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good eats in ORANGE, CA (not OC, but the actual CITY of ORANGE)

  • m

I'm looking for good food in the city of ORANGE.

I like authentic Mexican (carnitas, pastor, asada)

Also good sandwiches.

And good coffee.

And anything bacon wrapped.

And good sushi.

And good thai.

And PORK of all natures. In any form.

Price is not an object.

Oh yeah, and good breakfast.

And a good Bloody Mary.


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  1. byblos is a good family-run (the front entryway space is taken up by a playhouse with tv installed for the young daughter who is growing up there) lebanese place- the food is made with care and the turkish coffee is great.

    1. Orange's best breakfast is probably Arthur's on Tustin Avenue. It surely has the best biscuits and gravy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Dorothy

        We got a recommendation to eat breakfast at Arthur's; were told it was the best in Orange. Sad to say, though, we were totally disappointed. The biscuits they say are "famous" tasted like the pop-open cannister and bake kind. The coffee was terrible; weak, acidic, bad flavor. Omelette was acceptable and price reasonable. Our waitress was terrible in all ways a waitress should be good; but there was another there that was very good (wish we had her). Even John's Place and Drive Through is better, IMO. It's on Chapman near Jamboree. But that's nothing special either; just better than Arthur's. Another choice better thaqn Arthur's would be Johnny Rebs on Chapman.

        1. re: kc girl

          Arthur sold the Orange restaurant years ago and it's gone downhill. If you want the awesome Arthur's breakfast, you have to go to either the original in Downey or the one in La Habra that is run by his son. The bisquits & gravy, Arthur's famous "OJ" drink, and everything else is still to die for. I live in Orange and drive to La Habra to eat at Arthur's and will not waste my time at the local one.

      2. I like Okie breakfast at Arthur's also.

        Tulsa Rib Company, At Tustin and Collins, is good.

        1. Felix on the traffic circle - good breakfast, good lunch, Cuban food

          Arthurs has good breakfast but for some reason serves little packs of syrup with their pancakes (!)

          Thai - drive across the freeways to Garden Grove - Thai Nakorn - well worth it. OR, try Thai Spice on Tustin Ave between Katella & Taft

          Also between Katella & Taft - Darya for Persian food

          By the way, has ANYONE tried any of the large number of Indian restaurants on Tustin Ave?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ErikaK

            Stopped by CHOMP for their Sunday champagne brunch (Commonwealth Ave, east of Harbor). At 24.95/person, it's pretty much on par with most of the all-you-can-eat sushi buffets you see around (Todai, Sumo). Some differences though:

            It's right across the street from a church, so you will be battling Sunday worshippers for parking. Still, we got there at about 10:30, an hour after opening, and were immediately seated. Servers were attentive and the glass of champagne rarely went below half-full. It wasn't top shelf bubbly, but accompanied the meal quite nicely. I could swim in the accompanying glass of orange juice.

            As we walked in, we were led past the dessert area, including a chocolate fountain. Appropriate that it is the centerpiece of the dessert tray as there really wasn't much else. Then again, I usually am raising the white flag before getting to the dessert cart anyhow.

            The buffett surrounds CHOMP's sushi bar, so it's smaller than the dedicated sushi buffets. What they do, they do well. Jerk chicken, Caribbean meatloaf, and seafood skewers were all decent, the cheese blintz was large and more flavorful than typical buffet type. I didn't take advantage of the carving station (couldn't fit another bite in and really wanted to fill the sushi fix).

            I'd say the same for the pasta and omelet bars. Too much food, not enough room.

            What really impressed me was the specialty rolls on the sushi side. I was somewhat relegated to those as one individual commandeered the entire platter of ahi, hamachi, and salmon nigiri (no small task). Still, there were plenty of flavors that one would hardly notice that half were variations on California rolls. The shot glasses of crab or shrimp (your choice) ceviche were excellent as was the "sauce it yourself" shrimp cocktail.

            There were two regular sushi chefs in attendance, so special orders were available. I was satisfied with a spicy tuna hand roll which had just the right amount of Sriracha (sp?).

            The oyster/crab leg bar were worthy of attention. The oysters were sizeable and quite fresh. The snow crab legs played second-fiddle to the claws, but yielded enough meat to justify the work required.

            To me, the gold standard is the Sterling brunch at Bally's and the gulf between that and all others is quite wide. At the same time, comparing CHOMP to Sumo/Todai would be like comparing Ruth's Chris to Sizzler. It's not IN the city of Orange, but only a 10-15 minute drive, it's well worth the effort and the value.

          2. I'm looking for good food in the city of ORANGE.

            I like authentic Mexican (carnitas, pastor, asada) - DeAnda Taqueria

            Also good sandwiches. Hollingshead Deli - also great beer selection (www.hollingshead4beer.com
            And good coffee. - Villa Park Coffee

            And anything bacon wrapped. None

            And good sushi. Osaka Kapa in Tustin on Newport Ave.

            And good thai. - Ditto, Thai Nakorn

            And PORK of all natures. In any form. - Burrell's BBQ in Santa Ana on Hesperia and Third.

            Price is not an object.

            Oh yeah, and good breakfast. - Pops in Santa Ana or Rockwell's in Villa Park

            And a good Bloody Mary. - There is NO good hard booze in North County, only beer.


            1. I think its still considered City of Orange, but Johnny Reb's on Chapman has passable BBQ and good breakfasts.

              Breakfast's not as good as Arthur's, though, and I agree on the dislike of small, plastic, syrup packets.

              Last time I was in Arthurs, tho, I would've sworn I saw a waitress refill the Orange Juice pitchers (which used to be all fresh-squeezed in the back) from a standard, food-service issue container....most distressing.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Just Cid

                I like Johnny Rebs too. I like the kitsch-factor in the overly Western decor, and their chicken-fried-steak is stick-to-your-ribs good. Fried green tomatoes aren't bad either after you douse it with hot sauce. The ribs, however...are..."meh".

                I always seem to fill up on those darned roasted peanuts they have table side.

                Link: http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

              2. After being here for about a month I've figured out the following:

                Tacos Jaliscos - on Tustin, 1 light north of Palm. So far I've tried the Lengua (tongue) taco, the Pollo Burrito, and the Enchiladas Mariscos (best of the 3 I've tried). The Horchata is decent.

                Taco Mesa - On Chapman, in the same parking lot as the In N Out. Don't really need to say anything about Taco Mesa. It's as good as you've heard.

                There's an Argentinian place on Lemon and Chapman (the name escapes me). It's terrible. Don't go there.

                Papa Hassan's - Lebanese place that's basically on the Chapman campus. It's the closest spot to my school, so I really don't have a choice, but I really do like it. Good Shwarma, good falafel, etc...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Monktorch

                  I second Papa Hassan's Lebanese food (a couple blocks north of Chapman U). I always go when I'm in the area. My wife and I went on a very hot day this summer. The owner/chef was drenched in sweat but greeted us with a big smile. Don't forget to try the fresh lemonade!

                2. Hadn't been to Todai in Orange in two years. Last time it wasn't bad, kind of medium (for a sushi buffet). Decided to use a two for one and try it out again. It seems to have gone downhill as far as the quality of the fish (again, even for a sushi buffet). The tuna was blinding BRIGHT PINK, oooh my eyes! very grainy (not frozen correctly) and a bit fishy. There wasn't any yellowtail, except something called austratian yellowtail which was more like red snapper. Anyway, just wanted to give the heads up to fellow hounds that this location has gone downhill. I'll have to stick with full service sushi bars and revolving sushi bars. By the way, the bill came to $33 including tax and tip with one free meal.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: GrindzHound

                    Sorry, have never considered Todai as an acceptable place to eat sushi or anything for that matter.

                    1. re: GrindzHound

                      Todai is not food; Todai is food substitute: to be used only as a last resort against starvation until food can be located and eaten.

                      1. re: GrindzHound

                        Australian Yellowtail is much bigger than Pacific counterparts. They grow in excess of 100 pounds and are more like kampachi /amberjack. Not as good as pacific YT

                      2. Felix's cafe on the Orange Circle. There is nothing better than sitting outside and sipping one of their fabulous coffee drinks and a glass of spanish wine or sangria. All of their food is good. I also believe you can get a bloody mary at Citrus City Grill just down the way. The brunches are decent!

                        1. Second the recommendation for Cafe Felix. If you go on a Friday night, try the fish soup (really a stew). A bowl of that soup, some bread and a glass of wine is all you need.

                          1. Felix has a great roast pork dish, and the patio on the Circle on a warm summer evening is festive and sort of the point of living in a place like Orange. The Filling Station has a decent breakfast on another nice patio, really accomodating for dogs as well (Felix is not).

                            I second Taco Mesa for great taqueria food, Tuesday nights (if I remember correctly) is dollar night- always get the soup. And Byblos, while not blow your mind fantastic, is a really nice family run restaurant that cooks from the heart. Worth dropping your dollars there.

                            On the border of Orange and Tustin is a great dhosa place, and in the same strip mall, a korean "festival of meat" style buffet that is worth checking out. Don't remember the address, sorry.

                            1. i miss taco mesa !!! what is the name of the more traditional mexican food place just east, on chapman ..south side of street...large complex especially large outdoor eating area...i recall they had decent carnitas and acceptable margarita's.

                              johnny rebs...for bbq....pahhhhhlease !!!!!! though not traditional bbq, tulsa ribs is very good ! but i agree with the suggestion of burrell's...and pop's....hope that place hasn't changed !!! i liked arthur's...then again...i like the pantry !!

                              i thought they had some new places in the re-vamped mall...ate at an italian place...kind of a cafe style place...it was average...never went to the pizza/brewery place near walmart,..

                              good luck !

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kjs

                                i think you're talking about morenos. great outdoor patio with a large beautiful tree as the centerpiece, too bad you can't eat ambience.

                                i don't get burrell's. mediocre at best.

                              2. You didn't mention seafood but King's Fish House at Main and Katella is casual and dependable and reasonably priced. Good oysters!

                                1. I'm with you tuborg. I've tried Burell's several times over the years and ..............I don't get it. I guess it's ok for orange county, but doesn't do it for me as far as BBQ goes.

                                  1. I ageree with the Tacos Jalisco recommendation. I work in the heart of Santa Ana but I always find myself going back to Jalisco. The prices and authenticity score big points (IMO) and the manager (Marco) is friendly guy. The barbacoa (pork) dish and the aformentioned seafood enchiladas are 2 of my favorites and both clock in at around $5.

                                    I often see some of Orange's finest dining there and they usually know where to go for good eats.

                                    1. Thai-Bangkok Taste on Grand
                                      Mexican-La Calle on Chapman
                                      Vietnamese-Pho Hoa on Chapman

                                      I hate to admit it but I find Orange kinda bare for good food. We usually head over to Tustin for dinner.

                                      btw Tahi Nakorn burned down a couple of months ago... not sure if they reopened

                                      1. I finally did Johnny Reb's for breakfast and was very pleased.
                                        Felix's is good Cuban (all meals) for the area.
                                        Does nobody go to Filling Station anymore? I always liked breakfast there . . . .

                                        1. Morenos on Chapman for Mexican
                                          Johnny Rebs on Chapman for BBQ
                                          Chens Panda Chapman/Jamboree for Chinese
                                          Felix's Cuban in the Circle
                                          Royal Thai Orchid on Katella/Tustin Ave for Thai (Best in OC)

                                          1. These are all my favorites as well, and I haven't found anything I'd want again. I was told I would LOVE gabbi's mexican off the circle. I didn't. I am in Orange Park Acres having just moved from Laguna Beach. It never occured to me I wouldn't be able to walk to any number of great restaraunts anymore; but I can't even find one to drive to... which takes away from having a cocktail before dinner. I figured OC Mining would be "computer food" so haven't tried there yet. How much worse could it be than anything else in the area. Zitos pizza and John's seems to be the standard here, but I did hear something good about the Japanese at newport & Chapman. I'm pretty picky on the sushi thing though. Have you tried? If so.... what did you think?
                                            By the way... the waves; the restaraunts; and convenience of walking everywhere are the only things to miss about Laguna.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: michelle in laguna

                                              Go to Bangkok Taste and order the green mussel omelet, Larb, the squid salad, and the salmon penang. While some items here are very pedestrian, these items are very good. (especially the green mussel omelet, one of my favorite dishes in orange county.)

                                              1. re: dagrassroots

                                                Although it is officially in Santa Ana, I've found Bangkok Taste to be exceptional, one of the best Stateside Thai eateries.
                                                Their larb is among the best I've eaten.
                                                They also do a good khao soy, a rare find outside Chiang Mai.

                                            2. I like authentic Mexican (carnitas, pastor, asada) - La Calle on Chapman

                                              Also good sandwiches -Mattern's Deli on Chapman

                                              And good coffee Kaffas on Main Street

                                              And anything bacon wrapped Not in Orange but Honda-Ya in Tustin

                                              And good sushi - not in Orange but Uoko in Tustin

                                              And good thai -Cha Thai on Chapman

                                              And PORK of all natures. In any form. Felix's Cuban Cafe

                                              Breakfast- Filling Station

                                              And a good Bloody Mary. -let me know if you find a good one!

                                              1. I also vote for Felix Cafe. Here's the link: www.felixcontinentalcafe.com

                                                1. PJ's Abbey, located just off the circle, great sandwiches, wonderful coffee, full bar and really good breakfast.

                                                  Los Cabos on Tustin for Mexican

                                                  1. We decided to go try felix on a friday around 1:30pm for lunch. It was pretty empty so we were able to find a seat really easily. Sat down and ordered the food pretty quick. The free bread and butter was great! We were really hungry. The mrs ordered the number 1 on the menu; the chicked with lemon and garlic. I ordered the cuban steak. The food finally came out and looked alright. Thats when things went downhill. Her food tasted awful, no flavor at all. Wait, maybe the skin might have been ok, but the chicken was as bland as paper. Horrible, dont order it! The maduras were dry, really dry, but the black beans were ok. My steak had alot of flavor, but the meat was horrible. I should have stayed home and made my own ribeye for the same amount of money. As for the service, they never checked up on us either. The waiter finally came so we could pay and that took forever. And they werent even busy! definitely horrible, I dont think I would go back.

                                                    1. Well, since we've reopened this thread, while it's not technically bacon-wrapped, the tacos de alambre at Taco Mesa on Chapman (near Stater Bros.) may be my favourite tacos of any kind, ever -- come on, how can you go wrong? Steak, bacon, onions, peppers, chiles and a little bit of crumbly cheese -- no salsa needed!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Taco Mesa . . . Orange . . . REALLY???

                                                        I have something wrong with me. They did have a great Veggie Quesadilla on part Blue corn tortilla that was stuffed that i Liked. Last time I tried to order it; I got the Blank stare. I guess it was a special a ways back.
                                                        I don't get it (from toy Story . . . slowly becoming a staple).

                                                        1. re: michelle in laguna

                                                          Well, if you'll notice, I recommended exactly one thing there.

                                                          They do have 50c margaritas on Monday... though there's hardly any tequila in them, how do you go wrong at that price?

                                                      2. Johnny Reb's has outstanding hush puppies, tasty collard greens, and a few good BBQ items, but the babyback ribs, though meaty, are often mushy and gross. Breakfast can be good -- with strange-looking but good biscuits, e.g. -- but their country ham is nasty stuff, and that's speaking as a Southerner who loves tough, salty, and bitter country ham.

                                                        Speaking of breakfast, the Original Pancake House is opening a new branch a few blocks east of Johnny Reb's (on Chapman) sometime early next year, although they keep pushing the date back.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Mel Gee

                                                          The OHP is already open on Chapman in Orange. It's just like the rest expensive and good!

                                                          1. re: russkar

                                                            yeah, i notice the original pancake house. is it truly just like the others, specifically the one in laguna and the one in redondo beach.

                                                            i was grabbing a dog at pch dogs, which has actually gone severely downhill, disgusting crap, i remember a few yeas back that they were pretty good.

                                                            also, made a visit to mattern's deli, hard by the weinershitznel which was pretty damn good.

                                                        2. If you like Mexican food, try Gabbi's, about two doors down from the Army/Navy Surplus store on S. Glassell, near the traffic circle. It is not the usual Mexican fare, but is a bit toward the mid-to-high end of what's possible with Mexican ingredients and style. They do have some familiar favorites, but you'll probably be glad if you venture forth and try something new. The Parrillada Mixta and Mole Oaxaqueña are two of my favorites. It is very difficult for me to go to that part of Orange and not make it to Gabbi's. The pricing is pretty reasonable. The service is usually ok and I've found the food to be pretty consistent from visit to visit.

                                                          1. Since this thread has re-surfaced, I'll add Mariscos Puerto Esperanza which has recently been discovered.