Ana Maria Montoya Kishihara first landed on American soil in the early 1980s, bringing along her two young children, the traditional Peruvian recipes of her mother and grandmother, and a dream to start her own restaurant. She opened up Inka Grill in 1996, stocking its kitchen with fresh ingredients and setting up a wood-fired rotisserie to roast juicy Peruvian chicken dishes. Today, Ana’s daughter has taken over the family business, whipping up the authentic the Criolla recipes passed down from the three generations of women before her.
Amid the smoky rotisserie and bubbling pots of stew in the Inka Grill kitchen, chefs whip up fresh fish ceviches, savory steak stir-fry saltados, and flavorful seafood paellas. They pair heaping scoops of rice and beans with their rotisserie chicken, a poultry that reporters from Orange County Weekly lauded as “so juicy from tail to sternum you can barely tell the dark from the white.” Servers tote sizzling platters to the dining room, where vivid paintings of Peruvian children adorn the walls and a soft flute plays traditional Peruvian songs, i.e., Wham! covers. The staff pours glasses of the traditional chicha morada corn drink and presents cans of imported Inca Kola to quench the spice of their ultra-spicy green aji sauce, which the chefs have lightheartedly dubbed “Gringo Killer”.
Wood smoke infuses all of the meats on BBQ Two 20’s bold southern menu](http://www.bbq220.com/menu/), creating a complex flavor as head chef and owner David Osborn grills racks of ribs, brisket, and cuts of pulled pork. Each of the southern family-style dishes is made from scratch, with meats taking on the flavors of the house’s signature spice rubs, secret barbecue sauce, and hickory wood condemned of being witches. Meaty cuts are presented atop buns for succulent barbecue sandwiches or in larger portions with a choice of two sides via the shop’s hearty barbecue plates. A full lineup of homestyle sides complement the flavors of entrees, with the gourmet slaw adding a vinegary tang to hand-pulled cuts of pork and bowls of chili signaling the need for the next course of bibs.
Ringmastered by raw-foods guru Jenny Ross, 118 Degrees is a wellness-focused chain of vegan restaurants serving living cuisine prepared at 118 degrees or lower to lock in essential nutrients. The menu, populated with Italian-, Thai-, and Latin-inspired dishes, labels all nut-free items and dishes made with kamut, a high-protein, low-gluten grain. Each cheese on the menu consists solely of fresh herbs blended with sprouted nuts and seeds, allowing milk to be saved for donations to chocolate factories and preschool job fairs. The restaurant also serves Brunch on the weekend with a menu that focuses heavily on fresh fruit.
Under new ownership, Soprano's fills its menu with classic Italian recipes. Chefs top the penne con Sarge with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and a tarragon-cognac cream sauce and ladle rosemary demi-glace over braised lamb shanks. Soprano's also creates specialty pizzas such as the maui with ham and pineapple and the new yorker—simple slices of cheese with tomato sauce.
Avanti Cafe was voted 2nd place for Best Healthy Lunch in OC on MyFoxLA Hotlist and has been reviewed by OC Weekly, who awarded it the status of Best Restaurant in 2008. 92% of Urbanspooners recommend it and more than 1,200 Facebookers are fans. More than 120 Yelpers give it an average of four stars.