Eat This Now: Sicilian Street Food Friday at Il Barone Bottega

Photo by The Mexican
Mangia, mangia!

At the end of each week, the folks behind Il Barone Bottega--one of the more underrated delis in Orange County, with products from across Italy and gelato airier than a bubble--put on Sicilian Street Food Friday. Their regular menu of paninis and pastas remain, but making a great cameo is a galaxy of--yep!--Sicilian street food nearly impossible to find elsewhere in the county.

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Eat This Now: Extra Spicy Shack-Style Sauce at The Seafood Shack

Photo by Kristine Hoang
Om nom nom

On a dull, unassuming corner of Westminster Boulevard, a bright yellow umbrella highlights a dinky building that houses a Vietnamese-Cajun seafood joint called The Seafood Shack. The inside of the building is a far cry from the kind-of-dreary neighborhood, full of more energy than anyone could guess.

The restaurant is staffed by waiters as upbeat as the EDM playing in the background. One wall is lined by a fake aquarium; an opposite wall features a neon sign listing oyster varietals. Drawings of sea creatures and names signed by customers long-forgotten (or sitting 10 feet away) crowd any wooden surface.

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Eat This Now: Sliders From Hell at Slidebar Rock-n-Roll Kitchen

Nothing against the late, great Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrel, but when I saw a burger on the menu of the Slidebar named the Cowboy From Hell, after the metal legends' 1990 album, I began to wonder: How would Dimebag feel about a monster of a burger--a humongous patty topped with slices of sautéed jalapeños and habaneros, plus onion rings as gnarled-looking as timing belts, all drenched in Velveeta and barbecue sauce--sold in his memory? Would he approve of the mini version, the Sliders From Hell? Might he think the latter an insult to his gargantuan shreds, and the former an affront to his intricate pickings? Yeah, I'm a nerd.

And although I cannot communicate with the dead, I do believe Dimebag would approve of both the Cowboy and Sliders.More »

Eat Here, Not There: Pork Rice At First Class Sandwich

Edwin Goei
Had I put this out as a Guess Where I Ate item, no one would ever get it. Not ever. It is from First Class Sandwich, a food court vendor in Irvine whose menu consists entirely of, well, sandwiches. That is, with the exception of two items scribbled on a whiteboard and offered by its Chinese owner as a point of pride.

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Eat Here, Not There: Cuban Sandwiches

DeSimone's Cuban Sandwich

Can you get a proper medianoche sandwich in Orange County? Orange County, Florida, certainly. Here in our Orange Acres? Not so many places make this specialty.

You know where you can easily find one? Quiznos. No, really, stop laughing. In this edition, we pit the Quiznos Cuban sandwich against the one at DeSimone's Deli & Bakery in Orange.

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Eat Here, Not There: Cheesesteaks

We have a friendly competition around here with our counterparts over at the Register's Food Frenzy blog. Sometimes we discover the place; sometimes they do. Sometimes we concur with their findings; sometimes we don't. In this case, Claudia Koerner was the winnah, writing about a place called A Bite of Jersey, a little corner place in a strip mall in a really desolate area of West Garden Grove.

Well, it was like a red cloth to a bull. You see, as a proud son of New Jersey, I love cheesesteaks. I love them even though they come from the Extreme Eastern Philadelphia part of New Jersey, not the Extreme Southern New York part that I hail from. I don't know what else I would've lived on during the long days staring jadedly at skinny Québécois touristes parading down Jenkinson's boardwalk if there hadn't been a lot of greasy cheesesteakeries.

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Eat Here, Not There: Burger Combo

Edwin Goei

For this installment of Eat Here, Not There, I revisit Mick's Karma Bar in Irvine, which is owned by Michael and Megan Schepers, who also own Kitima Thai next door. I came back for the burger combo that so impressed me back in March, and found that it is as good a deal now as it was back then.

But first, here's what I wrote about it a few months ago.
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Eat Here, Not There: Lake Forest Brekkie Deal

What can I get for two dollars?

There's a plaza on the corner of Trabuco and Bake in Lake Forest that houses a McDonalds. For a buck, you can indulge in processed sausage burritos, sausage McMuffins, a small cuppa joe, a sausage biscuit and/or hash browns. If you require a drive-thru, and want to pay as little as possible, this is acceptable.

However, this is about finding not only a cheap brekkie, but one made with a little more TLC; and it's coincidentally in the same plaza. If you've got five-ish minutes to spare (and it's before 10 a.m.), we've got a better alternative.
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Eat Here, Not There: Soft Serve

Anne Marie Panoringan

Let's face it, soft serve is generally found at three places: McDonalds, buffets (Vegas, Soup Plantation or otherwise), and the occasional Korean establishment. Sweet, cheap, and appealing to the masses, nothing says "Let's finish our reasonably priced meal" like a dish or cone of all-American vanilla. Expectations don't run high because the bar has been set too low.

Sorry Watson's. Maybe next time, Cherry On Top. The summertime heat isn't going away anytime soon, but one stand in Orange is worth sweltering in line over, and they don't even specialize in dessert.
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Eat Here, Not There: Poke Bowls

IMG_2757 (Small).JPG
Edwin Goei

This post is another one of our series under the category "Eat Here, Not There". But this time, I could also put this under "fast food guilty pleasures I shouldn't like". What I'm about to recommend comes from the chain known as Sushi Boy, which a typical sushi purist would never come near for fear of public shaming. If you're one of these, relax. I'm not recommending their sushi. I'm recommending their poke bowls. Why? Simply because they are good. And unlike some of their other items, worth the $4.99 charged.
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