At Maderas Steak & Ribs, kitchen commanders craft a menu with hefty steaks forged from Kansas prime Angus beef. To sustain flavor throughout meals, in-house pastry chefs fill crumbly crusts with pie or cheesecake swirled with fresh fruit and juices.
Neon lighting grants old-timey-diner appeal to the spacious tables and cushy booths of Maderas's big, kid-friendly room, through which live music occasionally wanders on Friday and Saturday nights and whenever forks happen to clang melodically against glassware or mom's glass chewing-gum dispenser.
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.
Featuring karaoke nights, DJ sets, and musicians showcasing their acoustic and classic rock talents, the live entertainment at Harvey's Steakhouse beckons diners to the dance floor six nights a week. The aromas of the culinary team's steak and seafood entrees, however, are likely to lure you right back to your table. Main courses include charbroiled filet mignon stuffed with bleu cheese crumbles and one pound of steamed Alaskan king crab legs, which you can dig into barehanded or with a royal scepter. Chefs also whip up favorites such as homemade chicken pot pie for early birds and treat patrons lounging at the bar or on the outdoor patio to snacks such as homemade potato chips.
The seasoned chefs at Tsunami Sushi augment their tableside cooking techniques with dazzling dramatics, including knife twirling and spatula slinging, as they slice, dice, and sizzle morsels of chicken, steak, and fish atop traditional Japanese teppanyaki-style grills. Sushi gurus also prepare fresh sushi and sashimi rolls as an alternative or supplement to cooked offerings. The full bar offers a lengthy list of liquid meal enhancers, including wine, imported beers, and sake. Valet parking grants patrons a reprieve from finding a space or learning the ancient art of sedan levitation.
At Black Bull Chop House, the culinary team grills up a menu of delicious certified Angus beef steaks among a brick-walled Western décor replete with cactus plants, a mechanical bull, and a sprawling boogie floor. Settle your spurs and nosh on an appetizer such as the santa fe rolls, a succulent blend of chicken, black beans, jalapeños, sweet corn, and two cheeses swaddled in flour tortillas ($8.95). The 12 big-screen televisions occupy diners’ vision in between bites of the tomato and mozzarella pizza ($10.95) and heated staring contests with the 16-ounce teriyaki rib eye ($22). Flanking the steaks is a lively recreation area, including a dance floor hungry for tapping feet and a raucous mechanical bull seeking brave animatronic cowboys.
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.