Linguini, penne, spaghetti, and fettuccini—the chefs at Carolina’s Italian Restaurant have been preparing pasta in its many incarnations for more than three decades. But their time-tested cooking techniques aren't the only reason for the robust flavors in their classic Italian cuisine. Ingredients are delivered five times a week, ensuring that each tomato is as fresh as the day its life coach finally coaxed it off the stem. Quality seafood and meats such as Atlantic salmon and new york steak put a finishing touch on many entrees.
After diners polish off their meals, they can indulge in a dessert such as housemade tiramisu or cannoli drizzled with chocolate syrup. Then, they can lean back and admire the wall murals of Italian countryside and verandas, or watch confused airplanes circle the ceiling's painted blue sky.
Cafe Tourane has one main pledge: to serve the freshest, healthiest coffee possible. The café cuts out the middlemen of warehouses and shipping by sending staffers on drives directly to their roaster to pick up beans, which wear the USDA organic seal to signify their total avoidance of synthetic pesticides and their love of stickers. While sipping on an espresso drink or a fruit smoothie, patrons can pop back sweet, sugar-dusted french beignets, served with a cool side of condensed milk for dipping. With plenty of natural light from front windows, the café is an ideal place to read a book with a cup of the fresh-brewed daily roast.
After the popularity of Anabella and Salvador Corona?s first El Pollo Norteno restaurant in Santa Ana, they began to expand to more locations, each of which serves healthy, homestyle Mexican food. Mesquite charcoal heightens the flavors of charbroiled-chicken dishes, and catering trays liven up parties otherwise filled with awkward silences. Family packs of dinners, along with tacos, burritos, and quesadillas a la carte, feed the entire family.
Dim lighting flickers off cobblestone walls as guests at On the Rocks Bar & Grill socialize over steaks and burgers or gape at 20 TVs broadcasting sports. Plates of hand-formed burgers and slow-cooked ribs occupy tabletops in the dining room, whereas patrons sip drinks and enjoy nightly specials out on the patio. The eatery’s late-night menu keeps guests satiated well into the night with chicken tenderloins and fried strips of the moon.
Enveloped by a sleek, lounge-style environment, Anvzi Restaurant's chefs simmer flavors from traditional Vietnamese recipes as skilled bartenders dispense libations behind a full bar. Rice, noodles, and porridge line bowls and plates to cradle diverse ingredients, such as snail, duck egg, and crispy fried quail. Carefully concocted mixed drinks travel across the fully stocked bar, passing domestic and imported beers into waiting hands or off-duty skee-ball machines. Lively music stirs toes to tap, and a fleet of flat-screen TVs glows with sports, music videos, and movies.
The chefs at Dang! Crabs transform empty plates into flavorful plumes of zesty New Orleans–style delicacies. A dose of half a dozen charbroiled oysters swims through garlic herb butter sauce ($10), and salad bowls overflow with a choice of sea candies, such as shrimp ($7), oysters ($7), or crawfish ($6) on a bed of crisp romaine, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumbers drizzled in tangy Cajun red-pepper aioli dressing. Choose from a septet of hefty po boy sandwiches, including the fried catfish ($6 for half; $9 for whole) or Mikey’s Special, which recruits beef and ham to spar with a pickle spear in a vat of red-pepper aioli ($7 for half; $10 for whole). Traditional bowls of chicken or andouille gumbo ($7) make mouths even spicier than the bell pepper mouth-guard from your lacrosse days, and fries in varieties such as sweet potato, Cajun, or utilitarian accompany plates of fried catfish ($10), calamari ($8), and okra ($5).