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Joani Macaroni's Profile

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What's new & good in Huntington Beach or nearby?

Thanks Steve for the new ideas. We've been to the HB Olive Pit and it is good; our friends like it too. We prefer sitting outside though - inside is too noisy (for us). We'll check out the Bella Terra ideas.

What's new & good in Huntington Beach or nearby?


What's new & good in Huntington Beach or nearby?

I checked for previous posts and they are more than 5 years old. Gotta be something new! And not Asian - have plenty of those here in Westminster/Garden Grove. Focus is on the food and not the beverages. Thanks for any new ideas!

ANAHEIM -- Anything Chow-ish near the Convention Center?

If you are adventurous and have the least bit of interest in Elvis, have dinner (or a drink)at Azteca on (historic) Main Street (Main branches off from Euclid; it's just north of Garden Grove Blvd.) in Garden Grove. The entire restaurant is packed (I repeat, PACKED!) with Elvis memorabilia, music, etc. The(Mexican)food is decent, but you're going for the décor. There's also a local play house, the Gem Theater with plays on the weekend, about a block away. Across from the Azteca is the Dine Bar and Restaurant which features European cuisine and a range of beers.

Most of the other recommendations I've seen posted are good too. Sadly, not too many good breakfast choices close by; probably most people eat at their hotels for convenience. Most tourists (especially those from small towns) seem very happy with the famous big chain restaurants and there are loads of them along Harbor. (Most of us locals avoid Harbor!)

This might be of interest:

When the ingredients aren't there

Food scientists now say that the oil in the dressing actually helps you absorb more vitamins from the salad! And some fat with the carbs helps to slow down the starch to sugar process, which is a good thing. Pass that blue cheese, please!

Jun 15, 2014
Joani Macaroni in Not About Food

When the ingredients aren't there

I strongly suspect that the chain restaurants are cutting back both quantity and ingredients that are more costly or caloric. In California, chains have had to list the calorie count on the menu. All of a sudden, we've noticed changes in the menu listings - favorites gone (or taste different), less or different sauce on crepes, etc., salads with dressing calories listed separately, and so on. Personally, I prefer independent places (they aren't under the same restrictions), but we do eat at chains about half of the time for variety's sake or convenience.

Jun 15, 2014
Joani Macaroni in Not About Food

When the ingredients aren't there

I try to avoid sending the plate back. Having married a former food preparer, I know too many stories about what happens to plates of diners who "complain." The server brought me a small bowl of toasted slivered almonds, which I added to the salad. With the coleslaw (different time), the server remarked that the dressing was thin. I guess that means it doesn't stick, but if they know it doesn't stick, shouldn't they toss it gently before scooping it out of the tray? Seriously, there was no trace of moisture or flavor on the slaw. She did bring me out a fresh bowl and there was a slight difference in taste, but not much better. Usually with slaw you end up with some remnant or even a puddle of dressing in the bowl. Not a trace!

I don't recall having extra ingredients not listed unless it was something "standard" like a pickle or ketchup on a burger. But I am annoyed when I ask in advance, "what's the fruit this morning?" when the option is potatoes or fruit, etc. (I can't eat cantaloupe or pineapple), and the server says they will make up a cup without them, or bring me a slice of watermelon instead, but I end up with a pre-prepared fruit bowl with cantaloupe and pineapple anyway. That's why I started just ordering the "house special" potatoes - with peppers and onion - to avoid the fruit issue, but ended up with one piece of onion and one of pepper. Seriously, the food preparer couldn't see how few there were? My husband had the regular version and they looked almost identical! And the reason to add them isn't just flavor - they add vitamins and minerals, as well as eye appeal.

Jun 15, 2014
Joani Macaroni in Not About Food

When the ingredients aren't there

Am I just unlucky with the cook/chef, or is this a new trend? If the menu says the salad has almonds, shouldn't the salad have almonds? If you order coleslaw, shouldn't there be some kind of dressing on it? (Otherwise, it's just bland shredded cabbage, right?) If a place is famous for their breakfast potatoes with red bell peppers and onions, shouldn't there be more than one piece of each among the potatoes? There used to be lots!

Is it just my dumb luck, or are my suspicions right - some places are cutting back on or conveniently "just forgetting" the more expensive ingredients; or cutting back or eliminating dressing, etc. to keep the calorie count down? Or am I being just too picky expecting what the menu says?

I'm not grumpy when I go in, but this is really starting to bug me . . .

Jun 14, 2014
Joani Macaroni in Not About Food

Good Greek food in OC?

We went to George's tonight and found it to be very good. The pitas are thicker and softer than any other I've had - very good; the dinner salad was very fresh and very crisp, colorful and delicious with olives and cheese. Hubby had the beef with ta'ziki dip and I had the moussaka - excellent. Our dinner included fresh veggies (carrots, green beans, broccoli) that were colorful and cooked good just right - tender-crisp, and the rice was cooked with chicken broth and had additional vegetables, also good. The staff is friendly and attentive, and the décor is colorful and completely transformed from the prior business. The address is Westminster but it is very near Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, next door to The Lazy Dog Café.

Good food in Victoria

We'll be staying at the Empress too - one night closer to the end of the month - please let us know what places you enjoyed within walking distance (perhaps 6 blocks or less?). Thanks! We're looking for casual/cafes also.

Shrimp & Grits for breakfast - Dee-licious!

Hard to describe effectively; between medium & dark brown, not heavy, thinner than regular gravy. Tasty in its own way but not overpowering.

Just had Cajun shrimp and cheesy grits elsewhere for comparison (no gravy included), paying $3 more, and did not like it as much, although I did appreciate that the shrimp were shelled. I won't name this place but it was east of the 55 freeway. But the décor was fun, service quite good.

Will have to check out Dommy's suggestion next . . . (thanks!)

Shrimp & Grits for breakfast - Dee-licious!

Visited the South several years ago but don't recall any of the grits I had back there being as good as the breakfast I had this morning.
Shrimp, grits, and brown gravy (sounds disgusting, I know!) but it was just heavenly. Savored this bowl of southern satisfaction at The Hangout in Seal Beach (on the corner of Main across from the pier).

Bahooka is Closing

Thanks for letting us know. 30+ years isn't a bad run for a restaurant. Will have to stop in for old time's sake, as well as see my alma mater (RHS) across the street.

Orange County for large family meal.

We've had several family events at Northwoods Inn in La Mirada, which is off the 5, not too far north of the 91. Food and service was good, should be do-able with your budget, and they list the banquet rooms for 20+ people. That would be great to allow the younger ones to roam within an "enclsoed" area, rather than the main dining area. They would probably be able to accommodate you with a modified family style meal.

Phone: (714) 739-0331
14305 Firestone Blvd.
La Mirada, CA

Anything new in SB/OC area?

Anything new in the Seal Beach or northern Orange County area?

Noticed in Dec. that Old Town Cafe was under new management but didn't see too many folks there - has anyone tried it recently? We were there for breakfast just before it changed and it did seem like both the service and food were slipping a bit. We were sad to see that happen as it was a nice family place. We hope the new group is doing well.

Katella Deli has added a new specials menu which is venturing into a bit more upscale/trendy food. Nice to have some additional selections to choose from. Most of the old favorites still seem to be available although the format of the main menu went from family-cutesy to elegant/upscale looking. Looks like the place is gradually updating.

New Cuban in OC: Bella Cuba

Thanks for the post on a new place and some specific tips. Not being familiar with Cuban food, I appreciate the insight. Good to hear of some new spots opening up.

Long Beach eats

Café Piccolo - last time we drove by this place (about 6-8 weeks ago) it had a banner over its sign with the name of a new restaurant. Haven't tried the new place yet and don't recall the new name. We did enjoy eating there before "curtain call" at the Long Beach Playhouse. You can park in the Playhouse lot, walk to the cafe, and walk back for the performance. Beats eating elsewhere and trying to get a spot in the lot just before 8 . . .

OC - Taco Surf now open in Westminster

At long last another Taco Surf location has opened up - at the northeast corner of Westminister & Springdale in the old Casa Gamino location next to the Rivera by the Fireside. We've been waiting about 6 months since the "Coming Soon" sign went up. I haven't been there yet but hubby went there for lunch today and said it was pretty good, and the place (which opens for lunch at 11:00) was filled up with locals by the time they left at about noon. I think this may also be the largest Taco Surf, and great to have it so close to us.
Has anyone else been to this location yet? How does the food compare to the other locations?

Kimmie's Cup in Orange

Was this the location in Orange? You were there recently? We had very good service, and I don't know Kimmie or anyone there (or at the other locations) personally, so my review was completely an honest evaluation.

You said everyone around you was attended well except for you, and you wonder why. I wonder too. That's just odd. Were you seated in an awkward place to reach? They are so busy in there that the tables are rather close together. We sat at the counter, so perhaps the service is better there. The gals were mostly young, but we didn't see any slouches among them, and any that came by seemed happy to help us if we caught their eye.

But there are plenty of other places around Kimmie's that would appreciate your business and have good food too. We like Felix's (Cuban), Filling Station, Blue Frog cafe, and of course there's always Watson's and Rutabegorz. Enjoy!

Filling Station
201 N Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

Felix Continental Cafe
36 Plaza Sq, Orange, CA 92866

Rutabegorz Restaurant Orange
264 N Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

Kimmie's Cup in Orange

We had a delightful breakfast at Kimmie's Cup this morning in Old Town Orange.Kimmie's has grown from one location to several in the Orange County area, and now even one in Nevada.

This is the first time we've eaten at any of them, as there are so many fun places in Orange near the Traffic Circle to try. Kimmie's is just south of Gastropub.

We arrived and placed our name on the list outside the doorway. There were several tables outside as well as lots of tables and a counter inside, and the place was busy - a good indicator! This location is really a charming place, and a model of efficiency. The layout of the long room is really well-thought out - from behind the counter the staff can see just about all of the indoor tables and be there within a few short steps.

We opted for the counter instead of waiting longer for a table. KImmie's coffee cups are cute, oversized and chubby, and offers of refills were frequent and friendly. The staff of smiling gals is attentive and fast with service and requests. Our breakfasts came relatively quickly considering the crowd, and hubby remarked that he had never had a hotter breakfast, perhaps because the kitchen was just a few feet away. Don't expect the plates to match, either - there's a certain homey charm to a variety of different patterned dishes, sort of like grandma's country kitchen. And everything seems quite clean as well - kudos to the manager who really knows her game!

Both our breakfasts were quite good - hubby had a homestyle plate - Country Scramble, with gravy over the entree and the side of biscuits. I enjoyed the "Irish Benedict" with minced corned beef hash on English muffins topped with poached eggs and sauce. I liked the choice of potatoes or fruit, and was offered 2 options - either melon chunks or a bowl of berries. The berries were fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.- a nice change of pace from melon. Hubby managed to finish his (just barely) and I opted to take home half of the Benedict to enjoy later for a small lunch, since we finished breakfasting about 10:30.

A charming environment, friendly & fast service, tasty food at reasonable prices - all in all, a very nice breakfast. Just one exception - with one long wall of brick, tiled floor, open kitchen and no booth seating, (no acoustical buffer) the din was quite loud, so folks were raising their voices accordingly to be heard by one another. Not a problem for those used to lots of noise, but for those of us with sensitive ears . . . well, next time I'll bring some ear plugs! Kimmie's is too good to pass up!

City of Orange Location
190 South Glassell Street
Orange, CA 92866-1478

(714) 288-2899

Ethiopian Food?

We've been to Tana and enjoyed it. It's a small spot in a small strip mall (with a Kenyan restaurant nearby- we haven't been there yet). A little tricky to find. Very casual. Not the place to go if you're in a hurry; relax and enjoy is more the mood, and if it's busy you may have a longer wait. It's been reviewed here about a year ago, the reviews were informative. Not for those who don't like touching their food (although you can use utensils) as you use the "bread" which is soft, pliable, somewhat spongy, to use to pick up the rest of the food, as I recall.

Tana Ethiopian Restaurant and Market
2622 W La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

Tasty Thai in Huntington Beach - Mike Thai Bros. Bistro

Mike Thai Bros. Bistro

Where: 8935 Atlanta Ave. (at Magnolia), Huntington Beach

Contact: 714-960-1008,

Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily. Lunch specials 11-3 daily

Also: Takeout offered; delivery within four miles

Lunch specials for $6.95 include a small salad and either dumplings or spring rolls, depending on the day, along with the entree. The menu indicates which dishes are spicy/hot, which for a Thai novice like myself is very helpful. Service was very quick, food very appetizing, and very tasty. Generous entree servings - both of us gals took home left-overs.

Spotted this place in an OC Register article by Marla Jo Fisher. A good place for lunch for the locals; decor is fresh & minimal. (Would prefer a bit more ambiance for dinner.) Mike is also a very friendly guy.

Huntington Beach Rec: Trejo's Mexican

Thanks Porthos, we'll give this a try. Sounds tasty.

Breakfast in S.B. at Rivers End Cafe

Enjoyed breakfast at this beachside cafe yesterday. First time there. Will definitely go back again for their tasty crabcake Benedict with Habanero sauce. The eggs were cooked just to my liking - slightly oozy but not runny, and the Habanero sauce was mildly hot (for me, which is probably mild for most folks). The friendly waitress said I was in for "a little bit of heaven" and I'd definitely agree - really yummy. She mentioned that it is seldom ordered, probably because it is one of the higher-priced breakfast dishes, because of the real crab cakes. But they were very tasty and worth it (IMHO). Online menu does not list them.

Pluses: relaxing environment, friendly service, sea views. Indoor seating available also.Parking available right at the cafe.

Downsides: There is a parking fee but we parked up on the street above and walked in easily. There's a handy public restroom right alongside the cafe, but it is a barebones beachside version and that means wet sandy floors and no privacy.

Rivers End
15 1st St, Seal Beach, CA 90740

Afternoon tea for mom & daughter?

Thanks Oerdin - sounds like a lovely event with "family tradition" potential.I'll check it out.

Jul 16, 2011
Joani Macaroni in San Diego

Excellent pastrami and/or corned beef sandwich in OC?

Try Katella DELI in Los Alamitos (west of the racetrack) and then let us know which one you like better. Das, pharmnerd and I agree that for pastrami, the DELI may be more to your liking. But if you are east of the GRILL, you may not want to make the trek to the DELI due to the gasoline prices. . .

BTW, the DELI is now adding an additonal menu to the regular menu, so if you're in the mood for something new, they do have some new selections for dinner. I don't usually do burgers, but the one I had there (on the new menu) was pretty tasty.

Excellent pastrami and/or corned beef sandwich in OC?

You ate at Katella Deli in Los Alamitos, right? (Love their coleslaw!)
There's also a Katella Grill in Orange . . .

Katella Deli-Restaurant
4470 Katella Ave, Los Alamitos, CA 90720

Katella Grill
1325 W Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92867

Afternoon tea for mom & daughter?

Thanks everyone! - we had a wonderful time at the Tea House at Los Rios, which just celebrated the 100th "birthday" of the charming little bungalow that the houses it. Enjoyed our tea and platters out on the front porch - lovely breezes. Very relaxed (don't go if you're in a hurry!) and leisurely - just perfect for our day. The several members of the staff I interacted with were very pleasant and helpful. Everything quite tasty. Lovely setting;several other quaint homes converted to shops/cafes along the same road - nice to browse in.
Parking right there can be a challenge (only about ten spaces at the teahouse) and street parking is restricted. There is lots of parking at the park around the corner and easy walk to the tea house, or across the railroad tracks at the parking garage. Strolled through the antique mart too. Going during a weekday was perfect - no crowds to deal with.

Jul 14, 2011
Joani Macaroni in San Diego

Best Sandwhich in Orange County?

What makes it so special? Is it the ingredients or the dressing? Any ideas? I need a great chicken salad recipe for a big group . . .

Need a BBQ caterer in San Pedro

Thanks! These sound great!