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Yummy and cheap dinner in Laguna?

A Boston hound and a Tucson hound will be staying in Laguna Hills the next three nights. We are planning on omakase at Sushi Shibucho and dinner at Mariscos Puerto Esperanza Thursday and Friday nights (thanks very much to this board) but want dinner nearby tonight after driving all day from Tucson. Any thoughts for cheap and delicious? (Planning on Break of Dawn for breakfast, also thanks to all of you.)

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Sushi Shibucho
590 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

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

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  1. Taco Loco comes to mind for an option in Laguna. You have to drive a bit, but if you have never had one (or your friend, they are in Arizona, but the chain has not made it back East), you should definitely get an In & Out Burger - go for the Double-Double 'Animal Style' if you like cheeseburgers. The easiest one to get to from Laguna would be to head South on PCH to Crown Valley, make a left, go to the 5 South, take the 1st Exit (Avery), make a right then the first left, and it will be about a 1/2 block down on your left. I would not recommend eating it in your car though.
    I will probably get knocked for this, but you can also go to Javier's up the coast in Crystal Cove. It can be expensive, but I was just there, sat in the bar, and had the combo with 2 soft tacos for $12. Premium margaritas are around 10-12 each, and it is a great place for seeing the plastic surgery enhanced 'Real Housewives of OC.' It is no longer considered reasonably priced good and inventive Mexican fare, but it is worth seeing, you can eat for not a ton of money, and the food is still good.

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    Taco Loco
    640 S Coast Hwy Ste 1, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    Javier's Cantina & Grill
    7832 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

    2 Replies
    1. re: ocshooter

      there's also an In & Out adjacent to the Laguna Hills Mall, I-5 at El Toro, since the OP did say Laguna Hills...

      1. re: Bogey153

        My bad, I immediately default to Laguna Beach when I see Laguna.

    2. House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer (yes - that's actually the name) on the main drag of Laguna is inexpensive and surprisingly good.

      Kappo Hana in Laguna Hills for izakaya, although if you're going to Shibucho you may not want to do Japanese again (notwithstanding how different they might be). It sounds like you're set on Shibucho, but for what it's worth, to say that I am not a fan of that place would be a massive understatement.

      I love Taco Loco, but it's more of a shack than a restaurant, and I agree with the comments on Javier's.

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      Kappo Hana
      25260 La Paz Rd A, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

      1 Reply
      1. re: krick

        2nd House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer. Prices are really reasonable, beer selection is good, atmosphere is casual; perfect after a long drive. Food is really good for the price.

      2. Unfortunately Mariscos Puerto Esperanza has closed.

        1. Very sad to hear about Mariscos Puerto Esperanza, I enjoyed it when previously in the area -- and very much appreciate your saving us a fruitless drive to Orange. Kappo Hana sounds very interesting and we'll probably go there instead. Tonight we thought about going there but couldn't face getting on the freeway again or down the canyon to House of Big Fish so went to Pho Bo Vang, 5 minutes from the motel, and had lovely fresh spring rolls in the most translucent (very nearly transparent) wrappers and enormous (smallest size) bowls of pho. Not something I have had too many times but it was absolutely delicious and perfect after a long day in the car. Add in very sweet and solicitous service and it exceeded my criteria of yummy and cheap. Thanks to all!

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          Pho Bo Vang
          23764 Mercury Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630

          Kappo Hana
          25260 La Paz Rd A, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: GretchenS

            I was gonna suggest Pho Bo Vang, but it looks like you found it on your own. It's not Little Saigon quality but the best pho choice in South County.

            For good Chinese in the area, specifically Sichuan, there's Chong Qing Mei Wei in Lake Forest. I haven't been in many months, especially since they opened another location blocks away from my home in Irvine, but I liked most of the things we ordered in Lake Forest. As long as you stay away from the Cantonese-y sounding gringo food and order more Sichuan stuff, you'll do well.

            The storefront at the time said Taste of Asia - it may or may not still have that signage.
            22371 El Toro Rd Ste A
            Lake Forest, CA 92630
            (949) 380-8869

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            Pho Bo Vang
            23764 Mercury Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630

            Chong Qing Mei Wei formerly Taste of Asia
            22371 El Toro Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630

          2. gretchens,

            despite the demise of mariscos puerto esperanza, you will not be disappointed with shibucho and break of dawn.

            if you say 'cheap' - a little bit of a short drive, have lunch at marche moderne at the south coast plaza, their spontanee is about $20-$25, three courses from what is in my humble opinion one of the best french restaurants around. enjoy!

            1 Reply
            1. re: jacknhedy

              Oooh, maybe that's Saturday's treat ahead of the 4:00 wedding on the beach....

            2. Back to report on the rest of our chowish experiences, which thanks to this board were rich and varied. We had breakfast twice at Break of Dawn, which while not cheap ($34 for breakfast for two) certainly provided the most unusual breakfasts that we’d ever had, in a pleasant environment with friendly service. For me, one was successful (Portuguese-Hawaiian sausage with rice, green papaya salad, scallion puree and eggs) and one less so (Vietnamese meatloaf, biscuits, espresso gravy and eggs) but my sister loved both of her meals (one was a Southwestern concoction of chorizo and cheese scrambled eggs, black beans, guacamole and epazote sauce and the other was white corn pancakes with blueberries and bananas). We also had breakfast at Mollie’s Country Kitchen, which was fantastic as we followed the advice here to order the Green Chili Huevos Rancheros – best I have ever had by a longshot – and the service was delightful too. Our omakase at Sushi Shibucho ($35 pp at a table) was truly wonderful: pristine seafood in generous portions, gorgeously plated, and smilingly served. I gather that not everyone loves this place but we sure did. Our only glitch there was a language barrier that meant that my request for no shellfish (due to severe allergy) was not honored, but my sister very happily ate the squid, shrimp and crab intended for me and commented that they were tenderer and more flavorful than any she could remember having. For whatever it’s worth, the wedding which brought us here was held at the Monarch Bay Club (Dana Point) and they did an outstanding job with the food, which wasn’t wedding-ish at all, and was both beautiful and delicious, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, all of which were perfectly prepared. Thanks again to all who contributed to our delicious chow experiences while in Orange County!

              Photos: Break of Dawn Southwestern and Portuguese Hawaiian sausage breakfasts and Mollie's Green Huevos Rancheros

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              Sushi Shibucho
              590 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

              Break of Dawn
              24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

               
               
               
              1 Reply
              1. re: GretchenS

                Oops no, that was a friend's burrito at Mollie's, this is the Green Huevos Rancheros