Claiming a slew of awards, including Best Chicken Dinner by the Orange County Register, El Pollo Loco fills stomachs on the go with a menu of flavorful poultry inspired by Mexico's kitchens. Enjoy the rich tastes of a four-piece combo—including breasts and wings marinated in herbs, spices, and citrus juices—entouraged by two sides from an expansive selection, including spanish rice, BBQ black beans, corn cobbettes, and mac 'n' cheese ($8.99). For a more portable lunch during parkour breaks from the office, wrap your chicken in the warm tortilla blanket of a twice-grilled burrito ($5.99). El Pollo Loco's innovative salsa bar tickles tongues with fresh varieties of avocado, chipotle, and pico de gallo.
If a visit to one of Southern Belle's restaurants feels a lot like coming home, it might have something to do with the hearty family traditions behind the kitchen's down-home breakfast and lunch dishes. “My father was in pancake houses all his life,” says owner Steve Fotos. Today, many of the same recipes used by Steve's father help populate a menu of hearty comfort foods that includes a poached-egg and sausage benedict smothered in country gravy and french toast stuffed with cinnamon apples, strawberries and pecans, or blueberries and bananas. But while the country-fried-steak or smoked-sausage skillets are tempting, the expansive menu offers options for diets of all kind, pairing fluffy egg whites with strawberries, granola, and multigrain toast and swapping out regular maple syrup for bottles that are low-calorie, sugar-free, or simply sealed shut. Photos of farms and pastoral images smile down upon diners as they dig in and gently remind them to inquire about the restaurant's seasonal specials, which range from summertime salads with sun-ripened veggies to bowls of homemade wintertime chili.
The Chew Chew’s chef and owner, Scott Zimmer, may be too young to have experienced the height of America’s railroad boom, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling nostalgic for it. Zimmer has turned that nostalgia into something interesting, outfitting his restaurant with antique rail menus and ancient photos of trains. He invites guests aboard his culinary express, treating them to American-inspired dishes such as Colorado lamb chops, chipotle-barbecue chicken flatbreads, and center-cut filet mignon steaks with lump crab. The space embraces natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide the illusion of an al fresco dining experience and let anxious guests keep a lookout for actual runaway trains.
Falafelji’s development is nearly a century in the making. Owner Bilal Beiram traces the genesis of his Middle Eastern restaurant back to 1920, when his grandfather learned the trade of crafting falafel in a Middle Eastern port city. From this humble beginning, the grandfather became a globetrotting chef, later retiring and opening his own falafel shop, where Bilal started to help out at 10 years old and continued to do so during summer breaks. Inspired by his grandfather, Bilal infuses the menu of Falafelji—which means "falafel seller"—with authentic Middle Eastern flavors. The dishes, which range from vegetarian falafel sandwiches to kofta kebabs with minced lamb and beef, are available for delivery and takeout.
Sultan Palace's all-you-can-eat spread of classic Indian curries, vegetarian dishes, and chicken entrees pleases diverse palates during lunch and dinner. A line of silver-plated catering trays host poultry choices such as chicken beryani and chicken tikka, as well as mixed vegetables for herbivorous cravings. Chicken and lamb curries entertain taste buds bored of leftover pizza and rehydrated astronaut cheeseburgers, and gulab jamun, a popular Indian dessert, embraces sweet teeth with donut-like bites smothered in saccharine syrup. Inside the newly established eatery, white-linen-cloth tables host maroon chairs surrounded by peach, textured walls adorned with artwork.