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Things I need in [north] OC

Dear Lazyweb,

I know this sounds whiny and lazy but there are foods I can't seem to find in north OC. Normally I'd just search and search and search but with the impending arrival of Ubergeeklet I need to be home (when maths teachers talk about infinity, they show a Honey-Do list written by an eight-months-pregnant woman, not to mention that Mrs Ubergeek simply can't stay on her feet very much). Having targets would be a great, great thing.

Please let me establish nebulous limits on geography here, mostly because I do need to be able to be home in less than 20 minutes if necessary... for the sake of argument, let's call Angel Stadium "home".

Lambert Rd on the north
Riverside County on the east
Jamboree on the south
Valley View on the west

If there's something fantastic outside the borders, please let me know -- maybe I can check it out in a few months after we've got used to our darling daughter Chlamydia Rose.

1. Good rye bread. Spongy stuff, gray, sour, tough but chewy crust. The sort of thing delis manage to get hold of and pretty much nobody else.

2. Fresh fish. I tried the fish vendor at the Irvine FM and it was an unmitigated disaster -- it smelled fine at the market and by the time I cooked dinner that night (we're talking it went from ice to cooler to fridge-with-ice-on-top) it was funky and "off". I've been buying at Henry's Marketplace but it's a) expensive and b) often adulterated with such nonsense as artificial colour.

3. Italian groceries (cannoli shells, cheeses, great sausage, balsamico tradizionale, etc.) -- there's Claro's in Tustin, which is fine, but anything closer in?

4. Outside of the farmers' markets, who's got the best produce? The strawberries at Henry's looked peakèd and wan -- even the ones at Albertsons on State College and South looked better.

5. Truly great meat. Stater Bros. on La Palma and State College has a darn good meat department for a grocery store (those of you who have been to Iowa, it's a lot like Fareway), but where's the Marconda analogue?

6. Fresh feta cheese. If it comes in a box marked "Kyrios" or "Kronos" I'm not interested in it -- I want the emeseh!

7. Kosher market -- I'm not Jewish, I don't keep kosher, but it helps to have kosher pre-made food on hand (served on disposable plates, of course) for when I'm entertaining the Orthodox. A kosher bakery would be even better.

8. Other breads -- challah and a great ciabatta or pugliese. I've got a biga in the fridge right now for pugliese on Friday, but I don't always have three days' notice.

I'm sorry such a long list... I simply don't have the time to research the way I normally would. Thanks!

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  1. Feta cheese is a staple of the Persian diet, so any Persian market in OC with a fresh deli section should have an fine assortment of feta. I would check Wholesome Choice on Culver and Michelson, and Super Irvine, on Culver near the 5 freeway, first. If those don't have what you are looking for, I will keep thinking. :)

    Shoot. These are both a little outside your limits, but Super Irvine is only one freeway exit south of Jamboree, right next to the Culver Dr. exit of the 5 fwy.

    3 Replies
    1. re: katkoupai

      I think it is Harbor Blvd, south of the 91, but on that street is a varied selection of Perisan markets and restaurants. I have been dying to try places in this area myself. any info would be grand.

      1. re: justagthing

        I'm not as familiar with Persian markets or restaurants in Anaheim, but I will continue to think. :)

        Also, re. the fresh fish request in the original post, there is also a 99 Ranch Market on Culver Dr. in Irvine. I don't know-- it may be too far, and also, I don't know if you like their fish.

        1. re: katkoupai

          There's one on Euclid in Anaheim, too. It's not bad -- but I'm spoiled by having lived within easy striking distance of Fish King for a very long time. :)

    2. Best Italian groceries in the area, by far, is Cortina's Italian Market. It's kind of hidden (I drove by it 3 times when trying to find it the first time - it's on Orange, not Brookhurst), but I'd say it's at least as good as Claro's.

      The pizza is good too, not Grimaldi's good, but good nonetheless.


      2175 West Orange Avenue
      Anaheim, California 92804
      Cortina's Italian Market 714-535-1948
      Cortina's Pizzeria 714-535-1741

      1. 1. Good rye bread. TRY Benjie's deli/bakery on Tustin @17th in Tustin/Santa Ana. Not sure... but worth a try.

        2. Fresh fish. BEST BET: Dry Dock Seafood in Fullertin on Commonwealth. Only fresh stuff (cept for some great smoked fish they prep every Thurs). Only open a few days a week-- but great quality and service.

        3. Italian groceries (cannoli shells, cheeses, great sausage, balsamico tradizionale, etc.) -- there's Claro's in Tustin, which is fine, but anything closer in? Claro's is really hard to beat in the region, I think.

        4. Outside of the farmers' markets, who's got the best produce? The strawberries at Henry's looked peakèd and wan -- even the ones at Albertsons on State College and South looked better. TRY Manaserros' family stands in north OC. One at Lakeview/Orangethorpe (Yorba Linda)... one at Rose/Valencia (Brea)... one at Rosr/Bastanchury (Placentia). There's also a good stand (don't recall any name) on Associated Rd, north of Bastanchury (Brea).

        5. Truly great meat. Stater Bros. on La Palma and State College has a darn good meat department for a grocery store (those of you who have been to Iowa, it's a lot like Fareway), but where's the Marconda analogue? TRY Gem Meats in Placentia (Yorba Linda Blvd at Topaz). They are perhaps the best non-Mexican butcher in north OC.

        I've been shopping for good bread for years... good luck on that one!

        2 Replies
        1. re: OCBites

          Gem Meats is actually at YL Blvd & Placentia Ave (n/e corner, just east of Sapphire, in the Vendome Liquor strip mall).

          While you're there, visit Vendome Liquor; it's a great local liquor store w/a knowledgeable staff (Vickie, David, et al). And skip the ramen place in that same strip mall. I've been a couple times & it's not even close to "meh".

          1. re: OCBites

            FYI - Dry Dock is where the Irvine Farmer's Market fish comes from... I have never had a bad experience with his fish as you have, but nonetheless.

          2. For produce you can try Top Banana market. It is in a strip mall at the NE corner of Knott & Lincoln.

            Katella Deli (4470 Katella Ave) has a bakery, deli and restaurant. I can't recommend the rye bread specifically, but I have always enjoyed the soups in the restaurant. The location is just a mile or so west of your Valley View boundary, on S side of Katella Ave.

            1. Would Katella Deli be not too far out of your way, for deli breads?(Not Kosher).

              I bought some of those horrible strawberries at Henry's. Don't.

              1. There used to be a Santa Monica Seafood in Orange off the 57 and Ball. It's been a while since we've been to that location, so double check if it still exists.

                There is the Pacific Ranch Market on Chapman and Newport Blvd, just before Santiago Comm. College. An all-around good small-man grocery. Good meats, cheeses, produce. Can be a bit $$. Hope these help.

                1 Reply
                1. This is a tough request, DU. I'll second the rec for Wholesome Choice for feta (see Dommy's post from a couple days ago), and good, cheap produce, plus the massive international selection. Super Irvine has good halal meats, including obscure stuff like fresh lamb tongue and goat that doesn't look like the usual freezer burned corpse found at Mexican markets.

                  For the Kosher market: there's one in Tustin cleverly called Orange County Kosher Market. I've passed it a million times on the way to Honda Ya and Cream Pan, but never been inside. It's tucked into a run down strip mall on El Camino Real, just west of Newport Ave. Let us know what you think if you go. There's lots of chow in this immediate vicinity, including Haveli for Punjabi food.

                  Good rye bread... still looking. I wouldn't waste your time on Benjie's Deli. Underpromises & underdelivers.

                  Can I interest you in a Polish Deli with a smallish but tasty selection of smoked meats? Polka Deli on Tustin Ave, in Orange.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Professor Salt

                    I actually have been in to Polka Deli, because the writing on the front window promised lunch... and the conversation went like this:

                    "What do you have for lunch?"
                    "We are grocery store, we are not restaurant. No lunch."
                    "But your sign outside says you offer lunch."
                    "There is no lunch here. You can buy sausage and go to grocery store for bread."
                    "Are there any Polish restaurants nearby?"
                    "No Polish restaurant in Orange County. You buy sausage here or else go to LA."

                    After that conversation (which reminded me a lot of being in Russia right after the fall of the Soviet Union) I was not about to buy sausage... so I'll try it some day soon now that I know they don't have any kind of hot foot -- the sausages looked GREAT.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I'm surprised you got that at Polka. Now, granted some of the help there isn't extraordinarily friendly, but I've seen them make sandwiches there before. I stop once a month or so for some fresh polish sausage and my favorite, kiszka. They get their sausages from a place up in LA/Santa Monica and they are very good, albeit price compared to what you can find all over Chicago.

                      1. re: RSMBob

                        That would be the "Polish Sausage Factory" on Wilshire and 12th, I bet... I used to live at Wilshire and 14th and I *always* got sausage at that place.

                  2. About a few blocks north of Lambert Rd. on Whittier is another Claro's. This one is in La Habra.

                    101 W Whittier Blvd
                    La Habra, CA 90631
                    (562) 690-2844


                    1. Paul's Deli off of Goldenwest in Westminster has some great Italian groceries.

                      1. I haven't been there in a couple of years but they used to have a solid selection of different feta cheeses and european meats and sausages. The wife is very friendly. The husband not so much.

                        Zakie International
                        (714) 278-9006
                        1700 W Orangethorpe Ave
                        Fullerton, CA 92833

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jase

                          And really good takeout (if you're not in the mood to assemble the ingredients on your own.)

                        2. DU,

                          I'll 2nd Cortina in Anaheim for the Italian groceries...that and Claro's are fun places to hit.

                          As for the meats/butcher, one place you probably want to check out is Mattern Meats & Sausage on Chapman.

                          And...you need a new S border...Jamboree runs N-S!
                          Maybe Edinger or Dyer/Barranca?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: RSMBob

                            Bah, I haven't developed my OC Direction-Fu yet! I ended up way the hell-and-gone out in Silverado Canyon today. (No chow found.)

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Well, if you got out into Silverado Canyon, you weren't all that far from one of the real gems in OC...Trabuco Canyon Steakhouse in Trabuco Canyon. Great steaks, unique atmosphere (dinner only)...well worth the trip.

                              By the way, the City of Orange is loaded with great places, from Tulsa Rib Company to Watson's Soda Fountain to The Filling Station to BIg J's Frozen Custard and more. And do get a stuffed crust pizza at Tony's Little Italy in Placentia (it's worth the wait). Other things off-hand are Campitelli Cookies in Brea and there's a cinnamon roll place in Anaheim Hills that's really good. Finally, on the south end of your territory, just N of South Coast Plaza is Hans Homemade Ice Cream. That's enough of my general thoughts to get you started!

                              1. re: RSMBob

                                Wow, I've never heard of any of these places, and they all sound so good. Homemade ice cream? Frozen custard? Yum! This is like a treasure box of places.

                          2. Just inside your Jamboree border is Village Bakery:
                            2937 Bristol St
                            Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                            (714) 751-2220

                            1. I was going to mention O.C. Kosher in Tustin, but I see Prof Salt beat me to it! I have gotten challah at Poul's Bakery in Orange, and it's very good. I haven't tried much else at the bakery, but they do have a wide, tasty-looking assortment. Also, I know you are asking for non-farmer's market produce, but make sure to try the Irvine Farmer's Market (on Saturdays at UCI) if you haven't already. I mentioned on the FM list that there are a bunch of chowhound-ish restaurants in the adjoining shopping plaza. There's also a great, great kid's bookstore (Whale of a Tale) for when baby-Uber shows up! (I know this is totally off topic, but I'm happy to help if any other baby/kid in OC questions come up, too.)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chazar

                                I've been at the Irvine FM the past two weeks and I really like it -- I wrote a post about it somewhere -- but my issue is what happens when I need produce and it's not Saturday morning :)