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A life-saver for folks with the "gotta go to work" blues is this always-packed restaurant. Just look for the telltale A-frame structure as you cruise down East Lincoln. Try famed apple pancakes smothered in sweet Sinkiang cinnamon glaze or Mandarin crêpes topped with oranges soaked in Triple Sec or strawberry waffles dusted with powdered sugar and topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. If "healthier fare" is in order, opt for corned beef hash or minced hickory-smoked ham with three scrambled eggs. You can't go wrong.

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With a house specialty like barbecued chopped catfish and curries that have set more than a few mouths ablaze, this casual Thai eatery is not for the faint of heart. Boasting a diverse menu that's decidedly not your standard Americanized Thai fare, Nakorn places little emphasis on smoke and mirrors. Instead of kitschy decor or overworked standards, all you'll find is good, homestyle Southeast Asian cookery. And what more could you really want?

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Zinc Cafe & Market


Trendy. Sophisticated. Refined. California casual. Any number of adjectives apply to this sidewalk cafe, where fashion-minded locals and well-heeled tourists rub shoulders over gourmet coffees and teas. Menu items run the gamut, and patrons enjoy poached eggs on buttered toast or fritattas with cucumber salsa for breakfast and then a veggie-friendly Zinc Burger and pizzettes (with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, roasted peppers, chipotle chili, and Anaheim chilies) for lunch. Folks needing a bite for the road may consult the Market Menu, which sports gourmet sweets and carryout meals.

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7
Irvine
Taiko


One of the area's more popular Japanese restaurants, Taiko earns high marks for terrific food, quick and friendly service, and reasonable prices. Perhaps the restaurant's best perk, though, is that you can sidle up to the sushi bar and have rolls made to suit your taste. House specialties include sesame chicken, a tempura and sashimi combination plate, and roast salmon cheeks.

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Zankou Chicken


For the best rotisserie chicken and shawarma on the run, Zankou Chicken can't be beat! With a huge delivery and take-out business, this place hops! Although you can dine in the eatery, most folks take their food and eat elsewhere. The bakery has sinfully delicious goodies – be sure to get an extra baklava to munch in the car. Fast, tasty food that's inexpensive is the name of the game.

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Black Sheep Bistro


For a gourmet brush with Mediterranean cuisine, locals recommend Black Sheep, where the distinct flavors of Provençe and Catalonia merge. House specialties span the continent and feature the likes of Grand Aioli, a Provençal-inspired seafood potluck with traditional garlic-and-olive oil sauce; Oveja Negra Paella with shrimp, mussels, and black Valencia rice; and grilled lamb loin with baby portabellos. Streetside dining is available, and mid-week dinner specials are a good option.

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4
Yorba Linda
Blue Agave


One of Orange County's better-kept secrets, this casual taco stand has an atmosphere that's 100% hacienda and a menu featuring a flavorful array of spicy chicken, pork, beef, and veggie dishes. Carefully presented house specialties include a carnitas plate that comes with heaping servings of guacamole and Texas-style beans. Best of all, the restaurant's namesake makes several appearances, most notably on the potent margarita list.

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Olde Ship


A Tudor-style British pub, this Santa Ana treasure earns high marks for terrific limey fare, including traditional comfort dishes like fish and chips, cottage pie, bangers and mash, and Yorkshire pudding. For added charm, the public house is well-stocked with various and sundry whiskeys, gins, and scotches as well as draughts like McEwans, Guinness, Bass, New Castle, and Boddingtons. A second location is in Fullerton at 709 North Harbor Boulevard (714-871-7447).

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La Brea Bakery<sup>TM</sup> Café


A convenient stop for visitors to the Disneyland® Resort, La Brea BakeryTM Café is widely regarded as one of the area's best bakeries. Founder Nancy Silverton's unique recipes range from traditional baguettes and sourdough loaves to specialty sun-dried tomato loaves and rosemary-olive oil loaves. Stop in for lunch, and the counter-person will throw together the best sandwich you've ever had. Better yet, pick up a cup of gourmet coffee and a homemade tart or pastry – chocolate almond cake, chocolate whiskey cake, and old-fashioned apple pie are more than acceptable.

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Mamma mia! Had P.T. Barnum been Italian, this is the type of restaurant he would have created. From the Piazza Fantasia with Christmas lights to the flying Gelardis (high-wire dummies), there's entertainment for everyone. Nevertheless, fun doesn't overwhelm the food. From pizzas with gourmet toppings to hand-stuffed ravioli, calamari, and vegetarian dishes, this Italian fun house promises delicious food and guarantees a great time!

Read more about Angelo's & Vinci's Ristorante →


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