10 Great Chilaquiles in Orange County

Photo by The Mexican
The best in the world: Those made by my mami

Screw breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches--all of breakfast, really, except chilaquiles. This is the greatest Mexican desayuno of them all, a deceptively simple dish that'S fiendishly difficult to master. Most places think chilaquiles gives them a license to chop up some stale Guerrero corn tortillas, lightly fry them, then splash some trashy red or green salsa, creating something softer than mush but not as tasty.

No. Chilaquiles is a fugue: the interplay between the crispy edges and somewhat soft center, the sharp notes of a great salsa that doesn't sog everything up, the crispness of the cheese tying everything together. It's one of my all-time favorite meals, and here are 10 great versions in OC.

More »

The Best Thing to Eat at Nudo Nudo Isn't Even the Noodles

Categories: Viet Vittles

Photo by Charles Lam
Oxtail fries are BOMB

It'd be easy to dismiss Nudo Nudo, the latest venture by the guys behind Afters Ice Cream, as a noodle house for the Insta-obsessed Asian foodie set. After all, it's got that kind of vibe -- neon lights, Instagram wall, bold typeface on the walls -- but look past all that and realize it's in the middle of Little Saigon. Like, literally the middle of Little Saigon: It's on Bolsa a block east of Moran (also known as the capital of Vietnamese-language media in the US), two blocks from Asian Garden Mall, and three blocks from the place where I buy my tires.

For a noodle shop to survive in this space, it's got to have substance to back up its shine, and substance Nudo Nudo has in spades. And while it serves above average pho (top 20 percent easy) at competitive prices ($6.50 - $7.50 a bowl), the pho isn't even the best thing on the menu.

More »

Stone's Smokehouse & BBQ Is in Brea's Backcountry But Worth the Visit

Photos by Brian Feinzimer
Cue the David Allan Coe...

The address of Stone's Smokehouse & BBQ officially says Brea, but it's actually in the area locals refer to as Carbon Canyon. More specifically, it's in the village of Olinda, a tiny, isolated hamlet tucked amongst the chaparral-covered wilderness of Chino Hills State Park. To get to it, you need to drive east on Lambert, past the oil fields and the new tract homes, until the lanes shrink to become Carbon Canyon Road, a curvy two-lane shortcut route to Chino Hills that twists and turns for 8 miles through steep canyons and narrow passes. You might spot a coyote or two on your journey.

More »

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

Categories: Eat This Now

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.

More »

Be a Good Person at OC's Inaugural Burrito Project THIS FRIDAY

Hey you! Do you want to be a good person? Do you also love burritos and want to share them? Well, if you're free this Friday evening, Orange County's inaugural burrito project event is going down. The gist is this: everyone's going to meet up in Costa Mesa to make some burritos then drive up to Santa Ana to pass them out to the less fortunate. I have faith in your burrito rolling skills.

More »

Hello Kitty Cafe's (Temporary) West Coast Location Coming To Irvine!

Think pink

It was a year in the making, but we knew what we were talking about when predicting the future location of that cat's girl's brick-and-mortar. Okay, not really a brick, nor mortar. They would've been silly not to select Irvine or Costa Mesa as a starting point.

The stylish shipping container is having some finishing touches done before it can be released to its dedicated fan base. But you can bet they'll be ready to go in early December. Oh, and don't worry. Hello Kitty Cafe is expected to remain there past the holiday season.

More »

On the Line: Rachel Klemek Of Blackmarket Bakery, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Bread winner

In today's segment, Klemek discusses parenting and her future apple farm. Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen, Rachel!

Check out the first part of my interview with the dessert duchess. And if you're good, there may be a Santa Ana preview in the not-so-distant future.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in North Carolina, moved around the South and ended up in Southern California in seventh grade. I experienced serious culture shock, going from wading in creeks barefoot, speaking with a thick Southern accent and running around my rural neighborhood in Anderson, South Carolina, to living in suburban Irvine.

More »

DTLA's Fav Pizza Spot Is Headed to Long Beach Very Soon

A photo posted by PIZZANISTA! (@pizzanista) on

Long Beach is, surprisingly, a solid pizza town between Broadway, Michael's, X Two, and Rebel Bites, and it's about to get even better. Pizzanista!, an LA Art District favorite, will be opening their Long Beach location this month, according to Eater LA, on 7th Street near Alamitos Beach.

More »

On the Line: Rachel Klemek Of Blackmarket Bakery, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Dessert duchess

The Downtown Santa Ana space for Blackmarket's newest spot is pending final inspection. I took this opportunity to converse with one of the coolest, most hardworking people I've met: Dessert duchess Rachel Klemek.

Favorite meal growing up.
Vinegar-y BBQ pork sandwiches and crispy hush puppies from Kepley's in High Point, North Carolina, [while] visiting my grandparents.

Let's discuss the sandwich selections at Blackmarket Bakery. The Bandera eggywich is killer, by the way.
Thanks! Eggywiches are available from open til 11 a.m., all anchored by either our brioche bun or our buttermilk biscuit. People seem to really enjoy them! Then, after 11 a.m., we make grilled and fresh sandwiches on our daily breads. Mostly savory, like the BLAT with fried egg on a toasted croissant; but a few sweet sammies in there, too. Like the uber PBJ with freshly ground peanut butter. Something for everyone!

More »

(Another) Creamistry Grand Opening And Giveaway TOMORROW!

Photo by Dustin Ames
Smoke gets in your eyes

Is it just us, or does there seem to be a lot going on in Orange County tomorrow? Add this to your list of treats. The second Costa Mesa spot for Creamistry launches Saturday over at The Triangle Square off Newport Boulevard. And yes, there will be celebrating in the form of giveaways.

Don't be confused by the location, since Costa Mesa #1 launched next door to The Halal Guys recently. Although the familiar frustration of locating parking will still ring true. Sigh.

More »