10 Essential Anaheim Restaurants
This list is not for the Disney tourist who's content to secure a seat at Bubba Gump's or Joe's Crab Shack. This list is for travelers (and us locals) who want to explore Anaheim beyond the resort green zone--a.k.a. the real Anaheim. Yes, thrown in the mix is one solitary eatery on Disney property (because we love Disneyland, too). Also know that this list is not complete by any means. Because it is limited to 10, the gut-filling German cuisine of Jägerhaus, the lamb feast at Olive Tree, and even the humble teriyaki bowls of Mos No 2 weren't included (all of them OC Weekly favorites). It just goes to show that Anaheim is a big, wonderful, diverse and exciting food city...which just happens to have two theme parks.
1. Bistro Bleu
For his own restaurant, David Kesler, the former executive chef of the Cellar, is most interested in decoupling the exorbitance from French cuisine. You can have a three course lunch with bœuf bourguignon as the main course and chocolate mousse for dessert for about $16. His escargots--served simmering in a mini-Dutch oven--is presented as a stew in a style indicative of Provence, with garlic, tomato, mushrooms, parsley, white wine and a splash of creme fraiche, and is about $8 right now. There's no need for those metal shell-gripping contraptions or even a tiny fork. In fact, there's no table setting. Silverware here is crammed in mason jars, napkins are paper, and when you order wine by the glass, they fill it to the brim. And for dessert, at $7 (as of this writing), the chocolate soufflé automatically distinguishes itself as the most reasonably priced in the county, as is this restaurant.
2. Blake's Place
Still thinking of barbecue in the way the Food Network does when it crams it down our throats during sweeps? Well, then get your brisket-and-baby-back-lovin' self to Blake's Place, a mom-and-pop that's actually owned by Blake's mom and pop. Don't expect kitschy Southern theming or anything frivolous on the walls. Located in a stark industrial area, it is as serene a temple to what we Americans call barbecue as you'll ever get in OC. The brisket is fork-tender and pink in the middle. The homemade sausages snap. Everything is served on Styrofoam plates like your most recent picnic in the park.
3. Cortina's Italian Market
1150 Magic Way, Anaheim, CA