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Seeking Ethnic Gems in Orange County, CA

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My wife and I have been living in Orange County for 10 years and I am ashamed to say that all we've been doing is going to high-end and fine dining restaurants OC has to offer. We've been to them all, if it is high end you name it we've done it, we even have the t-shirt. We are now buying a house and looking to stay on a budget (relatively). My wife is also Prego so going thru an expensive bottle of wine is no longer necessary - Although Beer and wine are still a requirement for yours truly who now has a designated driver :). We have lately been discovering that there is great food out there beyond the $$$$ options. We just went to Thai Nakorm for example and loved it. So we are looking for casual Ethnic options to go to, our goal is to hit one ethnic restaurant a week till we have our Baby (April). We are game for anything the great chow community would offer: best of Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Peruvian, Afghani, mexican etc... the only requirement is that they have beer and wine and good for a friday evening.

Thank you for your recommendations.

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  1. Mas Islamic in Anaheim - Chinese Islamic food

    Mario's Peruvian in La Habra - love everything here

    Carnitas Los Reyes in Orange - great chicharron and refried beans (no beer and wine) but great place to take out some day or for lunch

    Felix Continental in Downtown Orange - nice casual Cuban place

    1. Gabbi's Mexican in Orange on Glassel just south of the plaza - upscalish but not too expensive, delish Mexican. On the other side of the street Haven Gastropub eclectic American with huge selection of beers and good wine list.

      1. Your wine list requirement disqualifies the lion's share of Little Saigon (not to mention the Middle Eastern places north of there that keep halal) but Brodard Chateau might work out well for you:

        http://www.brodard.net/Chateau/

        Also, I've recently discovered El Fortin in Stanton (there's another in Fullerton, but haven't been there) which, to put it gently, doesn't look like much but has probably the best Oaxacan food I've tried since pre-downhill-slide Guelaguetza. Probably better for lunch, though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bradbury

          Another wonderful and upscale Vietnamese (sort of like Chateau Brodard), but I think better, is S Vietnamese Fine Dining in Westminster.

        2. Thanks for the recommendations. I can't wait to try them all. We've been to felix and Haven GastroPub. We loved Felix, we sat outside it had a very nice vibe

          1. There is Trieu Chau on 1st in Santa Ana (I have seen other places with the same name, but I do not think they are affiliated) for excellent simple Vietnamese. I love duck, and they do a nice soup there with it. I doubt they have booze, but maybe...

            Shin sen Gumi on Brookhurst in FV is a lot of fun for yakatori. It isn't cheap, but it is not in the stratosphere. Beer and sake here.

            For Japanese style pub food, there is Honda Ya in Tustin, with a new location in Fullerton and a sister spot on Brookhurst, Kappo Honda.

            I have been to Merhaba in Anaheim for Ethiopian (actually Eritrean), but have heard that Tana and/or Abyssinia may be better. I suspect they all have beer.

            There is also a Kenyan place in the area that I have tried, but unless you are dying to have goat, I would skip it.

            For Vietnamese, the 800 pound gorillas are Brodard and Brodard Chateau, the latter being fancier, more expensive, and heavier on the French side if the French/Vietnamese mix. Both are very good.

            There is a nice hole-in-the-wall Afghani place in Tustin called Naan and Kabob. It advertises itself as Persian, but when I spoke to the owner about the place, he told me it was Afghani. The food is good either way, though I am not sure if they have beer or wine.

            More moderate and less exotic would be Memphis in Santa Ana. They have a full bar and would be fun for a Friday night.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ocshooter

              Thanks ocshooter, I can't wait to try them all. By the way I have tried a hole in the wall Afghani place in the past called Chili Chutney in Lake Forest, it was no thrills but amazing food and it seemed very authentic. I will try Naan and Kabon in Tustin to see how it compares - Thanks

              1. re: ocshooter

                We really enjoy ABYSSINIA. BYOB, nice service, only Ethiopians eating there when we were there. A little bit quiet, but the food was very good. As good as I've had in the Fairfax district.