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(Moved from CA brd) Trip tp OC and SD - Restaurant recs?

Heyteacher Jan 17, 2009 10:56 AM

My husband and I are coming out to CA the last week of March/first week of April. I'm originally from CA but have lived in CO now for about 15 years.....and haven't gone back to CA very often. I'm looking for good breakfast, Mexican, Sushi, wine bar and any other fabulous, local, not horribly pricey ($25 or less pp) restaurants anywhere in Orange County or San Diego. One of my faves was Tulsa Rib Co in Orange so that's on the list....I used to LOVE Juana Maria but I heard that it closed down.

Thanks for your help!

  1. wienermobile Jan 22, 2009 04:15 PM

    Hodad's Burgers in the Ocean Beach Section of San Diego are well worth the trip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wienermobile
      Heyteacher Apr 5, 2009 03:41 PM

      Drove by but never made it inside...didn't care for the neighborhood...

    2. Das Ubergeek Jan 17, 2009 08:33 PM

      The problem is that the truly amazing sushi is way, way, way more than $25 pp -- two people could probably share the $75 omakase platter at Maki-Zushi in Tustin -- that is definitely up there in the top five for sushi in this county, usually joined by Shibucho, Hamamori, Bluefin, etc. (none of which are even remotely possible for $25 pp).

      Mexican is easy -- you've simply got to try Mariscos Puerto Esperanza in Orange. (I know, loyal Chowhounds, I harp on it -- but it's SO DAMN GOOD I could eat there every day. I haven't been able to say that since I first hit Skaf's in North Hollywood in 1999.)

      Breakfast in North OC -- Jagerhaus or Original Pancake House in Anaheim, or if you're in Huntington Beach I like the breakfasts at the Sugar Shack (downtown HB) and the Harbor House (Sunset Beach -- there's another in Dana Point).

      That said, junglekitte is right -- you can't come to OC looking for fabulous, local, not horribly pricey restaurants and ignore the wealth of Little Saigon. While I'm not a cheering fanboy for Brodard (it's not bad), there's so much out there and it's hard for me to think you'd be able to spend $25 pp.

      Starting, then, with the most expensive options: Xanh Bistro, on Brookhurst near the northwestern corner of Mile Square Park, tucked away in the corner of an L-shaped plaza. Accessible (the waitstaff all speak perfect English, the menu is in English, the chef speaks English, it's got nice decor, etc.) and the food is delicious -- the orange roughy atop mango salad is excellent; the shaken beef is quite good; the small plates (aka tapas) are very good; the caramel fish in clay pot is very, VERY good (try it despite its description). Another possibility is S Vietnamese Fine Cuisine, which is in the parking lot of the Westminster Mall, right off the 405 at Bolsa/Goldenwest. Xanh is better.

      A step down (English mostly spoken, menu may have creative translations, you have to go up to the front desk to pay) and you've got Quan Hy, Quan Minh Ky and Vien Dong. Quan Hy is known for banh beo, which are little rice wraps with various toppings; Quan Minh Ky has excellent lemongrass chicken and grilled skewers (try venison or wild boar). Vien Dong has the very best cha gio (fried Vietnamese spring rolls -- forget what you thought you knew about spring rolls, wrap these up in lettuce with herbs and pickles, and dip in the supplied sauce -- heaven!), excellent bun cha Hanoi (smoky grilled pork and pork meatballs with rice noodles, herbs, pickles, and a thin papaya-based sauce, you make little bowls with whatever you want), and FANTASTIC cha ca Thanh Long (turmeric-marinated fish grilled with dill and green onions -- amazing). They also have great fried shrimp and sweet potato fritters. The most expensive menu item is a large portion of the fish, which is enough to feed two very hungry people, at $15.95.

      Finally, if you're on a long drive, stop at either Banh Mi Cho Cu (which opens at 4 AM) or Banh Mi & Che Cali and buy yourselves three Vietnamese sandwiches -- garlicky mayo, a soy-based sauce, cilantro, peppers, pickled vegetables and your choice of meats on a crusty French roll or half a baguette. At Cali these are $2.25 each and if you buy two you get one free. At Cho Cu they are $2 each. Try the "dac biet" (house special, usually with two or three kinds of Vietnamese charcuterie -- may be pate, or white pork rillette, or any of five or six kinds of sausage, or even head cheese if that's your think).

      Other possibilities I think of off the top of my head: Thai Nakorn or Bangkok Taste for Thai (Thai Nakorn is better); Shik Do Rak or Cham Sut Gol for Korean barbecue (Cham Sut Gol is better) or Kaju for Korean spicy soft tofu stew.

      Bangkok Taste
      2737 N Grand Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705

      Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery
      14520 Magnolia St, Westminster, CA 92683

      Original Pancake House
      1418 E Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92805

      Thai Nakorn
      11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

      2525 E Ball Rd, Anaheim, CA 92806

      Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery
      8948 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

      Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery
      15551 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

      Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery
      13838 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

      Original Pancake House
      26951 Moulton Pkwy, Laguna Hills, CA 92656

      Vien Dong
      14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

      Harbor House Cafe
      34157 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629

      9691 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

      Kaju Tofu Restaurant
      8895 Garden Grove Blvd Garden, Grove, CA

      Quan Hy Restaurant
      9727 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

      Harbor House Cafes
      16341 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

      Maki Zushi
      1641 Edinger Ave # 101, Tustin, CA

      Xanh Bistro
      16161 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

      S Vietnamese Fine Dining
      545 Westminster Mall, Westminster, CA 92683

      Cham Sut Gol
      9252 Garden Grove Blvd # 10 Garden, Grove, CA

      Original Pancake House
      3322 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869

      Mariscos Puerto Esperanza
      1724 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92865

      Sugar Shack Cafe
      213 Main St, Huntington Beach, CA 92648

      Minh Ky Quan Restaurant
      9741 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

      1 Reply
      1. re: Das Ubergeek
        junglekitte Jan 17, 2009 08:36 PM

        Wow great list that I need to try too!!! :)

      2. OCAnn Jan 17, 2009 07:36 PM

        Here's a thread that might hlep: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585999 :: Ultimate OC Restaurants, 2008; RESULTS

        1. junglekitte Jan 17, 2009 07:34 PM

          I could name quite a few but here are two that I LOVE and feel are unique to OC.

          One of my all time favorites in OC is Brodard restaurant http://www.brodard.net/overview.html

          I've actually ordered quite a few things here but here are my top favorites:

          Their Chao Tom Cuon (shrimp paste summer rolls) are #1 I've ever had and the reason why I drive all the way there. And I notice everyone else in the restaurant has an order of those on their table too. You MUST order these if you go there.

          Their Cha Gio (fried egg rolls) are also spectacular. They come with lettuce, herbs, pickled veggies, and a delicious dipping sauce.

          Their roasted duck salad is really fabulous also.
          Banh Xeo (rice flour crepe) is delicious.
          Bo Luc Lac (shaken beef) is tasty too.
          And to finish an avocado shake. Yum!
          I would stay away from their pho, and banh mi. Go elsewhere for those!

          Ramos House Cafe in San Juan Capistrano. Hands down best and most charming brunch. Not cheap like you requested, but you shouldn't miss this. I would stick to the breakfast items and not order the lunch type dishes. Their smoked salmon-basil toasts, beignets, egg dishes, french toast, and biscuits are all to die for. Also a very good bloody mary! http://www.ramoshouse.com/

          Brodard Restaurant
          9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

          Ramos House Cafe
          31752 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

          1. The Chowhound Team Jan 17, 2009 06:56 PM

            Please do post a separate query on our California board for the portion off your trip that will take you to San Diego County.


            1. a
              attran99 Jan 17, 2009 06:46 PM

              If you're in San Diego, I recommend Point Loma Seafood...awesome clam chowder and made-to-order seafood dishes. My fave is the fried soft shell crab sandwich...delightfully crispy soft shell crab on fresh sourdough bread with a light spread of remoulade.
              If you're on PCH driving down south, I suggest a stop at Sprinkles in Newport...I love their red velvet cupcakes...and if Oprah likes them...they can't be all that bad, right?
              I would highly suggest making stops for Vietnamese and Korean fare in the O.C. Vietnamese banh mi (sandwiches) are cheap and great to pack as road food. I'm one that prefers Lee's Sandwiches (various locations in Westminster and throughout the O.C.)...my Dad is close friends with the owners...so I've never had a bad sandwich there. For less than $3.00 you can get a 10' sandwich in a fresh baguette with pate pickled vegetables, fresh cliantro, and jalapenos. I like the number 1...jambon (but I ask them to hold the headcheese). My hubby likes the grilled pork. For a dollar or so more, you can get the baguette filled with the normal turkey/ham/roast beef with all the traditional fixings. As for Korean, there are great Korean BBQs in the Garden Grove area. Shik Do Rak is popular, but I recently went to Cham Sut Gol for their AYCE dinner and found it to be really great for the price. If you search the board, I'm sure you'll find other suggestions, too.
              Enjoy your trip!

              Cham Sut Gol
              9252 Garden Grove Blvd # 10 Garden, Grove, CA

              Sprinkles Cupcakes
              944 Avocado Ave, Newport Beach, CA

              Lee's Sandwiches
              9261 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683

              1. monku Jan 17, 2009 06:43 PM

                Near Old Town San Diego for inexpensive Mexican breakfast or lunch try El Indio. Featured on Food Network Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, they been there since 1940 and make their own tortillas. So they got great chips and their claim to fame is they invented the taquito and first tortilla machine in San Diego. Don't forget to get some of their chips to go.

                In Old Town is Old Town Mexican Cafe. An institution in San Diego. Hand made tortillas and one of their specialties is the "fried" carnitas. Got to get there early or there can be a wait.

                Olamendi's Mexican Restaurant in Dana Point on Pacific Coast Highway with a view of the ocean from across the highway. Favorite Mexican restaurant of President Richard Nixon when he was at the Western White House in San Clemente. Several of his pictures are on the wall. Family run with good food and reasonable prices.

                In Encinitas on N. Coast Hwy 101 is Juanita's Taco Shop. Featured on Huell Howser's California Gold. Famous for their big burritos and cheap prices.
                Juanita's Taco Shop
                290 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
                Phone: (760) 943-9612

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