Gustavo's Five Favorite Restaurants of 2013!

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Salgado: Chingón
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!

5. Donde Adela


Faithful readers know I freak out whenever I find a Colombian restaurant in OC, and it happened again this year with this Orange strip-mall gem. But mere representation isn't why Donde Adela lands here; the tiny spot goes beyond the expected (bandeja paisa, sancocho, empanadas) and offers specialties that even the Colombian restaurants in Southern California don't bother to offer.

4. C4 Deli: Cure for the Common

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I have eaten everything on the menu here at this SanTana newbie, and the results are almost always spectacular. And if you have a problem, bring it up to owners Jeff Hall and Jeff Jensen--within 24 hours, they'll address it as if they were culinary psy-ops shadow men. Best of all? The deli is still unfolding its ambitions--the cured meats are a'coming. In the meanwhile, enjoy your umpteenth pickled egg, just like I do.

3. Aleppo's Kitchen

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Photo by Das Ubergeek
The dip!

Little Arabia continues to grow, but the talk of the town was this Syrian stunner, with nine types of kibbe, a secret walnut paste, and even more coming. And don't forget its hidden entrance--really, don't, because if you do, you'll no doubt enter the Thai massage place and find a delightful misunderstanding.

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