Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our Best Restaurants of 2013

Another year has gone by way too quick. It seems like I was just writing a year end review a month or two ago, but of course it has been twelve months now. Not to sound like a senior citizen, but listen to me when I tell you younger people that the years go by quicker and quicker as you get older. Enjoy every moment that you are given, and find something that you love to do. Okay, that is the end of my old man rant.

One thing that I really love to do is eat, and that is the reason why I started this blog in the first place. I love sharing what we think of restaurants with you all. I hope that you find it informative, and that it has helped some of you find some good food, right in your neighborhood. We all become creatures of habit, but there is always something good, just right around the corner.

This is first time in the history of our blog that we have not increased the number of restaurants we have eaten at. This year we posted 106 reviews, which works out to one every 3 and a half days. It's still feels like a lot of eating though. We never did get to the three remaining cities that we need to hit in OC, before we can say that we are truly eating our way through OC. I promise that we will make it to La Palma, Cypress, and Seal Beach soon. We actually had plans to go to all of these cities, but something always popped up at the last minute. 2014 will see us complete our quest of eating in all 34 Orange County cites.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has made this year so great for me and the blog. First, I want to thank all of my fellow bloggers. We have such a fantastic group of OC food writers here, and I really do take the time to read all of their stuff. You guys are not only great writers, but an awesome group of people. We love hanging out with all of you at events. Speaking of events, we are always honored that publicists would consider inviting us anywhere. These publicists are incredible at what they do, and the restaurants are all the better by having these hard working people getting their name out there.

I would also like to thank all of my table mates this year. Thanks for allowing me to take a million pictures of your food, before you dig in. Almost all of my friends and family are conditioned on this, except for my Dad and Katie's Dad. Must be a dad thing to want to eat real quick. We not only have had some wonderful food, but some great conversations as well. I also need to thank my partner in crime, Katie. I could never imagine writing this blog, without you by my side. In fact, I could never imagine you not by my side for anything, and that is as sappy as I will get on that subject.

Lastly, I would like to thank all of you, our readers. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Thanks to all of you who have given me tips on places to eat, left comments, liked us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other new thing that will come along in the future. It is so nice knowing that people actually like what we are doing here, and I am not just writing this blog for me and my Mom. I wish you all the most joyous of New Years, and hope that we all have a terrific 2014.

Enough of the thank yous, let's get to our list. Usually we do a best and worst list of all the restaurants we have eaten at during the year. This year for some reason, we did not eat at too many awful restaurants. The only two that scored less than 2.5 stars was Pasta Connection in Orange, and the Elephant Bar in Laguna Hills. Both of these restaurants received 2 stars, and I definitely vow never to go to an Elephant Bar ever again. Just awful.

So that leaves us with just a best restaurant list this year. I have narrowed it down to ten OC restaurants. The top 3 restaurants that we ate at, not in Orange County were Bludso's Bar-B-Que in Los Angeles, which still gets my mouth watering when I recall what I think is the best barbecue in Southern California. Just over the county line, was a reader recommended burger and barbecue restaurant that has got us looking for reasons to make another trip to Bellflower, so we can try Fronk's again. Lastly, we made a trip to Vegas, and could not believe how great the Thai food was at Lotus of Siam. Even if you don't win gambling, you can still be a winner if you eat at this legendary Thai restaurant. Now on to our top ten OC restaurants of 2013.

#10 Taco Adobe This is the only Mexican restaurant that makes our top ten list this year. Just a few streets over from the Orange Plaza, this homey Mexican restaurant served up some real solid food, along with a great habanero salsa that you have to ask for. I almost finished the whole bottle they gave me. Nice and hot.

#9 G Burger I was over the moon when I heard that one of my favorite burger spots was expanding. Cutting my drive to their La Habra location in half, G Burger opened a new outpost in Irvine. Right off the freeway, and we were happy to report that they serve the same great burgers here, as their original location. Now the rest of the county can see what people in La Habra have known for years, that G Burger is one of the best burgers around.

#8 Cucina Enoteca Italian food is pretty traditional, and not much has changed with it for awhile. That is until Cucina Enoteca came to Irvine. Here they do Italian, with a California inspired feel to it. Gone are the heavy sauces and sausages, in are the stuffed squash blossoms and a short rib pappardelle that is not to be missed. A very welcome addition to the Irvine Spectrum.

#7 Slapfish This seafood darling of OC foodies is another restaurant on the verge of a big expansion, and we could not be happier about that. Started as a food truck, they recently opened an outpost in of all places, the Middle East. Fear not seafood loving fans, they are planning on opening 500 stores in the next ten years, so we won't have to make the long trek down Beach Boulevard to have their lobster dog or their clam chowder much longer.

#6 C4 Deli: The Cure for the Common For people that lament that there are no good delis on the west coast, I tell you to head to Downtown Santa Ana. This place comes to us from the two guys that run Chapter One, and they are doing things the right way here. Curing their own meats, preparing innovative salads, and their muffuletta sandwich can not be beat. If only they would put a Cuban sandwich on their menu. Hint, hint.

#5 Little Sparrow Another new Downtown Santa Ana restaurant cracks our top five restaurants of the year. The Little Sparrow has been getting a lot of press, and it is well deserved. The menu might seem limited to some, but I assure you that almost anything you get here will be cooked well, and blow you away. I still am salivating thinking of the pork chop I had here.

#4 Hapa J's I had not reviewed a Hawaiian restaurant on the blog until this year, and after eating at Hapa J's, I can not get enough of Hawaiian food. A lot cheaper than a plane ticket to Hawaii, the Kahlua pork here is legit, and when placed on top of a heaping pile of fries, cheese, and a teriyaki type sauce it makes up a dish I have not been able to forget since I had it. You should definitely try their Hapa Fries Man Style, well worth a drive from anywhere.

#3 The Capital Grille We do not really have the resources to go to fancy steak restaurants all the time, but we tried Capital Grille this year for Katie's birthday. We may have found our new special occasion restaurant. My bone-in kona crusted sirloin was fantastic, and tasted like a steak should when you are eating in an upscale steakhouse. Also not to be missed, is their version of lobster mac and cheese. So good, and they were not stingy with the big hunks of lobster in this.

#2 Early Bird It's crazy that our second best restaurant of the year, is a breakfast place. I always think breakfast is the hardest meal to put your own spin on it. People have preconceived notions of what they want for the first meal of the day, and it's hard for restaurants to tweak it too much. The guys at Early Bird tweak it the right way. The breakfasts are recognizable here, but Early Bird puts their own delicious spin on them. Duck confit hash, carnitas chilaquilles, and a Frank Floyd Benedict were notable during our visit.

#1 370 Common The best restaurant we ate at this year is this Laguna Beach hot spot. We ate at 370 Common on a Sunday, when they only serve a prix fixe menu, and even with such a limited menu, both Katie and I fell in love with the food from Chef Ryan Adams. I had a pork chop that I still dream about. The sides were all fantastic, and for dessert, a berry pound cake that even made this non-berry eater leave happy. We look forward to coming back here again real soon to try their regular menu.

So there you have it, our top restaurants of 2013. What restaurants will be on this list next year? Only time will tell. I am sure looking forward to doing the eating, and finding out. Have a great New Years, and I hope you enjoy the blog, as much as I enjoy doing it.


  1. Just wanted to thank you for a very entertaining and informative food blog. It's an easy read and very enjoyable. Keep up the good work (and you really need to go to Brea's Best!)

    - Anon

  2. ^^agreed.

    I still think you should do a restaurant meet up with all your readers.

  3. Anon - I promise we will head up to Brea's Best soon. Thanks for the great compliments, and for taking the time to read the blog. Have a great New Year.

    Cody - I will think about the meet up. I'd be afraid that it would just be me and Katie though, and we are almost running out of things to talk about. Kidding of course. I will definitely give it some thought. Thanks for taking the time to comment.