This Week in Beef That's Not Steak or Hamburgers

Who doesn't love beef? Okay, maybe not Hindus. Or vegetarians. Or Eric Schlosser fans. But nearly every culture loves to cook cow—minced, in a soup, stewed, even in balls mixed with cracked wheat. While steak and hamburger patties are just dandy, the following restaurants offer meat in ways that make a steak house look as puny as a Kucinich fund-raiser spread.


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$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eres muy rico!


Allegro has a mind-blowing osso buco: veal shank simmered for four hours in fresh garden vegetables and a rich assortment of herbs. The meat is so righteously tender you don't need a knife. Perhaps best of all, there is plenty of tasty, soft marrow in the bones waiting to be scooped out. 1160 N. Tustin, Orange, (714) 639-7921. $$


The karahi lamb will blow your mouth into a new orbit. Prepared with a dictionary's worth of herbs and spices, the taste is an unbelievable medley of flavors. And the nihara's beef is so tender it's like butter. 8901-D Knott Ave., Buena Park, (714) 827-7201. $


You know how some barbecue places use their sauce not so much as an ingredient but as a camouflaging agent? At the Firehouse, barbecue dishes are lightly suffused so they'll never lose their intrinsic meatness, whether it's the beef, chicken, turkey breast or chili dog. When you order the chili, be sure to say yes when they offer cheese and onions—it kicks the flavor over the top. 3991 Irvine Blvd., Irvine, (714) 731-5818. $


The phrase “food coma” was invented for the visceral carnality that clogs your pores at Green Field Churrascaria, which specializes in the terrifying meat onslaught known as churrascaria, or Brazilian barbecue. Churrascaria is pricey, but here's what you get: all-you-can eat Brazilian sausage, tightly packed and burned to nirvana, like a non-sweet Chinese sausage; a chicken thigh, good but perhaps too dry; and beef loin, best ever, rare but hot clear through. And this is only the first offering—the folks at Green Field will not be satisfied until meat starts poking out of your ears. 5305 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 597-0906. $$


There's always cops out front of Fullerton's Kung Pao Bowl. That's a good sign: cops know where the best deals are, since they have to eat out on a public servant's wages. Pile on the kung pao here as an ode to the restaurant's name: the shrimp, chicken and beef are all nicely spicy, though the beef is the best. 217 N. Euclid, Fullerton, (714) 680-9793.


Whether tucked between two bread slices or served alongside rondures of rice and macaroni salad, the beef at Matiki Island Barbeque is among the most memorably delicious pieces of cow you'll ever chew: ruddy, soft, not burned at all, a veritable luau on your palate. That beef and other entres are the sole enticers here—no need for Polynesian bric-a-brac when the food is a slice of the island alongside two scoops of rice and one of macaroni salad. 3070 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 821-5228. $


This establishment's barbecue is definitely Memphis-style, from the secret sauce with 20 ingredients to the beef brisket. The menu is your basic barbecue, but choosing what to eat isn't easy because everything is so good. 11513 Knott Ave., Cypress, (714) 799-6222. $


Keep it simple, folks: go for the No. 2 meal. It begins life as frozen beef shavings. Mmmm. . . shavings. Ladle on your choice of oils, sauces, spices and roughage. It will be transformed into a sizzling feast. 369 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-4644. $


O'Malley's covers all the bases of pub grub, with nachos, quesadillas and chicken wings on one side and Irish sausage rolls, corned beef, and bangers and mash on the other. Their shepherd pie comes with a slagheap of tasty mashed potatoes on top that utterly hides the stew from the light (and oxygen) of day. 140 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 430-0631. $$


Pho Saigon Bowl's deliciously nutritious version of spring rolls is heaven on the half-shell, and their beef pho is pretty damn great as well. And while you're there, be sure to say “hi” to the Brazen Buddha. The big-bellied statue, a drink in his hand, drags on an unlit ciggie—a greeting to all who enter. 2024 N. Tustin, Orange, (714) 974-2997. $


There are only two teppan tables at this modest place, but the chefs perform like kung-fu movie stars with a license to grill when they serve up tender chicken and steak with ginger, hot mustard and teriyaki sauces on the side. 1936 E. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1765. $$


This restaurant primarily serves German-inspired food, but such dishes as the Chalet Fischteller (sauteed shrimp, scallops and clams in a white wine-tarragon cream sauce and served on linguine) and a pfeffersteak (filet of beef tenderloin sauteed in a clarified butter on a four peppercorn-whiskey cream sauce) display interesting Italian and French touches. Since this is alpine food, Swiss Chalet also features many veal dishes. 216 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 492-7931. $$


No one competes with the food at this taco joint because the albondigas are jaw-breaker-sized meatballs, plump with rice, in a delicate, clove-tinged broth with oregano and dried chile flakes, plus freshly minced onion served on the side. 480 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 771-5819.


Start with their tom kah gai soup, a creamy, flavorful offering of the popular Thai chicken-coconut soup; then try the beef panang. It rates pretty high on the beef panang scale—and it'll make you sweat. 28051 Greenfield Dr., Ste. J, Laguna Niguel, (949) 643-5521. $


For the past five years, Zena's has been dishing up the finest kibbe south of the Middle East. They bake the lean ground beef, cracker wheat, onions and mild spices using recipes that have been passed down the past 1,000 years. The owners recommend a toke of shisa before dinner—a water pipe puff of aromatic tobacco soaked with your choice of fruit syrup. 2094 N. Tustin, Orange, (714) 279-9511. $

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