Cheap Eats in OC
I love to dine out. But let's face it, most of us don't have the luxury of spending a Thursday night out at Ortolan or Mastros. Like many of you on a budget, I have embraced ethnic restaurants. Who amongst us has not gone fine dining, been completely disappointed and wished out loud they had just went to that great Thai or Mexican place?
So I'm looking for your fav's in OC on a budget. They can be of any cuisine - just a little easy on the pocket. Love those lists from the hardcore foodies.
Banh Mi Che Cali's Buy 2 Get 1 Free deal is where I go when I'm feeling poor yet don't want to eat at home. This deal basically gives you 3 large sandwiches for $3. I like the generous amount of filling they give. The bread isn't the best but it gets crunchier when you toast it up yourself at home.
My friend said she got 25 sandwiches and froze them and then toasted them up as she needed them. She said you just need to put in the veggies after you toast them and they're fabulous. I haven't tried it yet so can't comment but the idea of storing banh mi for later does intrigue me.
Not exotic, but quite whimsical - a great place for kids as they have a lot to look at, including a model train that runs around the perimeter and through the restaurant. Not gourmet, not great, just pretty decent cookin' home style - Po' Folks Restaurant near Knott's Berry Farm (on Beach north of Knott's across from Medieval Times). We spent about $30 for two (adults). The dinners include choice of two (small but adequate) side dishes and there are some non-typical choices - gumbo, and black eyed peas, or greens, and choice of corn bread, biscuit (palm-sized and quite light inside), etc. Several of the dinners are offered in regular or smaller versions, for about $2 less, and lean to the "southern" style of ethnic American cookin'.
This is a topic that hits close to home. I've lived in the OC for almost two years now and these are my frequent cheap dining spots.
Kaju Soft Tofu (in the California Market plaza, on the corner of Magnolia and Garden Grove Blvd.) They do soft tofu and they do it well, you can expect a smoldering hot pot full of soft tofu with about a dozen ingredient combos. My favorite is there kimchi beef, extra spicy. They also have these kimchi cucumbers that come with every meal that are amazing.
Lotus (on Beach Blvd., just north of Warner) They serve northern Islamic fare, not your normal Chinese fast food. Their lamb with leeks, scallion bread and hand thrown noodles keep me coming back.
Lucita's Mulitas (on the corner of Beach and Warner). I didn't know what a Mulita was until I ate there. Its your typical hole in the wall, but the Mulitas keep me coming back. You've got to try them, they'll need a little salt and lime and they are killer.
Fallafel Express (on the corner of Brookhurst and Orange, in Anaheim) The name sounds kind of corny, but there their shwarma and fallafel is legit.
Not very chow-y, but I've moved out of the country and long for some of my old haunts
Oki Doki on Bristol in Costa Mesa
Mongolian BBQ Pan Asia on 17th in Costa Mesa
Felix Continental Cafe in Orange
TK Burgers in Costa Mesa
Pizza D'Oro on Baker in Costa Mesa
Laventinas Pizza on the pennisula in Newport
Ho Sum Bistrol on the pennisula (a lot of people don't like it, but I love the Chinese Chic Salad - huge and cheap)
Massimo's Pizza on 17th in Costa Mesa
Li'l Pickle on Fairview in Costa Mesa
Finbars at Metro Point in Costa Mesa (also Seal Beach)
Husky Boy Burgers on PCH in Laguna
For great inexpensive and really authentic Mexican food it's Taqueria Garcia in Anaheim. Hole in the wall ambience, but who cares. It's about serving up some of the most authentic Mexican food this side of Mexico! So don't expect sour cream or shredded American cheeses. It's authentic crema and queso fresca here. Their salsas, red and green, are made from pan roasted chilis. I totally agree with the following reviews, click on link below. Again, this is the real deal in authentic Mexican food. Location available on review site.
Everybody raves about Thai Nakorn, and yes I agree they do have great Thai food. But we now exclusively satisfy our cravings for Thai at Dee Dee Thai Lao restaurant. I was stationed in Thailand twice while serving in the Air Force...I know auththentic Thai food when I taste it. And an extra bonus the cooks here also serve up some great traditional Lao dishes as well. You can't get Som Tom at every Thai restaurant, at Dee Dee Thai Lao you can get both the Thai version as well as the Lao version. The little strip mall it's located in isn't much to talk about but once inside you'll forget about it. You'll be treated very nice by Pwee and Toon and enjoy a nice abience and really great food. See their web site below for location and menu.
Breakfast & Lunch...
Country Family Cafe. Great throw back to the old fashioned neighborhood coffee shop/diner. Open for breakfast and lunch only. Owner and cook Javier and long time waiters and employees will treat you like family. Great American homestyle breakfasts and lunch items as well as some pretty darn good Mexican breakfasts as well. Best 'grilled' burgers around. Highly recommend the California burger for lunch. Toasted bun, avocado, bacon, swiss cheese (on order), fresh lettuce & tomato. Saturday and Sunday for one price, all you can eat Menudo with all the 'trimmings'. And you can't beat the prices. You can read my review (crt) on CFC as well at City Search link below. Address and phone number there also.
For sit down /w wait staff.
Haveli Indian in Tustin - Great Buffet for $8.95
Fuji Yama in Newport Beach Excellent sushi for the price.
For take out.
Zon Baguettes in Tustin-The best Bahn Mi outside of Little Saigon. Get full for $2.95
El Toro Bravo in Costa Mesa- If you don't mind the line, the tastiest tacos (carnitas, goat, belly, carne asada, tongue and chicken) I have had in OC.