85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood

Dustin Ames
Basket case.
Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

The chefs at Big Catch Seafood are wizards of the deep-fry. The crispy Brussels sprouts are faultless, served in cute little fry baskets. Fried catfish fingers are encased in a golden, greaseless, crunchy cocoon of batter as rigid as coral until your teeth breach the crust to find a creamy white flesh as clean as milk and without a trace of muddiness.


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86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate

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Edwin Goei
It ain't a bowl; it's a plate!
Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

At the food court sandwiched between the ground floor and the theater at MainPlace in Santa Ana, your choices are the usual mall food offerings of Sbarro's and Hot Dog on a Stick, and then what seems like carbon copies of the same teriyaki chicken bowl restaurant. California Plate is one of those; but for some reason it transcends them all.


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Now Open: Grits Fullerton

Categories: Now Open

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Anne Marie Panoringan
Kiss their grits

Brunch is a phrase not taken lightly around here. Eggs, pork products and pastries are some of the tastiest things. So to hear that Grits Fullerton is actually opening is news (at least to this Forker).

Promoting themselves as "classic Southern comfort food with California creativity", they kicked things off with a bit of charity work. A different organization was featured daily last week, with 100% of food profits going directly to the lucky non-profit.

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On the Line: David Rossi Of THE RANCH, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by LP Hastings
David of all trades

Baseball. Band. Brothers. Maybe you know how these all relate to David Rossi. And if you don't, that's what part two is for.

Do you know what his favorite dessert is? If you read part one, you would.
And after you can answer that question, it's time to learn some more.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
To not take everything so personal.

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87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft

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Edwin Goei
Bollygood!
Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

When I don't want to overstuff myself in Irvine or Tustin's handful of Indian buffets or can't go to Artesia for a proper thali, there's Santa Ana's MasalaCraft--an Indian take-out joint to rule them all. The parking is atrocious at lunchtime, but the combo plates (around $7 for a 2-item) is one of the best and freshest I've had in a long time. And there's the part that it's served in portions that might as well as be two trips to the buffet line.

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88. Cornbread Waffle & Chicken at Mrs. Bea's

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Edwin Goei
Fingers, prepare to be licked.
Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

Mrs. Bea's does ten waffles, including a chocolate cake waffle, a cornbread waffle, and a waffle where bacon and cheese is baked in with the batter. The cornbread waffle is something of a miracle. It possesses a crispness bordering on hush puppy, but when you eat it, the overall experience is like you're eating only the best part of cornbread: the crust.


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89. Everything at Crispy Town

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Edwin Goei
It's a fried fried world.
Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

The name Crispy Town may sound like it's inspired by the catchphrase of a certain Food Network host with spiky hair. It's not. It's Pinoy through-and-through--a turo-turo joint that caters to the best kind of food there is: the kind that's deep fried golden brown and delicious.

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Jonathan Bennett's War on Cake

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Food Network
I can't get enough of it and I'm on the damn thing!

Everyone loves a little friendly competition and when that competition ends with an array of edible works of art, well, that's even better. On June 29th at 8:00pm ET/PT, the games will indeed begin on the Food Network's new show Cake Wars where four bakers will compete for $10,000 and the chance to have their cake take center stage at a special event. We talked to the hilarious host of Cake Wars, Jonathan Bennett, before the big premiere to hear about his gig, inquire on his calorie intake during filming, and we couldn't pass up the chance to drill him on his past appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): OK I've asked a few people if they'd ever be on Dancing with the Stars because, sequins. But you were actually on it! Do tell.

Jonathan Bennett: All I wore was sequins. I was just one giant sequin out there! [Laughs.] I got in involved with it because I lost both of my parents and they were such big fans of the show. I was sort of in a rut so I wanted to go and do something to honor them. When the opportunity came to do the show, I jumped at the chance. I mean, who doesn't want to go do Dancing with the Stars and feel alive again? But let me tell you, when you are on that show, it's all about spray tans and sequins. That is the most important thing!


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On the Line: David Rossi Of THE RANCH, Part One

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by LP Hastings
Pass the vinegar

When I made THE RANCH part of my Top 5 in 2012, it earned a spot for many reasons; one of them being the incredible duo of the brothers Rossi. This week, I'm excited to communicate with pastry chef David Rossi. While he is labeled as "pastry", you're about to quickly learn that he's much more.

When I interviewed your brother, he made a point of saying that you do more than pastry at THE RANCH. Could you please elaborate on your responsibilities?
I oversee all of the smoking, curing, canning and pickling all our produce from our own heirloom vegetable farm on Edwards Ranch Estates.

Best culinary tip for the home baker.
Follow the recipe.

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90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms

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Edwin Goei
Banh mi, is that you?

Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

Mendocino Farms makes a banh mi sandwich that isn't exactly a banh mi sandwich. The bread isn't a baguette; it's ciabatta in the usual ciabatta shape: square. But because it's crisped up on a panini press, the bread crackles when you bite into it, just as the crust of a proper baguette should.

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