This Week in Doran

Hi! My name is Doran Walot, and I'm interning this summer at the Weekly. Gustavo was too busy so he had me take over Grub Guide for the week. Fear not, though: given my 17-odd years OC dining experience, I'm more than qualified. Besides, Gustavo will be back next week, so take this opportunity to enjoy an intro free of mixed metaphors, Spanglish and arcane Simpsonsreferences.






This is an institution you can take your out-of-town relatives to. There, you can sample moderately priced seafood cooked on skewers in cramped booths next to goofy fishing-themed artwork. But first you have to stand outside and wait for your table because this is a first-come-first-served place. 2200NewportBlvd.,NewportBeach,(949)673-0100;1726017thSt.,Tustin,(714)573-1077.$

One of OC's finest Cuban joints. Lunches run more than $5, but you'd be foolish to nix the chicken embajador on the patio during a warm afternoon. This place is legendary, and it smells damn good, too. 36PlazaSquare,Orange,(714)633-5842.$$

The menu is hi-fi breakfast/lunch food. The grilled-chicken caesar salad is distinctly clean and refreshing, letting you taste each ingredient in the mix, and the Old Towne scramble proves this is a very good place to wake up in. 201 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 289-9714; $

Indistinguishable from the gelato shops you find in Italy. Go there now. 2756E.PacificCoastHwy.,CoronadelMar,(949)721-1160.¢

Hipster Orange County's favorite place to ogle progressive waitresses. The menu is still filled with an eclectic collection of healthy post-hippie sandwiches, and the décor is almost identical, from the earthy walls to the funky art. 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 835-8840; 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 549-7012; $

The ambiance makes this the perfect date restaurant. The Nuevo Latino menu leans toward Cuban but mixes in Jamaican, Mexican and other flavors. The bar serves some of the best sangria around, and the lemon-drop martinis are near-legendary. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-0176; $$

The food is scrumptious, and their buffet lunch (open seven days per week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) is accessible to those of us whose incomes are in inverse proportion to our large appetites. Dinner entrées include the stuff of dreams: a half-dozen lamb dishes in a variety of sauces and curries ranging from mild to fiery, tandoori quail, kebabs, lentil soups and fried samosas. 688BakerSt.,Ste.8,CostaMesa,(714)668-9661.$

The perfect fish-and-chips search ends here. Five pieces of fresh red snapper are piled atop skin-on shoestring fries made from realpotatoes.The batter on the fish is golden and puffy, like fried cumulus clouds. And the Irish soda bread will make you a regular. 202NewportCenterDr.,NewportBeach,(949)640-4110.$$

Screw the hippy-dippy milieu: Native Foods is about chow as welcoming to your senses as it is for your health. Sure, Native Foods' mission statement—”a prosperous lifestyle in harmony with the balance of nature and its energy through the wonders of food”—might be as hopelessly New Age-y as the menu and environs. Unlike most vegan mavens, though, chef Tanya Petrovna doesn't ditch the flavor while thinking of invigorating ways to fool flesh fanatics and improve your aura. 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-2151; $

The massive mascot looming over Lincoln Avenue at Original Pancake House—a grinning two-dimensional cook in a poofy hat flipping flapjacks—is a city icon as reassuring to Anaheimers as the Big A. And so are the pancakes—wheels of flour soaked with any number of syrups and gobs of butter. Chase them down with coffee. Good morning! 1418 E. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 535-9815;18453 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 693-1390; 26951 Moulton Pkwy., Aliso Viejo, (949) 643-8591; $

You start your day with breakfast, and even though the prices may be on the high side ($9 for pancakes with fruit?), what you get in return is freshness and quality. Dinner selections are limited, but they do offer a mix of intriguing vegetable dishes and steamy pot pies and stews for foggy nights. 2622SanMiguelDr.,NewportBeach,(949)644-0303.$$

If you have a really bad day and need a treat, go to Pascal's Epicerie for lunch. Located in a strip mall in Newport Beach, this delicatessen serves simple food with French flair. Try the Niçoise salad, with poached tuna, black olives, red potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and butter lettuce. 1000N.BristolSt.,NewportBeach,(949)261-9041.$

From her earthy navy-bean soup to voluptuous Naples-style pizza with homemade fennel sausage, Pina Ercolamento, a native of Italy, puts Neapolitan pride into all of the creations in her tiny Tustin trattoria. 640W.FirstSt.,Tustin,(714)730-5442.$$

Argentina lives in this tiny strip of Garden Grove, and the results are incredible: cheesy, fresh Argentine-style Italian pastas, gut-busting dishes of beef (the parillada alone has five different types) and more than 30 native Argentine wines. But the best part is gracious owner Elías Niquias, who will greet you by name the second time you visit. 11025 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 638-9595; $$

Home of a monster marinara sauce that is nearly orgasmic. The sauce is ladled onto your choice of spaghetti, mostaccioli or rigatoni with Italian sausage or meatballs the size of your fist on a plate big enough to feed three. 429 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 498-2540; $

At Taco Loco you can feast for cheap without the insult of fast-food taste. Whether it's the delicious à la carte Mexican food or the cheap prices, the place is constantly swarming with the beautiful surfing crowd. 640S.CoastHwy.,LagunaBeach,(949)497-1635.$

Irvinites all agree on one thing and one thing only: the No. 10 combo, a tender, chewy, delectable calamari steak with teriyaki sauce and sashimi. Taiko's calamari is a delicate homage to the squid, a briny valentine. 14775JeffreyRd.,Ste.K,Irvine,(949)559-7190.$$

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