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Inexpensive lunch in Costa Mesa (close to South Coast Plaza)

I work near the performing arts center and am looking to build out my list of places for good, cheap lunches nearby. I know there are some really great higher end food within walking distance (modern marche, ortica, etc., etc.) but also wondering if there are other eating options within either a walk or a short drive.

I'm certainly not averse to driving 10 minutes to the outer parts of Westminster or Costa Mesa for Vietnamese and MExican (see here for a map I've been populating of places to try or places I've been: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF... ) However, you'll note that there's a conspicuous absence of places in the vicinity of the 405/55 interchange and was wondering what places I might be missing.

(btw, on a related note, I went earlier today to Taquitos Sahuayo on S Main in Santa Ana for a fantastic carnitas taco on a homemade tortilla. pollo wasn't very good, but the carnitas was excellent. And huge). Horchata was pretty sub par, but for $1, I wasn't complaining. Great Chowhound rec from a while ago... thanks folks!)

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  1. There's a Peruvian place on Sunflower and Bristol called DX which is not bad; Harry's Deli is in Sky Park Circle (just off Main St.) and has excellent sandwiches, everything down to the mustard and mayo made by hand. Near Harry's is Blackmarket Bakery, which has great pastries and occasionally has the fancy food trucks.

    On Harbor just north of Baker is Moscow Deli, with excellent sandwiches and blintzes. There's also TK Burgers on Bristol and Baker, and on Paularino just off Bristol is Mitsuwa with its great Japanese food court (try the ramen from Santouka).

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    Blackmarket Bakery
    17941 Sky Park Cir, Irvine, CA

    Santouka
    3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    Moscow Deli
    3015 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

    Main St Cafe
    450 Main St, El Segundo, CA 90245

    Harry's Deli
    17881 Sky Park Cir, Irvine, CA 92862

    23 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Thanks for all of these, Das. I think I saw that Peruvian place today... is it in the same little corner mall thing as an Indian restaurant ("India Cuisine" I think?).

      TK Burgers... I haven't had that since I was a teenager and used to eat at the one in Newport. Used to love that place... before I moved out East. I'll need to reacquaint myself...

      There was a sushi place on Paularino I remember going to a few years ago when I was here for a visit. I remember having a pleasant experience there... But it wasn't a food court place. Not sure what it was, but it was probably near Mitsuwa/Santouka?

      1. re: adamclyde

        If it is the place in the strip mall, the sushi joint is Ango Tei, which is good, but probably not cheap. They may have bento box lunches though. I think there is another small Japanese place in the little strip, but I have not tried it. The food court is actually in the market building, and there are about 6-8 individual vendors with varieties of udon, cutlets, curries... Most of the udon bases are pork, and I do not partake of the porcine, but they are well regarded by those that do. Across Bristol is good Persian Place, as well as the Japanese version of a Korean BBQ. But make sure you don't mind smelling like lovely, sweet smoke if you eat there. My old neighborhood sushi chef reopened nearby, so I should put in a plug for Taka as well.

        Down Bristol away from SCP is Wahoo's, then there is the Lab Anti-Mall and the Camp, both with more than a few food choices.

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        Wahoo's Fish Taco
        3000 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        Mitsuwa Marketplace
        665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA

        Taka Sushi
        2969 Fairview Rd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        Ango Tei
        675 Paularino Ave Ste 5, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        1. re: adamclyde

          The sushi place you are thinking of is probably Ango Tei, which is in the strip mall just in front of Mitsuwa. There was a change in ownership a year or so ago; it may be a little different now compared to your last visit.
          Other options in the area are:
          Greek Island Grille on the corner of Sunflower and Bristol
          Oki Doki - Pan Asian cuisine, on Paularino/Bristol
          Macy's Signature Kitchen - Celebrity chef Food court inside the Macy's Home Store (over in what I still call Crystal Court). A combination of offerings from Nancy Silverton, Marcus Samuelsson, and Cat Cora. I've only been once, but I had a pretty decent burger.
          Habana (Cuban) and Memphis (southern) over in the LAB

          1. re: I got nothin

            @ocshooter/I got nothin yes, I think you are right... it's Ango Tei. Wonder if it's still pretty good.

            And great recs on the others too. Thanks for the heads up. I am going to need to eat my way through that Mitsuwa marketplace here soon. Sounds great.

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            Ango Tei
            675 Paularino Ave Ste 5, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

            1. re: adamclyde

              There's another similar food court at Marukai on Harbor and Baker, but I don't think it's as good. There's a third in the Ebisu market in Fountain Valley, but that's out of your way.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                I have only eaten at the Murukai food court once, and it was a Hawaiian food stall. The selections are sparse and no where near the quality or variety of Mistuwa. Probably worth it if you were there shopping around lunch time, but not for a special trip.

                1. re: ocshooter

                  I agree, but wanted to present it as an option. Moscow Deli is just a block away, too, with that insane Odessa sandwich.

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                  Moscow Deli
                  3015 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    That looks interesting. Better sandwiches that Matterhorn or Claro's, or just different?

                    1. re: ocshooter

                      Try the Kiev sandwich too. I always forget which is which, but the Odessa has salami and Kiev has kielbasa. or the other way around. But pretty good sandwiches.

                      1. re: ocshooter

                        Completely different and I crave the Odessa sandwich more than I do anything from Mattern or Claro's.

              2. re: I got nothin

                Definitely second Greek Island Grill. Very good Greek food at reasonable price !

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                Island Grill
                4390 Katella Ave, Los Alamitos, CA 90720

              3. re: adamclyde

                I think so. It's the same plaza as Men's Wearhouse... northwest corner.

              4. re: Das Ubergeek

                Agree that the peruvian place called DX isn't bad. The pollo a la brasa is different from El Pollo Inka and other versions I've had. The outside is very flavorful but the inside is very moist and a bit pink near the bone which leads me to believe it's more grilled than rotisserie. Still good though if you don't mind skipping the pink areas near the bone.

                Second the ramen at Santouka. The shio is the most popular and there was a time when I was going once a week for the shio. Towards the end, I started to appreciate the miso and the shoyu more and now actually prefer shoyu over the shio.

                Currently, my favorite noodling spot in OC is Trieu Chau on 1st and Newhope. The broth is addictive and the house special noodles (I get it with pho noodles) includes a vertible meat smorgasboard of chicken, duck, and pork. Awesome. Cash only.

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                Santouka
                3760 S Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                Trieu Chau
                4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                El Pollo Inka
                1100 Pacific Coast Hwy Ste 2, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

                1. re: Porthos

                  thanks for the trieu chau rec. I was nearby there today at pho thanh lich and enjoyed their beef pho with filet, tripe, etc. Thought the broth was really nice there.

                  is there a pollo inka in costa mesa on 17th, near el bravo? I've noticed it a few times driving to get el bravos tamales and tacos, but never stopped.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    I was referring to the El Pollo Inka in Torrance. Their website does not show a Costa Mesa outpost.

                    I love Pho Thanh Lich and have enjoyed at least 2 dozen bowls of pho there courtesy of Das. However, these days, I'm so addicted to Trieu Chau and Brodard that I haven't had a chance to go back. I also like the chicken pho at Pho Thanh Lich (get the dark meat of course), the oxtail pho, and the duck noodle soup (available only on weekends).

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                    Brodard Restaurant
                    9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                    El Pollo Inka
                    23705 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

                    Pho Thanh Lich
                    1036 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90813

                    Trieu Chau
                    4401 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Ah, ok. I think I must have been thinking about this place: http://maps.google.com/maps/place?oe=... Inka Grill Rotisserie Chicken on 19th St.

                      Whenever I've come down to visit family, I've meant to go to Brodard as it comes highly recommended from some friends... just never been. I definitely need to go there. Aren't there two? Which do you go to?

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                      Brodard Restaurant
                      9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                      1. re: adamclyde

                        The original is the credited location.

                        1. re: jaykayen

                          The one on Westminster blvd? Is one different or better than other?

                          1. re: adamclyde

                            The original is more casual, the newer Brodard Chateau is a fancier, upscalified white tablecloth type of place. Some menu item overlap, but really two different concepts.

                            Since the thread is about inexpensive, I'd steer you to the original. It's hard to find because it's on the back side of the shopping center, behind the 99 Cent store. Get an order of the nem nuong cuon, which pretty much every table around you will have Other spring-rolly items are also solid, and I like their banh xeo too.

                      2. re: Porthos

                        I went to Thanh Lich and was quite disappointed with their broth. (Best broth I've by far is in Anaheim directly in front of the 99 Ranch Market (Euclid South of La Palma.)

                        1. re: Funwithfood

                          I like the broth exactly because it's lighter and more pure. If you want a heavier broth where the spices are more apparent, Pho 79 across the street is your kind of place.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            My preference is a pure...beefy flavor!

                        2. re: Porthos

                          BTW, I had a great meal at DX a few weeks ago (thanks Das). Porthos, I agree that I don't think the chicken is rotisseried, like most places. I think its grilled, but it was far better than 99% of the pollo ala brasa I have tried (and I've tried a lot). My biggest pet peeve with peruvian is when their pollo ala brasa is no better than the rotisserie chicken I could get at Costco. DX does a really nice job with a much stronger herb paste and in grilling it, ensuring it doesn't get rotisseried to death. I didn't have any pink on the bone when I was there.

                          The fries were very good too. I'm still trying to figure out what it was that made their yellowy-orange aji sauce so distinctive. I think it was celery seed?

                          Anyhow, a nice meal...

                  2. Could that sushi restaurant be, Kaisen Sushi Bar?

                    http://thenewdiner.blogspot.com/2008/...

                    They have daily hand roll specials for about $2.

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                    Kaisen Sushi Restaurant
                    3855 S Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: reality check

                      Kaisen is OK. Better than the other conveyor place bar in Irvine at the Diamond Jubilee.

                    2. http://www.chickenmaison.com/

                      Chicken Maison- Cheap, Fresh, Euro-Mediterranean, Rotisserie Chicken, Pita Etc. Be prepared for fresh basil, mint, and lots of olive oil.

                      On Bristol, not too far from South Coast.
                      Chicken Maison #3
                      3332 S. Bristol St.
                      Santa Ana, CA 92704
                      Tel: 714-434-0244

                      1. Greek Island Grill. It's one of my favorite restaurants regardless of price, but it's very reasonable. www.thewholepita.com

                        1. I'm a sucker for sourdough bread, and Boudin Bakery turns out fresh SF-style sourdough everyday. They have great sandwiches and the South Coast Plaza location makes an awesome tomato bisque that I always have to have in a sourdough bread bowl. FYI, the Metro Pointe location has uses a different recipe for their soup.

                          1. My pick is Chicago's Best in a food court on Main betw Von Karman and McArthur. Italian Beef sandwiches, very good burgers or hot dogs, even a plate of ribs.

                            -----
                            Chicago's Best
                            2540 Main St, Irvine, CA 92614

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: RSMBob

                              I'll add one more...Hans' Homemade Ice Cream just N of SCP in Santa Ana on Bristol. Decent sandwiches, but oh, that ice cream! If you need to indulge in a treat, there's your spot!

                              1. re: RSMBob

                                I second Hans' Homemade Ice Cream.

                                -----
                                Hans' Homemade Ice Cream
                                3640 S Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                              2. re: RSMBob

                                I believe that Chicago's Best is actually locatd between Von Karman and Jamboree.

                                -----
                                Chicago's Best
                                2540 Main St, Irvine, CA 92614

                                1. re: OCSteve

                                  Yep, I stand corrected...the address should map you correctly. Heck, it's hard enough to find KNOWING where it is, let alone me putting someone in the wrong place!

                              3. Try the sandwiches at Qwik Korner on Main and Sunflower. The best sandwich there is the grilled chicken spicy and the breakfast burrito is also very good. Huge portions and very friendly family run sandwich counter.

                                If you're in the mood for Asian there are some decent spots at Diamond Jamboree plaza. BBQ Chicken for Korean fried chix and BCD Tofu house for soon tofu.

                                -----
                                Qwik Korner
                                3960 S Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92707

                                Bbq Chicken
                                2750 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92606

                                1. Rooster Cafe makes a pretty impressive house cured pastrami sandwich. Great prices cool vibe.

                                  http://eatatrooster.com/

                                  1. I've been going semi-regularly to a place off Newhope (near that big Costco) in Fountain Valley called Cancun Fresh. From the outside, it looks like a Baja Fresh but it's much better. They have 99 cent "street tacos" on Tuesdays or a plate of four street tacos available any day for $4.95. They look small but once you start eating them, you realize they have tons of meat. The carnitas are my favorite, followed by the shredded beef. I had a carnitas burrito my first trip there and it was great, too. The menu is full of things I'd like to try, but the tacos are very good and cheap, so it's hard to stray. They offer a free basket of chips with every order.

                                    Here's their website: http://www.cancunfresh.com/