The 38 Essential Orange County Restaurants


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

Where to find pani puri shooters, uni udon with black truffles, and duck mole below the Orange Curtain

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Pork belly from Fable & Spirit. | Fable & Spirit

Orange County has often been seen in the media as something of an afterthought, at least when compared to the much larger and more densely populated Los Angeles County next door. But the truth is that there’s a vibrant and diverse culinary community in this oceanside locale of more than 3 million people. Inland spots reflect the flavors important to those who live there (particularly in areas like Westminster, where Vietnamese food rules), while the county’s coastal locations often have upscale, white-tablecloth dining done with modern California touches.

From historic seaside stands serving some of the OC’s most notorious desserts, to fine dining stalwarts backed by big names, to small mom-and-pop shops that have spent decades perfecting a singular passion, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Orange County.

Here are 38 of the area’s most essential restaurants.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

18507 Yorba Linda Blvd
Yorba Linda, CA 92886

This nondescript sushi restaurant is a darling with dining critics and sushi lovers both. Gayot and the major Orange County newspapers have been raving about this place for years. The chef prepares two omakase options: A traditional version for $90-150; and Jun’s style, a fusion-style five-course meal with a combination of hot and cold dishes, for $70. Many diners say that this is the best and most affordable omakase in Orange County.

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

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229 E Commonwealth Ave Unit A
Fullerton, CA 92832

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.

Overhead shot of food from Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen in Fullerton, California. Khan Saab. Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen

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Anaheim Packing House, 440 S Anaheim Blvd Unit 201
Anaheim, CA 92805

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 classic favorites such as yellow shrimp coconut curry,

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Written by Nicole


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