This Week in Loser Towns

Really, who gives a fuck about Cypress, Laguna Hills, Los Alamitos and Stanton? The four are tiny, insignificant cities dotted across the county, ignored even by its citizenry save for the lunatics who cheer on the scary Los Alamitos High Griffins football team and the Cal State Fullerton rejects attending Cypress College. About the only thing going for the forgettable foursome is their restaurants, some of which rank among the tastiest in their genre.


¢…….………………..…..Less than $10!



$$$………………………¡Eres muy rico!



“Family-style” before the phrase meant “Norm's,” Dalton's has gabby servers with odd hairstyles, a mostly older clientele, hearty extra-large egg breakfasts served all day, and a menu dominated by meat and fried stuff. 9575 Valley View St., (714) 229-8101. $


Grandma's is the county's place to worship the gnarled splendor of broasted chicken, the criminally underappreciated cooking style that dominates the Red States and is better than any other fried meal you'll ever taste. Grandma's prepares its birds just like they do in Iowa: by patting down wings, breasts, thighs—even gizzards—with piquant seasonings and batter, then tossing the pieces inside one of many steel pressure cookers. A volley of pops heard around the tiny dining area announces their rising temperature. It sounds like some of Santa Ana's rougher neighborhoods come nightfall. 6072 Lincoln Ave., (714) 527-3162. ¢


This mom-and-pop place serves an excellent ackee and salt fish that is a must-have. But you might be remiss if you passed on some of the other fine dishes, including oxtail, cow foot, curry goat or jerk chicken. 9062 Valley View St., (714) 484-0661. $


I can certify that 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., (714) 799-6222. $$


Thai food has become so common in the Southland that memorable meals in this particular culinary genre are difficult to come by. Sweetee Thai is the exception. Try the Spiral: long, skewered shrimps swathed in a swirl of soft bacon and accompanied by two orange dips—one hot, one not. 10557 Valley View St., (714) 828-7371. $$


Make a beeline to this sushi bar, where the fish is most inventively prepared. Anything on the menu involving eel or avocado is a must, and the fried, heads-still-on-as-beady-little-eyes-stare-at-you shrimp is a greasy delight. 10545 Valley View St., (714) 236-0678. $$



Here, you can partake of as much sushi as you want. You can gobble down transparent globules of ikura (salmon roe) like popcorn or tiny particles of masago (smelt egg) as if they're, well, tiny particles of masago. 24155 Laguna Hills Mall, Ste. 1300, (949) 768-0500. $$

P.J. Bernstein's Restaurant N Delicatessen

Breakfast all day, every day. Get the “French toast our way,” which is made with thick, fluffy slices of egg bread. This restaurant/delicatessen/bakery also has such brunch hybrids as the classic Reuben omelet—no kidding, it has sauerkraut and everything! Broadway musical posters and five TV sets surround the main dining room, both of which provide adequate distractions for boring family get-togethers. 25211 Paseo de Alicia, (949) 472-2266. $


At 3 a.m., when most Orange Countians are halfway through their slumber, Solomon Dueñas leaves Aliso Viejo and begins the 15-minute commute to his Jewish bakery he's made nearly every morning since 1988. Glass displays at Solomon's are clean, highlighting all the favorites of the Jewish-pastry galaxy—stomach-stuffing babkas; fruity hamantaschen; crumbly rugelach available in chocolate, raspberry and apricot. Even better is a Dueñas original he calls an apple-raisin bran, a block of caramelized flour so decadent customers drive from San Diego and even Washington just for a sniff. 23020 Lake Forest Dr., Ste. 170, (949) 586-4718. $



This place has a voluminous menu that spans matzo to mud pie, spinach salad to skyscraper sandwiches, knish to kippers—not to mention a full bakery that houses fresh rolls and bagels. Their Denver omelet is terrific. 4470 Katella Ave., (562) 594-8611.¢


The beer is cold, and the chowder's the best. Other luscious items include the swordfish, halibut and crab legs that come with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Great bread, great place. 11031 Los Alamitos Blvd., (562) 594-4553. $


Home to the English pasty, a dish riddled with mystery meat and wrapped in a tasty enigma. It's a turnover filled with what was described as “paste”—piles of meat, vegetables and whatever else is lying around chopped together and folded into a delicately sublime crust. 3641 Katella Ave., (562) 431-9747. $


Most Americans know the Steel City for its bankrupt hockey teams and bruising football squads, but this storefront restaurant with its goofy hen mascot (circa early Peanuts) makes broasted chicken. They pressure-cook the gals with the same relentless intensity the Steelers defense applies on third-and-15, producing meat that's plump and moist inside a fine-roasted skin. 3671 Katella Ave., (562) 594-0140. $


A Tommy Burger-tribute stand, but worth the wait in a teen-infested line that snakes all the way across the street to Los Al High. The chili is mandatory. 3652 Cerritos Ave., (562) 430-6004. $



If white people go in here, they get glared at—it's an all-Korean clientele. But they make really great $5 milkshakes—they're really small but so good. It's a little bit bigger than a shot glass, and we don't know what's in there, but they're very creamy. Go with an Asian friend, preferably a Korean and preferably a Korean who speaks Korean. 12860 Beach Blvd., (714) 379-2575. $


This Korean restaurant is a healthy alternative to fattening fast food. The chicken is grilled to perfection with a tangy teriyaki sauce along with a salad topped with a sesame-seed dressing that is life-alteringly good. 12700 Beach Blvd., (714) 899-1863. $


The Golden Steer is what a family restaurant used to be—not just inexpensive enough to feed a family, but tasty and wholesome enough to feed it well. It also harkens back to the time when a family meal meant meat-meat-meat. The place is crowded, but good acoustics keep it from sounding like a mess hall, and incredible service keeps that growl in your stomach from turning into a bad mood. 11052 Beach Blvd., (714) 894-1208. $

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