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Top 5 Restaurants Under $10 in Orange County (Huntington Beach/Costa Mesa/Fountain Valley/Westiminster... area)


Earlier today I read a Bay Area thread where everyone posted their top 5 favorite inexpensive restaurants in the South East Bay Area (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/401590) and thought it would be cool to do the same thing down here.

What are your top 5 favorite inexpensive restaurants in the Huntington Beach/Costa Mesa/Fountain Valley/Westiminster... area of Orange County? Things like hole in the wall authentic restaurants or places that have amazing deals at certain times of the day would be great for this list. One of my favorites is the Omelet House on 19th St in Costa Mesa which has 2 for 1 omelets before 8am on a weekday. Another is Taco Mesa (also on 19th St in Costa Mesa).

I cant wait to see what everyone's favorites are and give them a try. (Oh and if the restaurant is amazing and happens to be really inexpensive, maybe under $5, mention that on the side



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  1. Great idea for a post! Here are a few of my favorites in those areas:

    Bahn Mi Che Cali (2 locations in Westminster) for, well, bahn mi: until quite recently, you could get 2 sandwiches there for $3; the prices may have gone up slightly but a steal nevertheless.

    El Grenjenal on 19th in Costa Mesa (up the street from Taco Mesa, near the Detroit Bar)--great tortas and tacos, cheaper and more of a 'taco truck' vibe and taste than Taco Mesa. (Here's a story that illustrates the bang-for-the-buck here: my husband and I recently went there for lunch; he ordered a couple of tacos and I had a torta. Since we ordered a la carte, we asked for an order of chips and salsa on the side. Our tacos/torta each came with a modest handful of chips, which seemed kind of cheap to us--then they handed us a large clamshell box (big enough to hold a take-out main dish entree) filled with chips, and about 8 ounces of very concentrated hot salsa in a take-out cup with a lid! Awesome.

    Super Pollo (on the side street that runs parallel to Newport, just north of 17th)--tasty Mexican-style grilled chicken with all the fixings. Total hole in the wall.

    I second your Omelette Parlor rec--very good quality and big portions for the price, even at their 'regular' prices.

    Looking forward to everyone else's suggestions!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Piglet

      please, people, it's ba-N-H mi and not bahn mi!!!!

      That said, I have to agree with you on what a deal they are at Banh Mi Che Cali.

      1. re: hch_nguyen

        I spell it Bah! And dat stuff inside -- soylent green!

      2. re: Piglet

        My top 5 cheap eats in OC:

        1) Banh mi che cali on Brookhurst and McFadden

        2) Trieu chau - yummy noodle soups, definitely under $6 for a bowl. Corner of 1st and newhope

        3) Santouka Ramen in Mitsuwa food court - first time today, shio was delish!

        4) Banh Cuon Tay Ho in Quan Hy plaza on Bolsa btwn Bushard and Brookhurst

        5) Pizza D'Oro - Eggplant Parm lunch special is about $5. Baker btwn Fairview and Coolidge.

        1. re: groover808

          There's another Pizza D'Oro on Indianapolis somewhere... I know how to get there from my in-laws' house but couldn't tell you the cross street.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            I found it:

            Pizza D'Oro
            8468 Indianapolis Ave , Huntington Beach 92646-5046

            Indianapolis & Newland. I think this one is larger than the one in Costa Mesa. Someone I carpool with used to work there and hooked us up one night, yay!

            1. re: groover808

              Man, I hope it's not larger than the one in Costa Mesa -- if there's six tables in there I'd be shocked. I like the "family meal deal" -- pizza, salad, pasta and garlic bread. Carbolicious.

          2. re: groover808

            Thank you so much for recommending Pizza D'Oro! It was delicious and I got the large meatball sub lunch special... I couldn't finish it! And now I'm going to Banh mi che cali... really excited.

          3. re: Piglet

            2nd Super Pollo.

            another rec is pupuseria san sivar on harbor blvd in costa mesa, just across from triangle square. really cheap crispy, oily rice flour pupusas and huge jars of free curtido.

          4. Hole-in-the-walls, dives, are plentiful in OC -- so many to name (I can't name just 5, so I'll do 6):

            1. Franco's Pasta Cucina - Gourmet pasta in a food court. For around $5.


            2. Alertos - Five words. Five dollars. "Half Order Carne Asada Nachos."


            3. Com Tam Tran Qui Cap - Amazing broken rice dishes. Enough to feed two. And yep; most hover around $5. Best Thit Nuong I've tasted to date.

            4. Banh Mi Che Cali - Can't go wrong with a two dollar sandwich stuffed with meat!


            5. Noodle Avenue - For almost exactly $5, you can get their House Noodle Soup.


            6. Waikiki Hawaiian Grill - Quite simply, the best chicken katsu in the continental US. Perhaps the world. It'll cost you more than $5 though. It's $5.99.


            3 Replies
            1. re: elmomonster

              wow, those are some impressive reviews elmomonster, thanks to you and piglet its already shaping up to be a summer of great food

              1. re: elmomonster

                Where is the Com Tam Tran Qui Cap located? Thanks!

                1. re: oohenrioo

                  10522 McFadden #F, Garden Grove
                  9607 Bolsa Ave., Westminster

              2. Nothing better than Puttin' on the ritz at Park Ave. in Stanton and having that Chopped sirloin burger for lunch. So Googie.

                Park Ave. In Stanton, 10 minutes toward the beach from Knottā€™s. Look close because it may be behind the heavy equipment working on the street.

                1. After both suggestions, I will be going to Bahn Mi Che Cali tomorrow and giving it a try! I just remembered a great place is El Toro Bravo, I usually order the giant family meal when I am there, so it is not the best for 1 person necessarily (it might be, ive just never had a 1 person meal) but it is a good deal for a family.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vernonmartinazzi

                    Unfortunately I'm a North County boy so I don't have wide experience of Central County restaurants.

                    Be aware that while Banh Mi Che Cali is truly awesome and probably the best value in the whole county for food, the service is right up there with what you would expect. Also if you get the sandwiches made on rolls (rather than baguettes), they're buy-2-get-1-free (this may only be rendered as "mua 2 tang 1", depending on which branch you're at). Last I checked they were $1.75 each, so that would be three sandwiches for $3.50. Even if it's gone up to $2 each it's still an unbeatable deal. Just remember, if you're going to save sandwiches for later, ask them to put the vegetables "on the side" so the sandwiches don't get all soggy and gross.

                    I like Com Tam Thuan Kieu myself, though technically it's in Garden Grove, near Brookhurst and 15th... and if you're willing to go a LEEEEETLE over $10, I believe the seven courses of beef at Pagolac on Brookhurst is $12. Any pho shop -- and though there are better and worse ones, even the worst ones are better than what's available on the Westside -- will feed you a giant bowl of pho with several cuts of meat for $5. You could go to Shinsengumi near Brookhurst and Ellis and get a few skewers of yakitori, a grilled rice ball and a salad for around $10 (though the prices may have gone up and this may not be enough food for you for a meal). In Costa Mesa there's Mitsuwa Marketplace (on Paularino and Jian, just off Bristol, right in the middle of the triangle made by the 55, 73 and 405), and while the food in the food court is usually not bad, the hidden gem there is Santouka Ramen. It's the place in the corner with the dark wood, no English name plate, and large photos of dishes with names like "shoyu" and "shio". Get the shio ramen combination -- I believe it's $8, it's a LOT of food, and their ramen might be the best I personally have ever had (though I usually leave judgments of ramen to rameniac).

                    1. re: vernonmartinazzi

                      I went to Banh Mi Che Cali yesterday with my family and it was definitely a good deal. They could have put a little more seasoning/veggies on some of the sandwiches but they were definitely stuffed with meat.

                    2. I don't have a top 5, but my fav places in OC are--

                      Taco Mesa
                      Wholesome Choice-- the grocery store, on Culver and Michelson, in Irvine

                      They have a decent international food court, plus I like to shop there for things like Persian pickles, pastries and salads.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: katkoupai

                        any places in/near laguna beach? i'm staying at the montage, so i can't afford much for food.

                        1. re: raider

                          Taco Mesa, Zinc Cafe, Wild Oats(order & eat-in area), Javier's, Thai by Sea
                          + many unhoundish choices too numerous to mention

                          1. re: bernardo

                            any other houndish choices for a family of 5 hounds?

                            1. re: raider

                              Not sure what you're looking for, but Laguna is not known for non-touristy value dining.

                              Having d said that, some other choices:
                              Royal Thai for OK Thai,
                              Romeo Cucina -- decent moderate to expensive Italian depending on what you order
                              Cedar Creek for boring but tasty American
                              Cafe Zoolu -- eclectic but a little bit pricey
                              Ruby's for nostalgic burgers
                              Wahoo's fish tacos for guess what
                              Z Pizza -- thin crust, almost healthy but tasty

                              At all costs avoid Las Brisas, great gawking but overpriced uninspired chow

                              1. re: bernardo

                                thanks, that's a helpful reply.

                      2. RE: Taco Mesa -- there is also a location on Chapman Ave in Orange in the same center as the In-N-Out burger.

                        Off the regular board, I highly recommend for lunch:
                        -1 a la carte carne asada taco
                        -1 a la carte blackened fish taco
                        -1 stuffed jalapeno
                        -1 Horchata

                        To eat: Split each taco's filling into the individual tortillas, making two tiny tacos. Add salsa as desired. Also, eat several carrots from their pickled veggie selection (these are crispy, not mushy!) Drink the horchata to quency any fire from the jalapeno or salsas. Refill cup with diet coke on the way out to get necessary mid-day caffeine.

                        As for their specials, I can definitely recommend the salmon tacos (sometimes too dry, but that's a chance you gotta take), the tomato soup, and the gorditas. The Gordita platter is mega-filling so a good dinner choice.

                        There may be some other locations out there too -- the one in Brea is no longer.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: BruinEric

                          Papa Hassan's in orange, the egplant and avacado baked pita sandwich is very tasty and around five dollars with rice or salad.
                          Lunch specials at Bangkok Taste will run you well under 10 dollars.
                          Tacos Jaliscos: mixed reviews on this board but I think it is some very tasty cuisine and you can get very full there for under five dollars.

                        2. The Flame Broiler

                          Various locations in OC--I can think of two in Costa Mesa, one in Fountain Valley, and one in Orange

                          Asian style chicken and/or beef in a rice and/or veggie bowl.

                          Very good and healthy too!

                          1. I drove all the way from Sherman Oaks yesterday to visit nephew and wife in Irvine, then we went to Thai Nakorn in Stanton, NW corner Beach & Chapman.
                            That was REALLY worth my time and effort. Best Thai food in the OC, probably, yet no one has mentioned it, or at least not in the reading that I did.
                            Great hot and sour soup, a bbq tongue salad dish, a chicken Malaysia curry and pork with green chili and basil, plus of course the mango/sticky rice dessert.
                            A tad over $10 per person, yet not $20, and we had leftovers for today.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: carter

                              There have been a couple of threads on Thai Nakorn this month. Here's one:


                              I haven't gone, but I keep reading about it. :-)

                              1. re: katkoupai

                                My comment referred to no mention of Thai Nakorn in the context of this post only. I only found out about the place because of chowhound, and was thankful for it.

                            2. Chicago's Best, which is one of the few places in the area where you can get a great Italian beef sandwich, in neighboring Irvine. Their French fries are also consistently some of the best I've had anywhere in SoCal, somewhat similar in style to In 'N Out fries, but far tastier. $6 for the sandwich, $3 for the fries & drink, comes out to just under $10 when including tax.

                              1. I personally like the Bolsa and Magnolia plaza with a few selections depending on what you feel like eating at the time.

                                (All in the same plaza)

                                1. There's another Com Tam Thuan Kieu located on Bolsa and Magnolia aside from the one on Brookhurst inbetween Westminster and Hazard
                                2. Banh Mi Cali
                                3. Pho 54 (around $5 a bowl)
                                4. Mi Lay Cay (around $4-6 a bowl)

                                5. But a gem would be Taqueria Mexico on Springdale and Westminster located next to a Subway and a Starbucks. $5.13 for a burrito with extra carne and 80 cent tacos (with con todos).
                                6. Thanh My Bolsa inbetween Bushard and Brookhurst is pretty good for a good variety of Vietnamese food. (Varies from $5-10)
                                7. Shin Shen Gumi on Brookhurst inbetween Talbert and Ellis will fill you up starting with their 6.95 ramen bowl with .95 cent refills.

                                1. Also, Capital Seafood on Magnolia and Westminster has a lunch special until 5pm. Most dishes are from $5-6.25 including all types of seafood! Very good value!

                                  1. HAVELI Indian Restaurant on Newport Ave in Tustin. Unbeatable deal for All You Can Eat Buffet Lunch. 6.99 or 7.99. Very High Quality.

                                    13882 Newport Ave Ste G
                                    Tustin, CA
                                    Phone: (714) 669-1011

                                    1. A few of suggestions:
                                      Lucia's on the NE corner of Warner and Beach in Huntington for Mexican. It's a real hole-in-the-wall, and it's a 95% Mexican clientele. The tacos al pastor are superb. $7 for a taco platter, but that's one of the more expensive things they have.

                                      La Rocco's pizzeria on PCH and Main in Huntington is the only NY style pizza I find satisfactory in SoCal, being a recent transplant. $6 for 2 slices and a soda.

                                      John's Philly Grille - there are three locations. One is at Edinger and Goldenwest, one near Beach and Adams, and one in Seal Beach a few blocks north of the pier. Excellent philly cheesesteaks, a half is quite filling and is under $5.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: viyer

                                        I've been wanting to stop in and try Lucia's mulitas. Any good? My reference for comparison would be La Taquiza's in LA.

                                        1. re: Tapeworm

                                          Las Mulitas on Ball and State College have tasty and cheap mulitas.

                                          John's Philly Grille has or had a location at Euclid and Katella -- is it still there?

                                        2. re: viyer

                                          La Rocco's now at Orange and 11th HB. Hope to have some next week.

                                        3. 1. NORMITA'S (indianapolis/beach): fish tacos
                                          2. LEE'S SANDWICHES (mcfadden/beach): #5 bbq pork sandwich
                                          3. SANTOUKA RAMEN (jian/paularino in mitsuwa): salt ramen
                                          4. FUJI BURGER (edinger/gothard): avocado, teriyaki, bacon, cheeseburger
                                          5. KAJU SOFT TOFU (magnolia/garden grove): pork soft tofu soup

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ajikills

                                            Oi, if you think Lee's Sandwiches is great, you've got to get yourself to Banh Mi Che Cali (one's on McFadden and Brookhurst, one's on Bolsa and Magnolia next to the giant Viet supermarket), or to Banh Mi Cho Cu (on Magnolia and Hazard), because they both blow Lee's out of the water.

                                            Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery
                                            14520 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                            Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery
                                            8948 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

                                            Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery
                                            15551 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

                                            Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery
                                            13838 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                                          2. Shinsengumi on Brookhurst in Fountain Valley for good, no frills hakata ramen.

                                            1. i only have one place that i think is great it is the rooster cafe :
                                              very good just only breakfast and lunch.

                                              1 Reply