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Jun 12, 2008 08:19 PM

Quirky, unique, or fun in O.C.?

Several weeks ago there was a similar list for the L.A. county folks on the west side. Maybe the O.C. folks can come up with a list of "quirky, unique, or (out-of-the ordinary)fun" places. I'm looking for places with quirky or unique decor/theme, food, surroundings, music, staff, etc. Food should be good but need not be outstanding. No chains unless a particular location is extra special.

Some places that come to mind are Azteca in Garden Grove - Mexican food but the decor and music are completely based on Elvis (on Main St. in Old Town G.G.); Gypsy Den; Po' Folks in Buena Park (there is a train set that goes all around the restaurant ceiling, the place features southern/homestyle food - great place to take kids), etc.

If you have the links or addresses please include them with your comments, and your favorite items on the menu. Thanks!

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  1. I would have to say PJs Abbey in Orange. Dinner in a Baptist church?! The tables around us were having a rowdy birthday celebration. Or was that a bachelorette party? Either way, it certainly falls under quirky.

    3 Replies
    1. re: brekkie_fan

      Alice's Breakfast in the Park in Huntington Beach. Next to Huntington Lake, its a former bait shop that's been remodeled and filled with antiques.

      Burrell's BBQ in Santa Ana, which is grandfathered into a residential neighborhood.

      Crab Cooker on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach with cheesy nautical decorations that works cause this place has been there forever. It was the inspiration for the Crab Shack on the TV show, The OC.

      1. re: brekkie_fan

        Good and interesting setting but food is a bit boring/standard (though well prepared)..haven't been in awhile but we used to take my atheist FIL there.

        1. re: brekkie_fan

          Thanks for reminding us about this one Brekkie. We tried it about five years ago and you're right about quirky - or at least it feels quirky eating in a (former) church! But then, we attend church now in what was formerly a skating rink, so I guess the turn-about can go both ways!

        2. I think there is one of the last Bobby McGee's in Brea. I have never been there, but used to enjoy other locations in the 80's and their theme rooms, discos, and the actors-in-training food servers who dressed up in costume and played characters. They used to have a gigantic salad bar, but I cannot vouch for their menu today. It may be worth checking out...

          1. Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse. Trees grow through the dining room. Probably not a level floor or a plumb wall in a structure that's probably been around since silver mines used to operate in the surrounding hills. Over 12,000 neckties scissored from their former owners garnish the ceiling.

            The steak house fare is stuck in a 1970's time warp: mesquite grilled steaks, basic fries or baked potato, iceberg salad with Italian dressing. In this retro setting, that's a good thing. The food here is just passable IMO, but it is a fun, casual place to eat with friends, and sometimes that's good enough.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Professor Salt

              I'll 2nd Trabuco Oaks and opine that the food is far better than passable. The setting is certainly unique and I think they've got some of the best steaks in SoCal. It doesn't have the name or style that Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Flemings and others have (or the prices!), but there's something about eating there that just makes it taste better. The shoestrong fries are among the best anywhere (although last time I was there they weren't up to par making me wonder if they changed methods/suppliers).

              It's a great evening (no lunch) out!

              1. re: RSMBob

                Thanks Bob (and Prof. Salt!) -
                I LOVE steak! I love meat! I'll skip the fries! Trabuco Oaks sounds really interesting and worth a drive!

                1. re: Joani Macaroni

                  Make sure you call first.I saw on the news that during the last spell of wild rain,they sustained serious water damage...not sure if they are open

            2. I'll also add the retro allure of Park Ave in Stanton (where?!). Had a birthday party in the back room, and my guests loved the ambiance. Makes me crave a martini and cigarette . . . not that I smoke.


              1. I like the Park Ave. suggestion-- far tastier than Bobby McGee's.

                Also, try La Cave in Costa Mesa (another retro joint, underground, with live music).

                Mesa Restaurant in Costa Mesa. Cool room with open ceiling. Very loungey. Probably not as cool as it thinks it is.

                Across the street is Habana and Memphis. Both worth contenders, in an OC manner.

                Also try The Crosby in downtown Santa Ana. Part cafe, part bar, all cool. There's another Memphis down there too (at The Santora bulding)... you could walk to each.