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Ultimate OC Restaurants, 2007 Edition

Can you believe the year has gone by so quickly?

The concept is simple: everyone is asked to list, in rank order, your top 5 restaurants in Orange County that you would recommend to houndly out-of-town visitors or to chowfriends for a special occasion. Since we worship at the altar of deliciousness, your ranking should be based 75% on food and 25% on everything else.

To join the fun, reply with a list of ONLY your top 5 choices. Responses with more than 5 choices will not be included. Replies with fewer than five choices will be tabulated. Your entries will be weighted arithmetically, 5 points for your #1 choice; 4 for #2, & so forth. A simple list will suffice, but any & all explanation is welcome.

50 OC hounds responded last year. The more replies we receive, the more useful are the poll’s findings, so please do reply. We’ll keep the polls open until December 21 & publish the results shortly after the new year.

Last year's poll is here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350718 but somehow the results thread got misplaced. I'll chime in with my five shortly.

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  1. 1. Napa Rose
    2. Studio at The Montage Resort
    3. Marche Moderne
    4. Stonehill Tavern
    5. Mastro's (Costa Mesa)

    1. 1) Shin Sen Gumi
      2) Tsuruhashi
      3) Inka Mama (Foothill Ranch location)
      4) El Adobe (Saturday lobster fajitas)
      5) Seafood Paradise (Dim Sum)

      Hmmm... 4 out of 5 the same as last year. Either they're really good or, I need to get out more often.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JAB

        After his evenings subpar meal, El Adobe is unfortunately on the down hill watch.

        Also, I owe a debt of gratitude to this board for 3 of my 5.

        1. re: JAB

          This was my 1 and only subpar meal at El Adobe. We didn't go back right away after this meal but, have been back several times since and it's back on point. I'm referring specifically about their seafood offerings especially, their lobster fajitas.

      2. 1. Basilic (Balboa island)
        2. The Ritz (NB)
        3. Napa Rose (Chef's Counter)
        4. Clae's (Chef Todd only)
        5. Stonehill Tavern

        1. 1. Bluefin
          2. Cafe Hiro
          3. Stonehill Tavern
          4. Sushi Shibucho
          5. Marche Moderne

          1. 1. Marche Moderne
            2. Shibucho
            3. Thai Nakorn
            4. Nory's
            5. Hatam

            1. 1. Marche Moderne
              2. Old Vine Cafe
              3. Ramos House Cafe
              4. Darya
              5. Crow Bar & Kitchen

              1. KK,
                I'm not sure everyone read the SPECIAL OCCASION part of your Post?
                All the restaurants listed below are good but some below are not in the Special Occasion category. Marche Moderne is good but Special Occasion, probably not?

                4 Replies
                1. re: russkar

                  I have to teeter on the border of Marche Moderne being special occassion. You made me think about it, russ. IMO, though, it's definitely steps above casual (and special enough for my dining companions). I'll probably rank it as well.

                  1. re: brekkie_fan

                    Brekkie, what about The Cellar, Mr Stox, Anaheim White House, La Vie En Rose, Pinot Provence, Antonello's ,Traditions by Pascal?

                  2. re: russkar

                    One size does not fit all. What restaurant you consider fit for a specific special ocassion will not fit someone elses. Just becuase a restaurant that isn't considered 'trendy' or a '5 star restaurant' doesn't mean that it can't be considered for a special occassion.

                    1. re: russkar

                      Oops. I was one of those who didn't consider the Special Occasion factor. I would have to revise previous list to:

                      1. Marche Moderne (yes, it stays because his food is that good)
                      2. The Ritz
                      3. Mastro's (either)
                      4. Leatherby's
                      5. Stonehill Tavern

                    2. 1. Stonehill Tavern
                      2. Mastros Ocean Club (Newport Beach)
                      3. Marche Moderne
                      4. Mesa (Costa Mesa)
                      5. Vine (San Clemente)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: brekkie_fan

                        1. Stonehill Tavern
                        2. Bluefin
                        3. Mastros (Costa Mesa)
                        4. Leatherby's Rouge Cafe
                        5. Napa Rose

                      2. 1. Tsuruhashi
                        2. Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen (in Orange)
                        3. Felix's Continental Cafe
                        4. Haveli
                        5. Zinc Cafe

                        They aren't really special occasion places but they are places that I'd take people to. I've always wanted to participate in the ultimate OC thing, it's always seemed like so much fun. I also wish I could recommend some "fancy" restaurants but I really don't eat out at expensive places all too much.

                        1. 1. Studio at The Montage
                          2. Napa Rose
                          3. Stonehill Tavern
                          4. Vine - Wine Country Cuisine (San Clemente)
                          5. Dizz's As Is (South Laguna)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Midlife

                            Were you at Studio recently?
                            We were surprised at its decline in the last year? 4 people 1500- = disappointment.
                            Didn't even make our top 5 this year?

                            1. re: russkar

                              We were at Studio a year ago but live and work in the area and hear only great reviews. An acquaintance, who frequents places like Gary Danko (SF), Auberge du Soleil (Napa), Stonehill Tavern, and Napa Rose, ate there on Thanksgiving Day (of all days) and said it was one of the best dining experiences he's ever had. To each his/her own I guess.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                That would make sense based on the comparisons.
                                I was comparing Studio to the "Majors" in LA and the last experience we had there. Studio isn't even in the Top Ten.

                          2. Stonehill Tavern

                            I do not live in OC so my experience is very limited there. My one and only special occasion restaurant experience is ST, and I thought it was quite fabulous.

                            1. 1--The Ritz
                              4--21 Oceanfront
                              5--Traditions by Pascal

                              1 Reply
                              1. And the votes are in ...

                                Stonehill Tavern 7
                                Marche Moderne 6
                                Mastros 4
                                Napa Rose 4
                                The Ritz 3
                                Basilic 2
                                Bluefin 2
                                Leatherby's 2
                                Tsuruhashi 2
                                Vine 2
                                21 Oceanfront 1
                                Antonello's 1
                                Cafe Hiro 1
                                Clae's 1
                                Crow Bar & Kitchen 1
                                Darya 1
                                Dizz's As Is 1
                                El Adobe 1
                                Felix's Continental Cafe 1
                                Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen 1
                                Hatam 1
                                Haveli 1
                                Inka Mama 1
                                Mesa 1
                                Nory's 1
                                Old Vine Cafe 1
                                Ramos House Cafe 1
                                Seafood Paradise 1
                                Shibucho 1
                                Shin Sen Gumi 1
                                Studio at The Montage 1
                                Studio at The Montage Resort 1
                                Sushi Shibucho 1
                                Thai Nakorn 1
                                Traditions by Pascal 1
                                Zinc Cafe 1

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jwnorris

                                  Shibucho and Sushi Shibucho are the same thing, and the voting isn't closed yet.

                                2. I'm doing this a bit under protest, because a special occasion for me means getting to eat in some really interesting place, whether it's a fancy linen-napkin dress-up hoity-toity-food restaurant or not.

                                  Napa Rose
                                  Zov's Bistro
                                  Thai Nakorn
                                  Taco Rosa (brunch)
                                  Marche Moderne

                                  1. 1. Bluefin
                                    2. Sushi Shibucho
                                    3. Marche Moderne
                                    4. Taco Rosa
                                    5. Tsuruhashi

                                    1. My "Special Occasion" would also be for places I'd gladly take visitors out-of-town, but may not be "fancy" or "5 Star." (^_~) Good Food, first and foremost.

                                      1. Marche Moderne
                                      2. Shin Sen Gumi (Yakitori, not the Ramen side)
                                      3. Darya
                                      4. Sushi Shibucho
                                      5. Thai Nakorn

                                      1. On the one hand, special occasion could mean high-end, on the other hand I think taking people to Coyote Grill in Laguna Beach for a Sunday lunch and bloody mary would also be a special event. Assuming it's someone's wedding anniversary or landmark birthday, then I'd vote as follows:

                                        1. Napa Rose
                                        2. Stonehill Tavern
                                        3. Clae's
                                        4. Marche Moderne
                                        5. Anaheim White House

                                        1. 1. Bayside
                                          2. Mesa
                                          3. Onotria
                                          4. Restaurant Rumari (if only for the semifreddo dessert)
                                          5. Zov's

                                          1. Vine
                                            Stonehill Tavern
                                            Marche Moderne

                                            1. Shibucho
                                              Sage (the original)
                                              Cafe Zoolu

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: torta basilica

                                                Traditions by Pascal
                                                Super Pollo
                                                Thai Nakorn

                                              2. Thanks for participating everybody! The polls are closed, and I'll tabulate them up as quick as can be :)

                                                btw, my five were

                                                1. Tsuruhashi
                                                2. Sushi Wasabi
                                                3. Leatherby's
                                                4. Clae's
                                                5. Mastro's

                                                1. Last year's results (2006) were found: chowhound.chow.com/topics/356299

                                                  However, what I couldn't find were the results to this 2007 poll. I searched & searched (which is how I found the 2006 results) but came up empty handed for the 2007 poll results.

                                                  Anyway, I'm bringing a 2007 topic back b/c I'd like to see the results...however, this thread came in handy for recent meal planning. =)

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                    I posted the 2007 results as promised last year. But it was deleted, and not knowing if the powers that be (The Chowhound Team) deleted it on purpose or accident, I didn't want to risk angering them by reposting.

                                                    Also, that's probably why I'm gun-shy about doing the 2008 poll, but if anyone really wants to do it, we could probably throw the 2008 Ultimate OC poll together?

                                                    1. re: OCAnn

                                                      No interest in our OC Poll this year?

                                                      1. re: kingkong5

                                                        If you start one, I'll play....

                                                        1. re: OCAnn

                                                          I tried for South/Central OC 08 best of earlier, but without success. No love for the OC here. There is another website that does have lots of OC reviews that I am aware of though....the postings aren't nearly as thoughtful, but they are numerous.