75 Best Restaurants in Orange County 2016

From the Register this morning…

75 Best Restaurants in Orange County 2016

J Zhao
Banh Mi Saigon
Thanh Tam
ST Patisserie
La Poblana Bakery (better than any tamales I have had in LA)
Tacos San Pedro
Bella Cuba
Mas China Islamic

How does one leave J Zhou off but have Reunion? I mean, this has to be phoned in by the editor simply to throw a bone to Anaheim Hills.


I don’t disagree. He’s also off base choosing Ramen Yamadaya over Kitakata and Rance’s over Tony’s Little Italy, IMO. Why Pueblo didn’t make the list is also beyond me. The two times I’ve been to Lillie’s Q, I’ve gotten dried-out brisket, and I was unimpressed by their other offerings as well.

I’m interested to hear (read) others’ opinions.

I had a terrible beef rib. It was leathery, dried out, lacked smoke, and was bitter. I didn’t want to bash it too bad though since the tri tip was decent. The best part of my whole meal there was the high quality to go containers for the sides. :joy:

Our dinner for two was $120 and felt like I was taken out back with extra KY. Check out my beef rib, yummy!

I felt like that at ARC when I paid $175 for their tomahawk steak. It’s thick, but they strip off the cap (the best part, IMO) for the even more expensive butcher’s love ($250 = no thanks). The result was a chop that was lacking in flavor so much that we had to ask for salt. That being said, I like their cocktail program, and the other things I’ve had there are very good. Still need to try the burger.

Yamadaya is inedible these days. I would recommend people avoid it. Even Yelp has caught on.

I get Pueblo being off the list now with VACA on the scene.

ARC is a bit gimmicky. I should be much lower or should be replaced with Shuck. If you want steak, again, head to VACA.

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Brad Johnson gets regularly chastised from the OC Weekly folks for his choices and opinions. At the end of the day there are always going to be some hits and misses on a list of 75.

Agree with most of what you guys wrote. Some real head scratchers
Reunion and Jimmys Famous American Tavern do not belong on this list. If going this route I’d choose Houston’s every day of the week.
Sushi Noguchi and Sushi Roku over Kaisen or Ohshima
Lillie Q over Smokey Freds
Yamadaya over any of the other places Steve mentioned
No J Zhou
No Lebanese or middle eastern from Anaheim on the list

The lists seems to be skewed to CM, Newport and south county versus inland areas like Santa Ana, Anaheim, Buena Park, Westminster even though he has a few representatives.

I don’t see why there can’t be more than one Spanish restaurant on the list, and Pueblo is better than a number of his other choices.

It’s on our short list.

Completely agree. Some of the choices are just terrible. But hey, his list. It even says “Brad A. Johnson’s favorite places to dine” so I’m okay with the better restaurants not being up there.

Sushi Roku at 17 pretty much tells you what kind of restaurants Brad likes.

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Thanks @OCSteve. Yah, that alone makes it pretty ridiculous. But hey, that’s his opinion I guess.

Absurd. Silly. Mad. Crazy. Maniacal.

Lots of good press on Vaca. It’s on my short list as well.

I believe there was only 5-6 listed in northern OC.
He must be afraid to go north of the 91!

Regarding VACA. They are booked 3-4 weeks out on weekends. Weeknights have more availability.

I literally don’t understand food criticism in OC… I am fairly certain that they just have random unpaid interns skim yelp for various keywords and just compile lists and shit based on that. Maybe occasionally an intern actually ate somewhere, so they just ask them to write about it or something.

idk, ARC should be on there for their burger alone I feel.

There is still not that much great dining in OC (or else it’s mostly still hidden because of shoddy food journalism…or it’s just too impenetrable maybe). Even one amazing dish is enough to put you in the top 50 places easily it seems like.

Anyone actually been to Bangkok Kitchen? So weird to see a thai place in Huntington Beach on such a list…

His take on Playground 2.0 is hilarious, sounds like a 1-star Yelp review, but still one of his fav places to dine!

“Brad’s take: Next door to Playground, but separate, Jason Quinn’s intimate 16-seat chefs’ counter is an interesting experiment. Select a theme and date, reserve, then pay in advance, drinks and gratuity included, for $125 to $150 per person. The chefs are talented, but they’re also shockingly immature. “You are going to (expletive) love this. It’s (expletive) delicious,” one says. And while I tasted 12 different dishes and wines, they never changed my plate, silverware or wine glass. By the end of the night, your plate looks nasty. The food is great. But for the price, most diners will expect a bit more grace.”

His review of Bangkok Avenue is here.

I haven’t been yet, but it’s right in my neighborhood, so I’ll probably get in there eventually.

I have never been myself but I am guessing Thai Nankorn over Bangkok Avenue all day every day and twice on Sundays.

Well, you would guess so, but it would be nice for someone to actually take the hit lol

Man…especially with that many HB people on here lol

I don’t really trust his review of the place at all, but it still makes me wonder of that place.

That’s cause Brad Johnson does not go north of Santa Ana!!!