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Feb 28, 2007 02:07 PM

Most un-Chowhoundish OC Restaurants

In a style similar to the "worst restaurants of LA" thread, I was wondering what places you feel are the most un-Chowhoundish in Orange County. I think calling them the worst restaurants is a little too harsh - if they're still in business then they must be doing something right.

But there are some restaurants that just rub a chowhound the wrong way, be it the way the food is prepared and presented, or the service. So, fellow chowhounders, protect me from walking into a restaurant I'll be disappointed in. Which OC Restaurants should we try to stay away from?

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    1. re: JAB

      You've got to be kidding me... I haven't set foot in any of the so-called "Fresh Mex" places since I went to Taco Mesa. I love this place.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Oh, I'm dead seious but then again, I never step foot in Taco Mesa or any of the so-called "Fresh Mex" places. I'll take my Mexican food the authentic way.

    2. Mi Casa in Costa Mesa. Highly overrated Mexican food. When I went several years ago, I ordered a standard combo plate. Nothing good about it, the rice and beans were pretty bland, the enchilada was pretty tasteless. I use the SuperMex chain as my standard for Mexican food, and SuperMex is vastly superior in every way.

      Looks like the prices at Mi Casa are higher, too, with all of their combo plates over $10 now, at least according to their website.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Wonginator

        Quick story...went there with extended family who live in the area (and LOVE Mi Casa) and the waitress gave my then 2 year old a glass of milk. My daughter took one sip and put it right down. A few minutes later my daughter had a bite of very spicy salsa so I grabbed the milk to help cool down her mouth...well, she spit that sip right out. I then sniffed the milk and it smelled HORRIBLE (and was warm)!! We told the waitress and she said, "Oh yeah, another family mentioned that too"...could not have been less concerned. We should have at least had my daughter's meal comped! Never going back there!

        1. re: Wonginator

          I agree about Mi Casa. I went there with some friends after reading rave reviews -- it was horrible!

        2. I would eat at both of those before El Ranchito

          5 Replies
          1. re: Mr. S

            If you mean Avila's El Ranchito, I've had good meals there, at least at the Costa Mesa location. I've read people complaining about the Huntington Beach and Newport Beach locations, which I haven't visited yet.

            1. re: Wonginator

              I live blocks away from the Newport spot, dont bother.

              1. re: Wonginator

                I've eaten at the Costa Mesa location on Placentia a few times and thought it was acceptable.

              2. re: Mr. S

                We like the CdM location very much for price & quality. BTW, they are opening a new one in Laguna, right across PCH (south) from La Casa de la Camino Hotel (what used to be the Little Shrimp years ago & I'm spacing on it's most recent name....) Got to admit, the last thing Laguna needs is another Mexican restaurant.

              3. In my opinion, Taco Mesa is quite good. Especially when there are other well-known restaurants in the area, such as El Ranchito, Baja Fresh, or Las Brisas that I feel are ESPECIALLY unchowhoundish! But I have had an affinity for Taco Mesa since my teenage years - so I am undoubtedly biased. :) Someone should also define chowhoundish...

                1. Gypsy Den. I wanted to like it because of the "Friends don't let friends go to Starbucks sign." It's nice that the staff is friendly and will let you loiter, and the options seem somewhat vegetarian-friendly. But I was disappointed when I first went in and every time since when I've tried to give it another chance.

                  There just appears to be no chef involved in designing the menu or preparing the food. Whoever is in charge has no particular respect for food (no appreciation of how best to prepare it, how to serve it, what combinations are complementary or the opposite, appropriate portion size for side dishes or melted cheese topping, etc.). I know Gypsy Den doesn't claim to be fine dining, but there are plenty of places who do a lot better without charging any more. And it's really not that cheap, given what you're served.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ksabbeth

                    gypsy den isn't even a restaurant though. it's just a little cafe, or at least it was last time i was there and admittedly that was a couple of years ago.

                    1. re: choctastic

                      It actually IS a restaurant, but at times it doesn't have full sit-down service.

                      I've been going to Gypsy Den for over 10 years and sadly, I have seen a decline in the service and quality control there, since it recently changed hands. I believe the owners sold it? Not totally sure.

                      However, the dishes you can ALWAYS rely on are the veggie lasagne, ice blended banana mocha and their tuna salad sandwiches. I also LOVE their adobe stew.

                      It may not be catching any stars on the Michelin ratings, but it is healthy, delicious food you can eat fairly quickly when you don't want to eat at El Pollo Loco or the other corporate chains in the Costa Mesa area.