Dave's Top 5 Restaurants of 2011

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Taco Maria

It's that time of year again, when we sift through the dozens and dozens and dozens of frankly awesome meals we've had this year, look back, and attempt to pick five (or, in my case, six) that stood out the most. Edwin always says that his chief criterion would be whether he'd spend his own money at a place; for me, I need to want to spend my own money multiple times.

It's a difficult choice, and I'm sure to piss someone off either through omission or through the order I put them in, and someone is guaranteed to be annoyed that food trucks are not technically restaurants; if you're offended, please, try to pick up the broken shards of your life and move past some random food blogger's end-of-year list.


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#1 AKA The Best Dish in Orange County RIGHT NOW: Taco Acorazado at the the Two Alebrije's Grill

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Photo by the Elmo Monster...
This is it, cabrones: the best dish in Orange County! Want the best restaurant? You'll have to pick up our Best of OC issue next Thursday. Gracias for all the comments, the criticisms and other randomness. 'Til next year, or the next mass list of something or other!

Some time ago, I asked Dave and Edwin to send me their top five dishes so we could alternate them for this list. We all had different choices save for one: on all our lists, the taco acorazado served by Alebrije's Grill (painted pink-Cadillac pink) popped up, a testament to the power of great food trumping all politics (HA!) and personal preferences.

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#2. Uni Spaghetti at Cafe Hiro

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Edwin Goei
We're one spot away to the #1 dish on our list of 100 Favorite Dishes. Stay tuned for that tomorrow. Then, next week, make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands Thursday, October 14!More »

#3. Smoked Salmon and Eggs at Break of Dawn

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Dave Lieberman
The final installments of our march to the Bridge on the River Calorie are coming your way. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands next Thursday, October 14! More »

#4. Kobe Beef at Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ

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ProfessorSalt.com
Meat is murder --tasty, tasty murder


You'll have noticed we're changing who writes this feature on a day by day basis: this is how you know we're getting close to the end of our countdown. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!


How do you eat an entire steer? One bite at a time. And no better way to sample the entire beast than at a yakinikuya - a Japanese style barbecue restaurant. Just as you enjoy vast differences in flavors and textures of fish at a sushi bar, beef cuts like ribeye, ribeye cap, outside skirt and tongue taste different and have varying levels of fattiness and texture: some buttery, others chewy, and all delicious.

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#5. Coconut Sambol at Wadiya

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Top five dishes, cabrones! Our Bataan march through OC's greatest dishes is nearly done! Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

A condiment as a top 100 dish, as a top five dish? You won't ask this question if you've actually tasted one of the county's most remarkable meals at Southern California's only Sri Lankan restaurant.


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#6. The Whole Sha-bang Shrimp at Boiling Crab

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Edwin Goei

You'll have noticed we're changing who writes this feature on a day by day basis: this is how you know we're getting close to the end of our countdown. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

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#7. Menu Spontané at Marché Moderne

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You'll have noticed we're changing who writes this feature on a day by day basis: this is how you know we're getting close to the end of our countdown. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

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#8. Vietnamese Ceviche at S Fine Dining

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ProfessorSalt.com
Ceviche gone wild


You'll have noticed we're changing who writes this feature on a day by day basis: this is how you know we're getting close to the end of our countdown. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

Ceviche across Latin America is like meatloaf in the US: a dish that's conceptually the same with small differences in execution from cook to cook. The variety most commonly found in our fair county is the Mexican concoction often finished with a ketchup-based sauce, and served with tostada chips and saltine crackers. You'll run into versions that fall outside that Mexican archetype, but none more strikingly unusual as the Vietnamese-inspired one at S Fine Dining.

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#9. Two Tacos for a Buck and Free Pineapple Juice (Until it's Gone) at Tacos El Chavito

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You'll have noticed we're changing who writes this feature on a day by day basis: this is how you know we're getting close to the end of our countdown. Make sure to pick up a copy of our Best of OC 2010 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

Yes, these aren't the largest tacos in Orange County. Yes, you can eat four of these for two bucks, where some places have tacos that fill you up more than those four for less. But anyone complaining about the size of these tacos misses the point about tacos, period.

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