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Best lunch in Costa Mesa/Irvine/Santa Ana for under $10

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Pie Not + Sidecar Donuts
- I dont have many comparisons to pie not but the crusts are buttery and flakey. The filling range from good to very good. Most of them are very rich but contrast nicely with the crust. Sidecar donuts is amazing. My favorite is the huckleberry which seems like a regular among the rotating cast of donuts.

Surfas Cafe turkey panini (Tuesday only when paninis are 35% off)
- Dietsel turkey, raclette cheese, roasted tomatoes, onion marmalade on whole grain bread with a side salad. A very good deal at $7 with the 35% off.

Taqueria 2 Guys
- any meat filled quesadilla, 3 tacos and a drink will get you under $10. The horchata is wonderful, cinammony and just the right level of sweetness. The best meats are the el pastor off the spit and chorizo. I have yet to try the lengua as it hasn't been on the menu all the time.

Anybody else? I'm looking for a good Lebanese place.

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  1. +1 on Taqueria 2 Guys and Surfas.

    Not Lebanese, but off the top of my head before tax/tip...

    Spicy garlic chicken at Chicken Maison. Get a 1/4 chicken and two sides with a drink or have water and get a 1/2 chicken with two sides;

    Roasted garlic chicken (again, you'll have to drink water) at Bella Cuba. Comes with rice, beans and plantains;

    Karma Burger Combo at Mick's Karma Bar. Burger, fries and a drink;

    Bun with charbroiled pork and egg rolls at Pho Tasia on Jeffrey/University and Michelson. Probably not the best rendition of the dish, but their charbroiled pork is like crack to me for some reason.

    Beef Noodle Soup at A & J.

    9 Replies
    1. re: OCSteve

      OCSteve nailed the Chicken Maison and Mick's Karma recommendations. Both are really good.

      1. re: OCSteve

        Is Mick's Karma burger in the same building complex at El Torito? I've never heard of this place but it looks great.

        +1 on Bella Cuba

        1. re: js76wisco

          Yes. It's right behind the parking structure for El Torito and McCormick & Shmick's on the ground floor of one of the high rises there.

        2. re: OCSteve

          Recently discovered Chicken Maison myself. Great stuff. The breast meat is a bit dry but the chicken kebob skewer is moist and delicious.

          At Bella Cuba, Chicken and yellow rice is also good and under $10.

          In Santa Ana, house special noodles at Trieu Chau is a strong contender for "best" and $7.45 all in.

          Ramen at Ramen Zetton is also under $10. I think the lunch combo with a rice bowl may be under $10 also.

          1. re: Porthos

            I agree on the breast meat. I usually get the leg quarter.

            1. re: OCSteve

              I get the quarter leg combo and then add the breast kebab skewer. Puts one over the $10 mark though.

              Be warned, lines are literally out the door 12-1pm.

              1. re: Porthos

                I never go after 11:30. I've never had more than a couple of people in front of me.

            2. re: Porthos

              You inspired me, Porthos. Went to Bella Cuba today and tried the chicken and yellow rice. The rice was really flavorful, and the chicken was done perfectly. I finished every bite. Thanks for the rec!

               
              1. re: OCSteve

                I didn't realize I ordered it with such frequency until this past Monday. They had a new trainee come take my order. She smiled when she took my order and told me one of the regular waiters bet her that I would order the arroz con pollo. Whatcha gonna do?

          2. le dipolmat, UCI village (or w/e)

            garlic chicken w/ tomato

            as good as it was 10 years ago. Almost the same price too. Picture is half of the $6 or $7 sandwich.

             
            9 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              Totally agree. The Chicken Dijon is also great there. Same garlic sauce, but with the addition of a mayo/mustard.

              1. re: OCSteve

                yeah I was eyefucking that sandwich too, but I only go to LeDip like once every other year, and when I go I pretty much know what I'm craving...

                1. re: ns1

                  Hey.

                  Watch your fucking language. :)

              2. re: ns1

                The Le Dip garlic chicken is legendary. Definitely worth a try

                1. re: set0312

                  I hope the OP has gone to try this. it beats the shit out of the chicken wrap I got @ Hayat's yesterday.

                  1. re: ns1

                    It's on my list now. The only place I regularly go to in that plaza is Berkeley Dog and the farmers market on Saturday. That sandwich looks very good.

                2. re: ns1

                  That garlic mayo and sriracha and that bread....so many memories

                  1. re: ns1

                    Did you go to UCI back in the day ????

                    1. re: kevin

                      nope, but any asian kid who lives in OC knows at least 5 people who go to UCI.

                  2. If you can venture out a little farther, I've been recommended Zena's lebanese in orange and Zait and Zataar in Anaheim. I just went to Zait and Zataar last night and I was very impressed.

                    Bear Flag in Newport (five minutes from Costa Mesa!) has a good fish burrito that can be had for under ten.

                    Ramen Zetton has my approval (and the approval of lots of people with much more culinary knowledge than me) Dinner bowls are about 7.50, but I would not be surprised if lunch is cheaper.

                    Santouka ramen is also very good, but I think the prices are pushing the $10 dollar range.

                    There is a place called East Borough in Costa Mesa that serves pretty darn good bahn mi in my opinion. The problem is East Burough's bahn mi is 7.50 while the banh mi at Lee's is 2.79.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: set0312

                      Bear Flag is great but usually a special occasion lunch because I have to get some poke for an appetizer and I'm usually staring at a $25 lunch.

                      If you get the special pork small ramen at Santouka I think you get in just under $10. The udon place at the front of the market has a tonkatsu broth udon. It was actually very good and you can also add on some tempura.

                      1. re: js76wisco

                        I agree. The burrito that I suggested is by no means my meal of choice there. Haha, but it does fit the criteria. You ever had the poke tacos? I'm a big fan.

                      2. re: set0312

                        Bear Flag is dope.

                        TK burger is swell.

                        Tomato in the Mistuwas is nice.

                        And so is Santouka there.

                        Hanne's

                      3. El Toro Carniceria
                        2 tacos is just over $4 and it is plenty big. The carne asada and cabeza are the best meats. Never had the al pastor since they always run out every time I go there.

                        Paninoteca Maggio
                        Sandwiches are just under $10. I like the Toscana which is porchetta.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: A5 KOBE

                          Carnitas and lengua are also really good there. Never had the cabeza, but I'll be trying it next time I'm in there.

                        2. Not the locations mentioned but La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Bakery in Anaheim is a hidden treasure. The best chicken pot pie I have had in a long while. You can get a dinner with soup and salad and entree and dessert (get any of the fruit pies) for less than $7.00. Their lunch items are even less expensive the least expensive being chicken giblets at $4.80 and the most at deep-fried scallops at $6.15. It's on the corner of La Palma & Euclid. It has been there since 1953 so they must be doing something right.

                          1. I know Irvine a little bit:

                            I like going to Ha Long (Barranca/Culver) for their Bahn Mi. $4.50 for I think a 9 inch Sandwich. The meats are BBQ (i.e., Korean BBQ style is how to advertise it in the restaurant) and have lots of flavor. I like to pay the extra $2 dollars and get double meat, since I like a lot of meat on my sandwich. They also have Vietnamese dishes available for order and take out.

                            Mr. Sandwich near Barranca and Jamboree is really good. The sandwiches are big and well under $10.

                            Inka's is right across from Blizzard's campus (Alton/Laguna Canyon) and you'll see a lot of Blizzard employees there having lunch. Food quality was down a little bit a few years ago because they changed cooks, but I think it's gotten better.

                            I've also heard Harry's Deli is good too, but I've yet to go there.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Jennerstein

                              Harry's deli was closed for the most part of last year for renovations, opened for a few months before closing again after a fire. There is no word on re-opening.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                That's sad, the guy can't catch a break.

                                1. re: Jennerstein

                                  Depending on insurance arrangements, maybe he just did!

                                  1. re: ns1

                                    I've wondered this myself.

                              2. re: Jennerstein

                                I went back to Ha Long last night, it looks like the Bahn Mi are now $4.95. Still way better than Lee's in my opinion, even though Lee's is quite a bit cheaper.

                              3. El Toro Bravo Tortilleria in Costa Mesa has the best cafeteria style Mexican food I can remember...juicy fatty carnitas, great rice and beans, and of course amazing tortillas (they do not skimp). It's a delicious authentic gut buster that redefines siesta

                                1. If you can get over the fact that it costs 7.50, I really like the bahn mi's (specifically the meatball one) at East Borough in Costa Mesa. Definitely worth a shot--at the very least it is a good sandwich under ten bucks.

                                  1. Try Jalepenos (Alton Pkwy/Harvard in Irvine). I love their huevos rancheros.