabbage, raw ginger, peanuts and a lime. You eat it with your hands. Some people like slipping a piece of tangy, subtly spicy sausage inside a cabbage leaf, then chasing it down the gullet with a bite of ginger. You can consume it any way you like—just go and do it. 11951 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 799-2031; also at 12532 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 583-8938;

Are you anemic? Eat soondae, Korean blood sausage. Looking at it, there's absolutely no question it's pork blood bound with noodles in sausage casings, but the rich taste will blow away any ickiness factor. Seoul Soondae in Garden Grove's Little Seoul district does it best in OC, putting it in soup called soondae guk, because as the slices of what English people euphemistically call “black pudding” float in the soup, the soup gets richer and richer. 8757 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 636-0686.


The only place to sit at Guicho's is at the bar in the front window, watching all the food come in in cardboard takeout boxes. A fine-dining hall with linen napkins and a sommelier this is not, but when you open one of those boxes to find homemade Italian sausage tucked into a crusty roll with peppers, onions and the best giardinera this side of Philadelphia, you won't care. Make sure to try the grilled shrimp salad, too—after all, Nonna said to eat your vegetables! 1110 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 481-1070; also at 440 Camino de Estrella, San Clemente, (949) 248-1910;

Owner Dee Nguyen isn't Hawaiian—he's from the Bay Area—and he isn't a surfer (though we would pay money to see that), but he certainly knows his way around the Hawaiian breakfast known as Portuguese sausage. An enormous cylinder is cut into pieces and served with rice; a vinegary, pickled, green-papaya salad; two fried eggs; and scallion purée. There are other places that purport to serve Hawaiian food in OC, but none of them makes Portuguese sausage as well as this, the best breakfast spot in town and one of the few arguments against discorporating Laguna Niguel. 24351 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418;

Kishka, also known as stuffed derma, is matzoh meal with schmaltz (chicken fat) and onions stuffed into sausage casings, then grilled and served with beef gravy. Who could hate that? It's the archetypal Ashkenazi Jewish sausage, it's served at weddings, and it's best at Katella Deli, OC's finest attempt at replicating New York food. It's also one of the ways to tell whether a deli is actually catering to Jewish people (especially old Jewish people)—or it's all yarmulke and no phylacteries. Kishka with gravy? You're not going to find that at Jerry's Deli. 4470 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-8611;

Every European worth his funny hat knows the best way to enjoy a sausage is by eating it in the company of a tall, frosty stein of beer. Knackwurst, bratwurst, weisswurst—doesn't matter; beer is required. This is why Tustin Brewing Co.'s sausage platter is the best bar snack in Orange County. The platter comes with three huge sausages: a spicy one, a bratwurst and a kielbasa, with red potato salad, sauerkraut and seeded mustard. It's just tangy and spicy enough to make you order another excellent house beer. 13011 Newport Blvd., Tustin, (714) 665-BEER;

How can we have a list of sausages without a German restaurant? At Anaheim's storied Jägerhaus, $12 gets you two sausages of your choice (bratwurst, knackwurst or kielbasa) with bread, butter and your choice of two side dishes. It's a gargantuan feast. If you happen to get up early enough, you can have your choice of sausage with eggs, toast and owner Sandra Schwaiger's amazing homemade preserves. All you need is a tall frosty mug of Hofbrauhaus and a piece of Apfelstrudel mit Obers for dessert. 2525 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 520-9500;

Call them danger dogs, call them border dogs, call them Sonoran or ghetto dogs—whatever, as long as you eat the bacon-wrapped version of them from this tiny metal cart in downtown SanTana. They're grilled, then dumped into a roll with structural integrity problems (you've been warned, watch out for your shirt) and dressed with anything you like. If you order them con todo, you'll get the mayo-mustard-ketchup trio, grilled onions and jalapeños, and hot sauce, plenty of slick grease to help you stagger into the next bar. On the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway, Santa Ana. No phone number.

Yes, Artesia isn't in OC, but it may as well be, since our Filipinos usually trek to Magic Wok if they want to go to a restaurant for longanisa. Magic Wok bifurcates each link and lets the flat side sizzle on the griddle until the sugar caramelizes to a sticky crispiness. Each one is served with garlic fried rice and a fried egg. You quench everything with douses of vinegar, which is the only substance on Earth capable of cutting through the sweet and fatty richness. And all this time you thought bacon was the best thing the pig has contributed to breakfast. . . . 11869 Artesia Blvd., Artesia, (562) 865-7340.

Those crazy Dogzilla boyos keep amping up their Asian-bro (Am-Brosian?) aesthetic seemingly every month, with towers of toppings over sturdy buns and sausages strong enough to serve as a mini-baton in a pinch. Still, our favorite is the yakisoba dog. From the King's Hawaiian Bread roll to the hot link with a nice snap to the messy yakisoba noodles soaked in okonomi sauce to the sweet bite of the red ginger and that brilliant finish of crunchy aonori—it's a mountain of manliness. Follow Dogzilla on Twitter: @dogzillahotdogs.


This standby's Falstaffian chef, Alan Greeley, changes his menu the way most of us change channels on a Wednesday night, so there's no guarantee his choucroute will be around when you visit. But the Alsatian classic—a bunch of German sausages of varying lengths and girths served alongside sauerkraut and silky mashed and fingerling potatoes—is the original sausage party in Orange County, a gargantuan meal that can't possibly be finished in three sittings. The choucroute not on the menu on the day you visit? Ask for Greeley, ask for the plate, ask him to retell the story of cutting grass at a nunnery, and he just might laugh so hard he'll do the dish for you on the spot. 1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-9858;

This Old Towne Orange newbie has already established itself as the ideal nightcap for an evening of eating or drinking in the area, with its collection of in-house sausages presented in OC Baking Co. buns. And while some of the creations are more baroque than The Well Tempered-Clavier (and the DIY option as multivaried as a fugue), you know this place knows its wieners, even the simple beauty of a Coney Dog—just chili, onions, mustard and the sausage, tart and sweet and just the slightest bit messy to remind you of the brilliance of Detroit, now and forever. 238 W. Chapman Ave., Ste. 100, Orange, (714) 744-3647;

Sojouk remains one of the most criminally underappreciated sausages in Southern California, an Armenian take on chorizo that became a standard of Levantine cooking due to the diaspora. It probably finds its best home in sphihas, Lebanese takes on the personal pizza that are baked to order at Al Amir, perhaps the best sphiha shop in Little Arabia. Here, the sojouk is released from its casing and mixed up with cheese—think of it as a sausage pizza, except halal and with a can of Vimto to wash it all down. 2281 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 535-0973;

Game Day's owners turned what was once a dank, depressing former Taco Bell slopping enchiritos into a mini sports shrine, complete with pictures of the greats (Ali, Jordan, Ruth), pennants, license plates—all that's missing is a kegger, and you'd have the type of sports pub found in Ann Arbor or Chapel Hill. There's no liquor license, alas, but more than making up for it are hot dogs taken from the many American regional traditions of the foodstuff—all of them great takes, too. 3009 E Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-3388;

If ever there was a restaurant that should hang the ubiquitous Warner Bros. cartoon sign “Eat at Joe's,” it's this Fullerton madhouse, not the least reason being that its name is—you guessed it!—Joe's. For those skittish about meats that don't hail from cows or pigs, there's no better way to try them than in sausage form, in which delicious parts are hidden in a tube, then tucked into a bun. The menu at Joe's boasts a variety of esoteric brats you won't find at Der Wienerschnizel—wild boar, ostrich, rattlesnake and rabbit, as well as duck and alligator, all spiced to perfection and topped with complementing extras such as caramelized onions, peppers, artisanal ketchup and brown mustard. 124 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 879-2600;

We get press releases from this Huntington Beach hot-dog stand seemingly every other week, announcing each new concoction—a Sonoran dog! A Hatch dog (or was it a burger)? A Big Larry dog, whatever the hell that is! And while we usually delete press releases upon receiving them (and often ignore the few press releases we do read), we not only pay attention to Pee Wee's, but we also go down there and try the whole menu. But sometimes, simplest is superior, and that's the case with its Chicago dog—which features the regular condiments (sport peppers, sickly-sweet relish), but puts Vienna's best on King's Hawaiian Bread and decorates it with a refreshing island relish—and a chili dog straight out of a Little League double-header. Wait . . . that's not on the menu anymore, replaced by a gorgeous beast called a Don Corleone. Oh, you kids! 5942 Edinger Ave., Ste. 104, Huntington Beach, (714) 846-3100;

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