Hi Fellow Hounds
I'm going to be in Orange county for 3 days at the end of October for a continuing education class. Will have a rental car. Would like to experience some good eats in the area. Willing to travel 30 minutes to get to someplace yummy and 30 mins back to our hotel in Irvine.
We are from Northern California but would like to try what you all consider good eating at reasonable prices-- under $50 for two before drinks would be the budget for dinner. Thanks for any suggestions.
some of my favorite places so far are
Vientiane - loved the raw shrimp salad and crispy rice salad
Olive tree - Lamb Shank kabsa and Mansaf w/ kabsa rice
Gendershe - suquar, hilib air and sambusas
General areas to hit IMO are the Arab district in Anaheim, Little Saigon, and Santa Ana for Mexican. Good Thai at Thai Nakorn. Good peruvian chicken at Peruvian Rotisserie. I like Santouka for ramen but a lot of people like Yamadaya better.
If you only have 3 days and are willing to drive, you have so many good options you should eat like royalty.
If the weather is nice, it might be fun to hit up 3 neighborhoods/areas with distinctive flavors.
The Circle in Orange (Chapman and Glassell) has a lot of antique shops and a number of bars and other diversions. You could do dinner at Haven Gatropub or Gabbi's Mexican (or Avila's if you want to go cheaper), and then walk around and either end up at Bruxie's for dessert or The District Lounge for drinks (or somewhere else for dinner and Haven for drinks).
In Santa Ana they redeveloped part of Downtown into artist's lofts, and a number of good dining options moved in. Lola Gaspur, Memphis, Chapter One and The Playground are all options. Again, you could graze in the area or do dinner in one and drinks in another, or eat and then wander, looking around.
You should also try Laguna Beach for one night. It will be a bit chilly, but Newport has a lot of higher end art galleries and tons of shops. For dinner, there is K'ya for small plates (and the rooftop lounge in the same hotel for drinks with a great view), House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer, 230 Forest, and a plethora of other options.
Here is a pretty comprehensive thread on it.
Strike Kasen and Marche from the lists as that won't get you under $50 for two.
You would have to Navigate very carefully at Pizzeria Mozza and Pizzeria Ortica but it's very do able.
Stick with more Vietnamese Westminster recs
New to the area is Shuck Oyster bar. $8 bowl of clam chowder, $10 fried oysters, $16 Oyster Po Boys and a selection of 15 oysters at $3 each.
These are the restaurants I go to again and again, even though they are at least 25 minutes from my house:
Pizzeria Ortica, for dependable, well-done Italian.
Chong Qing Mei Wei for spicy Szechuan. Sam Woo for Chinese, but dim sum is just ok.
Shik Do Rak in Irvine does decent Korean bbq, though I like Mo Ran Gak in Garden Grove better.
If you can make it out to Westminster for Vietnamese, Ngu Binh is great for bun bo hue and all your other glutenous rice dishes from central VN. Brodard is another place that does everything on the menu decently.
I will 2nd jaykayen's rec for Ngu Binh. Their bun bo hue (spicy noodle soup) is indeed very good. However, in my opinion the start of the show there is the Mi Quan (egg noodles with shrimp, pork, and fish cake) - it is the house specialty (dac biet).
Good luck wherever you end up going dimsumgirl!