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.
For New Mexico-style cooking, Anita's is the place to go. Sopaipillas, chili Colorado, and chili verde are just a few of the delicious Southwestern dishes you can bite into (or vice versa!). A casual, fun place with a popular patio, the laid-back restaurant makes you feel quite removed from Mickey Mouse and the gang. Since Anita's stays busy on weekends, make reservations or be prepared to wait.
Diners from all over LA flock to Ashoka for tandoori dishes, naan, and fish kebabs. In the Little India neighborhood of Artesia, this restaurant is the best-known of local Indian places and is much loved for its authentic clay oven cooking. For a sampling of many fantastic dishes, come to the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday.
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.
This is not a white-tablecloth, "let me just expense it" kind of a steakhouse. No, Stubrik's is a fun place where you can always find live Irish and jazz music, late-night happy hours, and incredibly reasonable prices. High-quality beef is paired with surprisingly affordable bills – equally tasty and wallet-friendly are meatloaf, pork loin, and pastas. Prices are for complete meals, but a side of garlic bread makes for a nice splurge, too. For a cut above the usual and for great atmosphere, this place can't be beat!
Oklahoma-style BBQ in the heart of Southern California? Why, sure! Tulsa Rib Company specializes in chicken, shrimp, and rib comfort foods and has done so for longer than most of its OC competitors. Its cozy, casual scene is conducive to finger-licking and eating till you've had your fill, and the staff can be trusted to make newcomers feel like long-time regulars. Hearty house specialties include tender country pork ribs, country-fried steak, and famous Tulsa potatoes – people have been known to drive an hour to sample them.
This casual, hidden-away seafood shack has established quite a reputation for itself over the years. The decor is little more than a step above that of a neighborhood diner, but the kitchen removes any doubts about the cuisine with superb Manhattan-style clam chowder, rumored to be the best in Southern California. Outdoor seating and a full bar are available. Reservations are accepted for groups of ten or more, so expect a wait if you don't show up early.
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).
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.