Behold the end of our 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! For the past couple of months’ we’ve list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and pick up your copy of our latest Best Of issue today

The following is lovingly ripped off from my This Hole-in-the-Wall Life column, which is essentially unshareable on FB…HA!

This week is our annual Best Of issue, our ode to everything fantabulous and wonderful about Orange County. But my favorite dish for 2015 (not an official category . . . yet) is nowhere near the best food in OC, yet it’s worthy of all the eating in the world: anything prepared by Naugles.


Yes, Naugles! The Mexican fast-food chain from the 1970s and 1980s that seems to evoke more nostalgia in middle-aged Southern Californians than anything since the old Coppertone billboard off Interstate 5 near Buena Park. I never ate Naugles growing up, so I was absolutely clueless why any posts I did about its slow return over the past couple of years would immediately go viral, why people would ask me about its rise from the dead. And that’s why the place is my favorite for this year: Longtime local food blogger Christian Ziebarth not only fought a legal battle with Del Taco (who absorbed, then closed Naugles in the early 1990s) for its expired copyright, but also won–and how awesome is that?

Ziebarth is still trying to find investors for a full-fledged restaurant; in the meanwhile, those of ustedes who grew up with Naugles can go to a Fountain Valley test kitchen any weekend (although call in advance, lest they’ve run out of food, so much are they in demand). As for those of us who wouldn’t know a Naugles from a Taco Tia? Here is Cal-Mex cuisine at its most glorious. Burritos come with cheese and ground beef, slathered in a red sauce more savory than anything spicy. It sells cups of beans and ground beef and recently introduced a bun taco–ground beef in a bun (you were able to order it at Del Taco for years, if you were in the know). Ziebarth vows to introduce even more old Naugles items, such as an orange sherbet drink and an Ortega burger . . . and that’s it.

There is nothing innovative about this food–and that’s the point. Naugles is an exercise in nostalgia, the culinary equivalent of Lazarus. And if Ziebarth could succeed, imagine the possibilities! Paging the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop!

The List:

2. Tofu Puffs and Glass Noodle Soup at Din Tai Fung
3. Chilaquiles at Anepalco
4. Amuse-Bouches at Stonehill Tavern
5. Apple Cheddar Empanadas at Shuck Oyster Bar
6. Any Panini at Paninoteca Maggio
7. Prix Fixe Dinner at Napa Rose’s Chef’s Counter
8. La Zi Ji Ding at Chong Qing Mei Wei
9. Grilled Cheese at Sessions West Coast Deli
10. Lobster Beignet from Slapfish
11. Lunch Buffet at Vishnu
12. The Choco Taco (and Everything Else I Ate) at Playground 2.0
13. $3.95 Filipino Breakfast at Grill City
14. “Not Pa’ Ella” at Anepalco
15. Trout at the North Left
16. Fatteh at Kareem’s Restaurant
17. Charred Sous-Vide Octopus at Lola Gaspar
18. Strawberry Shortcake from Disneyland’s Plaza Inn
19. Korean Funyuns at The Past Memories
20. Chicken Curry Sandwich at C’est Si Bon Bakery
21. Quail at Medii Kitchen
22. Pulled Pork Sliders at Big B’s Barbecue
23. Beef Panaeng at Essential Thai Cuisine
24. Muhammara at Aleppo’s Kitchen
25. Chicken 65 at Annapoorna
26. Protein-Style Lobster Roll at Slapfish
27. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard Restaurant
28. Coffee Eclair at La Petite Sourie
29. Mango Tango Joe Latti at Joe’s Italian Ice
30. Chicken Wasabi Yakitori at Kappo Honda
31. Carrot Cake at Alta Coffee
32. Egg Tart at 85 Degrees Cafe Bakery
33. Fried Torn Baked Potatoes at Wagyu Chuck
34. Green Onion Pancake Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express
35. Green Tea Snow at Snow Station
36. Plato’s Salad Bowl At Falasophy
37. The Benedict Omelette at Egg Cracker
38. Fig N Burrata Tart at Driftwood Kitchen
39. Lemon Steam Cake at SideDoor
40. Frog Legs at Cafe Beau Soleil
41. Banh Khoai at Huong Vy
42. Bibimbap at Morangak
43. Salade Niçoise at Bistro Papillote
44. Poke at Bear Flag Fish Company
45. Tijuana-Style Carne Asada Tacos at Tío Flaco’s
46. NM Style Enchiladas at Panxa Cocina
47. Pan-Fried Crispy Noodles With Shredded Pork at Phoenix Food Boutique
48. The Happy Hour Menu at TAPS
49. Pork Cutlet Curry at Cafe Hiro
50. Piadina at Piadina
51. Consomé de Barbacoa at El Torito Nuevo
52. Black Goat Casserole at Mirak
53. Wagon Wheel at French’s Cupcake Bakery
54. Molletes at Taco Maria
55. That Awesome Hot Sauce at Akropolis
56. The Hermanator at Peter’s Gourmade Grill
57. Bolsa Bao at Baos Hog
58. Full Moon Roll at Full Moon Sushi
59. Fried Chicken at Plaza Inn
60. Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen at Ramen Yamadaya
61. Three-Meat Combo at Robert Earl’s BBQ
62. AYCE Sushi at Sake 2 Me
63. Yaki Dog at Burntzilla
64. Fruit Sorbet at the Playground
66. Dulce de Leche Walnut Shrimp Taco at Dos Chinos
65. Buñuelo Waffle at Waffles Inc
67. Cajun Seafood Pasta at The Big Catch
68. Belgian Fries at Wursthaus
69. Scoops x Contra Ice Cream Float at Scoops Ice Cream Santa Ana
70. Buttermilk Panna Cotta at Lola Gaspar
71. Hummus at Mick’s Karma Bar
72. Savory Baked Goat Cheese Bread Pudding at Eat Chow
73. Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza at Perry’s Pizza N Italian Restaurant
74. Kabocha Honey Nuts at Kabuki
75. Smashed Potatoes at Standing O
76. Dim Sum at Seafood Cove #2
77. Loco Moco at Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe
78. Bratwurst at Barley Forge
79. Beef Noodle Soup at (Wafting Fragrance) Noodle House
80. Taco de Nopal at Urban Cactus
81. Fried Chicken at Crazy Chi-Mac
82. Mole Tots at Amor y Tacos
83. Khao Soi at S.T. Noodle Bar
84. Chili Cone Queso at Cozy Cone Motel
85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood
86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate
87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft
88. Cornbread Waffle N Chicken at Mrs. Bea’s
89. Everything at Crispy Town
90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms
91. Tostilocos at Tortas y Biónicos “Nice”
92. Milanesa at Delicias Peruanas
93. Super Nachos at Kelly’s Korner Tavern
94. Tortas at Sliced and Diced Eatery
95. Seasonal Dumplings at Coconut Rabbit
96. Burrito de Birria de Res from Burritos La Palma
97. Bò Kho at Song Long Restaurant
98. Pancake Sandwich at Willowick Golf Course
99. Tahdig at Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill
100. Quatro Formaggi Panini at Old Vine Cafe

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