In honor of my dear Julie, who will be coming out to the Sunshine State in T-minus One Month, and who gets rightfully excited about all the great things that there are to eat in the world, I've compiled a by-no-means comprehensive list of the incredible eats that abound here in the OC. (She told me to make a list. I can't help myself.)
Also, this is a way to bribe all of you who have not yet purchased tickets to come see me, to do so ASAP. I have fish tacos. And the best bagel sandwiches ever. AND A BEACH, complete with kayak. Come, come.
Fantastic Eating Place #1: Chronic Tacos.
This is probably my favorite place. Here's what I wrote for my "Hungry? Thirsty?" review: "This is Saturday afternoon OC at its finest. Even when popping with people, the atmosphere is relaxed and beachy, and servers and clients alike are friendly and unhurried. It definitely has a local vibe, as most people walk right in and order without a glance at the menu, but not before saying 'Hi' to several other regulars and neighbors. Business people stand comfortably next to beach bums, and everybody walks out with full tummies." My personal favorite thing is the Pollo Asada Burrito with black beans and rice, cheese, guacamole, onions, cilantro, cabbage and green sauce. By the time you've powered through all that, it's time to move up a size and go take a siesta on the beach.
Fantastic Eating Place #2: Golden Spoon
This is definitely a girl place. The yogurt is so cool and delicious and has only 68 calories per 8 oz. of creamy goodness. And they have sprinkles. 'Nuff said.
Fantastic Eating Place #3: Pedro's Tacos
I kinda like Mexican Food. Pedro's is a total dive, but also the BEST baja fish tacos I have EVER had. Two corn tortillas, a giant piece of fried fish, creamy baja sauce and fresh cabbage. Adam and I have made a tradition of getting them after kayaking, and it is the best combo on the planet. Combined with a healthy, kayak-induced hunger, a soft coastal breeze, a Diet Coke and some extra hot sauce... heck yes.
Fantastic Eating Place #4: The Bagel Shack
I love bagels. It's a starchy indulgence that I will never give up. I have loved many bagel-ries in my long and illustrious bagel-eating career, but so far, the Shack tops them all. Styled after a classic Tiki Hut, the Shack is a wonderland of fresh-baked bagels, tan, hungry, sandy-footed beach bums and open-air, Saturday morning chillaxing. Every bagel sandwich is named after a famous local surf spot, and their OJ is seriously the freshest-tasting, most incredible stuff ever. My fave? A Cheddar bagel with "Trestles": ham, pepper jack cheese, onion, pepper, and guacamole.
Fantastic Eating Place #5: JC Beans
Best coffee in South County. Hands down. Unlike Starbucks, you don't need a quad-shot in a 16 oz., their espresso is so good that three does the job easily. The baristas are friendly, the outside is hand-muraled, and the inside looks like C.S. Lewis' study would if he lived at the beach. And it's a block from my house and cheaper than the 'Bucks. Delicious.
Fantastic Eating Place #5: Sonny's Pizzeria and Pasta
I like to say that this is where Adam and I had our first date. At least it's the first time that I remember knowing for pretty dang sure that he wasn't just a friend. I ordered a beer and he told me later he was very relieved that I was a "cool girl". (As if he didn't know that already! ;) Anyway, it's a very cute hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, the kind with busty waitresses, probably not-so-distant mob connections, twinkle lights and great food. Also, it's known to attract pretty people, (I mean, obviously, Adam goes there, Bah-dum-ching!) as the last time we ate there we saw this guy, in the flesh.
Fantastic Eating Place #6: El Mariachi
I warned you I liked Mexican food. El Mariachi doesn't have a website, but that's just because their food is so freaking fantastic they don't need one. And they have a "Grotto De Amor" and great margaritas, so it's pretty much my favorite restaurant.
Fantastic Eating Place #7: Mosun's
We started going to Mosun's because they have 50% off on Wednesdays and Fridays, and Adam eats a lot. It is a seriously swanky sushi bar (try saying that five times fast,) that opens into a dance club at night. It's also located in downtown Laguna Beach, which is touristy and fun to wander around in... especially when you save room for a stroll to the gelato shop down the way and a walk on Main Beach. Tip: try the Firecracker Roll. It's fantastic.
Fantastic Eating Place #8: The Chart House, Dana Point
High-class steak house with a multi-million dollar view of the Harbor and some killer mixed drinks. Take your girlfriend there for her birthday and it will melt her heart. Just sayin'.
Fantastic Eating Place #9: The Yard House
Now, I know there are Yard Houses everywhere, and I did my best to keep chains out of this list. However, this is a great place. I love the Snakebite (half Carlsberg, half cider) and many a memorable talk has been had sitting outside, at night, on heavy teak furniture over a pint or two. One of my favorite times was in Shoreline Village in Long Beach, after a long day working the Motorcycle Show, kicking back, watching the lights on the water and having a beer with one of the best sports I know.
Fantastic Eating Place #10: Waffle Lady
As of last week, this place now shares facilities with a BBQ joint, but I'm sure it's still amazing. The last time I went I got the Cinn-A-Wonderful Waffles, which were just that. Wonderful. Light, melt-in-your-mouth waffles loaded with cinnamon and walnuts with cream and syrup on the side for a drench-your-own experience. Like a cinnamon roll, only better (and more waffle-y). If that's not adventurous enough, Waffles with everything from chocolate chips to cheddar cheese and jalapeno also smell great, although I haven't tried them all.
*A direct quote from Julie, circa junior year or so.