Guests enter the luxurious dining room and revel in the aroma of grilled steaks and lamb chops. After sidling into a comfy chair at a table decked in a white tablecloth, they peruse the menus dotted with juicy cuts of black Angus beef and king crab legs. Diners welcome steaming plates of food to share table real estate with glasses of wine, consulting the hospitable staff for pairing recommendations and advice on which wines are the best conversationalists. If not partaking in a full meal, guests can recline in the lounge and sip cold beer while watching sports on the plasma TVs. Larger parties commune in the expansive banquet hall, munching on customized menus built to accommodate parties of 20–140.
The Golden Spur delivers delectable steak and seafood dishes directly to digesters in a charming, historic Route 66-inspired environment. Midday meals include the jumbo shrimp cocktail, served over Cajun slaw ($11.95), the baked french-onion soup, crusted with a gruyere-cheese crouton ($5.95, $1 for cheese), and the classic walk-around, its new-york steak strolling to tables amidst grilled sourdough, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mayonnaise ($14.95). Or take a break from a long day translating baby talk by noshing evening eats such as frog legs breaded with Cajun-style cornmeal ($13.95), or end flavor strikes with the truffle-oil-splattered jumbo lobster ravioli ($16.95). Classic filets mignons come served in plain, peppercorn, cheese-stuffed, or bacon-wrapped varietals ($32.95 for 8 oz.), while the ahi tuna gets along swimmingly with its side of steamed white rice and vegetables ($18.95).
Since the first Logan's Roadhouse opened in Lexington, Kentucky in 1991, the restaurant has grown to more than 200 locations, bringing its grilled roadhouse food as far west as California. At each location, the floors of which are typically covered in shells from the buckets of peanuts at each table, eaters can carve into top sirloin and pull apart baby back ribs that have been slow roasting for eight hours. The grilled grub is complemented by beers, cocktails, sweet teas, and sides, such as baked potatoes, coleslaw, and mac 'n' cheese.
Duane’s is more than just prime steaks and fine wines; it’s a historical landmark. Or, rather, it’s located inside of one—The Mission Inn. Formerly a 12-room boarding house, the now-opulent hotel has hosted 10 U.S. presidents over the years. Toast their legacy with an aptly named Herbert Hoover Lemon Drop martini.
Named after a French WWI airplane, Nieuport 17 pays homage to aviation, displaying a dense collection of flight-themed artifacts and artwork amid dark-wood panels, low lighting, and crackling fireplaces. The food, however, is just as impressive as the decor. The restaurant's tuna tartare was one of OC Weekly's 100 favorite dishes of 2013, and CBS2 named the lemon sour-cream pie one of its best summer desserts. And those are just a few of the dishes that come out of Nieuport 17's kitchen, headed by executive chef Cody Storts.
A Culinary Calling
In 2013, OC Metro magazine named Storts one of the best chefs in Orange County. The graduate of LA's Le Cordon Bleu began his journey in the front of the house, though. It was only after bartending and managing at various area restaurants that he realized the kitchen was his calling.
A self-proclaimed "kitchen ninja," Storts relishes the challenge of unusual ingredients and unexpected pairings. This approach helped him craft the menus at a number of celebrated eateries. After appearing in several guest-chef events at Nieuport 17, he eventually took the helm.
Here, he holds weekly tasting events, testing ingredients and recipes before adding them to the menu. At his side are the self-titled Culinary Militia, Storts' trusted band of chefs, pastry makers, and mixologists.
Perched atop the hills of its namesake, Orange County Mining Co. pairs an eight-part champagne brunch with 19th-century nostalgia, as wagon wheels and cacti impart a rugged prickle to the restaurant's cozy atmosphere. The brunch offerings warm diners with carved prime rib and ham, cheese blintz, and other toasty tastes, before cooling palates with iced shrimp, snow crab legs, and lox. Ravenous miners can pile culinary ore into made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, and waffles, or gather steam with tamales and menudo at executive chef Horacio Barragan's Mexican station. To cap off appetites, baked delicacies and other sweets are either devoured or skewered for a dunk in the chocolate fountain.