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May 6, 2011 05:27 PM

Huntington Beach, lunch recs

Hi there. My husband and I are going to be in Huntington Beach on 5/14 (Saturday) for the day and would love to hear from you about great ideas for a place to have lunch. Unusual, interesting, ehtnic preferred to expensive. Prefer quieter places to noisy ones. Thanks.

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  1. I noticed no one responded yet, which doesn't surprise me. HB is not the greatest place for chow-worthy recommendations, which is strange considering how large the city is. Even HB residents complain about this! Most places there are chains.

    There's a very eclectic crepe place in HB, but it's definitely not quiet. (Sorry can't recall the name - ate there once).

    Caffe Gazelle (yes, two f's in Caffe) is fairly quiet, and the tables are not elbow to elbow as in other Italian places often recommended. (I have eaten dinner there often but not lunch yet, but it's good and they often have specials and several other items on the dinner menu which I have not seen elsewhere). Leisurely dining. Friendly service.

    Mona Lisa Cucina - see extensive review
    Tiny place, not quiet, be prepared to wait (definitley call ahead for reservations if possible).

    Consider driving a little further to perhaps Costa Mesa. I would recommend Moscow Deli for an ethnic sandwich (the Odessa is often touted on this list), and a lot of time exploring the store while you wait for your sandwich to be made up! - there are a few tables inside, but also consider taking it to go and picnicing somewhere (HB park near the main library perhaps?) if you need to be back in HB after lunch.

    Garden Grove to the north offers hundreds of Asian diners. Check the Chowhound archives for suggestions - there are better and worse spots . . .

    Do let us know if you uncover a gem!

    Caffe Gazelle
    16041 Bolsa Chica St, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

    Moscow Deli
    3015 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

    4 Replies
    1. re: Joani Macaroni

      The crepes place Joani Macaroni mentions is called Rockin Crepes.

      Rather than heading all the way to Costa Mesa for Moscow Deli (which I do like), you could go to the deli at Jon's Market on Goldenwest, technically in Westminster, but just across the street, and grab a spread of Russian and Eastern European meats and other items. When I ordered Vobla (a smoked fish), the lady behind the counter kept asking me if I was Russian, or if my wife was; I tried to explain that I saw it on TV on Bizarre Foods, but there was a bit of a language barrier. It's also partially a Mexican market, so you can walk out of there with some pretty funky combos; Ex: salmon bellies and caviar to put on top of jalapeno/cream cheese rolls.

      For Vietnamese or Korean, you'll need to cross to the other side of the 405 and venture into Westminster and Garden Grove, as others have suggested.

      If you are looking for a quiet place, you'll have to stay away from the restaurants near the pier; you could head to Bukhara, for Huntington's best Indian food in a cozy little strip mall setting.

      In case you have to stay near the pier, there are a few interesting restaurants down there with a sometimes unusual clientele and scenery, but not much ethnic food. In that area there is 25 Degrees for gourmet burgers served with PBRs in a can and Guiness Milkshakes; Sandy's for small plates and pizzas and a good beer list; Cucina Alessa for italian. As far as ethnic near the pier, there is a new shabu-shabu place called Ka, I haven't been yet, but I've heard it's pretty good. Do keep in mind that Ka is trying to appeal to the Main St./surf crowd, so it does not ring with authenticity: ca phe sua da at a "Japanese" place?

      Rockin Crepes
      8943 Atlanta Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

      Moscow Deli
      3015 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      1. re: I got nothin

        Yes, Rockin Crepes is the place - thanks!

        I've been to Jon's a number of times - do they make complete sandwiches at the deli area? I thought they just sold the meats & cheeses, etc.

        I think they wanted a quiet, sit-down place, so Bukara might just be the ticket.

        Rockin Crepes
        8943 Atlanta Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

        7594 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

        1. re: Joani Macaroni

          I don't know if Jon's will make you a sandwich of your choice; I always just grab some stuff to take it home to make my own. Guess that's not very practical for the OP. I know they do have the standard grocery store pre-made soggy bread tuna salad and other sandwiches and wraps right below a little take out counter at the deli. I'll find out if they do take orders for freshly made sandwiches next time I'm there.

          1. re: I got nothin

            " the standard grocery store pre-made soggy bread tuna salad "


            DSis and her DH live in HB and eat lunch at the House of Brews every Saturday.
            I've been there once, it was good and I found it interesting. It can be noisy but I don't think so much at lunch time.

    2. The Olive Pit opened up a location in HB a few months back. A little pricey for fast-casual, but its pretty good for Mediterranean.

      Olive Pit
      16365 Bolsa Chica Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

      1. You'll be just this side of Little Saigon. May I suggest doing a search for Little Saigon?

        If you want to stay in HB, my recommendation would be to head to the Slater Slums (don't worry, it's not that bad at all) and do what the locals do: eat at Tacos el Chavito. It's a truck that parks on the top of Queens Lane (just west of the corner of Slater and Beach). The tacos are really good, and the best part is the price: two for a buck, and if you go early enough you can ask for agua de piña (pineapple "water", which is a sugary juice drink) for free. They usually have suadero, which I think is the best taco they sell.

        If eating at a truck doesn't interest you, just around the corner on Beach just south of Slater (west side of Beach) is Tacos Jerez, the only place in Orange County to sell the Zacatecan speciality asado de boda—a thick, rich chile sauce with pork that's like a less-complex, less-deep mole.

        Note for later researchers: the weekday location of Tacos el Chavito is on Morgan Lane, slightly further west, on the opposite (south) side of Slater.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          El Chavito is always fun...

          Another option in HB is BBQ Bistro in the middle of an industrial strip mall on Gothard between Heil and Warner. It's not traditional southern BBQ, but still really good BBQ. The guy is a former NYC chef and started up this little place last August. The pulled pork is on a hoagie with slaw and tomatoes. I was really skeptical at first, but loved it after eating it. Don't go with a BBQ purist POV and you'll like it. Also, some of the best sweet potato fries I've ever had...

            1. re: Porthos

              If you want average BBQ go to Beach Pit BBQ, where Smokin' Mo's BBQ used to be.

              It will taste the same as BBQ Bistro but cost you about 40% less.

              1. re: reality check

                I haven't been to Beach Pit BBQ, but after looking at their menu online, it doesn't look any cheaper than BBQ Bistro.


              2. re: Porthos

                haven't tried the ribs, unfortunately. sorry. But give the pulled pork sandwich a try. Again, not traditional southern Q, but really pleasant.

            2. re: Das Ubergeek

              Sorry Das, I tried that truck's tacos and lets just say that I got what I payed for---actually, I thought a buck for two crummy tacos the size of a silver dollar was too much! And Tacos Jerez is a crummy little joint that I highly doubt that two visitors to lovely HB would enjoy eating at.

              1. re: HBfoodie

                I disagree on both accounts, actually. The carnitas and asada tacos are quite good at the truck (though sometimes suffer from a heavy hand on the salt). I wasn't a big fan of the al pastor or chorizo, but none were bad. Sure, they are small, but they are the typical taquito size and are still well priced at 50 cents each.

                And about Jerez being a crummy joint, what is your point of comparison in HB or nearby?

                1. re: adamclyde

                  Agree with your disagree. 50 cents for a small taco with a decent amount of meat is hard to complain about. I liked both the carnitas and the lengua the best.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    ooh. Lengua... haven't tried it yet... next visit. Have you tried their tortas? Any good? I'd love to find a great torta in the neighborhood...

                    1. re: adamclyde

                      Haven't tried their tortas. I gave them $3 and tried every meat combination they had and doubled up on he lengua.

                      I hear Tortas Sinaloa is good. Is that close enough?

                      701 S Harbor Blvd
                      Santa Ana, CA 92704

                      Tortas Sinaloa
                      2252 S Euclid Ave, Ontario, CA 91762

                      1. re: Porthos

                        I have a few places I've gone to in Santa Ana, but I live only a mile or two from downtown HB so I'm hoping for a place I can get to when I need a quick fix.

                        There's actually a divey looking taqueria on Beach across (sort of) from Jerez. Anyone been? On Google Maps, I think it's taqueria don victor?

                        1. re: adamclyde

                          Haven't been to Taqueria don Victor but I've been to Trejo's Mexican on Beach and Slater. After driving by it day in and day out and thinking to myself how legit the place looks, I decided to give it a try. The tacos are not so remarkable. However, the carnitas and barbacoa and barbacoa soup were excellent. I don't recall if there are tortas on the menu. I have no problems recommending it for the barbacoa though.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Adding link

                            Trejo's Mexican Food
                            17436 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

            3. Buon Gusto on Warner in HB. Dinner here is always packed and many times a wait but lunch is a good time to go.

              1. Xanh Bistro, in Fountain Valley. Vietnamese cuisine using fresh ingredients. Near HB, quiet, very interesting.

                Xanh Bistro
                16161 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708