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Headed from PHX to Huntington Beach this weekend - any recommendations for a casual lunch/dinner with entrees in the $20-30 range (preferably near the beach)? My own research turned up Chimayo at the Beach, any experience with that place? Suggestions are helpful, thanks a lot!

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  1. Chimayo has gone seriously downhill as of late. Duke's, upstairs from Chimayo at the head of the pier, is more dependable (Hawaiian, Asian-style seafood). Lugatti's at 5th and Walnut (a short walk from the pier) is very good, very casual, Italian. Coach's, on Main Street just up from the pier, offers a Greek flavored menu.

    1. There's also Spark Woodfire Grill. It's across PCH from duke's/chimayo, and upstairs, so you still get a nice view of the ocean.

      http://www.sparkwoodfiregrill.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: I got nothin

        I second Spark.

        1. re: brekkie_fan

          I haven't been to the HB Spark (it's a local LA chain) but the Studio City one has people packed in like anchovies -- and the food makes me wonder if they're meant to be salted anchovies.

          Duke's would be my vote, or else head down the road to Newport, as others have said.

          If you can deal with a bit inland, there's also S Vietnamese Fine Dining outside of the Westminster Mall (don't be put off by the location, it's quite good) and, if you're into very good robata-style Japanese food, you could drop $20-$30 a head at Shinsengumi Robatayaki at Brookhurst and Ellis.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            I've done the HB location for the past few years only b/c it's closer to home than Studio City. Had holiday & company parties there w/o a hitch, so I'm cool with the locale (esp. when the weather is warmer). Space is comfortable. Never felt packed in. Sat previously at the bar, outdoor patio, and three times in the back room.

            Have to say, though, I was worried about the quality after they did their overhaul of the menu. Thankfully, the entrees and polenta were delish. We went elsewhere for dessert, though.

            Oh and I did like Duke's for Sunday brunch buffet . . .$27 i think?

      2. Chimayo used to be good when it first opened. My friend is the chef at Chimayo and I wouldn't go there for a free meal. Sadly... Huntington is lacking in really great restaurants. That should change when Pacific City developement is complete.

        My suggestion would to head a five miles down to Newport. Way better choices in your price range.

        Bandera, Gulfstream, Flemings, Blue Coral, Francoli, R&D Cafe, 3-Thirty-3, Bayside, Sage, Sabatino's, Jack Shrimp, Bungalow, Oysters...even The Quiet Women is better choice than most Huntington Beach restaurants.

        All of the restaurants on my list you can wear comfortably wear jeans and a nice shirt.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cdmedici

          Sage in Newport is good. I took my sister there for a quiet birthday brunch on Sunday. In addition to Newport, you could go to 2nd street in Long Beach. I used to live in Huntington Beach and I rarely ate there because the restaurants on 2nd are so much better. Just go north on PCH and hang a left on 2nd. Within a minute or two you'll be in a cute little area with lots of choices. I recommend Open Sesame for cheap, amazing Mediterranean food, Biggs (try their blackberry mojitos), Fora (good tasting menu with wine pairings), Kelly's (looks like an Irish pub but is really a very nice, old-school steak house), and Papalucci's for Italian.

        2. Well I'll be damned, this IS the same place as in Waikiki. I was there last yr and didn't eat, we'll have to check it out. Thanks everyone.

          1. Frankly this HB denizen is badly disappointed by the pedestrian dining options in town. Fortunately, there's a few exceptions to the rule, including:

            King's Fish House on Edinger in the Terra Bella complex (Beach exit off 405) is a good choice for seafood, nothing fancy but good selection of fresh fish at fair prices, comfortable digs and traditional fish house decor.

            Mangia Mangia on Golden West near Edinger has decent if not inspiring country style Italian, heavy on southern & Sicilian dishes. Good seafood.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bernardo

              I have to voice my disappointment with our new HB Kings on both occasions I've eaten there. First time I tried the crab louis. $18 for a sprinkling of crab meat over tons of lettuce. C'mon; even Musso & Frank's does a better job of this for the money! Last visit I ordered the ahi dinner. The meal arrived at my table cold. The manager was apologetic, and brought a new, hot meal, but it really wasn't anything special. He also comped dessert (some chocolate cake thing that I didn't care for), so I have no complaints with the service. I've always found their Pine Ave (Long Beach) to be wonderful, so I was very disappointed. If there's a next time, I'll stick to the spicy fish chowder and a shrimp cocktail. I think Duke's on the pier is actually better.

              1. re: CynD

                Well, I've only tried the halibut, sword, and dabs, all were excellent, as was the bread. As to sides, slaw and green salad were adequate, fries below the line.

                More reviews from other hounds please!

            2. If you can drive to the next community north of HB, Seal Beach, (or bus it), there's a good traditional surf 'n turf place called Walt's Wharf that has very reasonabe lunches and a better than expected wine program because of owner Walt Babcock of Babcock Winery.

              http://waltswharf.com/

              2 Replies
              1. re: cvc

                I always wondered why their wine list was so good - now I know - thanks!!

                1. re: cvc

                  I love walt's wharf !!!! when i lived in oc, i would visit walt's once a month - mainly for wine and appetizers....i loved the grilled artichoke...and the occassional treat...the banana split !!

                2. Not on the beach but my favorite in Huntington Beach is Bukhara Indian on Edinger

                  1. HB is weak on strong options, especially near the beach.. Duke's and Chimayo have a distinct tourista vibe about them. Red Pearl Kitchen is still a hot spot with the lounge set. Food is fine, interesting but rarely amazing. Inland HB: Bukhara or Cavallino's Jazz Lounge for upmarket Italian.

                    I'd go a bit north to Seal Beach. Walt's Wharf is a reliable keeper (hence, no reservations). 320 Main is a place I'm trying next, so can't vouch at this point.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OCBites

                      Personally I went to Red Pearl to try their psuedo asian food and was greatly disappointed. Very bland dumplings.

                      Another great option in Seal Beach is Restaurant Koi for sushi, but there is ALWAYS a line.

                    2. If Red Pearl Kitchen is still open, it's a good choice. Fun old Shanhai-esque decor, good food, and some interesting cocktails.

                      1. Ended up going to Dukes. <yawn> Slow service (how long does it take to make a simple cocktail?) and messing up my order twice doesn't help. You all were right...HB is seriously lacking in good dining options.

                        1. I think you are missing some nice independent restaurants in HB. We like Ciao which is a French/Italian Bistro. We also like Catch of the Day where we've had some very good fish. Also Rombi's which is really struggling but the meals we've had there have been excellent. It's true if you're looking for big fancy atmosphere type places with full bars the above 3 places might be disappointing but if you are looking for good food at reasonable prices in a place that's not a chain these 3 are all good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Audrey_Ekstrom

                            I'll second both Rombi's and Ciao. I had a really good french dip at Ciao about a month ago. Check for their hours, though; I think they're only open Thurs-Sun night.

                          2. Frankly, I wouldn't even feed our cats much of anything from around the pier tourist vortex. With the exception of Wahoo's, the food situation down there is sad. But if you go a bit outside the designed-for-wallet-drain area, there's some great places to eat. North on PCH, there's Daimon Sushi (next to the 777 motel), which is a groovy hang too. Bukhara on Edinger is quite good as well. I also have to second Rombi's; it's excellent. Then there's very good Szechuan at Ruby Palace (on Beach S. of Talbert). Unfortunately, most folks from outside the area, like azhotdish, never make it far enough beyond PCH & Main to find the good food in HB. The HB Pier is good for walking but for gods' sake don't try to eat there!

                            1. A few other notables that were not mentioned:
                              Tuna Town on main is rock & roll themed but the fish is very good.
                              La Fontana on a non-descrpt strip center on Beach, just N of Main, has the best Italian in town. I've been to every other Italian joint in the city.
                              I usually avoid Hotel Restaurants, but The Californian at the new Hyatt Resort is truly great.
                              Second the recommendation of Red Pearl. It doesn't get the business it deserved because the typical chowderheads needed to re-fuel in downtown don't appreciate creative cuisine.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: r111

                                Sorry, have to disagree with you on Red Pearl. Went there on recommendations and found the food just fair to bland.

                              2. Chimayo is the worst restaurant in HB, go to Red Pearl, it's awesome!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: irishkevbo

                                  Chimayo isn't the worst and Red Pearl is Greasy. Next?

                                  1. re: russkar

                                    We were underwhelmed by Chimayo way back, regardless labels like "worst" or "awesome" beg some sort of meaningful rationale IMHO -- nothing if lame absent definition of criteria (eg, how is chow, price, service, atmosphere weighted?), restaurant sample size, times visited, variety of dishes sampled, etc.

                                    1. re: russkar

                                      Good response... I have been to Chimayo several times and the basics they can't get right. Overcooked chicken, sushi that consists of old leftovers in the middle. I've given it several chances and it rates up there with the worst food for the best view in HB.

                                      Also Red Pearl has the best appetizer list in HB, the spicy tuna on Fried eggplant with wasabi cavier was awesome. Since Chimayo was ranked a 15 for food in Zagat and Red Pearl a 21 I'll take your suggestion as a emotional one, not a sensible one.

                                  2. You also forgot to mention Huntington Beer Factory which is a micro-brewery off of Main upstair across the street from Bj's.

                                    1. The food is not good unless you want buffalo wings and beer.

                                      1. Also, not that near to the beach, but Lou's Oak BBQ (Hamilton & Brookhurst) is one of very few establishments in HB to offer decent chow in a casual setting at casual prices. Quality and consistency as opposed to yawns like Mo's or Tony R's

                                        1. No self respecting Chinese eater would eat at Ruby Palace. Bad food.

                                          Haven't tried Red Pearl Kitchen, but I get the vibe that its all about the scene rather than the food itself. It just doesn't feel very Chinese to me.

                                          A good way to determine if the food is any good at a Chinese place to look around to see how many Chinese people they're are.

                                          Lotus on Beach serves much better Chinese food, especially their sesame bread.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hobbess

                                            If I remember correctly, Lotus changed ownership a couple of years ago, redecorated the interior and (based on my taste buds) sacked the good chef. The food used to be good, and maybe still is, but has fallen off in the last few years. Their Tangerine * (beef, pork, chicken, etc.) is often my benchmark at this style of restaurant: crisp, with good sauce covering, and plenty of spice used to earn Lotus high ratings. Now, it's not so great. Expect delays if you visit during peak times - it does not take much to overwhelm the staff here.

                                          2. Although it is a chain, there is a Japanese BBQ type place called Gyu-Kaku
                                            http://www.gyu-kaku.com/
                                            It is fun and they have great prices during happy hour this month.

                                            1. cavallino italian on adams and beach is great