Harbor Boulevard. If there were any justice for people who love good food, the stretch between Ball Road and Chapman Avenue in Anaheim and Garden Grove would be called Horror Boulevard. That it's a long stretch of national chain restaurant after national chain restaurant is bad enough; some of these places manage to be so bad that they actually shame the already questionable reputations of their parent chains (Bakers Square and your uncaring management, this is you
). Service suffers, because despite all the training from the corporate motherships, the staff know that locals don't eat in those branches and the tourists will never be seen again.
I'm a proud resident of Anaheim, and I want visitors to my city to eat well; if I didn't, I wouldn't be blogging about food. Anaheim and Garden Grove have some of the richest pickings around for great food, even if your taste runs more to pork chops than pork dumplings, but it can be hard to winnow the wheat from the chaff.
Read on for five family-friendly suggestions for food only a few minutes' drive from Disneyland.
One of two German restaurants in Orange County, lunches and dinners at Jägerhaus involve all the classics that will stick to your ribs on a cold winter's night, including occasional specials of game dishes like elk or venison. What's special about the Jägerhaus, though, is the breakfast. European-style fruit pancakes (like puffy crêpes) and great omelettes, including the Schwaben omelette with spätzle (small wheat dumplings) and ham make a great alternative to IHOP or the drive-thru at McDonald's. If you get toast, make sure to ask for some of owner Sandra Schwaiger's unbelievable plum jam to go with it. Jägerhaus, 2525 E. Ball Rd., Anaheim; (714) 520-9500.Park Avenue Dining:
Sometimes, after a long day spent fighting the crowds, Mom and Dad need a dinner where the menu doesn't feature fried chicken parts and the décor doesn't involve cartoon characters. Park Avenue fits this need; that it has a cool old Googie-style bar with arguably the best martinis in the county doesn't hurt in the slightest. Chops and good old American-style food made with carefully-sourced ingredients are the order of the day. No Sysco here; if it's not too busy, ask for a tour of the garden, where they grow herbs and vegetables amongst lemon, avocado and olive trees. The staff generally dote on children and the little cherubs can choose either to have a smaller portion of an adult meal or something from the kids' menu. Don't miss pastry chef Alice Castro's dessert menu, either. Park Avenue Dining, 11200 Beach Blvd., Stanton; (714) 901-4400.