Best bets for sushi, thai and mexican joints in orange county
I'm from NYC, visiting orange county (dana point) for a week, and looking for excellent sushi, thai, and mexican food restaurant recommendations. Bonus points for nice views. Indifferent to whether it's casual or upscale, mainly just want to eat the food that west coast does better than my hometown
Willing to drive? Cuz Dana point is far far away from the good stuff. Might as well be in San Diego county!
The nearest (Chow-worthy to NYC) sushi to Dana Point would be at Kaito in Encinitas (about 40 miles away).
A pattern is emerging...
Kasen, Vientiane and a bunch of places in the Santa Ana area.
None of those places are near you at all, but if you want the best, there it is.
If you don't want to drive far and you want Mexican Seafood with an outstanding view, check out Las Brisas in Laguna Beach. Another choice for nearby Mexican Seafood without the view is El Adobe in San Juan Capistrano. I especially like their lobster fajitas.
Here let me summarize the next XX posts for you
Thai - Thai Nakorn
Sushi - kasen or shibucho
Mexican - tacos Maria
Get ready to drive, it's part of the SoCal experience.
I enjoyed Fish in a Bottle on a recent visit. Nothing really to compare it with. Good reputation among the locals. I think it is in Brea.
Having spent considerable time in both NYC and Southern Orange County, I hate to disappoint you but you are not going to a culinary mecca. There are a dearth of good restaurants in Orange County, particularly Southern Orange County. I always find it a challenge to eat there.
That having been said, I have not yet tried Taco Maria in Costa Mesa, http://tacomaria.com/ which has opened to great acclaim and I am eager to try it. However, it is not near Dana Point and requires a drive. However, if you are vacation, I assume you have plenty of time on your hands. :)
If you want a gorgeous location for drinks, try the rooftop bar at Casa Del Camino Hotel in Laguna Beach (near Dana Point). There is an unbelievable view of the ocean, really good drinks and a fun scene. I was there recently at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon and it was amazing!!! The hotel itself is in need a facelift but the roof top bar is stunning.
Just say NO to Las Brisas for Mexican - great view but very mediocre food. I echo the other recommendations at Taco Maria - ate there this weekend. The closest thing to the quality of cooking that you would find in NYC.
As someone mentioned, don't expect anything foodie in OC. Taco Maria, in my mind, came close to the only foodie meal I've had here in ages.
My favorite sushi place, very fresh and authentic, Sushi Wasabi is closing tonight. Switching owners so I can't really recommend it yet without trying out the new owners.
Thai Naikorn is decent but you guys now have a fabulous restaurant (Uncle Boons) in NYC so this is more of the family-style, decent meal.
If you are interested in authentic but slightly upscale dim-sum, J Zhou Oriental Cuisine just opened in The District in Tustin. Very tasty and looks like you're in Vegas inside. This probably better than you can get in NYC even with all the dim sum places in Chinatown. Expect a wait on weekends.
Another thought - no ambiance (actually none in all the places that I've suggested above) is the Vietnamese crab boil places which are pretty cool. A good one is Kickin Crab in Irvine or Klaws in Garden Grove.
Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills/El Toro may be worth a look for breakfast/brunch. It's not sushi, Mexican or Thai but it is creative cooking with some Vietnamese touches on some dishes.
Haute Mexican: Taco Maria. Think EMP of Mexican cuisine. A must.
Sushi: Kasen. Not better than NYC's best but would beat out a lot of them also.
Thai. Big fan of Thai nankorn. Get the sautéed water spinach, the green papaya salad, yellow chicken curry, and the beef curry.
Better than NYC: Vietnamese in Westminster. House special lobster at Newport, house special noodles at Trieu Chau (one on Newhope)