Santa Ana/OC Recommendations

I’m staring down an epic driving day in mid-October, where I have to pick up my dad in Ventura County and ferry him to Santa Ana and back. Most likely, I’ll have several hours (in the worst case scenario, 8 hours) to kill in OC. Any suggestions for a pescatarian-friendly, healthy-ish lunch in the $10 - $20 range? @JeetKuneBao’s suggestion for Los Reyes Del Elote on another thread looks great, but I’m afraid it might make me feel too sluggish.

Also, I’ll need decent coffee to fuel all this driving. I hear Portola is pretty good. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Hi @MaladyNelson,

2 places to try:

  • Tanakaya - Soba specialist. My friends from Osaka and Tokyo love this place. :slight_smile: I haven’t been yet, but hopefully soon.

  • Fukada - It’s further south in Irvine (right next to Santa Ana). They have a solid Unagi Don, their Soba and Udon are OK. Nabeyaki Udon is delicious. :slight_smile: It’s opened by this friendly Japanese couple years ago.
    (Sorry for the Yelp link (ugh), but they have no website on their own.)


Thanks so much, @Chowseeker1999! These both sound great, and I really appreciate the geography reference points, as I don’t know OC too well.

Glad to help. :slight_smile: I will try and think of more places, but I don’t get to visit OC that much these days.

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+1 on Fukada I like their dinner specials…lots of options. I do love the unagi there…and on a hot day, the cold soba really does hit the spot.
Might I also suggest a jaunt over to the Little Saigon area for Vietnamese treats…fried egg banh mi at Saigon’s bakery, shrimp rolls at the original Brodard, yogurt at Van’s Bakery, maybe a small fruit tart at Croissant Doré, or some cake at Song Long Bakery. I also like stopping by Tastea for a drink because they put real bits of fruit in their drinks…The lychee ones are my favorite. It’s not too far from Santa Ana.
Also not far from Santa Ana is Costa Mesa. SoCo offers Taco Maria, ST Patisserie, Susie Cakes, Pueblo, Shuck Oyster House, Portola Coffee, a cheese shop, and a host of other small eateries that could be fun to check out. Surfas is also in the same shopping center. If you’re into home decorating, there’s a slew of home design stores that can easily eat up all that time.


Thanks, @attran99!

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+1 on little saigon which is pretty close to santa ana. Shrimp nem nuong or banh xeo from brodard.


Try Mariscos Los Corales truck at Main and Pine, just south of 1st.

Get the ceviches.

If you guys wanna cheat a little get the Tacos Gobernador, shrimp and melted cheese tacos with a killer verde sauce.

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Portola coffee is great. The 4th St Market location in Santa Ana is close. I’m not a huge fan of any of the food stalls at 4th St Market. I heard the new pizza place (Jinny’s) is pretty good but haven’t been myself.

If you’re going to drive down to OC Mix Mart where the original Portola coffee is (~20 minutes drive to Costa Mesa from Santa Ana) there are better eating options for lunch. Taco Maria, Shuck Oyster Bar, Pueblo and Bistro Pappilotte are good options but might be more than your $20 budget.


Portola is definitely a great stop for coffee. Specifically, the Theorem Coffee Bar at the OC Mix Mart. Each month has a different theme for their coffee (and often tea) cocktails. Some of the themes I can remember off the top of my head have been Tiki, Harry Potter, Pepper/Spice, Wes Anderson. The ones I’ve had have all been well swell.

3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(949) 284-0596
Hours: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm (the separate Portola has different ours)

Then pop over to Ikea for some cheap pizza!

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Coffee at Portola, sandwich from the Cheese shop and dessert at St Patisserie :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes:


You still crushing that mango buche de noel? I don’t work in Irvine anymore and haven’t been able to go much but St Patisserie is great.

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Oh man, I can’t wait till they bring that back during the holidays. ST Patisserie always comes through. We tend to shop a lot in that area like Mitsuwa and Tokyo Central and of course SCP. The food sucks at the mall for the most part so we end up elsewhere and ST Patisserie is worth my daily caloric intake.


hm how have I not heard about this place? time to visit before I go to my parents…


I also like the eclairs. They remind me of Paris but not quite as good.

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Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions and appetizing photos! You’re kind of making me look forward to this epic driving day.

Thanks for the additional info, @attran99! Your suggestion of Little Saigon is a great idea, and I haven’t had Vietnamese food in a long time. Your Costa Mesa recommendations are intriguing too.

Okay, I’ve been craving banh xeo for a while now, and the ones in your picture look wonderful, @PorkyBelly. I used to go to Brodard in the SGV.

Ceviche and tacos sound great, @JeetKuneBao!

Glad to hear that Portola is good, @js76wisco! I think I’m really gonna need to fuel up. Sounds like Costa Mesa might be my best bet - just judging from this thread.

Sounds like the consensus is I need to hit up Portola, @President_Mochi. Themed coffee and tea drinks sound great!

I like your thinking, @A5KOBE! Sandwich from a cheese shop and dessert at St. Patisserie sound heavenly.

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When you say that the food sucks at the mall, I assume you’re talking about SCP. If so, certainly the food at Marché Moderne is imho very good, and although there may be better dumplings elsewhere, I wouldn’t say that Din Tai Fung sucks.

@josephnl notice the qualifier.

Oops, the picture i posted is actually banh khot, the mini bite-size version of banh xeo without the bean sprouts. But brodard has banh xeo too.

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Portola makes by far the best coffee in OC, being a nationally recognized roaster but due their extreme popularity and expansion Theorem no longer serves unique themed menus. I’ve been going to Portola since they opened and am a regular there. Theorem is weekend-only and outside of a coffee old fashioned you won’t get anything because they are too busy to operate it anymore. I miss the old days :confused:

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