No. 1, or: THE BEST DISH IN ORANGE COUNTY RIGHT NOW: 7 Courses of Goat at Binh Dan

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Goat blood pudding topped with goat liver; Photo by Elina Shatkin--I owe you a taco acorazado for this...

Right now, in the Orange County we currently live in culinarily--a wonderful, exciting time, with great restaurants opening weekly even in this Great Recession and the old guard still vibrant--the seven courses of goat offered by Binh Dan embodies our greatest attributes. It's ethnic--unapologetically so. It's sustainable and organic--the goat meat used here comes from the family's goat farm in the Inland Empire. It's epic--seven courses of goat!--and unique: few places in Little Saigon sell goat, let alone seven courses of it.

Binh Dan is family-owned, and therefore individualistic: the restaurant will close at a whim. It's in a strip mall, our quintessential treasure chest for great eats. It's incredibly affordable--a bit less than $20, with more than enough food for two. It uses goat, a much-underappreciated creature. But, most importantly, it's a stunner at each level.
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No. 2: Russian Cream at Delius Restaurant

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Edwin Goei
Tonight, loyal readers: Hie thee to your nearest distributor of dead-tree versions of this illustrious publication to see what we, your arbiters of taste (*COUGH*), have chosen for this year's Best Of issue.

A dessert for No. 2? Yes, during a meal that included a marvelous pork-belly appetizer and one of the better pan-roasted, crisp-skinned salmon steaks I've had the pleasure of eating, this simple dessert parfait made of a few simple ingredients (cream, sugar, gelatin, sour cream) was still the highlight of dinner at Delius in Signal Hill.

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(Tied!) No. 3: Small Plates at Sol del Sur Bistro

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JC Vera / OC Weekly
Dave Emery, owner and chef of Sol del Sur
This Thursday night, loyal readers: hie thee to your nearest distributor of dead-tree versions of this illustrious publication to see what we, your arbiters of taste (*COUGH*) have chosen for this year's Best Of issue.

Very soon, OC Weekly publishes our annual Best Of guide, which Orange Countians of discriminating taste will want to carry with them everywhere, lest they find themselves hungry or bored in unfamiliar parts of the county. Or, you know, just download our free Best Of app.

Meanwhile, we're nearly through our list of 100 dishes we think you should eat while you're out wandering the county. It's a globe-trotting list, from France to Vietnam, from Mexico to Russia, from Afghanistan right back here to the good ol' U. S. of A.--but then again, you can be a global eater without setting foot past the Orange Curtain.

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(Tied!) No. 3: Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar

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ProfessorSalt.com
Loroco and cheese pupusa at San Sivar
For my final pick of this year's 100 Favorites list, I chose an old favorite that I fell in love with at first try. I keep returning to Costa Mesa's Pupusería y Restaurant San Sivar because they make the best pupusas in Orange County.

These Salvadoran street-vendor snacks aren't generally described as "delicate" because the masa can be rather thick and clumsily formed, and their fillings greasy or uninspired. But at San Sivar, skilled hands pat out the dough into an impossibly thin, crisply-griddled case that delicately contains its filling of cheese, meats or vegetables without leaking.

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No. 4: Deep Dish at Tony's Little Italy Pizza

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This Thursday night, loyal readers: hie thee to your nearest distributor of dead-tree versions of this illustrious publication this Thursday night to see what we, your arbiters of taste (*COUGH*) have chosen for this year's Best Of issue.

There cannot, I repeat, CANNOT be a discussion about pizza without our number four favorite deep dish. Way before Batali landed near Balboa, and Myers parked in South Coast Metro, Tony and Rosalie Manzella set up shop in Placentia, off a street by the same name. Fold as much crust as you want with your eating hand, this Forker likes her meal with a little more chew, thankyouverymuch.
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No. 5: Taquiza from Soho Taco

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Next Thursday night, loyal readers: hie thee to your nearest distributor of dead-tree versions of this illustrious publication next Thursday night to see what we, your arbiters of taste (*COUGH*) have chosen for this year's Best Of issue.


I think I've contracted Soho Taco to do three taquizas for me this year, maybe more--I forget. All I know is when I gather enough pennies and have enough people to enjoy a bunch of tacos, I call these guys--and they never fail to impress me, even after the 12th taco consumed in half an hour.
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No. 6: Osso Bucco Pasta at Cafe Hiro

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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 2011 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

Like his steak and his mushroom salad, Hiro Ohiwa's best dishes usually show up on the specials board. The osso bucco pasta is no exception. It was on there one night, and simply put, it's kismet, a dish that Hiro Ohiwa should've been making all along. It takes two of the menu's strongest dishes and combines it into one.

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No. 7: Barbacoa de Borrego at Los Chilangos

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Dave Lieberman

Next Thursday night, loyal readers: hie thee to your nearest distributor of dead-tree versions of this illustrious publication next Thursday night to see what we, your arbiters of taste (*COUGH*) have chosen for this year's Best Of issue.
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No. 8: Prime Burger at Morton's The Steakhouse

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ProfessorSalt.com
Prime Burger at Morton's The Steakhouse


Yeah, so it's the seventh burger on this year's 100 Favorites list. We love burgers, and some of the best are served at the evergreen Morton's The Steak House in South Coast Plaza. Ground from the trimmings of their aged, USDA-Prime grade steaks, this is a poor man's high-end steak sandwich.More »

No. 9: Sesame Chicken Salad at Sage Cafe

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Anne Marie Panoringan

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 2011 when it hits the newsstands October 14!

We've all encountered it before: dry chicken. Whether it's a wedding reception, the lone eatery in your office complex, or some corporate brand, the clucker manages to become a clunker. Unless I find it deep fried or covered in sauce, it's a protein I typically steer clear of. However, one OTL subject turned my opinion around, and they hide in the shadow of The Camp.
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