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COSTA MESA - dinner @ family owned restaurant - inexpensive

Looking for an inexpensive (>$14 per person) family owned restaurant for an early dinner this Sunday night in Costa Mesa.

-We are willing to drive but not far. Staying near the Performing Arts Center (going to see Phantom).
-Chicken/pork, veggies, potatoes/rice preferred; Thai, BBQ, diner-style food, French provincial... no only pasta/pizza or only fish.
-It's just my husband and I; we'd like casual, comfortable, and clean.
-A family owned Mimi's type would be great. Or something better!

I have looked high and low on the boards but everything is too casual (Taco Mesa) or too upscale (Golden Truffle). Memphis looked great but I had some reservations. I don't want to do anything too spicy and not feel well through the performance.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. how about plum's cafe, mesa, or inka grill?? they're decent and inexpensive.

    1 Reply
    1. re: namstermonster

      Very difficult to get out of Mesa with a check of less than $25/person unless you want to leave hungry!

    2. If you are in the mood for fresh made pasta and Argentine dishes and for a great deal then you should consider Pasta Connection. The family lost their lease and it will be closing soon.

      1. Dick Church's = A family owned Mimi's type near the Performing Arts Center. Actually, it's more like a family owned Coco's.

        1. Italian - there is a place on Harbor Blvd in the Harbor Center called Nicks that has been a local favorite for a long time. Can be especially fun if Nick is there.

          Further down, in Huntington Beach (right next to Costa Mesa and maybe 5-10 minutes from the PAC area) is a place called Lou's Red Oak BBQ that has great tri-tip and chicken - cheap, fast and good.

          Inka Grill is a good choice.

          1. If you don't object to great vegetarian food, go to Native Foods in the Camp shopping center on Bristol, 3 minutes south of South Coast Plaza. Fun, casual, indoor/outdoor seating, and really tasty vegan food at very reasonable prices. I'm not a vegetarian, but I always enjoy this place.

            1. If its not to far for you to drive, Rutabegorz in Tustin is worth the trip. (There are 3 of them, but it does not feel at all chainy).

              El Cholo in Irvine is pretty close...it's a small LA based chain...much better in May (when green corn tamales are in season).

              Since you're staying near the Performing Arts Center, and the budget is >$14 per person, how about Leatherby's Cafe Rouge?

              8 Replies
              1. re: sunnyand72

                $14 at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge? You've got to be kidding !! That's the cost of a martini !!

                1. re: sunnyand72

                  Surely you are joking!! You can't even get in the door at Leatherby's for less than $50/person!!

                  1. re: sunnyand72

                    But , if you notice, the request was for > $14.......GREATER THAN. Even tho she had specified 'less than' in the post....

                    1. re: dockhl

                      esmetutu!! You have confused everyone. Do you really mean that you want to spend more than $14? Or...as many of us are assuming you erred in your typing and want dinner for less than $14.l Please clarify!!

                      1. re: josephnl

                        I'm thinking it was a mistake and she wants to spend less, don't you?

                        1. re: dockhl

                          Of course! But don't you think that someone who posts a question like this really should at least read the responses, and clarify if necessary? It seems to me to be just common courtesy...and I guess I am always disappointed when I spend the time to try to help someone, and like esmetutu, there is no acknowledgment of any kind posted!

                          1. re: josephnl

                            Amen! I So agree - gotten some great recs, but no input back whatsoever...

                            I was thinking Oki Doki, but I guess it's too late anyway.

                    2. re: sunnyand72

                      You've got to be kidding with El Cholo! Absolute worst mexican ever. Tamales there, when in season, still isn't worth it. Go cheaper and better with Mi Casa--maybe not the best, but it is what it is.

                    3. Plums is nice and all-- but they only serve B and L, no D.

                      Consider the Pleasant Peasant, right by John Wayne. Good country French, family operation, very reliable and fairly priced. Don't know if they are open Sundays.

                      Leatherby's is way too expensive for your budget. Same with Mesa.

                      Not all of Memphis' fare is spicy, BTW.

                      Z'Tejas in SCPlaza is decent... plenty of BBQ-type items there.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: OCBites

                        The Pleasant Peasant is not open on Sundays. Otherwise this would be an excellent choice for a modestly priced high quality dinner...although I think you'd probably wind up spending somewhat more than $14/person.

                        If you can do without meat for one meal, I still think that my previous suggestion of Native Foods in the Camp is a good choice for your budget.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          Yeah, the Pleasant Peasant is not open on Sundays. I was going to suggest it also. Also thought about Pascal's, but it too is closed on Sundays, and probably over the budget of $14 per person. Hard to find any French places at that low a price.

                          Was going to suggest some of the ramen shops nearby, like Mentatsu Noodle House or Kohryu, but didn't seem to match the cuisines that the OP is looking for, but will fit in the budget.

                          Onotria might fit the bill if you pick the cheaper items, but the prices do range from $10-25 for entrees.

                      2. The Greek Island Grille (The whole Pita) is the best Greek food I've had outside of Greece. It's dirt cheap, family owned, and I go there twice a month at least. Try the Hummus and Meletzanosalata appetizer plate, and pretty much everything on the menu is fresh and delicious, but I am addicted to the bifteki! It's on the corner of sunflower and bristol, within a block or two of the performing arts center. http://www.thewholepita.com

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: OC Mutt

                          Agreed -- Greek Island Grille is the place to go. Outstanding Greek food. Just a few minutes from the PAC -- you could walk there, as my family and I have several times, before the show.

                          1. re: johnglowacki

                            Garduno's is a great family owned Italian restaurant and fairly inexpensive, particulary if you just order dinner w/o wine. Its a classic family owned neighborhood restuarant. We like it so much that we regularly make the trip from Seal Beach

                        2. Wolfgang Puck Cafe in South Coast Plaza would be my choice.
                          P: (714) 546-9653

                          See menu at http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restauran...
                          (Prices and items are different from the Downtown Disney's WP cafe


                          I enjoy the Chinois Chicken Salad, so this restaurant stays on my list. I also love mashed potatoes and he offers those, very tasty with garlic. I like the Spring Rolls, too. Other menu items per your own taste, but quality is in line with his experience.

                          Since SCP is so expansive, location detail is that is it in the original SCP (3333 Bristol), around back next to Macy's Men's Store and Saks Fifth Avenue.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kc girl

                            Well, I guess Wolfgang has a family, but.....