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Dec 2, 2005 10:54 AM

"Ultimate" Orange Country Restaurant Poll Results 2005

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Here are the results of the Poll of our favorite O.C. Restaurants for 2005. I believe this is the first year a companion list has been done for Orange County to compliment Mr. Grub's awesome "Ultimate" L.A. Restaurants.

For the O.C. poll results, a total of 145 votes were tallied from 29 respondents.

The votes are tallied from the responses assuming no particular rank order from the procured lists of 5. Some voters ranked their choices, but some others, like yours truly, did not. Personally, I could not choose which one of my favorite 5 restaurants to rank as #1, much like a parent cannot choose which child is their all-time favorite. As such, the results below represent the raw number of votes for each restaurant.

Take this UNSCIENTIFIC list for what it is worth, keeping in mind that it is done in FUN, and is in no way meant to be definitive, absolute, or complete.

But that said, this exercise has proved eye-opening for me. I walk away with dozens of new restaurants to try which I previously had no knowledge about. I hope the same for you.

Thanks again to all the participants.


Honda-Ya --- 5
Mastro's Ocean Club --- 5
Café Hiro --- 4
Oki Doki --- 4
Thai Nakorn --- 4
Wasa Sushi --- 4
Zov's Bistro --- 4
Bluefin --- 3
China Garden --- 3
French 75 --- 3
Memphis --- 3
Park Ave. Dining --- 3
Shinsengumi --- 3
Sushi Shibucho --- 3
Sushi Wasabi --- 3
Café Zoolu --- 2
El Campeon --- 2
Fukada --- 2
Gemmels --- 2
Napa Rose --- 2
Pina's Bistro --- 2
Ramos House Café --- 2
S&W Seafood --- 2
Sage --- 2
Taco Mesa --- 2
Tsuruhashi --- 2
Alertos --- 1
Anjin --- 1
Avila's El Ranchito --- 1
Bandera --- 1
BJ's --- 1
Blacksheep Bistro --- 1
Blue Water Grill --- 1
Bon Jour Café --- 1
Brodard --- 1
Bungalow --- 1
Café Gazelle --- 1
Catal --- 1
Chat Noir --- 1
Christikaki's --- 1
Disneyland Corn Dog Truck --- 1
Dosa Place --- 1
Ebisu --- 1
El Burrito Jr. --- 1
El Gallo Giro --- 1
El Toro Bravo --- 1
Fleming's --- 1
French 75 Brasserie --- 1
Gaju Soft Tofu --- 1
Great Mex --- 1
Gypsy Den --- 1
Habana --- 1
Haute Cakes --- 1
Heroe's --- 1
Hollingshead --- 1
Houston's --- 1
Ikko --- 1
Johnny Rebs --- 1
Karl Strauss --- 1
Mi Casa --- 1
Niki's --- 1
Nory's Peruvian --- 1
Opah --- 1
Open Sesame --- 1
Oysters --- 1
Pascal --- 1
PCH Dogs --- 1
Pepe's Taco Truck --- 1
Philly's Best --- 1
Prego --- 1
Quan Hy --- 1
R&D Café --- 1
Roman Cucina --- 1
Rothchild's --- 1
Roys --- 1
Ruby's --- 1
Rutabegorz --- 1
Ruth Chris --- 1
Santouka --- 1
Shindorak --- 1
Studio --- 1
Sushi Sankai --- 1
Tabu Grill --- 1
Taco Loco --- 1
Taleo --- 1
Thanh Mi --- 1
The Bungalow --- 1
Tommy's --- 1
Tommy's Seafood --- 1
Villa Nova --- 1
Vine --- 1
Wahoo's Fish Taco --- 1
Wild Rabbit --- 1
Yves Bistro --- 1
Zubie's Chicken --- 1

Read the original threads below:


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  1. Thanks Elmo for putting this together...many more places are now on my to do list!

    1. Just a small nit-pick: Open Sesame is in Long Beach. Probably some geographical confusion as a result of its review in OC Weekly.

      1. as a past resident, currently employed in oc, after reviewing the list, it reminds me how sad the oc restaurant scene really is - when you consider the $$$ in the county you figure their would be a large list of quality places in the area - i can count on my fingers the number of memorable meals i've had in the oc and that's in 10 years !!

        8 Replies
        1. re: kj

          You said it. Dining in orange county is very depressing. They are behind 20 years from the east.

          1. re: kj

            Well put. In particular the lack of really good restaurants in north OC continues to floor me, even after living in Fullerton and Buena Park for 25 years.

            1. re: Dorothy

              I hate to say this but yeah that area is kind of bleak, IMHO.

              1. re: jschyun

                I meant mostly Fullerton, esp the area off Beach and Rosecrans. However, Imperial has some decent places. That one Korean place is okay and driving down there's always the Hat.

                I do enjoy that Christian coffeehouse, OTOH, but not necessarily because of the food...

            2. re: kj
              Gustavo Arellano

              You must not eat out that much. Either that, or you never bother to venture into Little Saigon or Arabia.

              1. re: kj

                As a transplant from the "north" living in OC, I've had the same complaint myself many times. But as time goes by, I realize that I've been having some very good quality dining experiences here recently, along with the disappointments. Actually, I think having a handful of favorite restaurants is pretty good, no matter where you live.

                How closely have you checked out the list? Do you really know what each of these 95 "best" restaurants are like? I've been to many of them, but I'm going to try more. Believe it or not, there's some excellent quality food and good times to be had at many of these places, if you'll open your mind, do a little research and give them a try.

                1. re: kj

                  Agree there probably are some great ethnic restos, but hubbie (sadly) isn't crazy about "foreign food".

                  I completely agree regarding the lack of good American/European/traditional/home cooking type food in OC, especially NOC where I live. My conclusion is that it is supply and demand--most OC residents (not chowhounds, of course) wouldn't recognize good food if it bit them on the...behind. Chains rule in OC as a result.

                  1. re: kj

                    For the last several years I've had the opportunity to eat pretty much wherever I want in LA, SF, and OC and let me tell you guys there are some really great things in OC that we take for granted. One place we have in particular is Little Saigon which pretty much kills. We have some killer bakeries. We do "ethnic" pretty damn well (depending on the ethnicity in question) Oh but I guess the only thing that matters is the fact that we don't have lots of Chez Panisse type places. Oh and we're missing the $400 sushi place. We're also missing the insufferable snobs that come with the territory. Oh wait, my bad, we apparently have those.

                    If you don't bother to venture beyond Avocado St. in Newport Beach, I agree it can be pretty bleak.

                  2. Good work, Elmo and a fun list to browse thru. I noticed one thing: Bungalow, which received 1 vote and The Bungalow (its true name) which also got 1 vote from me, are the same restaurant in Corona del Mar. No need to revise the list, but in all fairness, readers should make a mental note that The Bungalow restaurant received 2 votes, and belongs with the other category 2 restaurants on the list.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Lauren J.

                      Good catch! Sorry for the mistake.


                    2. Looks like I mispelled "Orange County"...

                      Corrected so that this thread is searchable.