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A week in Anaheim

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  • Jim Zurer Jan 16, 2001 09:07 AM
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I will be at a conference during the last week in January--staying at the Anaheim Hilton. I need some help finding some area dining options.

I will have a car and I am willing to travel some distance for a good Chowhound experience. As usual, I prefer local specialities, casual surroundings, and moderate prices--but I will pay a premium for exceptional dining experiences.

Looking forward to the responses.

Thanks in advance.

Jim Zurer
Washington DC

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  1. If you want to eat at the beach, try Chimayo at Huntington Beach pier. The menu can be desribed as "nouveau eclectic southwestern" (southwestern dishes, but they have wood oven baked pizzas, too). Reasonable prices, and the only meal I ever had that I didn't like was halibut wrapped in a ti leaf (too bland). You can eat on the patio(they have heaters and a fire pit or two, but it's still chilly at night). Duke's restaurant is upstairs, but isn't anything to write home about. It's the California cousin to Kimo's in Lahaina.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LBJQ

      Thanks for all the suggestions....I ended up eating very well in the Anaheim area. I will post more details but for the record....

      1) Favori (Santa Ana)-- French Vietnamese: Every table had the signature baked catfish. Terrific.

      2) Zov's Bistro (Tustin) -- Excellent food in upscale diner like surroundings. Lentil and mushroom soups were very tasty, as were the main course Moroccan salmon and lamb loin.

      3) Caffe Piemonte (Tustin) -- The best osso buco....melt in your mouth meat with rich and savory sauce. Pheasant ravioli with sausage was no slouch either. Big portions.

      4) Bluewater Grill (Newport Beach) -- Nice, informal seafood house with view of the water. Outstanding fried oysters, good mussels and steamer clams.

      Who knew that Tustin was such a restaurant town? I was surprised by the rather high prices however...entrees in the low to mid-twenty dollar range. But the quality of the food was very high.

      Jim Zurer
      Washington DC

    2. Every time I return home, I make it a point to visit Puffy Taco in Whittier. I'd estimate it to be about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown Anaheim (it's on the NW corner of Santa Gertrudes and Leffingwell, and it's full name is Arturo's Puffy Taco).

      It's a very basic, extremely casual taco stand that excels in the few things on the menu - 'puffy' tacos (which is just a result of deep frying the corn tortilla), carne asada, carne guizada, enchiladas. Usually, I just pick up an enchilada plate, which is big enough to fill you up if you're hungry for about $5.50, and bring it back, but there are some benches inside and outside. Don't expect too much from the decor, it's not pretty, but to me, the food is out of this world. An authentic local legend.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mateo

        I grew up in Whittier and La Habra. Nothing is better the Puffy Taco. This is a real taco stand except the guy that takes your order looks and talks like a surfer. 2 Puffy Tacos and an order of Tex Strips. Not exactly health food but it is good for the soul

      2. If you want something unique, try the Hobbit (2932 Chapman in Orange). It's a house where there is one seating per night; this includes time in an upstairs bar and a multicourse meal in the main dining room. If you have several friends to share a table it's all the better. The food is carefully thought out and prepared and there is a good wine cellar.

        Also, don't overlook Mr. Stox in Anaheim (Katella, not far from Disneyland). OK food, but the best wine list in Orange County (though not the cheapest).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Griller141

          You might also try Black Sheep Bistro in Tustin (I assume they're still there, I haven't been there in 2 years) and you shouldn't miss Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa.

          David Cook

          1. re: Griller141

            If you're interested in the Hobbit, call and make a reservation as far ahead as possible. I've eaten there twice, and enjoyed it both times. They serve a four or five course (I forget) prix fixe meal. You have champagne and hors d'oeuvres in the wine cellar, where you select wine to go with your meal (additional cost). Dinner is leisurely paced, with a break before the main course, so that you can wander around the house and visit the kitchen. And come hungry!

          2. OK. I used to work at the Anaheim Hilton 15 years ago. Avoid eating there at all costs. If I waas staying in Anaheim here is a list of restaurants I would frequent and why.

            1. Zankou chicken. This is a hole in the wall Armenian style roast chicken place. The original restaurant was in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. The best rotisserie style chicken you have tried anywhere. Cheap prices.

            2. The Thai restaurant on Katella Blvd on the right hand side of the road before you enter the freeway. (Sorry I can't remember the name). This place has the best Thai fish cakes you will find outside of Thailand.
            Cheap prices.

            3. Thee White House. I know you're from Washington but this place is an Italian infuenced classic in Anaheim. A nice place for dinner. Moderate prices.

            Hope this helps.

            1. If you haven't filled your Sunday Brunch card, and you like a good buffet brunch, Orange Hill Restaurant is one of the best. Nice view, 3 rooms of buffet, omelettes, waffles, eggs benedict and pasta are made to order, tons of seafood, great dessert area, nice fresh fruit, sushi, and a good variety of hot and cold entrees at the hot trays. The view of the city is also spectacular.

              Comes to about $25 a person with Champagne. Make reservations at least a day ahead -- they fill up.

              For great hole-in-the-wall Mexican Food (come on, you can't go to Southern Cal. and not eat Mexican at least once. We're famous for it) Go to Pancho's II in Santa Ana. I like the carnitas, and make sure that they put the chips and cheese on your table. They usually do, and they are usually free. Don't eat anything with sour cream, though. (Don't ask). I promise, you will love it.

              If you prefer something more upscale, El Torito Grill (not El Torito Restaurant) makes fresh tortillas and keeps them coming to your table like other restaurants serve bread. The entrees are not classic Mexican, they're more southwestern (i.e., blue corn and duck tamales, etc.). Stick with the Fajitas, they are always good, and then you can eat even more of those yummy tortillas.

              For more traditional Mexican Fare, On the Border Grill (an import from Texas) in Tustin Ranch serves good Mexican Food in a Yuppie atmosphere with great Margaritas.

              For great Gourmet-style food, you can try the Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa. Alan Greeley, the chef, is an institution in Orange County, and has trained most of the other chefs around here. He has a tendency to put caviar on everything, but it's an interesting touch on the Maui Onion and potato pancakes with sour cream and caviar. Great place.

              Niki's Tandoori in Santa Ana is essentially a fast food place, but they have about the best Indian food in OC. Not a must try, but if you're craving Indian food, that's the place.

              Tosh's Mediterranean Cuisine is the only Turkish Restaurant in Southern Cal., their selection is good, the food is fresh, and their baklava is wonderful.

              The Crazy Horse in Irvine Spectrum serves about the best steaks and prime rib in OC, but if you really want Prime Rib, make a special trip to LA and go to Lawry's. However, Crazy Horse usually has some nice live music at their bar, and your dinner receipt gets you free cover.

              Cheesecake Factory (a chain) can't be beat for cheesecakes, and the one in Irvine Spectrum has some good main dishes -- their chefs tend to do up the food better than the rest in the chain.

              If you're really looking for some good dessert, try the Chocolate Souffle at Finbar's in Metro Point Center in Costa Mesa. It's served only on Friday and Saturday nights there. As a special bonus, if you sit outside, there is usually a good live band playing.

              For Cuban food, forget Felix in Orange. Go to Versailles in Culver City. Can't be beat.

              Antonello's is the Italian Restaurant about which everyone raves. It's upscale, expensive, and only so-so in my book. Maggiano's in Costa Mesa is as close as we have to good Italian food. If you bring a party of four, they have a special dinner that is an incredible bargain and a lot of fun. But Italian food is not the forte here like it is in San Francisco, so I'd probably stick with the Mexican and other places.

              Ruth's Chris serves a decent steak, but I think Crazy Horse is better. Morton's is overrated.

              McCormick & Schmick's (another chain) in Irvine does seafood pretty nicely. The thing to get there (aside from the crab cakes and seafood chowder) is the parmesan encrusted petrale sole.

              Fatburger is a down and dirty hamburger joint. Plays great Motown and Blues on the jukebox, and the burgers (get them with everything and an egg)are good "joint" food. Also get the chili fries with cheese and onions. Dress down and hope you don't mess yourself.

              Harbor House Cafe in Sunset Beach is a bit of a truck, but it's good for a late-night breakfast after going to a nightclub. The breakfasts are very good, standard cafe food. Omelettes, country potatoes, chicken fried steak, etc.

              On a nice weekend day, Haute Cakes in Newport Beach is a pleasant place to eat breakfast and people watch.

              You might also want to go to Seafood Paradise in Garden Grove for Dim Sum. That area is called "Little Saigon," and there are some good Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants there. But IMO, the Dim Sum at Seafood Paradise is the best in Orange County.

              Sam Woo's is controversial -- the Chinese food there is Americanized, but I happen to think it's great. There are two that I know of. The one in Metro Point Center in Costa Mesa has a better sit down atmosphere.

              Hope this gives you some ideas!