Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best and Worst Restaurants of 2012

Happy New Year everyone. I can not believe that this is the third year that I have written a recap of the best and worst restaurants we have visited. Time has really flown by. I guess it is true what they say, time flies when you are having fun. I really am having a great time sharing all of our dining adventures with all of you.

This is the third straight year that we have increased our reviews on the blog. A few stats for you to peruse. We have now eaten in 68 different cities, and have almost hit every city in OC. I promise we will make it to Cypress, La Palma and Seal Beach in the early part of 2013. We have written 383 posts, not including this one, and have visited 354 different restaurants. Wow, that sounds like a lot of eating. Hamburger joints seem to be our favorite, not surprising anyone there, with Mexican food coming in second, and sandwiches winning the bronze medal in the most blogged about food categories.

Besides the actual eating, one of my favorite things about this blog is the people we have met because of it.  Most of these people are fellow bloggers, and their blogs can be found on the right hand side of this blog, under the heading, "my favorite food blogs". When we started this blog, I thought it was going to be an isolated experience, but it has been anything but isolated. We have been lucky enough to have been invited to some events, and gotten to know, and become friends with a good many of the best food writers this county has to offer. I still aspire to be as good as them someday.

Lastly, we would like to thank you, our readers for making this such a great year. We have had the most page views and visits that we have ever had this year. We would also like to thank the people that comment or email about the blog. I really enjoy interacting with all of you. love getting your feedback and suggestions. Keep them coming.

Now without further ado, here are our top five best and worst restaurants that we have been to this year. We will get the worst one's out of the way first, so we can savor the best we had in 2012. Here are the worst restaurants of the year, in no particular order.

I think I can safely say that I am not the target customer that the Gypsy Den is going for. The food here was not awful on our visit, but it did not taste like anything either. I was expecting some flavor that never came. It was not all the Gypsy Den's fault though, my dining companions made some questionable choices when it came to their food. I mean really Clay? A Vegan Chicken Wrap, that sounded bad from the time he ordered it. I can see why people like this healthier based menu, but I would rather have a burger any day.

When you are a food blogger, you almost always have to make the decision on where to go for dinner. Back in July, I made the unfortunate choice of having dinner at Johnny Rebs'. I can remember growing up liking Johnny Rebs' but those days are over. The theme the night we were here must have been desert oasis, because almost all of the items we tried were dry. This restaurant did nothing to help my food blogger credibility with my friends. Not that I have any credibility to begin with.

Birthday parties with Katie's family usually mean two things, lots of laughs, and a bad restaurant. The New Shogun provided both of these for us. We all laugh a lot whenever we are all together, but lets just say they do not have the Midas touch when it comes to picking places for birthday dinners. I mean Emily once had us go to Bubba Gump Shrimp, and this teppan place was not much better. The focus here is on the show, and obviously not the food. The only thing more dated than the decor here, is the teppan master doing the onion volcano for the 200th time.

I am sure that most of you are shocked to see Peter's Gourmade Grill on this list. I am surprised they are here as well, but after our visit to their now closed Newport location, we could not leave them off of this list. It will be hard to forget this visit, much like they could not remember to order cheese, pastrami, lids for cups, forks, and marshmallows for their Gooey Fries. One of the biggest disasters we have had in our three years of going to restaurants for this blog, but they eventually made it up when we went to their Tustin location six months later. You can check that review out here.

One of my biggest disappointments this year was that we went to Woody's Diner, and did not keep on driving a little further into the shopping center to eat at Break of Dawn. This beach themed diner has some the most boring breakfast food in the county. I can usually find a bunch of things on a menu to eat, but at Woody's the breakfast menu was very average, and the food barely met that same mark.

Okay, here we go, the best five restaurants we have been to in 2012. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in any of these restaurants, feel free to bring me a dogie bag from any of them. They are all winners.

Like most people, we came to Anepalcos Cafe for their Chilaquiles, but soon found out that every item on their menu is a hit. This Mexican/French fusion restaurant is a larger version of their other Orange location, but this one serves dinner. We have already put it down on our list to come back and try their dinners in the new year. If they are half as good as the breakfasts here, we will be in for a real treat, and you will be seeing them on our list again of the best restaurants of the year.

The only thing keeping G Burger from taking over the OC burger scene is their current location in the most northern city of OC. Let me tell you though, it is worth the drive to get here. At G Burger they do not cut corners. They make as much as they can from scratch, and the namesake G Burger with everything on it is one of the best burgers I have had. It is not all about burgers here though, they also have chicken sandwiches and their side items are not to be missed, including their onion rings. Wow!

We only have two disappointments with Slapfish: A Modern Seafood Shack. One's that they are not located closer to us, and two is that it took us until August to make it to their restaurant. So much wasted time. Both Katie and I sampled about 5 items off of their menu on our trip here. All five were fantastic. The chowder fries, the fish taco, and the major crunchy fish sandwich should not be missed. Keep an eye out for their specials as well. Theses guys are very passionate about serving fish in a responsible way, so they work with other agencies to prevent over fishing and harmful fishing practices. Serving good food with a conscience, how could Slapfish not be on this list?

My family used to go to Mr. Stox for almost every family celebration, but with their impending closure it is a good thing we found The Ranch Restaurant. The Ranch could not be in a stranger place, an industrial area, just off of Ball Road. Located on the bottom floor of the Extron building, this saloon/restaurant is the dream of Extron owner, Andrew Edwards. He wanted a place where he could listen to country music, and also serve some of the best food around. Mission accomplished. The Ranch has a seasonal driven menu that is not overly large, but whatever you choose from it will be great. We are looking forward to many more family celebrations here.

Nothing sparks debate quite like pizza, so let the conversation start. The best pizza I had this year was from Tony's Little Italy Pizza. This is the real deal, Chicago style pizza that you thought you could not get out in Southern California. The pizzas here are deep dish, and full of toppings, sauce, and cheese. I struggled to eat two slices, and I am a big eater. Make sure you call in your orders, because these big boy pizzas take over 45 minutes to make, but are well worth the time.

So there is the list of our top five restaurants for 2012. I want to just acknowledge a few other restaurants that just were outside of the top five, in no particular order. Game Day Hot Dogs, De Simones Sandwiches, Mick's Karma Bar, Park Avenue, Bruxie, Crow Bar Kitchen, Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, Chapter One: the Modern Local, Soho Taco, Nick's Laguna Beach, Stack's Pancake House, Tap's Fish House and Brewery, Pee Wee's Hot Dogs and Burgers, Shortstop BBQ, Crow Burger Kitchen, and Bayside Restaurant. Thanks to all of you for some very memorable meals out.

Special thanks go out to all of my dining companions this year. Thanks for allowing me to dictate where we would be eating, allowing me to snap pictures of your food, and then answering my endless questions about how you liked the food. We had such a good time, let's do it again in 2013.

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