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A plethora of dishes served at Chaak in Tustin.
A plethora of dishes served at Chaak in Tustin.
Max Milla

The 38 Essential Orange County Restaurants

Modern Mexican, vibrant Vietnamese, and so much more just south of LA

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A plethora of dishes served at Chaak in Tustin.
| Max Milla

Once regarded as a secondary market to Los Angeles, Orange County’s food scene has come into its own as of late. Find mom-and-pop shops that have spent decades perfecting a singular dish in areas like Westminster, where Vietnamese food rules, and along Anaheim’s Little Arabia District. For upscale, white-tablecloth dining experiences with higher prices to match are fine dining stalwarts backed by big names. There’s something for everyone in Orange County. Here are the 38 essential restaurants in Orange County.

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Sushi Noguchi

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This nondescript sushi restaurant is a favorite of both dining critics and superlative sushi fans. Here, the chef prepares two omakase options: a traditional version for $110 to $160; and Jun’s style for $70, a five-course fusion menu with a combination of hot and cold dishes. At lunch, a premium omakase sushi with soup is just $31, which may make it one of the best — and most affordable — omakases in Orange County.

A close up of a tray of sushi in the round, at daytime.
Sushi Noguchi.
Sushi Noguchi

Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana

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Listed as one of the best pizzas in America by the Washington Post, the pies at Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana emerge from a nearly 1,000-degree wood-burning oven built in Naples by Stefano Ferrara. Three generations of pizzaiolos continue churning out classic margherita pizzas and the Fuoco pie, which is topped with mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, arugula, and shaved Parmigiano, and drizzled with truffle oil. A mozzarella bar is stocked weekly with cheese imported from Caserta, Italy.

Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen

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This Michelin-anointed halal restaurant combines the flavors of India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan with a modern Californian twist. The tender boneless chicken karahi is served with tomatoes and shishito peppers, and the butter chicken with dried fenugreek is one of the restaurant’s more popular dishes. The pani puri with tamarind water, mint, onion, and potato arrives on a mini cart and is intended to be taken as a shooter.

Chef Shachi Mehra combines her Jersey roots and Indian heritage to create a tangy goat cheese-filled naan. Her inventiveness garnered her a win on Food Network’s Chopped. Meanwhile, her chef-partner, Sandeep Basrur, combines his background in traditional authentic Indian cooking to prepare classics such as a yellow shrimp coconut curry, dal makhni, and creamy cucumber raita.

Kareem's Falafel

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As one of the first restaurants in Anaheim’s Little Arabia District, Kareem’s has become a go-to for authentic Middle Eastern food. Owner Kareem Hawari’s closely held family falafel recipe is so popular that the Hawaris started selling it wholesale to grocery stores and other restaurants. The babaganoush, grape leaves, and hummus are staples not to miss, but Kareem’s newer menu items — vegetarian wraps, falafel burgers, and feta fries — also offer a modern Mediterranean vibe without sacrificing traditional flavor.

An overhead photo of crispy pita and hummus and grilled meats in bowls.
Kareem’s Falafel.
Kareem’s Falafel

Katella Bakery, Deli & Restaurant

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The family-owned Los Alamitos landmark founded by Stan Ratman and his wife Shirley Ratman is known for its deli food and stocked bakery case that has black-and-white cookies, pastries such as custard-filled eclairs, chocolate chip Danishes, and rugelach. The family-sized portions allow diners to nosh on several dishes at once. Rotund matzo balls are served in Shirley’s chicken soup and rye bread pastrami sandwiches remain a Katella favorite. The vibe is family-friendly with a multi-generational crowd in the dining room, which was remodeled in 2022. The bakery section has illuminated cases filled with slices of layer cakes, cookies, and glistening fruit tarts, baskets filled with bagels, and a smattering of deli items available for takeaway.

Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar

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This Old Towne Orange neighborhood hangout is known for its solid cocktail menu and well-sourced beer list compiled by owner Wil Dee. The skillet cornbread with honey butter, locally made burrata with grilled bread, and Haven’s burger prepared with Flannery California prime beef, cheddar, and bibb lettuce are homestyle dishes not to missed.

A side angle of a blue plate with gooey mushroom toast with cheese.
Mushroom toast at Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar.
Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar

At Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton, the bustling food hall houses some of the county’s most sought after southeast Asian bites. Beef shank-laden pho from Phoholic, savory Vietnamese crepes at Banh Xeo Boys, and Kra-Z-Kai’s Laotian-style barbecue. At Shootz, reimagined Hawaiian classics include a kimchi butter katsu chicken sandwich stuffed with mac salad and the honey coconut shrimp musubi. 

Korean comfort food served in large portions is what Yigah is known for in Orange County. Both the Garden Grove restaurant and its sister location in Irvine at Diamond Jamboree shopping center serve steamy galbi tang, beef short rib soup, as well as the bossam meal with boiled pork belly, napa cabbage, and spicy pickled radish.

A close up of Korean seafood over rice, with a fried egg.
Yigah.
Yigah

Tacos Manuel

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Santa Ana’s Tacos Manuel truck, open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., serves corn tortilla street tacos with carnitas, chorizo, carne asada, al pastor, and chicken. Most regulars opt for the offals, such as cabeza and tripas (tripe) served with grilled onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. The truck also makes quesadillas, tortas, and burritos, but the huaraches topped with beans, lettuce, sour cream, and meat are the most popular.

Alta Baja Market

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Delilah Snell’s Alta Baja Market is the heart of downtown Santa Ana. Alta Baja Market, along with 4th Street Market neighbor La Vegana Mexicana, were recipients of the 2023 Siete Family Foods’ Siete Juntos Fund, which strives to support and empower Latino communities. Alta Baja Market’s breakfast and lunch menu includes dishes such as New Mexican cornbread with honey butter and Lady C’s green chile eggchilada, which resembles a breakfast casserole using Kernel of Truth tortillas. The market’s specialty grocery section includes one of the largest selections of Mexican wines in Orange County, along with a variety of heirloom corn, beans and grains.

Omakase by Gino

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Sushi chef Gino Choi prepares an intricate omakase for 10 diners at his namesake downtown Santa Ana restaurant. (Choi is also a self-taught carpenter who built the sushi counter, entryway, and partitions himself.) Standout dishes include a creamy Hokkaido uni udon garnished with winter black truffles from Spain; Gino’s version of tamago, flavored with shellfish; and a yuzu foam topped with slow-cooked black cod bedded alongside green plum marinated roasted tomatoes.

Nigiri at Omakase by Gino.
Nigiri at Omakase by Gino.
Jenn Tanaka

Phoholic

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The hearty portions of Phởholic’s hot beefy pho keep Vietnamese grandparents and social media influencers returning to its original location in Westminster. Owners Gordon and Cathy Pham have opened two more locations, one at South Coast Plaza and another at Rodeo 39 in Stanton. Pham’s parents run the kitchen where the family’s decades-old recipe requires the broth to simmer for 14 hours. Regulars opt for the beef shank and oxtail pho on the holic side of the menu, but beginners can start with the steak and brisket version.

A metal bowl filled with Vietnamese beef noodle soup at Phoholic.
Vietnamese beef noodle soup at Phoholic.
Wonho Frank Lee

Seafood Cove 2

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This is one of Orange County’s busiest dim sum restaurants. The original Garden Grove location opened in 1990 and serves an extensive Chinese food menu including whole fried fish, braised sea cucumbers, and house-special lobster. For diners seeking dim sum on a non-weekend day, Seafood Cove #2, the two-story sister location in Westminster is your destination. It serves Seafood Cove’s signature dishes (clams with basil sauce, honey walnut shrimp, and Peking duck) in addition to daily dim sum from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Chaak Kitchen in Old Town Tustin is the sister restaurant to Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Orange. The food pulls inspiration from Yucatán, Mayan, and European flavors. Starters such as sikil p’ak, a creamy pumpkin seed dip, and mains like the cochinita pibil, achiote smoked pork shoulder remain examples of how this lush, modern restaurant, with its retractable roof and ample sidewalk patio dining, pushes the expectations of Mexican food found in Orange County.

Sikil p’ak with roasted pepita, habanero, tomatoes, and herbs at Chaak. 
Sikil p’ak with roasted pepita, habanero, tomatoes, and herbs. 
Max Milla

Brodard Restaurant

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This timeless restaurant offers a wide array of Vietnamese specialties, starting with 13 types of spring rolls — including the popular grilled shrimp paste with lettuce, carrots, daikon, mint, cilantro, and cucumber wrapped in rice paper. The menu continues with traditional Vietnamese noodle soups, sandwiches, and a whole lot more.

Nem nuong cuon at Brodard Chateau in Garden Grove.
Brodard Chateau.
Cathy Chaplin

Nep Cafe

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Nep Cafe is a brunch sensation. At the French Vietnamese all-day cafe, run by the massively successful restaurant group Kei Concepts, the kitchen pays “homage to the traditional Vietnamese morning routine.” The menu includes TikTok-worthy coffee drinks topped with salted egg yolk and delicate dishes like a sous vide egg kicked up with hints of truffle. Nep’s second location in Irvine opened in the same plaza as Kei Concepts’ other popular Vietnamese/Peruvian restaurant, Sup Noodle Bar. 

A hand uses a ramekin to pour out a green sauce over rice.
Nep Cafe.
Nep Cafe

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

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The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar just celebrated its 15th anniversary in Tustin. The wine country-inspired menu includes flatbreads, steaks, short ribs, and best of all, the roasted butternut squash and potato dauphinoise. The California-centric wine menu includes pours of the Boyz, a red wine blend from Paso Robles that was created and bottled by the restaurant’s three co-owners: JC Clowe, William Lewis, and chef Yvon Goetz who are nicknamed “the Boys.”

A side shot of pumpkin cheesecake with berries on top.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

Terrace by Mix Mix

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Chef Ross Pangilinan’s sister restaurant to the award-winning, but now-closed Mix Mix Kitchen + Bar is best known for its open-air patio and the chef’s large raviolo. The hand-rolled pasta is stuffed with a cheese-herb filling and a whole egg yolk. Other popular items include an albacore crostini on a crispy corn tostada and brioche french toast for brunch.

An overhead shot of a cooked steak with creamy potatoes.
Steak and potatoes at Terrace by Mix Mix.
Terrace by Mix Mix

Knife Pleat

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This modern French-Californian restaurant from chef Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi is ripe for celebratory meals. The three-course lunch and four-to-six-course dinner prix fixe menus change often. One week it’s French black truffles, another evening it’s a Norouz dinner with recipes by Shamsi Katebi, prepared by Esnault and his kitchen team. Its plush banquets and round tables overlook the bar and open kitchen. A sunlit patio is typically booked with private events on the weekends and a pricey but impeccable afternoon tea service is available on Saturdays. The surprisingly satisfying non-alcoholic cocktails, like the Cadillac margarita with blood orange and lime, are also worth stopping in for.     

A side angle of an upscale dining room at dusk.
The dining room at Knife Pleat.
Tom Bonner

Populaire Modern Bistro

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Chefs Nick Weber and Ross Pangilinan’s modern California-French bistro is situated in South Coast Plaza, where fried chicken bites topped with caviar fit perfectly with the glitzy atmosphere. Standout starters include crispy duck “spliffs” and escargot ebelskivers. Populaire’s laid-back decor with black-and-white photos of Johnny Cash and Ramones album covers are offset by dusty pink floral wallpaper and pastel blue walls. The look echoes the food: refined with a touch of rock-and-roll.  

Bavette steak at Populaire Modern Bistro.
Bavette steak at Populaire Modern Bistro.
Ron De Angelis

A&J Restaurant

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This Tawainese restaurant in Irvine serves Chinese-style crispy pork chop over rice and thousand-layer pancakes, but the noodle dishes are not to be missed including a beef noodle soup and noodles with ground pork. For diners who enjoy heat, the menu also features several Sichuan-style dishes, like a beef tendon noodle soup and spicy wontons.

Hana re

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The omakase-only Hana re is a 10-seat sushi-ya helmed by Atsushi Yokoyama. Located in an industrial storage crate at the Lab in Costa Mesa, the Michelin star counter feels like a hidden gem, even though its stellar fish preparations are no secret anymore. Yokoyama and one server, who also assists with wine pairings, put out an omakase experience that includes bite sized crab perched atop eel tempura, scallops enveloped in gelee, welk shellfish with celery root, caviar and shiso. An uni hand roll is brushed with  Reservations can be made via text at (714) 545-2800 for the $250 omakase.

Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice

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The gluten-free, organic, and vegan cafe serves breakfast options all day. The blue-colored spirulina chia pudding with fresh fruit and the tacos made with house-made corn tortillas, cauliflower scramble, pico de gallo, and cashew lime crema are snackable any time of day. For vegan beginners, the cafe serves acai bowls with cacao nibs, an extensive menu of made-to-order juices and smoothies blended with homemade coconut milk, and a kid-friendly organic mixed berry waffle with cashew cream and maple syrup.

Mario's Butcher Shop

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The strip mall butcher shop and deli serves pastrami sandwiches layered with beef cured in-house on rye bread. The rotating specials board includes fish and chips, and Cuban and porchetta sandwiches. The smash burger made with beef ground in-house and the pastrami with coleslaw remain the favorites for regulars.

Moulin Bouillon

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Moulin Bouillon is a tribute to Laurent Vrignaud’s grandfather — the restaurant was intended to conjure memories of their weekly lunches at Paris’ Bouillon Chartier. Bouillon is the next evolution of Vrignaud’s Moulin bistros and patisseries. Concentrating on classic French dinner (think foundational dishes like boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin), Bouillon also serves brunch with pain perdu and freshly baked croissants on the weekends until 3 p.m. The restaurant is situated in the same outdoor shopping center as Vrignaud’s other restaurants, Moulin café Newport Beach, boulangerie, and maison; its dining room is decorated with French metal signs, red leatherette booths, and bistro chairs.    

Fermentation Farm

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Probiotics rule at Fermentation Farm — thanks to nearly a dozen different on-tap kombucha flavors, and food options like a French onion soup with raw cheese and a kraut-filled grilled cheese sandwich. Visit on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. when a farmers market featuring produce from Rosewood Farms and Sunny Cal Farms pops up in the restaurant’s parking lot. Monthly classes include an intro to bone broth and fermentation techniques like kombucha brewing.

Roast greens and tomatoes on a white plate.
Fermentation Farm.
Fermentation Farm

The Blind Pig

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Find a casual, hodgepodge menu at at the Blind Pig, which overlooks the Rancho Santa Margarita Lake. On the menu is gruyere-topped French onion soup and chicken karaage. The extensive whiskey selection pairs well with heartier dishes, like the wild boar albondigas, bacon cheddar cheeseburger, or braised beef shank tacos.

A Restaurant

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This cozy, red-boothed hideout on Pacific Coast Highway is known for its Rat Pack atmosphere. The classic martini reigns at the bar and the chicken pot pie is only available on Fridays, but locals love the steaks, the confited Mary’s organic chicken, and pan-seared Niman Ranch pork chops. Put simply: the restaurant is old-school done right. River Jetty Restaurant Group also operates A Restaurant’s sister locales CDM Restaurant, A Crystal Cove, and A Market, which are go-to hot spots in Newport Beach. 

An overhead shot of a wooden table and deep red booth inside a historic steakhouse.
A Restaurant.
A Restaurant

Fable & Spirit

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A meal at Fable & Spirit almost by default starts with warm Guinness brown bread with European butter and Jacobsen sea salt. From there, the Lido Isle restaurant weaves between European meat and potato influences to pure Californicana, like citrusy salads loaded with cara cara and blood oranges, chevre, and crispy quinoa. Chef David Shofner and the Coyle family are also known for popular Mission Viejo restaurants Wineworks for Everyone and Dublin 4 Gastropub.

Overhead black plate of pork belly and roasted tomatoes.
Fable & Spirit.
Fable & Spirit

Sushi II

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The splurge-worthy Sushi II is located in Mariner’s Point in Newport Beach and offers three hyper-seasonal omakase experiences. Named after distinct Japanese pottery — Bizen, Oribe, and Karatsu — the menus range from $150 to $275 per person. At lunch, chirashi starts at $35 and omakase is $120. Order the omakase paired with sake to experience master chef Susumu Ii’s washoku training to the fullest. The takeout offerings such as the deluxe chirashi ($48) and a classic Japanese cherry blossom chirashi for $27 are exquisitely packaged for impressive meals on the go. 

Farmhouse at Roger's Gardens

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Chef Richard Mead is a long-standing figure in the Orange County dining scene. At the Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens, the chef showcases the best that the season has to offer from the region’s many producers, which means ever-changing takes on dishes like sea scallops, as well as shrimp and mussels served in a tomato-Pernod broth with a polenta cake made from blue corn sourced from the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project.

A tilted overhead wooden table shot with plates of food and wine.
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens.
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens

The Crab Cooker

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The fire engine red building with white trim and green-striped awning is a landmark on the Newport peninsula. Since 1951, the Crab Cooker has served seafood classics including oysters, Dungeness crab, Alaskan crab claws, clam chowder, and anything offered in the fish market.

Marché Moderne

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Florent and Amelia Marneu’s white tablecloth restaurant is a stalwart in the Orange County fine dining scene. The Newport Beach restaurant serves traditional French favorites such as roasted bone marrow and duck confit. Amelia’s chopped salad with French feta, cucumber, mint and honey grapefruit vinaigrette showcases California produce. Other standout dishes include a tuna tartare served with a jalapeno-tinged mango-yuzu sorbet, and the rotating desserts crafted by the Marneus. 

A close-up white plate with poached lobster at a a fine dining restaurant.
Poached lobster from Marche Moderne.
Marche Moderne

Broadway by Amar Santana

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At this Laguna Beach restaurant, Top Chef alum Amar Santana serves “progressive American” food. Since it opened in 2011, Broadway combines Santana’s East Coast roots with West Coast produce. A popular side dishe inspired by Chinese takeout combines a sweet and sour sauce with Brussels sprouts and Chinese sausage.

A chef in whites drizzles sauce on top of bread and meat inside of a new restaurant.
Broadway by Amar Santana.
Broadway by Amar Santana

Selanne Steak Tavern

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Laguna Beach locals love this place for its white tablecloths, award-winning wine program, and stellar steaks. The vibrant red beet ravioli stuffed with cheese is a striking starter, while the monkey bread dessert is a comforting finish to any meal. Former Anaheim Ducks hockey player and six-time Olympian Teemu Selanne is one of the restaurant’s owners, so be on the lookout for Orange County A-listers. In November 2023, Rebekah Eastman joined the kitchen as the executive pastry chef: Eastman revamped the menu and opened the adjacent bakery by Selanne with baguette sandwiches, sticky buns, browned butter chocolate chip cookies, and bang pies stuffed with seasonal fruit. 

A tilted look at red steak and red wine.
Selanne Steak Tavern.
Selanne Steak Tavern

Heritage Barbecue

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San Juan Capistrano’s award-winning pitmaster Daniel Castillo takes barbecue to the next level with wood-smoked brisket, sausages, turkeys, ribs, chickens, and more. First-timers load up on the brisket and ribs, while regulars order pork belly banh mi sandwiches, brisket tacos prepared with La Palma tortillas, and creamy banana pudding layered with pound cake and vanilla wafer cookies. Get the charred broccoli with cheesy mornay sauce if its on the menu. 

A tray of barbecue and sides held in two hands from above.
Heritage Barbecue.
John Troxell

Sarah Goldman tasked chef Juan Pablo Cruz to create a daringly authentic menu shaped by his upbringing in California, Spain, and Mexico City. The dishes at Gema (meaning “gem” and pronounced “hema”) are unexpected for San Clemente, which is more known for the butter cake at Nick’s. Think heirloom corn tortillas, shrimp with grasshopper crème, hazelnut-crusted chile relleno filled with quesillo and cincho cheese atop tomato espuma, garnished with huitlacoche and a petite quail egg. The front patio opens up to a light wooden dining room with exposed beams and dark tables speckled with white, evoking concrete city streets; a wood triangle accented bar is lined with bottles of mezcal, tequila, and ancestral Mexican whiskey.

A plate of food from Gema in San Clemente.
Gema.
Gema

Sushi Noguchi

This nondescript sushi restaurant is a favorite of both dining critics and superlative sushi fans. Here, the chef prepares two omakase options: a traditional version for $110 to $160; and Jun’s style for $70, a five-course fusion menu with a combination of hot and cold dishes. At lunch, a premium omakase sushi with soup is just $31, which may make it one of the best — and most affordable — omakases in Orange County.

A close up of a tray of sushi in the round, at daytime.
Sushi Noguchi.
Sushi Noguchi

Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana

Listed as one of the best pizzas in America by the Washington Post, the pies at Fuoco Pizzeria Napoletana emerge from a nearly 1,000-degree wood-burning oven built in Naples by Stefano Ferrara. Three generations of pizzaiolos continue churning out classic margherita pizzas and the Fuoco pie, which is topped with mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, arugula, and shaved Parmigiano, and drizzled with truffle oil. A mozzarella bar is stocked weekly with cheese imported from Caserta, Italy.

Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen

This Michelin-anointed halal restaurant combines the flavors of India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan with a modern Californian twist. The tender boneless chicken karahi is served with tomatoes and shishito peppers, and the butter chicken with dried fenugreek is one of the restaurant’s more popular dishes. The pani puri with tamarind water, mint, onion, and potato arrives on a mini cart and is intended to be taken as a shooter.

Adya

Chef Shachi Mehra combines her Jersey roots and Indian heritage to create a tangy goat cheese-filled naan. Her inventiveness garnered her a win on Food Network’s Chopped. Meanwhile, her chef-partner, Sandeep Basrur, combines his background in traditional authentic Indian cooking to prepare classics such as a yellow shrimp coconut curry, dal makhni, and creamy cucumber raita.

Kareem's Falafel

As one of the first restaurants in Anaheim’s Little Arabia District, Kareem’s has become a go-to for authentic Middle Eastern food. Owner Kareem Hawari’s closely held family falafel recipe is so popular that the Hawaris started selling it wholesale to grocery stores and other restaurants. The babaganoush, grape leaves, and hummus are staples not to miss, but Kareem’s newer menu items — vegetarian wraps, falafel burgers, and feta fries — also offer a modern Mediterranean vibe without sacrificing traditional flavor.

An overhead photo of crispy pita and hummus and grilled meats in bowls.
Kareem’s Falafel.
Kareem’s Falafel

Katella Bakery, Deli & Restaurant

The family-owned Los Alamitos landmark founded by Stan Ratman and his wife Shirley Ratman is known for its deli food and stocked bakery case that has black-and-white cookies, pastries such as custard-filled eclairs, chocolate chip Danishes, and rugelach. The family-sized portions allow diners to nosh on several dishes at once. Rotund matzo balls are served in Shirley’s chicken soup and rye bread pastrami sandwiches remain a Katella favorite. The vibe is family-friendly with a multi-generational crowd in the dining room, which was remodeled in 2022. The bakery section has illuminated cases filled with slices of layer cakes, cookies, and glistening fruit tarts, baskets filled with bagels, and a smattering of deli items available for takeaway.

Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar

This Old Towne Orange neighborhood hangout is known for its solid cocktail menu and well-sourced beer list compiled by owner Wil Dee. The skillet cornbread with honey butter, locally made burrata with grilled bread, and Haven’s burger prepared with Flannery California prime beef, cheddar, and bibb lettuce are homestyle dishes not to missed.

A side angle of a blue plate with gooey mushroom toast with cheese.
Mushroom toast at Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar.
Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar

Shootz

At Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton, the bustling food hall houses some of the county’s most sought after southeast Asian bites. Beef shank-laden pho from Phoholic, savory Vietnamese crepes at Banh Xeo Boys, and Kra-Z-Kai’s Laotian-style barbecue. At Shootz, reimagined Hawaiian classics include a kimchi butter katsu chicken sandwich stuffed with mac salad and the honey coconut shrimp musubi. 

Yigah

Korean comfort food served in large portions is what Yigah is known for in Orange County. Both the Garden Grove restaurant and its sister location in Irvine at Diamond Jamboree shopping center serve steamy galbi tang, beef short rib soup, as well as the bossam meal with boiled pork belly, napa cabbage, and spicy pickled radish.

A close up of Korean seafood over rice, with a fried egg.
Yigah.
Yigah

Tacos Manuel

Santa Ana’s Tacos Manuel truck, open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., serves corn tortilla street tacos with carnitas, chorizo, carne asada, al pastor, and chicken. Most regulars opt for the offals, such as cabeza and tripas (tripe) served with grilled onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. The truck also makes quesadillas, tortas, and burritos, but the huaraches topped with beans, lettuce, sour cream, and meat are the most popular.

Alta Baja Market

Delilah Snell’s Alta Baja Market is the heart of downtown Santa Ana. Alta Baja Market, along with 4th Street Market neighbor La Vegana Mexicana, were recipients of the 2023 Siete Family Foods’ Siete Juntos Fund, which strives to support and empower Latino communities. Alta Baja Market’s breakfast and lunch menu includes dishes such as New Mexican cornbread with honey butter and Lady C’s green chile eggchilada, which resembles a breakfast casserole using Kernel of Truth tortillas. The market’s specialty grocery section includes one of the largest selections of Mexican wines in Orange County, along with a variety of heirloom corn, beans and grains.

Omakase by Gino

Sushi chef Gino Choi prepares an intricate omakase for 10 diners at his namesake downtown Santa Ana restaurant. (Choi is also a self-taught carpenter who built the sushi counter, entryway, and partitions himself.) Standout dishes include a creamy Hokkaido uni udon garnished with winter black truffles from Spain; Gino’s version of tamago, flavored with shellfish; and a yuzu foam topped with slow-cooked black cod bedded alongside green plum marinated roasted tomatoes.