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Orange county must eat

Spending a week ( aug 15-22) in laguna hills looking for outstanding hole in the wall Mexican or BBQ
Price isn't issue
Food is main goal
Where do you go?

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  1. Taco Loco in Laguna Beach!

    1. Baja Fish Tacos for their namesake.

      1. Coyote Grill is a hole- in-the-wall Mexican that does terrific Mexican style breakfasts on deck with a bit of a view. It's in south Laguna on PCH.

        1. I will second Coyote for fun Mexican, but it is hardly traditional. My favorite hole in the wall for fish tacos is Los Cotijas in Tustin. You want to go further north up the 5 into Santa Ana for other real Mexican options.

          If you want Cal-Mex, Taco Rosa in Irvine is good.

          As far as real BBQ, again I will point you north to Santa Ana and Burrell's BBQ.

          1. A true hole in the wall is in Tustin called Carnitas Los Reyes. Get the chicharron and the refried beans. Best beans I have ever had and the chicharron is amazing. I also love the lengua and buche there. Chorizo is great but will put you to an early grave.

            1 Reply
            1. re: A5 KOBE

              It's actually on Tustin Street in Orange, though.

            2. OC is hardly a Mecca for lovers of barbecue, but Blake's in Anaheim puts out a mighty tasty brisket or pulled pork sandwich. Suggest it for lunch. See: http://www.blakesplacebbq.com/

              1. For Mexican, I would travel to Santa Ana as they have a large, if not, the largest Mexican community in Orange County. Granted, it won't be as pearly as Laguna Hills. However, if you're looking for authentic tacos, especially al Pastor tacos with meat shaven off the shawarma/kebab grill, go to Taqueria 2 Guys. Here's a recent OC weekly article on the restaurant. http://www.ocweekly.com/2012-04-05/fo...

                Also, the prices are really reasonable from around $1.29 a taco. After 5pm, the al Pastor tacos are only a buck each. Be sure to look at the other reviews on the net. Their really spicy Jalapeno salsa is amazing! The following pics are their al Pastor Tacos along with their special (all-meat) buritto for only $1 more (approx $6 total) with meat of your choice.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mlbartender

                  If you are going to go to Santa Ana, you have to eat the Tacos Acorazados ("Battleship Tacos") at Alebrije's Grill Food Truck. Alebrije's Grill is the Pink Food Truck at the Northgate Gonzalez Market in Santa Ana and operates 7 days a week.

                  Review by Chowhound "Elmomonster:"


                  OC Weekly Review:


                  Alebrije's Grill Food Truck (Pink Truck).
                  Cubbon and Main St
                  at Northgate Gonzalez Market
                  Santa Ana
                  714 655-3253

                2. Thanks to all what wonderful suggestions
                  Any more great hole in the walls?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Technor

                    Hi there,
                    I know this other amazing hole in the wall restaurant if you're into sushi. At first when I started to live in Orange county, I was surprised how besides Mexican, Japanese and Vienamese cuisines are big in OC. The place I'm referring to is called Ikko in Costa Mesa. Besides some of their fusion dishes, they serve mostly traditional preparations of pre-seasoned sushi that calls for immediate eating when served and don't carry American-style rolls. They've even posted on their chalk board in the front where they would used to post specials saying that they don't serve these sort of rolls as many people would just flat out leave after looking at the menu. The first pic is a citrus vinaigrette carpaccio (must ask sushi chef directly for this as they've taken it off) with a fish imported from Kyushu, Japan called "chicken grant" (i know, weird name). Second pic: Maguro (tuna), Third: Albacore, Fourth: Toro (I think it's Chu-toro instead of the fatty O-toro). I've taken many friends to this place and they all love it. Even people who used to not like anything raw change their perspectives on sushi. Here's their address and reservations are highly reccommended: 735 Baker Street Costa Mesa, CA 92626
                    (714) 556-7822

                    1. re: mlbartender

                      Japan called "chicken grant" (i know, weird name).
                      Izaki = chicken grunt. A bit chewy in texture.

                    2. re: Technor

                      I recommend Mil Jugos (also in Santa Ana) for arepas-the green sauces in the squeeze bottles on each table are delicious with them. http://www.miljugos.com/

                    3. Jan's in Huntington Beach is a great for sandwiches. Get the Surfer Special with avo & tuna.

                      1. La Tiendita in San Clemente. They also have cheap bean burritos and quesadillas! If you get a combo they serve it up on a real plate too otherwise it's cheap paper plates. Love this family owned spot!

                        1. One of our other favorite spots off the main street is Alta Coffee in Newport. Great Breakfast and small town feel. Go early for breakfast and parking is metered. The table service is spotty but you can always take your mug up to the counter for a refill if you get tired of waiting. Great poached eggs and french toast o the weekends!

                          1. tacos ensenada in lake forest on El Toro, some of the best authentic mexican food in orange county!!!

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: saltybeard

                              Welcome! I thought that I was the only hound who rec'd this place. Not worth going out of your way for but, in S OC...

                              1. re: saltybeard

                                Tacos Ensenada is ok, but I think it's overpriced for what it is. In this area, I much prefer Taco Stop. Salsas are much better here.

                                As long as you overlook the photo menu board and look at the menu on top of the counter, you'll be ok. Stick with the tacos and tortas and you'll be better off than the #2 combo or the #-whatevers on the photo menu

                                For the OP - I go to Taco Stop at least once a week because it's close to work (and close to Laguna Hills) If you want a destination hole in the wall taqueria, I head to Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Orange or Anaheim.

                                1. re: Professor Salt

                                  I agree with Tacos Ensenada being overpriced for what it is. I'll give Taco Stop a try on your rec. I've been curious but, I received a bad review from my son who prefers Tacos Ensenada.

                                  1. re: JAB

                                    Taco Stop can be mediocre too when you order off the photo menu and the gabacho-combo dishes.

                                    Do tacos or tortas instead. I like the chewy torta milanesa here when I feel like eating a huge sandwich.

                                    Sample your way through their excellent salsas.If you like sweet heat, try the pineapple-onion-habanero condiment.

                                    Also - Taco Stop is open 24/7 in a city where nothing is open 24/7.

                                    1. re: Professor Salt

                                      I was just reminded yesterday that Sabatino's, from Newport, has opened up a branch on Muirlands and Ridge Route in Lake Forest. I haven't been yet but, the Newport location is a personal and board favorite.

                                      1. re: JAB

                                        I've been to the Lake Forest Sabatino's. The sausage sandwich was disappointing. I went for lunch, and they brought out a reheated, pre-cooked sausage on a meh bun.

                                        Maybe they think people care more about speedy service than freshly cooked awesome food, I don't know.

                                        Nothing like the griddled-to-order sausage platter I get when I'm at the shipyard location in Newport.

                                        1. re: Professor Salt

                                          Thanks for the report. I don't mind the drive to Lido.

                              2. Stopped into the Buena Vista Market on Plaza in Dana Point for tacos. Surprisingly excellent lengua. Best barbacoa we've had in the OC. Chicharonnes were a tad salty, but made edible with lime.

                                Just a few tables inside the meat market.

                                The real deal.