Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Best and Worst of 2011!

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. We here at Eating My Way Through OC have decided to wrap up this year with the obligatory best and worst list. We went to a record 123 restaurants this year. That is a lot of eating! Nearly three restaurants reviewed a week. We went on two east coast trips, to New York and Boston. The food there was phenomenal! Culinary highlights of those trips included the Lobster Roll from Neptune Oyster House in Boston, authentic New York pizza from Grimalidi's, the Tres Leches Donut from the Doughnut Plant on the lower east side, and the Chocolate Chip and Banana Pancakes from Mike's City Diner in Boston.

We also added new foods to our eating adventures. We reviewed Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, Peruvian, and Vietnamese. We are looking forward to adding even more diverse foods to our list in 2012. We may have tried different foods this year, but we could not stray too far from hamburgers, Mexican food, and barbecue. We of course are still in search for our best breakfast burrito in OC. We have had some really good ones, but nothing that has knocked our socks off, like the one we had in Pasadena, at Lucky Boy.

Let's see what made our best and worst list for the year 2011. Starting us off will be the worst restaurants of the year, in no particular order.

The night we came to Chelas Mexican Grill, they failed to impress. The meats were not prominent in any of the tacos or burritos that we had. They used way too much lettuce on everything, and that caused the food to become cold too quickly. If I had wanted bland Mexican food, I would have just gone to Chipotle.

We did not get to too many places this year to find the perfect place to watch football on Sunday mornings, but we unfortunately made it to Rudy's Pub and Grill in Foothill Ranch. Not only did my football team stink it up this year, but the food here did as well. My southwestern scramble put my taste buds in a coma. The rest of the food proved to be no better than mediocre, which is what I wish for my Jaguar's next year. Mediocre would be a step up for them.

Not to pick on Foothill Ranch, but it is home to two of the five worst restaurants on our list this year. After our visit to Mustard Cafe, we are sure that Togo's is not sweating competition from them. My Reuben sandwich was served with the least amount of meat I have seen on a Reuben, and they were out of rye, so they served it on wheat. Failure on both counts.

The one plus we got by eating at Florentine's Downtown Grill was we had buy one, get one free coupons. The bad part was we had to pay for any of this food at all. All of our food came out tasteless, overly breaded, and just plain average. There are so many good restaurants in Downtown Fullerton, we will pass on this one in the future.

Another area that has a plethora of great restaurants is Laguna, but sadly, C'est La Vie is not one of these great food spots. The food we had here this year was sub par, but would have been made better had it been served hot. We were one of two couples here on a Friday night, and the kitchen still got our food out to us cold.

Enough of the negative, let's find out what the best five restaurants of the year have been. In no particular order, here they are.

It is finding restaurants like El Farolito, that makes this blog worth writing. I would have never been to this local institution if I did not write this blog. The Mexican food here is great. The best carnitas I have had yet, and the prices can not be beat. I can not wait to go back for more in 2012.

If you had made me a bet at the start of the year that I would be including a sushi restaurant on my best restaurant of the year list, I would have taken it, and owed you money. I am not much of a sushi guy, but Sushi Wasabi could convert me. The fish here was fresh, and filled me up. I never thought I would write that about a sushi place. A little pricey, but you get what you pay for here.

We go from a crazy priced sushi restaurant to one of the cheapest meals we had this year, at John's Philly Grill. Usually a place just hangs some Phillie's or Eagles pennants, and calls itself a Philly Cheesesteak shop. The pennants are here, but so are the great sandwiches. These sandwiches come out molten hot, and once they achieve an edible temperature, you will be transported to a meaty/cheesy nirvana. Saves on the plane tickets to Philadelphia.

The menu might be limited, but the food at Gulfstream, was really good the night we were here for my birthday dinner. The rib eye was one of the best hunks of meat I had all year, and the crab cakes Katie went with were rich, with thick cuts of crab. A great way to mark another birth year.

My best of list would not be complete without Slater's 50/50. They make the list for the Breakfast Burger that is above alone. Yes, that is a donut for a bun, along with a fried egg, two strips of bacon, cheese, and a 50 percent ground beef and 50 percent ground bacon patty. I just gained a pound by typing what was on this breakfast burger. We have been back to Slater's a number of times through the year, and it has been a delicious adventure every time.

So there you have it. The best and worst of 2011. I would like to thank each and every one of you that has read the blog, sent in a suggestions, written a comment, or even sent in a criticism. I think I replied to each and every one of the responses I have gotten. To my fellow diners that have accompanied us on our dining adventures, thanks for waiting to eat, while I snap some pictures, and giving me your opinions on the food you just consumed. I would also like to thank my fellow food bloggers that I read religiously everyday. You all inspire me to be a better writer and reviewer of restaurants. Once again, thank you all very much, and here's to a great 2012!


  1. I look forward to reading all your posts in 2012!

  2. Good recap, Mike, however, having ate at the other Mustard Cafe (Irvine), I don't think you would have added it to your 'worst' list. Maybe not the deli of New York, but maybe a solid 3 pickle meal.
    Keep up the good work and here's to a gastronomic, prosperous New Year!

  3. Taylor - Thanks for taking the time to comment. Here's to a great 2012 for us!

    Anonymous(Dad) - I knew you would comment about Mustard Cafe. Maybe the Irvine location is better, but the sandwich I had was definitely not the best. Not even close to being above average. Thanks for the comment.

  4. You had to get in one more shot at Chipotle.

  5. Richard - I have a quota of five shots I have to take at Chipotle a year, and I was only at four going into this last post of the year. At least now you get to look forward to five more this year! Thanks for the comment.

  6. Nice rundown! I haven't eaten at Gulfstream since 2004, I need to go back. As for John's Philly Grille, I have been to the one in HB and I loved it! THen you said the magic word: "Carnitas". Mmmm. What my life would be like if I didn't have Carnitas. I'll have to trek up to Placentia!

  7. Foodie - Thanks for the kind words. I stand by all of these picks, but you got to try El Farolito. Great Mexican place, and awesome carnitas. Prices are great too! Thanks for the comment.