Grub Guide

Exactly what the title says. ¡Buen provecho!


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$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20-$40

$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡Eres muy rico!

Bin Bin Konjac is the county's first outpost of a popular Taiwanese chain trying to market konjac, a fibrous root health-food freaks know better as glucomannan that has the enema powers of a Metamucil milk shake. But Bin Bin Konjac, which roughly translates as “Icy Konjac,” attracts Irvine's sizable Chinese community more for its refreshing confections than any intestinal-cleansing promise. Of the konjac with aloe smoothie, Bin Bin's menu gushes, “All the ladies out there do not miss this wonderful drink.” 5406 Walnut Ave., Ste. C, Irvine, (949) 651-6465. ¢

Carpi's bakes pastas and pizzas, but more memorable at this cluttered gem—every section of the tiny deli that's not a table or wine case holds paintings and pictures of Buenos Aires, tango dancers or tango idol Carlos Gardel—are the Argentine specialties squeezed within its sparse menu. The empanadas are flaky stunners: toasted brown, melted with a stretchy mozzarella and encasing a thick ham slice curled within the buttery crust. 320 E. Katella Ave., Ste. H, Orange, (714) 639-3551. $

No tables inside—just counters and stools. No air conditioning—that's why there are two tables outside. There's a great Italian roast beef sandwich, a multifolded pastrami, fries, onion rings and tater tots. But people line up five deep for the 11 hot dog varieties, ranging from Chicago to chili cheese to something called the Wow! Dog—a blackened kielbasa, sautéed onions and a schmeer of thick, gritty mustard worthy of its exclamatory name. 19092 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 378-0364. ¢

Seventeen crepes available in this beautiful little shop just a jog away from the Pacific—try the Kansas City chicken crepe beckoning with the promise of heartland-meets-Left-Bank fusion: roasted chicken and caramelized onions tinctured with a maple barbecue sauce and sprinkled with jack cheese. And the PPV crepe has whole slices of candied pears marked with thick, sugary mascarpone and a dollop of whipped cream on the side, with a spray of vanilla sauce on top of the crepe. 612 Avenida Victoria, Ste. E, San Clemente, (949) 498-5335; $

There are bagels and muffins and, a friend swears, “killer” breakfast burritos in the morning at Newport Beach's ritzy Hoag cafeteria. In the refrigerated case, you can get a grilled chicken caesar salad or roast beef horseradish panini. Want sushi? They've got vegetarian rolls for $3.75 and spicy tuna cut rolls for $4.15. Newport Beach class at cafeteria prices. 1 Hoag Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 645-8600. $

Orange County seems just too spick-and-span Christian to host a real New York-style Jewish deli, but try telling that to the folks at Kosher Bite in Laguna Hills, a cluttered room where the air conditioning is three ceiling fans on their last wobbly rotations, potato-and-barley soup is boiled daily, the Sabbath means rest, and the menu—knishes, matzo balls, pastrami on rye—is as stubbornly borscht belt as Carl Reiner. 23595 Moulton Pkwy., Ste. H, Laguna Hills, (949) 770-1818. $

Naan N Kabob should be renamed Rice N Kabob, since the Tustin Persian eatery prepares the latter platter 36 different ways. Rice with lamb kebab. Rice with fish kebab. Rice with beef, chicken and shrimp kebab. Rice with a type of falafel kebab. Redundant? No: regal. 416 E. First St., Tustin, (714) 66-KABOB. $

You probably slap together half of Paesano's menu at least once a week for dinner: sauce-drenched entrées such as mostaccioli, spaghetti and lasagna that aren't so much Old World as they are Hoboken. So why bother visiting this 26-year-old eatery? Meatballs—lacy, herbed, delish. And subs. Good subs. 5540 Orangethorpe Ave., La Palma, (714) 521-4748. $

Home to the English pasty, a dish riddled with mystery meat and wrapped in a tasty enigma. It's a turnover filled with what was described as “paste”–piles of meat, vegetables and whatever else is lying around chopped together and folded into a delicately sublime crust. 3641 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 431-9747. $

Though miniscule, Produce Warehouse offers more ethnic grocery options than a Brooklyn neighborhood: mango chutneys, Persian lavash flatbread, instant Croatian broccoli soup and a Middle Eastern section that looks like a museum of pickled products. But don't miss the alfajores, an Argentine cavity that's a crumbly double-layered shortbread cookie with a center made from the caramel-like confection dulce de leche. You'll chomp through Produce Warehouse's alfajor selections with ardor, the tension between the dulce de leche and chocolate outside as intricate and intense as a couple dancing the tango on their silver anniversary. 1225 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-8111. $

Albert “Uncle Al” Fadonougbo has successfully drawn upon both sides of the Middle Passage in creating his restaurant's menu during the past 10 years. Though most of the entrées appear mundane on the menu, Fadonougbo's massive-but-delicate hands combine Cajun complexity with West African subtlety to inject some much-needed energy into Long Beach's soulless soul-food scene. Do chomp through Uncle Al's po'boy menu and marvel at his cross-continental fusion. 400 E. First St., Long Beach, (562) 436-2553; $

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