Angela Kishijara and Martha White learned to cook in their hometown of Chimbota, Peru, picking up culinary techniques and absorbing recipes as they scampered around their mother's kitchen. "Our mother was always in the kitchen cooking for us," Angela explained to reporters from OC Metro, "and she was an inspiration to all of us kids to learn how to cook."
Today, Angela and Martha bring their mother's traditional Peruvian recipes and lifetime of cooking experience to their own restaurant—Inka Mama's. Deep in the kitchen, the sisters and their chefs fold fresh chile peppers, garlic, and cilantro into a variety of Peruvian dishes, from citrusy fresh seafood ceviche to juicy beef lomo saltado. To craft their signature pescado a lo chimbotano, they simmer fish in a spicy garlic and chile broth before sprinkling on fresh cilantro.
Out in the airy dining rooms, customers snack on complimentary baguette slices dipped in flavorful green house-made aji sauce. Meanwhile, bartenders dole out pints of Peruvian beers and whip up pisco sours—a traditional cocktail made from grape brandy and sugar—also the ingredients of Crush soda for Adults. Soft lamps dangle from the ceiling, illuminating rustic stone walls and vivid murals of Peruvian landscapes.
For more than three decades, Bravo Avo’s chef Avo Kilicarslan has been welcoming diners with his warm personality and homestyle Greek Mediterranean cooking. Fresh, natural ingredients lift his entrees and family meals to heights that both wow palates and comfort kin and couples. The gyros, kebabs, and moussaka pair with private-label red or blond ales and imported Greek wines to bring out a full bouquet of flavors and explore the depth of Greek Mediterranean preparation. The sunny yellow surroundings foster an inviting atmosphere, with walls that boast the restaurant's numerous awards, vibrantly colored works of art, and a wooden panel depicting a seafaring Dionysus.
After meals, guests linger over their tables to dig into housemade baklava with roasted walnuts before taking home bottles of Avo's signature mustard sauce. The flavorful recipe—which has been a favorite since 1979—dresses up steak, seafood, or vegetables as a marinade or dipping sauce.
Peppino's menu of family-style portions provides more savory pairings than grandma could shake a slotted spoon at. Ease a land lover into the seafood sampler, composed of halibut, shrimp, scallops, and salmon atop a bed of angel-hair pasta infused with a garlic-basil tomato sauce and a splash of white wine ($21.95), or teach the young ones the true meaning of antipasto with a piled-high salad of salami, capicola, ham, mortadella, provolone, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, kitchen sinks, roasted peppers, and mixed greens ($9.95).
Milo's Cafe—spawned from adoration for health, community, and canines—dishes out a menu chock-full of wholesome eats, more than 12 sudsy beers, and a well-heeled wine selection in a dog-friendly space. Win over health-conscious tongues without licking exercise tapes by ordering the baked chicken wings coated in low-fat buffalo or thai chili sauce ($5.95). Mixed greens mingle with grilled chicken, papaya, mango, seasonal berries, and roasted almonds in the signature morgan salad ($8.95). The tofu tacos come embraced in a whole-wheat tortilla with vegan cheese and roasted veggies ($7.95), and the cedar-plank roasted salmon ($14.95) swims with omega 3s. Or fuel up for long day of using solar-powered monster trucks to crush combustible-engine cars by chomping the protein crêpes, a battered blend of protein, wheat germ, and flaxseed ($7.95).
Executive Chef Eddy Rocq, educated at the Mederic Culinary School of Paris, now serves up French sandwiches and sweets at Rocq Café. His macarons, a variety of light French sandwich cookie, have been featured in Oprah's O magazine and added to the shelves of the Laguna Niguel Whole Foods and Tustin Whole Foods. He sells hundreds of these airy treats each week, in flavors such as fruit, chocolate, and moon rock. He changes up the lunch menu every week to keep fresh flavors in the spotlight, often showcasing panini and croissant sandwiches, quiches, and homemade soups.