No. 42: Pasta Salad from Crave

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We're now halfway through the Long March known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!

Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never fully review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...

Crave has already appeared on this list, and I betcha it'll appear a couple of more times before it's over: its homespun charm IS THAT GOOD. How good is it? It has made me--pardon the pun--crave an item I have hated my entire life: pasta salad.

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I had suffered a lifetime of horrific pasta salad--too cold, too mayonnaise-y, too clumpy, too rancid--at far too many weddings to remember (who said Mexicans don't assimilate? Freaking wabs treat pasta salad as if they were nopales). And I expected the same crap the first time I visited Crave, telling the waitress I'd rather pass on it than have it be part of my lunch special.

"But our pasta salad is different from everyone else's," she said nicely.

And it sure as hell is. I think the trick is in their use of feta instead of other cream sauces, which makes everything zip with the perfect pungency. The cherry tomatoes add sweetness; red onions provide the tart. And the big, fat fusilli never turns to mush, stands strong and absorbs all the flavors.

It really is an extraordinary meal, despite its humble state. Why, I'd order a massive bowl of Crave's pasta salad if it weren't for their sandwiches--and speaking of which, betcha they're gonna make some cameos soon 'round here...

The list:

43. Chicken Plate at Surfin' Chicken
44. Rosemary Madeleine from Little Sparrow
45. Umeboshi Ochazuke at Kappo Suzumaru
46. Soft Tofu Soup at DooRei
47. Hitsumabushi at Sagami
48. The Fireball at Cortina's
49. Paint It Black Pie at Rebel Bite
50. Pidan Doufu at I-Tea Cafe
51. The Happy Hour Specials at Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill
52. Free Happy Hour Food at Gulliver's
53. Banh Tom at Van's Restaurant
54. Dinner at Marrakesh
55. Congee at Capital Seafood
56. Taquito Burrito at Cuca's Mexican Food
57. Clam Chowder at Billy's at the Beach
58. Volcan at Tacos Ruben y Mulitas
59. The Burger at ARC
60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave
61. Lime Curd At Playground
62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream
63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts
64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market
65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King
66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos
67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango
68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub
69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ
70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground
71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish
72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market
73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul
74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege
75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17
76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen
77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza
78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille
79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla
81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore
82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking
83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar
84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai
86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express
87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo
88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House
89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar
90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House
91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market
92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro
93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe
94. Coney Dog at LinX
95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas
96. Clayuda at El Fortín
97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express
98. The Meats at Darya in Orange
99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora
100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

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Location Info

Crave Restaurant and Cafe

410 W. 4th St., Santa Ana, CA

Category: General

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