These will mostly be for OC/LA but as I travel more I will have others too, and these are only ones I would visit again. The so-so ones are for another time. No, I don't have a yelp account even though I occasionally rely on it because most people on yelp who do the reviewing are idiots in my opinion, or to be nicer, I'm not quite sure our tastes match up exactly. Basically if you like my food tastes as displayed in this blog you will probably like my recommendations. I don't think I am a food snob but it is pretty fun to go into a restaurant and "Gordon Ramsay" it sometimes. I give you what I like:
Mastro's Steakhouse - fabulous meals, generous and family-sized portions. i've never had a bad meal here. kind of pricey fyi but worth it. the hot butter cake is to die for
Vietnam's Pearl - great vietnamese food, i love that they have a low carb menu and i get the charbroiled chicken on lettuce or the no carb shredded chicken pho (hold the mint and cilantro for me). the crispy eggrolls are delicious and they have thai tea! Patrick's really nice, too.
Maru Sushi - this is my go-to place for sushi. fresh fish, decent amounts of it too. they have $3 simple rolls (like tuna or cucumber) and then like up to 11$ for fancier rolls. everyone's really friendly and they have flavored sakes - pineapple, lemon, or peach
Tandoori Fresh - i feel like all indian food places charge a lot for meats for what you get but this place is pretty good with their Value meals - for one person, a main dish, a side, naan, rice, and a drink for 8$. about 80% of the time i just go in for some saag paneer without the paneer and they are always accommodating and it's damn good stuff. i haven't been able to recreate it at home
The Silver Trumpet - sold me on the amazing lunch i had during Costa Mesa Restaurant Week. I need to go back more often
Onotria - this place is fantastic. i go here for date night or special occasions, we even held our family dinner after our wedding here and the head chef/owner is nice and friendly and gives you recommendations. we had an amazing truffle cheese and several delicious wines i can't even remember and while their menu changes often it's always great stuff. not as pricey as Mastro's, and their tiramisu is nice and alcoholy.
118 Degrees - for me, a raw food restaurant doesn't sound that enticing because how many ways can you really serve raw veggies but we got a groupon for it once and just tried it out and it was actually really really good. we've been back again and we brought friends and they liked it too. you have to get the stuffed mushrooms and the raw fudge!
The Lexington Social House - come here for the cocktails, not necessarily the food. i didn't have an entree but a friend did and it didn't look very special. their appetizers were pretty okay, my favorite was the stuffed zucchini blossom, but was not impressed with much of it. except the cocktails. let me stress that their cocktails were incredibly good!
Geisha House - have only eaten here once but i really liked it. i recommend the fried calamari and we had several rolls and a hand roll that did not disappoint. the cocktails were meh but the food more than made up for it.
Iva Lee's - their food was great, and they had a nice prix fixe menu. what i remember most however is their delicious chicory creme brulee and their signature Iva Lee's Coffee that had a medley of rich, nutty, sweet liqueurs in it. next time we are in san clemente we will be back.
Avila's El Ranchito - i only endorse the one on main st. in huntington beach. there are several locations around and i even went to the one in the calafia beach area and they just don't live up to the hb one. their nachos are simply the best. there's only been maybe one time their chips weren't up to par but otherwise i would eat their nachos every day if i could/would not be a million pounds from it.
Los Primos Cantina - this is a close second in nachos to E Ranchito but they are fantastic nonetheless. very good quantity for the price and all the other menu items i've tried are great. they even have a happy hour and have mixed drinks, wine (Monterey county wine, even!), and beer and a couple of old school arcade games. we've pretty much stopped making our own nachos and just get them here because the food is so great and meat so flavorful and tender. we even had them cater a large pre-wedding pool party for us and we had SO much food for such a great price that we will use them again and again for parties like that where i don't want to cook.
Charlie Palmer - i wanted to eat here forever and one day i finally did and boy was it what i was hoping for. i had an incredible butternut squash soup and the meal was great, too. they even brought us ladies a small gift bag of freshly baked cookies and there were complimentary amuse bouches and everything was just exquisite. we had just enough of a portion to savor and enjoy, not large portions like Mastro's, and we left feeling just satisfied, not stuffed. i for sure want to come back for the lounge area and cocktails.
Mundo - david and i went here while in vegas (it's off the strip) and we had such a great time, the food was so amazing. we keep meaning to go back but we are never in town enough to have time to go. but when we do i'll post recommendations
The Egg and I - this is our favorite breakfast place EVER. we have to eat here every time we are in vegas, screw the disgusting breakfast bufferts on the strip. their portions are huge and everything is so good and perfect for recharging after a night of drinking. i don't normally like home fries but i can't stop eating these, they are perfectly crisp on the outside and pillowy soft inside and seasoned with some amazing ranch-like seasoning. one of my favorites is the croissant sandwich but really everything is great. i'm so sad it's not near us. They are also known as The Eggworks
The Wynn Buffet - this is hands down the best buffet i've ever been to and we are starting to make it a tradition to go every time we are in vegas. their main courses are great with a fine cheese section and lamb and fish and their dessert section is fabulous and that's where i usually overstuff myself while trying to taste every little creation they have. it's pretty reasonable at 35 a person, too.