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New to Orange County - where to eat?

j
jgc10 Aug 4, 2006 11:22 PM

I just moved to Irvine, CA from New York City and I am so homesick. Except for college, I've never lived anywhere but the city and I feel a bit lost. I also can't find any good restaurants, except for Vietnamese. All I keep finding are chain restaurants. If you have any recommendations for good restaurants in Orange County, in particular, French, Thai, Malaysian, and Greek, please let me know! I'm also looking for a good bakery and a good cheese shop. Thanks

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  1. ChinoWayne RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 01:15 AM

    In Orange County get over to Renu Nakorn in Norwalk before the close for remodeling at the end of the month, this was founded by the owners of Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, which is arguably the best Thai restaurant in the U.S. Second choice for Thai in Orange County is Thai Nakron in Garden Grove.

    Cruise the L.A. board, there are plenty of discussions about independent gems in Orange County.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChinoWayne
      r
      rickiek RE: ChinoWayne Aug 7, 2007 11:49 AM

      Norwalk is not in OC

    2. Das Ubergeek RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 01:18 AM

      For Thai, there can be only one answer: Thai Nakorn, on Garden Grove Blvd. east of Harbor Blvd. Simply the best Thai food in Orange County.

      I know there's a Greek place in Corona del Mar that some folks have been raving about, but I've never been. Greek in LA simply doesn't measure up to New York, Chicago or Houston standards... just not enough Greek people here to sustain "real" Greek food.

      Malaysian -- there's a place on Bolsa and Brookhurst, or maybe it's 1st and Euclid (Bolsa turns into 1st at the Santa Ana city limit). I'm sorry I'm not much help there, I've only driven past it. There's also Tropika, which I've heard isn't bad, on 17th in Tustin, just east of the 55.

      Can't help with French, don't eat it.

      Orange County does many things well, though you'll need to head into North OC for it all, Irvine is pretty much just chain restaurants. There's Little Palestine in Anaheim, a million Korean places in Buena Park, Little Saigon in Westminster and Garden Grove, tons of Mexican and Salvadorean places in Santa Ana and parts of Anaheim, and (not quite OC but close) tons of Filipino and Taiwanese places in Rowland Heights, just up Harbor Blvd./Fullerton Rd. from Fullerton.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Das Ubergeek
        t
        torta basilica RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 5, 2006 02:13 AM

        Where is the Greek place in CdM? I know Pirate's Inn used to be there years & years ago, but if there's a new one, I'd love to know!!

        1. re: Das Ubergeek
          2
          212 RE: Das Ubergeek Sep 6, 2006 05:24 AM

          There are no Greek places in CDM.

        2. MEalcentric RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 01:44 AM

          Some great suggestions by Das Uber above, especially Thai Nakorn. Venturing into Westminster is also a great way to find cheap delicious eats (Thanh Mi, Brodard, Quan Hy are good places to start)

          In and around Irvine, there are a few gems.

          Oki Doki in Costa Mesa has great japanese food and a lively vibe. Honda-Ya which is an izayaka (little japanese skewers of grilled meat and other "bar food") gets raves here.

          Tustin is actually full of jems (Noodle Avenue for cheap noodles, Zogs Baguette for veitnamese Banh mi, Dosa Place for Indian Dosas).

          Irvine has Taleo and Taco Rosa, both semi-upscale Mexican food with a flair. Pretty good stuff. China Garden for dim sum. Phillys Best for good cheesesteaks. There are a couple locations of Pho Bac (one on Barranca, another on Michelson) which make a decent bowl of Pho. There is a veggie thai place called "Wheel of Life" on Culver/Walnut which is pretty good and worth checking out once.

          You should check out Elmomonsters Blog since he does a lot of local coverage. www.monstermunching.blogspot.com

          Sorry I didnt provide addresses, but you should be able to find discussions and addresses for most of the places I mentioned by searching the board (or google).

          3 Replies
          1. re: MEalcentric
            elmomonster RE: MEalcentric Aug 5, 2006 02:51 AM

            Those are great recs. All are favorites of mine (except Taleo and Taco Rosa which I have yet to try).

            Here's my blog address though, in case the OP wants to check out my coverage:

            http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

            1. re: MEalcentric
              bernardo RE: MEalcentric Aug 7, 2006 04:34 AM

              Second both Taleo and Taco Rosa, not because their chow is that great (in truth embarrasing compared to most in Santa Fe or Abq) but summarily edible, friendly atmosphere and pleasant digs, i.e, what not to like?

              1. re: MEalcentric
                b
                BobBarnett RE: MEalcentric Nov 13, 2006 04:45 PM

                Taco Rosa has excellent food, and is very accomodating.
                I always have them make me a Calamari burrito.
                They also make churros to order-hot and perfect. With an excellent dark, hot chocolate sauce to dip them.

              2. j
                jeff_pdx RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 02:16 AM

                I moved away from Irvine/Laguna about 13 years ago, but one of my favorites back then that still seems to be going strong is Darya, a fantastic Persian restaurant in Santa Ana.

                http://www.daryasouthcoastplaza.com/

                I really miss our favorite east-coast Italian place (Portland, OR leaves much to be desired for that genre), but I'm not going to dare recommend Italian to a New Yorker. :)

                1. d
                  david t. RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 04:53 AM

                  You'll have to get out of Irvine for most of the good restaurants.

                  French: Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point. Pascal in Costa Mesa/Newport. (may be too expensive for a student).
                  Armenian: Zankou Chicken in Anaheim.
                  Persian: Darya, South Coast Plaza.
                  Desserts: Assal Pastry in Irvine.
                  Sushi: Sushi Shibucho, Costa Mesa.
                  Cheese: Frog's Breath in Orange.
                  Chocolate: Chuao Chocolatier in Irvine.
                  Brazilian: Agora Churrascaria:

                  There are plenty of great places in OC, but it may not be the cuisines you are used to in NYC. In general, OC's strengths are Vietnamese, Korean and Mexican.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: david t.
                    brekkie_fan RE: david t. Dec 5, 2006 07:20 AM

                    thanks david t. someone acknowledges there's more to Irvine than Mexican food. don't get me wrong, I like both Taco Rosa (woo hoo! opening in the Market Place soon) and Taleo's ambiance and cuisine, but Agora is great for carnivores.

                    I make pilgrimage to J&J Bakery off Culver whenever possible for everything! You can also find me at Melting Pot off Jamboree for some cocktails and fondue. Sam Woo off Culver gives China Garden a run for its money for dim sum.

                    for excellent French, LA area restaurants might have more to offer. However, I do recall a memorable dinner at Pinot Provence in Costa Mesa a while back.

                  2. Curt the Soi Hound RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 11:54 AM

                    For some "Fresh Mex" you can head over to Sharky's.
                    It's just west of the 405, off Sand Canyon.

                    At Barranca and Von Karmen, there's a foodcourt behind Sam's Club.
                    Inside, you'll find Zesty Thai.
                    Although her steam tray specials are nothing special, she does great, cooked-to-order noodles, like ladna, pad see ewe and pad kee mow.

                    Before we movwed back to Bangkok, I stopped into Bangok Taste, in the Big Lots center, on Grand, just south of the 22 freeway, North Santa Ana.
                    Definitely interesting. Great, homemade coconut ice cream.

                    If you take Edinger west out of Irvine, when you hit Bristol you'll come across El Gallo Giro.
                    Their $12 carnitas family platter has to be one of best deals going; One pound carnitas, beans, rice, salsa and 3 dozen tortillas, hot off the press!

                    My favorite nachos are from Alerto's, just north of Edinger, on Brookhurst.
                    http://cheapeatsbangkok.com/photos/mi...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Curt the Soi Hound
                      elmomonster RE: Curt the Soi Hound Aug 5, 2006 03:16 PM

                      Curt,

                      I've been a fan of Zesty Thai since you pointed out to us. Go there about twice a week. I'm sorry to say that I think the ownership has changed hands. I haven't tried the pad see ew or the lard na under this new ownership, but I used to love the steam tray offering of tofu with chicken. I tried it again with the new cook and it's just bad. I'm soooo bummed right now.

                      http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

                      1. re: elmomonster
                        Curt the Soi Hound RE: elmomonster Aug 5, 2006 10:40 PM

                        Wow!
                        Khun Noi was talking about selling; getting tired.
                        I hope she didn't.

                        We are in Bangkok right now. Due back in the States in September. I guess we'll have to investigate.

                    2. m
                      mrsjoujou RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 03:25 PM

                      I know exactly what you mean. I was laughing as I read your post,because I asked the same questions last year when we moved here from philly. Well, after one year I have found few acceptable choices:
                      For greek:
                      Christakis Tustin
                      This place is the best you can find around here. I have tried a few things and they are decent.
                      Greek island grill 3940 s. bristol st santa anna
                      try their bifteki
                      For french you are out of luck. You can get baguette sandwhiches from pascal in newport beach.
                      There is no french bakery in OC like payard or bouley.
                      We usually go to LA or Vegas for special meals.
                      Good luck to you and keep posting with any new discovery.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mrsjoujou
                        o
                        oedalis RE: mrsjoujou Mar 5, 2007 04:38 PM

                        There's a French restaurant off of PCH in Laguna Beach. There used to be a decent one off of El Toro in Lake Forest too.

                      2. c
                        CA110 RE: jgc10 Aug 5, 2006 06:00 PM

                        Orange County is great! Don't move back!

                        1. bernardo RE: jgc10 Aug 7, 2006 04:43 AM

                          For the ultimate bizzaro food experience and perhaps a hint that OC has a few surprises in the way of chow, try the wide variety of prepared stuff at Wholesome Foods in Irvine, takeout or eat in inside or outdoors. Don't miss the gyros and Persian specials. Total trip.

                          1. roterror RE: jgc10 Sep 5, 2006 06:21 PM

                            I am new to the site, So I just found your post. I moved here from New York some time ago, so I can sympathize. The unique places seem hard to find here in O.C., but they are out there. There is a pretty good traditional French place in Brea: La Vie En Rose - it's adjacent to the Brea Mall. I have not been there in a while, but the food was good, and the service was excellent.

                            You should try Zov's Bistro in Tustin. They have an Eastern-Mediterranean based menu, and a good bakery.

                            Cheese shops are fewer and farther between, but you must go to Frog's Breath Cheese Shop in downtown Orange. They are a fairly new place, but have excellent cheeses, wine and other condiments such as oils, vinegars, tapenades, etc. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and they give samples. I think they are a rare gem of a place.

                            I hope this helps.

                            1. c
                              ChristianZ RE: jgc10 Sep 6, 2006 12:51 AM

                              I see Taleo and Taco Rosa have both been mentioned. If you had to pick between the two I'd say go with Taco Rosa but you couldn't go wrong with either. Taco Rosa is a little more likely to have rare specials whenever you go. I had an unusually good, unique chile relleno last time I was there (ever seen a chile relleno topped with almond cream sauce and pomegranate seeds?). If you do go with Taleo I would suggest their carnitas platter. During the holidays Taleo has special turkey tamales and sweet potato flan. My blog extensively covers each restaurant:

                              http://ocmexfood.blogspot.com

                              1. t
                                Tatter RE: jgc10 Sep 7, 2006 10:09 PM

                                Orange County offers lots of great places to chow down

                                Greek: Christakis, Tustin
                                French: La Vie en Rose, Brea
                                Armenian: Zankou Anaheim
                                Steak: Sevens, Tustin
                                Persian: Caspian, Irvine
                                Barbeque: Lucille's, Brea (nice) or Burrell's, Santa Ana (super funky, but great)
                                Sushi: Sushi Wasabi, Tustin
                                Indian: Haveli, Tustin
                                Cuban: Habana, Costa Mesa
                                Brazilian: Agora Churrascaria, Irvine
                                Mexican:Alamende's, Laguna Beach (fine Mexican, not your average beans and rice joint)
                                Seafood: Claes, Laguna Beach
                                Sunday Brunch: Ramos House, San Juan Capistrano

                                1. o
                                  OCchowman RE: jgc10 Sep 14, 2006 05:43 AM

                                  I would add Newport Seafood in Santa Ana to this list. I just ate there last night after I found it mentioned on this list, and it was terrific. It is a Vietnamese style Chinese place. The best thing we had was a simple steamed flounder, which was superb.

                                  The original poster mentioned Malasian food, and we noticed a Malay place in the same strip mall a couple doors down from Newport Seafood. Also there is a new one over in Tustin just off 17th, just behind Zov's Bistro. (Sorry, I forgot the name.) I had a couple good meals there right after it opened,
                                  but the food was a little uneven.

                                  Can anyone help out with the names of these two places, or opinions of the food?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: OCchowman
                                    m
                                    ml22 RE: OCchowman Sep 14, 2006 03:39 PM

                                    The Malaysian place behind Zov's Bistro is TROPIKA. great great satay and pad thai.

                                    1. re: ml22
                                      elmomonster RE: ml22 Sep 14, 2006 06:07 PM

                                      I reviewed it a while back and I've been back multiple times.

                                      The best dishes in my opinion: the roti prata and the nasi lemak...

                                      Here's the full review with photos:

                                      http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2006/...

                                  2. d
                                    david t. RE: jgc10 Sep 14, 2006 06:11 AM

                                    Is Newport Seafood the restaurant across the street from Seafood Cove? I've never eaten there, but Seafood Cove is absolutely top notch.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: david t.
                                      Professor Salt RE: david t. Sep 14, 2006 06:15 AM

                                      Seafood Paradise is across the street from Seafood Cove.

                                    2. w
                                      WWFoodie RE: jgc10 Nov 9, 2006 06:34 PM

                                      So happy to see all these recs! Thanks! I moved back to Irvine a few weeks ago after 10 years in NYC and am trying to get re-oriented (not to mention getting used to the early kitchen closing hours).

                                      A pleasant surprise is that Gelsen's has some pretty amazing baguettes.

                                      One favorite that is still as good as I remembered is Cafe Zulu in Laguna Beach -- great seafood, esp. their tartare appetizer & swordfish. Their jasmine risotto dessert is to die for.

                                      The Cottage in Laguna is also great for brunch or lunch. There's a similarly named restaurant in La Jolla -- also great.

                                      Any rec's for beach-view dining? Chimayo in Huntington Beach is okay in a pinch. Thanks in advance!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: WWFoodie
                                        Das Ubergeek RE: WWFoodie Dec 3, 2006 03:58 PM

                                        Duke's (above Chimayo) is better than Chimayo...

                                      2. n
                                        nikinaka RE: jgc10 Nov 13, 2006 07:20 PM

                                        cafe hiro in cypress is a must. i know, i know...cypress?! what?! trust me..it's great!

                                        http://www.cafehiro.com/

                                        1. k
                                          ksabbeth RE: jgc10 Dec 2, 2006 10:52 PM

                                          jgc10, I too moved here from NYC in August 2006 and had a lot of trouble finding good food at first, but things have improved considerably. chowhound has been a big help. and i'm starting to think sushi is better on the west coast; i'd heard people say that before but hadn't believed it.

                                          one great japanese place (not just for sushi, although their sushi is excellent)is Honda-Ya in Tustin. this may sound silly to the non-ny-ers among us, but Honda-Ya felt like home.

                                          What I've missed most in California is Northern Italian. (I went to the Italian section of San Francisco and, although there were a couple of nice bakeries, I found the experience mostly disappointing.) But Cortina Italian market in Anaheim is quite good as a place to buy Italian meats, cheeses, olive oil, packaged sweets, etc. Try to get one of the women to help you. The young man (maybe teenage) is very sweet but doesn't know as much. I went to Cortina when I needed ingredients to make ravioli. The woman was very helpful and talked to me about my plan of serving ricotta with honey and fruit as dessert.
                                          Cortina:
                                          (714) 535-1948
                                          2175 W Orange Ave
                                          Anaheim, CA 92804

                                          Next on my list is to find good dim sum. Seafood Paradise was recommended a bunch on chowhound so I plan to try it soon.

                                          Let me know how your food explorations go.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: ksabbeth
                                            choctastic RE: ksabbeth Dec 3, 2006 12:47 AM

                                            all of my nyc friends think that sushi is better in l.a. and orange county by proxy. also the price is much lower for the same quality.

                                            1. re: ksabbeth
                                              Das Ubergeek RE: ksabbeth Dec 3, 2006 04:00 PM

                                              I don't know of any northern Italian places in OC, but there are a few in LA if you want to drive...

                                              Dim sum... while there's "OK" dim sum in OC, you really should just take a 30-45 minute drive to the San Gabriel Valley on the 605 (our version of the 7 train to Flushing). Between the 605 and the 710 are the best Chinese places in the U.S. -- including, IMHO, the best dim sum.

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                JAB RE: Das Ubergeek Dec 3, 2006 04:38 PM

                                                Seafood Paradise is much better than "OK". I wasn't impressed with a recent visit to 888 in SGV.

                                                1. re: JAB
                                                  Das Ubergeek RE: JAB Dec 3, 2006 07:43 PM

                                                  It's OK compared to Triumphal Palace...

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                    k
                                                    karynx78 RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 5, 2007 04:08 PM

                                                    My brother told me the siu mai at Seafood Paradise was disgusting and that they take no care at all to prepare their dim sum. I think it primarily has to with the fact that they have Vietnamese people trying to make Chinese dim sum. I do however really enjoy their Chinese/Vietnamese menu.. their house special lobster rocks! I like their sister restaurant Seafood Cove.

                                                    1. re: karynx78
                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: karynx78 Aug 6, 2007 08:44 AM

                                                      Old post, but I suppose I should clarify that I was talking about 888, which has since made leaps and bounds -- it's on my "A" list now. I've never been to Seafood Paradise.

                                                  2. re: JAB
                                                    Curt the Soi Hound RE: JAB Dec 4, 2006 01:27 PM

                                                    Over the years, Seafood Paradise has been all over the place. It has ranked from OC's best, to simply awful.

                                              2. p
                                                patz RE: jgc10 Dec 3, 2006 12:12 PM

                                                Sushi: I second the motion for Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa -- take the 55 to 19th, make a right, it's on the right hand side near In'n'out. Also on 19th are two casual mexican places: taco mesa (same owners as taco rosa), and another stand on the corner of 19th and Monrovia. For cheese: try Picnics on 17th (near H&R Block, across from Peets)

                                                1. c
                                                  cls RE: jgc10 Dec 3, 2006 02:04 PM

                                                  Pacific Whey Cafe. Great breakfast and bakery in Irvine. www.pacificwhey.com

                                                  1. t
                                                    Tkn RE: jgc10 Dec 4, 2006 05:57 AM

                                                    There's Pina's in Tustin for good Italian. It's a noisy little room, so you might want to go on a warm night and sit outside. Homemade sausages and pretty great Tiramisu.

                                                    And if you're in Cypress for some reason, stop by the family-owned Dominic's on Ball and Walker. Nothing mind-blowing, but has never disappointed either. Just good, reliable Italian food.

                                                    1. p
                                                      pamelawinter RE: jgc10 Dec 4, 2006 01:47 PM

                                                      Definitely go to The Hobbit in Orange! It is a total evening experience of 6 or 7 courses with a prix fixe menu.

                                                      1. a
                                                        amberngriffinco RE: jgc10 Feb 19, 2007 03:52 PM

                                                        Cortina's STILL EXISTS?? is it still off Orange Avenue?? OMG~ I am 45 and way back in the 1960's. that was THE Italian Deli.. my dad took me there as a little kid and I STILL REMEMBER the fresh cheese smells there!!! I was born off Walnut/Ball Rd and used to pick strawberries in the field there and walk to Dland and pay $3.95 to get in!

                                                        At Euclid/Ball, the shopping center used to have a pizza by the slice near a very old pharmacy that was good too.

                                                        I moved to South County in the early 90s and that was the end of my North County experiences. I'm in Colorado now: DON'T MOVE HERE!! The laws suck!! Food, it aint a melting pot!

                                                        amber

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: amberngriffinco
                                                          k
                                                          ksabbeth RE: amberngriffinco Feb 20, 2007 12:33 PM

                                                          it's so nice to hear about cortina's past. thanks for this history.

                                                        2. g
                                                          gabehoya RE: jgc10 Feb 19, 2007 09:21 PM

                                                          When I was in NYC recently, it was a bit of a challenge finding really good down home Mexican food.

                                                          If you like affordable authentic Mexican food consider yourself lucky as outside of Mexico, LA/Orange County is arguably the mecca for great Mexican food. And Santa Ana is a stone's throw away from Irvine. If you've never tried birria, there's a great little hole-in-the-wall place on Standard/Edinger (right off the 55 freeway and around the corner from the auto mall). The lady that runs the place is super cool and she allows you to bring beer over from the liquor store that's next door.

                                                          Good luck.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: gabehoya
                                                            bernardo RE: gabehoya Feb 20, 2007 11:12 AM

                                                            Sorry, but IMHO our Mex doesn't hold a candle to places around Santa Fe like Tomasita's, Maria's, Sophia's, El Paragua, etc.

                                                            1. re: bernardo
                                                              s
                                                              StivKaye RE: bernardo Mar 6, 2007 03:59 PM

                                                              I've lived in New Mexico and Tucson and yes the Mexican food is great but IMO, it's not as authentic as the type of stuff Gabe is referring to. Southwestern/New Mexican/Tex Mex style is indeed very tasty but it's not straight ahead down home authentic like the kind you can get in the barrios of Santa Ana and Echo Park. However, Tucson does have some of the best Sonoran style food you can find in the States due to it's close proximity to Sonora.

                                                              Southwestern fare is arguably almost fusion cuisine. It's darn good but it's quite different from the stuff my Mexican girlfriend cooks for me.

                                                              Just my dos centavos.

                                                          2. i
                                                            irishkevbo RE: jgc10 Feb 20, 2007 08:57 AM

                                                            Moving from NYC to anywhere would be tough when it comes to food. The one thing you will get much better in OC is Asian cuisine of all types and Mexican food that rivals anywhere in the US. Since you live in Irvine I'll give you my picks that are close to you.
                                                            French - There is no place in OC that has authentic French like NYC. I asked Anthony Bourdain (Author of Kitchen Confidential and Chef Les Halles NYC) why and his response is that the weather is too good here, who wants a cassoulet when it never dips below 65 degrees during the day. Although when Oysters in Corona Del Mar has Cassoulet, it's pretty good.
                                                            Thai – My Favorite is Royal Thai Orchid on Katella in Orange; Irvine doesn’t have any good Thai. The Husband runs the front of the house and the wife runs the kitchen. They are form Bangkok and if you talk to them about food and tell them you want it authentic they will lead you away from the Pad Thai.
                                                            Greek – In Tustin for lunch (Dinner is a rip off) go to Zovs Bistro, there lamb sandwich is wonderful. Coach’s in HB on Main St is my favorite all around although I hear Christakis on Newport Ave in Tustin is really good.

                                                            In Irvine I would also go to House of Shabu Shabu on Jeffery and Walnut, Pho Bac on Barranca, Curry House on Culver and Walnut, Javier’s in the Irvine Spectrum for Mexican (Although the Laguna Beach location is better), and Kabob House across the street from UCI off Campus.

                                                            1. r
                                                              RoachCoach RE: jgc10 Mar 5, 2007 09:01 PM

                                                              I am afraid that you won't find anything to satisfy in the catagories that you list. What you might want to do is focus on Mexican and Vietnamese: 2 of the cuisines that OC does better!

                                                              1. vickib RE: jgc10 Mar 5, 2007 09:20 PM

                                                                You're pretty close to Long Beach. Here are some suggestions:
                                                                French: Frenchy's Bistro - not the best name for a restaurant, but it's really good.
                                                                Bakeries: Katella Deli in Cypress (OC) is a Jewish (though not kosher) deli with good Challah and decent food. In Long Beach, Boulangerie Provence is just off 2nd street in Belmont Shore.
                                                                Italian: Finbar's in Seal Beach (OC) on PCH. They are transplants from NYC, and have kept a certain East Coast vibe.
                                                                For Mexican at the next level, go to Enriques in Long Beach on PCH. It is amazing. You'll have a 20 - 45 minute wait, and it's absolutely worth it. They have a green chili stewed pork shank that melts in your mouth. Nothing there is bad. Dinner w/o alcohol is around $30 for 2.

                                                                Welcome to California!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: vickib
                                                                  j
                                                                  justagthing RE: vickib Mar 5, 2007 09:29 PM

                                                                  Agree with you in regards to Enriques and Katella. Another suggestion for Italian is Cafe Gazelle off of 2nd Street and for Thai/Cambodian, try Sophy's on Anaheim.

                                                                2. j
                                                                  jgc10 RE: jgc10 Mar 7, 2007 03:06 PM

                                                                  I just want to say THANK YOU to all for your recommendations. In the time since my sad inquiry, I've found that yes, Southern California's Vietnamese and Mexican definitely trumps New York's. All other categories.....still searching. Some of the OC places I've grown to like:
                                                                  Zov's (Tustin)
                                                                  Shinsengumi (Garden Grove)
                                                                  Top Baguette (Westminster)
                                                                  Yu's Garden (Irvine)
                                                                  Byblos Cafe (Orange)
                                                                  Pho Tau Bay (Santa Ana)
                                                                  Brodard (Garden Grove)
                                                                  Haute Cakes (Newport Beach?)
                                                                  Honda Ya (Tustin)
                                                                  369 (only for their beef pancake sandwiches Anaheim)

                                                                  And thank goodness for Frog's Breath!

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jgc10
                                                                    Das Ubergeek RE: jgc10 Mar 8, 2007 09:45 AM

                                                                    Did you get a chance to eat at Thai Nakorn before it burned down? One of the best Thai places in the country.

                                                                    They're going to rebuild, but no one has a date or location yet.

                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                      j
                                                                      jgc10 RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 29, 2007 05:15 PM

                                                                      In Garden Grove? When did it burn down??

                                                                      1. re: jgc10
                                                                        Das Ubergeek RE: jgc10 Mar 29, 2007 05:56 PM

                                                                        January 7th. I haven't heard any news in several weeks. I drove past it one night and it was a squatting hulk of a ruin.

                                                                    2. re: jgc10
                                                                      k
                                                                      ksabbeth RE: jgc10 Apr 22, 2007 06:31 PM

                                                                      Chinese. For dim sum better than I've ever had in New York (b/c the ingredients taste fresher though it's otherwise just like NY), I recommend New Capital Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead. Worth the trip to LA county.

                                                                      Also, as a native NY-er who's now been in Orange County for a little over half a year, I want to add that, because the quality of the local produce puts NY to shame, I now believe the eating options in Southern California are generally better than back east.

                                                                      1. re: jgc10
                                                                        DrBruin RE: jgc10 Jan 11, 2009 06:40 AM

                                                                        Since you know where Zov's is... you should try the CRAB COOKER also located in that same Tustin shopping center. The decor is unusual, and you'll be shocked to find you're eating on paper plates and with plastic utensils but the fish tastes like it jumped from the ocean to the grill and onto your plate. I also love their shrimp skewers and king crab. I also feel they have THE best Manhattan-style clam chowder out there as well as the best cole slaw.

                                                                      2. browndoggie RE: jgc10 Apr 23, 2007 11:15 AM

                                                                        One of my favorite Greek places is Aegean Cafe in Laguna Beach on PCH- awesome grape leaves with avgolemeno sauce. Darya on Tustin Ave. has great Persian. The best lubio polo.

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                                                                        1. re: browndoggie
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                                                                          lambchopstephanie RE: browndoggie Apr 29, 2007 06:02 PM

                                                                          BEST SUSHI HAVE HAD IN O.C. is Taiko in Irvine. Expect to wait at least an hour--two hours at tops. but it's sooo worth it! second best would be bluefin in newport.
                                                                          for vietnamese, rendezvouz and brodard are great. thai: thai nakorn and phuket.

                                                                          1. re: lambchopstephanie
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                                                                            justagthing RE: lambchopstephanie Apr 29, 2007 06:06 PM

                                                                            For even better sushi, if you want to drive up to Seal Beach, try Restaurant Koi. There is another place that I am itching to try in Tustin, but will report on that after I have eaten there. I never understood the lines at Taiko, I wasn't impressed with their quality.

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                                                                            ahpooh RE: browndoggie Aug 6, 2007 01:46 PM

                                                                            I second the Aegean Cafe, great food, view of ocean. Very crowded on Friday and Sat nights when they have belly dancing, but it is lively and fun.

                                                                          3. jroxybabe19 RE: jgc10 Aug 4, 2007 06:24 PM

                                                                            I am from NJ and having a tough time finding really good grub out here. I like the whole in the wall places but I love Javier's. There is a location in Laguna Beach and at the Irvine Spectrum.
                                                                            We live in Ladera Ranch (right by Mission Viejo in Orange County) and I have found things are very limited with food. So there is a Thai Nakorn in Mission Viejo. It has been renamed to Glass Door Thai. I'm not sure if that is the same one that was spoken of earlier in the posts, but the food is wonderful. The atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired but great food and service.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: jroxybabe19
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                                                                              justagthing RE: jroxybabe19 Aug 5, 2007 04:26 PM

                                                                              From previous posts, I've noted it is not the same as the one in Stanton.

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                                                                              EclecticEater RE: jgc10 Aug 6, 2007 03:36 PM

                                                                              What about the really excellent Persian food in OC? As good as any around. And the Middle Eastern Markets?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: EclecticEater
                                                                                SauceSupreme RE: EclecticEater Aug 6, 2007 10:46 PM

                                                                                As stated above, there's Darya across from South Coast Plaza.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Darya Restaurant
                                                                                1611 W Sunflower Ave Ste E59, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                                                                              2. jroxybabe19 RE: jgc10 Aug 7, 2007 04:50 PM

                                                                                Has anyone been to Sam woo in Irvine? I was just told that they have some good dim sum and live seafood. Any comments?

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                                                                                  karynx78 RE: jroxybabe19 Aug 9, 2007 06:35 PM

                                                                                  Sam woo has a great bbq I always get when I am there. Their fried noodles dishes are good also.. chow fun, chow mein, etc. I used to like their wonton noodle soup a lot.. if you go for that I'd ask for bbq pork (char siu) in it too.. .The 3 delicacy rice plate is a good trio comes with either bbq pork, roast duck, and soy sauce chicken. As for the special "lo" sauce that is the drippings from the roast duck.. it goes really well with the steam rice.

                                                                                  Regarding their seafood dishes.. it is just ok for me. I usually just go to the Express side. Dim sum isnt' bad. I prefer Russell;s Seafood or China Garden for dim sum becuase they have a larger variety.

                                                                                  1. re: karynx78
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                                                                                    david t. RE: karynx78 Aug 9, 2007 08:51 PM

                                                                                    I agree with Dan Ubergeek, SEAFOOD COVE is excellent. I'd go as far as saying it's as good as the best reastaurants in San Gabriel Valley. This is the restaurant I swear by.

                                                                                    My sister loves Las Brisas in Laguna Beach. I've never eaten there, but I've heard good things.

                                                                                    Thai Nakorn, has reopened. China Garden has authentic reliable dim sum, but I don't believe it's the best in OC.

                                                                                    South OC is pretty much devoid of good cuisine. You have to go up to atleast Irvine and Costa Mesa before you get the good offerings.

                                                                                    For Persian, I've only eaten at a few places, but I like that Persian restaurant across the street from South Coast Plaza.

                                                                                    1. re: david t.
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                                                                                      raider RE: david t. Aug 10, 2007 06:13 AM

                                                                                      do you have a phone number or address for thai nakorn. the number provided by google says no longer in service.

                                                                                      1. re: raider
                                                                                        Das Ubergeek RE: raider Aug 10, 2007 09:52 AM

                                                                                        Northwest corner of Chapman Avenue and Beach Boulevard in Stanton -- it's behind a fast-food place (Carl's, I think), facing Beach.

                                                                                        Phone number is (714) 799-2031.

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                                                                                        Thai Nakorn
                                                                                        11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

                                                                                      2. re: david t.
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                                                                                        karynx78 RE: david t. Aug 14, 2007 05:09 PM

                                                                                        Las Brisas is located at the most scenic and beautiful strip on Pch. But the food is really average. I've been to brunch there a couple of times and I've noticed the food to be simila to buffet food. You pretty much go there for the ambiance. After your meal you can take a beautiful stroll along side the beach. Las Brisas to me serves very Americanized Mexican food.

                                                                                        1. re: karynx78
                                                                                          jroxybabe19 RE: karynx78 Aug 14, 2007 07:37 PM

                                                                                          I wasn't a huge fan of Las Brisas either. We waited along time to be seated when we had reservations and it took a long time to get out entrees. The food was good, not 30 bucks a plate good, but enjoyable.

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                                                                                    enzos momma RE: jgc10 Aug 10, 2007 12:22 AM

                                                                                    Well if your in South County there is a nice chinese/ thai restaurant on lake forest and rockfield. It's called Dinh Ho. It's very tasty and reasonable. We always get the thai appetizers and chinese entrees.
                                                                                    They do have full menus of both cuisines. Try the nam sod its delicious Food always taste very fresh. The service is nice also. It's in the plaza where panera ,and peppinos is. Also the hat is across the street for a good ole pastrami even though you did'nt ask for that.

                                                                                    1. OCKevin RE: jgc10 Aug 14, 2007 09:21 PM

                                                                                      JGC, I feel your pain. When I lived in another city for a couple years due to my crazy notion of climbing up the corporate ladder, I missed home every day of the week. While my suggestions may not make you feel like you're in NYC, I hope they will assist you in liking Orange County a bit more:

                                                                                      French - How much do you want to spend? I love Marche Moderne on the third level of South Coast Plaza (they even have fantastic fixed price $20 3-course lunches), but it's not cheap. A couple places like Pescadou Bistro (where the owners' son recently moved to NYC to work at Le Cirque) and Bistro Le Crillon are good, homey family-run restos.

                                                                                      Bakeries - I hate to send you to a chain, but there's Panera on Baranca/Culver in Irvine. Personally, the fresh bread and pastries are relatively good. If you're looking more for a non-chain place, I believe there's a French's bakery next door to Trader Joes on the corner of Culver/Walnut.

                                                                                      Cheese - Get in your car and drive to Old Town Orange, where you'll find Frog's Breath Cheese Shop (www.frogsbreathcheese.com). Closer to home, check out the impressive cheese at the Pascal epicerie on Bristol and Jamboree (www.pascalnewportbeach.com).

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                                                                                        shiphter RE: jgc10 Sep 26, 2007 07:40 PM

                                                                                        So far the best Greek food I've found in OC is at Christakis in Tustin. Not only is the food great, but it's family owned and everyone is extremely nice and friendly (also a rarity in OC). I don't know if they have a website, but their location, etc is: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&amp...

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                                                                                          nycinoc RE: jgc10 Jan 9, 2009 09:29 PM

                                                                                          Oh how I feel your pain, (especially after the rancid sea urchin sushi I had tonight)

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                                                                                          1. re: nycinoc
                                                                                            Das Ubergeek RE: nycinoc Jan 10, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                                            Well then clearly you're not eating the right sushi... go to Bluefin, Shibucho or Maki-Zushi instead. No rancid ANYTHING at any of those three.

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