Gustavo's Top 5 Drinks of 2013!

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As usual: this image has nothing to do with drinking. Tough tamales!
Another year, another 52 weeks of constant drinking, from bar to bar and bottle to bottle. If this list is a bit SanTana-heavy, it's because 2013 found SanTana emerging as the county's booze capital, from the paisa bars to the hipster bars to great liquor stores and bartenders and everything in-between. But now: the drinks. And, of course, not making the list because they're il capo di tutti cappi of OC's drinking scene is 320 Main, something everyone on this list would agree with.

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Dave's Top Five Drinks of 2013

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Dave Lieberman
In researching this article, I went back through my photos of cocktails I've drunk over the course of the last 360 days, and I have come to the realization that I have drunk an embarrassingly large number of cocktails in that time. Also, good photos of cocktails are damn near impossible to take, because bars tend to be dark.

That said, here are five standouts from this alcoholic and satisfying year, all of which are available at the time of press, because it's not nice to tantalize people with things they can't have.

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Shuji's Top Five Drinks of 2013

Business and personal travels took me to some random places this year, and along with that came the opportunity to sample drinks not normally found round these parts. I'm going to apologize in advance for the things you might need to track down with a bit of effort, and offer you a few things in recompense that are easy to come by in our fair Orange Acres.

5. Pulque at Acqui es Texcoco

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ProfessorSalt.com
Pulque at Acqui es Texcoco

Some alcoholic drinks you take on a dare: your first tequila shot in high school and your first flaming Bacardi 151 shot. After you've grown bored with the Jagermeister tap in your man cave, you need other boozehound Everests to scale.

And that's when you seek out pulque. It's a tart, acetic "wine" with a cloudy sliminess that can charitably be compared to semen. This fermented cactus nectar dates back to pre-Columbian Mexico, and was reputedly made by spitting chewed-up maguey leaves into a vessel where salivary enzymes gave the brew a head start.


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Charles' Top 5 Drinks of 2013!

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Rainier's this beer from Seattle. You've probably never heard of it.

When I first started writing this list, I was worried that I didn't drink enough to populate it. That turned out not to be the problem. No, I drink (and drank) plenty. The problem then became that fact that when you're a recently graduated journo moving to a major city for your first real in-industry job, you don't have much money to spend on booze. I was worried everything I drank during my Seattle sabbatical would be too boring to include on a Top 5 list.

That also became not the problem, because apparently when I had to choose between heating my apartment during the Northwest winter and alcohol, I chose alcohol. (This also turned out not to be a problem, because only one of my drinks is Seatown exclusive.)

So, without further ado and for your enjoyment, my top five drinks of 2013.

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Gustavo's Five Favorite Restaurants of 2013!

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Salgado: Ching├│n
2013 ends as another great year for OC cooking, with our chefs continuing to push themselves to bigger and better heights. You can find most of the young guns represents in the lists of Edwin, Dave, Shuji, Anne Marie, Niyaz, and Charles.

I, as always, mostly eat at the holes-in-the-wall, but agree with the general consensus that this was Little Sparrow's year (you'll read more about them in our cocktail lists next week, too). So while my year-end restaurant lists usually veer toward the holes, newer places usually sneak in, as well. Anyhoo, enjoy and pass it on!

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Sarah's Top Five Long Beach Restaurants for 2013

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Todd Barnes
A bowl of the good stuff from Sal's Gumbo Shack

Let's face it: when it comes to food in Long Beach, the city hasn't exactly played along with the hyped-out culinary world that often entangles neighboring Orange County and Los Angeles.

Sure, there's James Republic and Michaels of Naples leading the way for local date-night dinners, but Long Beach historically (and thankfully) has left the overpriced small plates and up-and-coming young tattooed chefs to Mid-Wilshire pop ups and reservations-necessary tapas bars. I also appreciate that Long Beach has also never rested easy on its wide swath of basic American restaurants or its growing cadre of Mexican joints, both easy fall-backs in Southern California.

Instead, I spent the past year eating my way through even more of this city and, in the end, more fully realized how it has cultivated a reputation as the best bet around to find honest, working-class food from around the world.

The following are a few trustworthy Long Beach faves that can't help but live outside the typical burger-or-burrito dichotomy.

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Dave's Top Five Restaurants of 2013

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Dave Lieberman
Aleppo's Kitchen's pomegranate dip
I used to throw this list together; I picked my favorite restaurants and dashed off the paragraphs in just a few minutes. Apparently, though, some of you are foolish enough to give a damn what I think about food.

I'll be frank; I'm jaded. I'm tired of the food hype machine, every PR person's wet dream, tantalizing me with menu descriptions that far outshine the dish they describe. I'm tired of my iPhone's photo roll being full of photographs of mediocre food I took on the off chance I might need it later. I've eaten dozens of disappointing meals this year. I've eaten meals where the chef obviously didn't taste the dish; I've eaten hundreds of thousands of calories in search of something that inspired me enough to write about it.

Here are the top five restaurants in our publication area (our list for Baja California will come out soon). I look forward to the moments in 2014 where I send an excited text message to a foodie colleague in Las Vegas, taunting him that it isn't available there.

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Shuji's Top Five Restaurants for 2013

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ProfessorSalt.com
Valiant Brewing's Jericho IPA at Dublin 4

I raise a glass to you, dear reader, with best wishes for a happy holiday. For this writer, the year's favorite restaurants share a common denominator: all (ok, except one) very affordable places that you ought to visit often.

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Charles' 5 Best Restaurants of 2013!

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Wonderful, but didn't make the list!

I spent most of 2013 not in California, so when Gustavo asked me to write one of these lists, I knew it wasn't going to look like everyone else's. After all, I had apparently missed some big restaurant openings in Orange County, and three months in, I still haven't caught up.

That being true, I had my share of memorable meals this year. And, while they might not be new or particularly exciting (one wasn't even in Orange County), they were important to me, and by golly you're going to hear about them.

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Niyaz's Top 5 Meals of 2013!

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Umami's Greenbird
Behold the beginning of 2013's ends with our annual critic's roundup of their favorite restaurants and cocktails of the year! Starting today and ending next week, check in each day for a different critic's take on eating and drinking in OC. Enjoy, pass it on, and take it, Niyaz!

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