Please visit our partner sites DiningOutInOC.com for info on OC restaurant openings and special culinary related events, Booze It Up OC for info on OC 21+ events and Brunch In OC for info and reviews on weekend brunches. You can also find Griffin as one of the "experts" over at LocalCuisine.com
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Lake Forest, CA 92630
I stopped in to R&E Deli to grab a sandwich today. It's next to the El Conejito in Lake Forest. I decided to get their small Italian sub. ($4.49) The sandwich had Genoa salami, proscuito, mortadella, cappicola and provolone cheese. They put tomatoes, lettuce, onion and italian dressing on the sandwich. Hot peppers, mustard any mayo are available upon request. I asked them to hold the tomatoes on mine and to add hot peppers.
In my opinion, the sandwich was way overloaded with lettuce. The meats seemed inexpensive and flavorless. I didn't taste any onion. I was diappointed that the "hot peppers" were not pepperocinis or banana peppers like one would expect on an italian sub. Instead I got those nacho sliced pickled jalapenos. The sandwich reminded me of a cheap bologna sandwich with tons of lettuce and not much else. I have heard that other people really enjoy some of the other sandwiches served here, so I may try this place again and get something else. I would never again get this Italian sub though.
(This is all the lettuce that just fell out of the sandwich while I was eating it.)
Various Locations around Orange County
I'd like to take a quick minute to thank Wahoo's for always giving me a fresh, hot, inexpensive meal that is always consistently delicious. Does anyone know what they put in that ahi rice? The way I describe it to my wife is, "the most unbelievably delicious rice that has no flavor." It's addicting...
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
22421 #G, El Toro Road at Trabuco
Lake Forest, CA 92630
23647 #D, El Toro Road at Rockfield
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Mr. Wok is a fairly new restaurant at El Toro Road and Rockfield. They have another location further up the street, and I do not know how old that location is. Mr. Wok is a typical style fast food Chinese joint. Large portions of pre-made fast food are scooped out of steam trays and piles into a styrofoam box. A one item combo will run you $4.99 and a two item will set you back $5.99. It's really hit or miss at this place. I find their barbeque pork, fried rice and chow mein to be excellent by fast food standards. However, two other people from my office did not care for the chow mein. I think their barbecue pork is fantastic and their tangerine beef (not pictured) was decent, but a little cold. I was very disappointed with their broccoli beef though. The meat was pale and flavor was definitely lacking.
Something else that I enjoyed was their fried wontons. There was not a ton of meat in them, but at 12 pieces for $2.50, I wasn't complaining. If you're craving Chinese food, don't have a lot of time and you're in the area, Mr. Wok is definitely a place you should check out. It's not worth making a special trip for though.
15363 Culver Drive, Irvine, CA 92604
949-552-2101 | FAX 949-552-2132
Hours: M-Th 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11, Sun 9-10
Brunch Hours: Sun 9am-2pm
Marie Callender's brunch seems to be my default brunch place. I don't go to brunch every Sunday, but when I do it's often at the Irvine Marie Callender's. A combination of both great food, a reasonable price($14.95) and free-flowing champagne makes this an excellent value.
Marie Callender's takes their soup and salad bar
and adds on many other food stations, including...
a carving station,
an orange juice bar,
an omelette station,
a hot buffet,
a pasta bar,
a dessert bar
and a belgian waffle station.
The food here is not gourmet, but very good considering the price. One of my only complaints is that they do not offer bacon on their hot buffet. Typical items you will see on the hot buffet include chicken enchiladas, quiche, eggs benedict, country potatoes, sausage, biscuits and gravy and more. They will be more than happy to use "egg beaters" if you prefer at the omelette bar, and you also select your own toppings so you can have as much or as little as you want. At the waffle bar, they also offer waffle cone bowls and vanilla ice cream with plenty of whipped cream, sauces and candy toppings.
This pizza was awful. The dough was dry and tasteless and the sauce was overly sweet. The cheese was barely even there.
The only thing that was acceptable about the pizza was that they actually gave you a respectable amount of toppings. The taste of this pizza reminded me of being a little worse than the worst frozen pizza I have ever had. I thoroughly enjoy those cheap little $1 frozen pizzas more than I enjoyed this Pizza Mia. After forcing down a couple slices of this awful pizza, I surrendered and filled up on Quepapas instead. Thankfully Pizza Hut has continued to make their Quepapas taste delicious. For those of you that haven't tried them, well shame on you. They are like little nuggets of mashed potatoes with cheese and jalapenos mixed in, fried to a golden brown. Mmmmmmmmmm. So in short, stick to the regular pan pizza and Quepapas if you're going to go to Pizza Hut, avoid the Pizza Mia at all costs.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tustin, CA 92782
6 locations in Southern CA
I visited Joey's Smokin BBQ in the Tustin Market Place last night for the first time. I've been meaning to try this place for a while, but the prices have kept me from doing so. I'm not saying that this place is overly expensive. In fact, for BBQ food it's just about the same as most BBQ restaurants. However, when I think about getting "fast food" from a counter service type place, I don't really like the idea of spending over $20 on a meal.
Since I love BBQ food and a rainy night seemed as good of a time as any to try this place out, I decided to stop in and get some takeout. While there are many different BBQ foods that I like, I always judge a BBQ place by their ribs. If they can't make good ribs, chances are their other food isn't good either. I decided to go for their full rack of "wet ribs" dinner. ($21.99). The meal comes with two sides and cornbread. I opted for the macaroni salad and the potato salad. the person I was eating with ordered the Pulled Pork Plate ($10.99). This included one side and cornbread. She got collard greens.
I ordered the food to go so I could take it home and eat it. The BBQ sauce was in self serve pumps and was held at 150 degrees. I got two little cups of both their "wet sauce" and their "suh-weet sauce". Drinks here are self serve, but I didn't get any.
I got home, opened up my box and saw two half racks of ribs. For "wet ribs" they looked kinda dry. I also got two small cups filled with potato salad and mac salad and a little box with a cornbread muffin inside. I cut up one of the half racks and put it on a plate with some mac salad and potato salad. I decided I wanted to try the "wet sauce" first.
The ribs by themselves were a little dry. They were fall off the bone tender. They had a good flavor but it wasn't too bold. I dipped the rib in some "wet sauce" and was surprised at how tangy it was. It seems as if this sauce is mostly vinegar. Since I really love vinegar, the sauce tasted delicious to me at first. After a few ribs though I started getting sick of it. It was just too tangy to keep eating. I opened up their "suh-weet sauce". I didn't really want to try it because I hate really sweet BBQ sauce. I like my BBQ sauce to be spicy. The suh-weet sauce was actually pretty good though. It was thicker than their wet sauce with more of a traditional BBQ sauce flavor. It was sweet, but not overly so. It wasn't spicy at all. I added some Tabasco sauce and this seemed to be the best combination for me.
The potato salad was average and was little on the bland side. The macaroni salad was pretty good. It's nothing compared to L&L but I'd probably order it again.
The person I was eating with enjoyed her pulled pork plate. She said it was very flavorful. It didn't have too much sauce, which she enjoyed and it had a slightly smoky flavor. She also liked the collard greens and said they were "dryer" than Lucille's.
Overall I thought the food was pretty good. If I was in a rush and really wanted BBQ food I might stop here again. Since it seems to cost just as much though, I'd much rather go to Lucille's.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Lake Forest, CA 92630
I recently visited the brand new Albatros Mexican Food in Lake Forest. Although they have a bird on their sign, I got the impression that they were trying to make people think that they were an "Albertos". This place is tucked away in a tiny strip mall. The location has had so may different tenants recently that I didn't think that anyplace could survive here. Until now.
I went to Albatros with high hopes and wasn't disappointed. I have only tried one item so far, the carne asada burrito ($3.50), but I was really impressed at both the quality of the burrito and the cost. I watched as the cook took a large portion of fresh beef and threw it on the grill. The small pieces of beef quickly cooked with a few tosses of his spatula. The cook then threw a giant flour tortilla on the grill, removed it and put some oniony guacamole on it and then filled the tortilla with the beef and rolled it. No rice, no beans, just meat and guacamole. An all meat burrito for $3.50? Unheard of! It was also actually so large that I couldn't even finish the whole thing! The meat was tender, but a little under seasoned for my tastes. I would have liked a little more of a citrusy flavor. It wasn't bad at all though. Their salsa was very watery and not very spicy. Another guy from my office got their carnitas burrito. It too was all meat and guacamole, and he enjoyed it very much as well. I look forward to returning to Albatros soon to try their other menu items like Tortas ($2.75 ham, beef, chicken, chorizo-$3.00 carne asada, carnitas) Tacos ($1.90-$2.25) Enchiladas($3.40) and more. I hope they don't raise their prices soon though. I can't believe how cheap some of their stuff is!
I visited Albatros for lunch again today. This time I tried their Al Pastor burrito. Again, I felt the meat was pretty good, but under seasoned. My friend got the carne asada burrito and felt that it was under seasoned as well. The meat is cooked fresh in front of you, so that's good. I just wish they would season their food a little more. The word about this place seems to be getting around though. The first time I went there it took them less than 5 minutes to make my food. This trip it took them a little more than 15 minutes due to the large amount of people there. I guess that's the price you pay for freshly made food. Al Pastor Burrito
Friday, January 11, 2008
For January and February, Chick-Fil-A has brought back their "Free Breakfast Friday" promotion. This means that every Friday in January and February, you can visit your local Orange County Chick-Fil-A between the hours of 6:30 AM and 10:30 AM and receive the free breakfast item of the day. No purchase necessary, no coupon necessary. Just ask for the "Free Breakfast Friday item of the day". The three free breakfast items you may receive are the Chicken Biscuit, 3 piece Chick-N-Minis or their breakfast burrito. The chicken biscuit is obviously a biscuit sliced in half with a small piece of fried chicken breast on it. Eaten alone, I find this item to be particularly dry. Make sure to get some mayo or some other topping to prevent this. The Chick-N-Minis are tiny little bread rolls, smothered in butter and filled with a small chicken nugget. You will need at least three or four napkins to wipe the butter off your hands after eating these. Make sure to eat them right away too, or they tend to get a little soggy and sticky. I haven't tried their breakfast burrito yet, but intend to do so next Friday! I've included the schedule of free items below for you guys. Happy Eating OC!
January 18th, 2008 Breakfast Burrito-Chicken or Sausage
January 25th, 2008 Chicken Biscuit
February 1st, 2008 Chick-N-Minis 3 piece
February 8th, 2008 Breakfast Burrito-Chicken or Sausage
February 15th, 2008 Chicken Biscuit
February 22nd, 2008 Chick-N-Minis
February 29th, 2008 Breakfast Burrito-Chicken or Sausage
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
After hearing a lot about this place for years, I finally decided to give Oggi's a try. I went there with high hopes of finding a great new place where I could go and relax, order a beer and get a good pizza. I was sadly disappointed.
Oggi's in Tustin resides in the old building that used to be Tony's Sea Landing. It seems that this location has just changed from one restaurant I didn't like, into another restaurant I don't like. I went to this restaurant with my wife and another couple. None of us intend to return to the restaurant.
I wouldn't say that everything at this restaurant is horrible, as I did enjoy their hot wings.
Oggi's is supposed to be a neighborhood eatery where you can go and watch sports, drink beer and eat good pizza. They have many large screen TV's around the bar and the restaurant. When we first sat down, the server told us that they were out of their two most popular beers, the Hefeweizen and their "Hop Juice". Since those were the two beers that I was considering trying, I opted to just drink water for the night.
My buddy Tim and I decided to start off our meal with an order of their hot wings (12 for $11.95). They were actually quite good. They weren't too spicy but they had a unique flavor and were incredibly tender. I added a bit of Tabasco sauce and they were fantastic. I did however feel that at a dollar a wing, they were a bit overpriced.
Tim and I decided to split a medium pizza for dinner. We settled on "The Great One" ($18.95)which was pepperoni, sausage, onion, bell pepper and olives. My wife opted for an individual cheese pizza ($8.95) and Tim's girlfriend got a grilled chicken sandwich ($8.95).
The pizza arrived piping hot. All of the toppings were there, and the pizza looked delicious.......but it just wasn't. The dough was bland, the sauce was overly sweet and the toppings tasted as if they weren't there at all. Tim agreed that the pizza was horrible, but since he was starving, his half of the pizza was soon gone. I was able to finish one slice of pizza after covering it with a thick layer of Parmesan cheese. After that though, I couldn't bring myself to eat another slice. My wife had a similar opinion of her tiny cheese pizza. She said it tasted like she was eating nothing at all, and she then proceed to cover the pizza with a thick layer of Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper. We all then asked the fourth member of our party how her sandwich was. She said something like "It's really weird.....I see all the toppings on my sandwich, but I can't taste them. The chicken is also REALLY dry."
It's amazing to me how all of our food could taste so entirely bland, especially after being happy with the flavor of their hot wings.
When the waitress stopped by our table, she saw that I had only eaten one slice of my half of the pizza and asked me if I wanted a box. I told her "No thanks, I really didn't like the pizza, so I'm not going to eat it." She looked at me for a second and then said "So, you just want me to leave it here so you can keep munching on it?" I repeated myself, "No, I don't like it. I'm not going to eat it." She stared at me again with a deer in the headlights look and then said "So......you want me to throw it away or something?" I responded "Sure."
So the wait-staff here doesn't seem to be too bright, and the food seems to be awful and bland except for their overpriced hot wings. I see no reason for me to return to this place. If you disagree, I'd love for you to e-mail and tell me why.