Restaurant Guide–Utah

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Beaver

Maria’s Cocina–1419 E. 200 N. (Mexican) Dinner only (closed Mon & Tue).  Seems to be at least reasonably authentic (horchata is said to be very good). Only about 8 tables inside–outdoor patio is popular in good weather. Salsa is said to be very good and green chile looks good from photos. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Boulder

Burr Trail Grill–10 N. Hwy 12 (Organic) Lunch only (open daily).  Organic food–everything is grown in their garden (but they do have meat dishes). Thai style burger is popular. Seems to be more casual than Hell’s Backbone (this is mainly a sandwich place). (Dining room is open 7-9-21)

Hell’s Backbone–20 N. Hwy 12 (Southwest) Open daily (dinner only). Local & sustainable. Expensive, but people say you are paying for chefs who know what they are doing and prepare dishes the right way. Map (Temporarily closed 11-14-21)

Clearfield

Argentine Corner–442 N. Main St. (Argentinian) Closed Sun.  Reviewers indicate it is not exactly like being in Argentina but it is close. Has empenadas and plate dinners. Food is made fresh so you have to wait for it. (Dining room is open 7-16-20)

Haru Ramen–1266 S. Legend Hills Dr. (Japanese) Closed Sun.  Ramen is said to be very good. Miso ramen is said by some to be the best. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

High Hat Diner–1147 N. Main St. (Mexican) Open 8 am to 2 pm (closed Mon & Tue).  Breakfast is popular. Mexican food with green chile is popular (breakfast with green chile is popular as well). (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Pho Banh–1286 S. Legend Hills Dr. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun evening.  Reviewers say this is the best Vietnamese in Davis County, which isn’t saying a whole lot, but they say the food is legit. Serves pho, banh mi, and a few other dishes such as rice plates with toppings such as Korean beef or vegan lemongrass tofu. Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

Escalante

Georgie’s Outdoor Mexican Cafe–10 S. 500 W. (Mexican) Open 11 am to 6 pm (closed Sun & Mon).  Food truck with outdoor tables under a canopy. Reviewers say food is authentic (not Tex-Mex and not like chain food). They like the tacos, and many point out the quesadilla as being especially good. Map (Outdoor patio is open 11-14-21)

Green River

Tamarisk–1710 E. Main St. (American) Open daily 7 am to 9 pm.  Standard American food, but is better than many places because of high quality ingredients (according to reviews), and has a nice view of the river. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Heber City

Back 40 Ranch House–1223 N. Hwy 40 (American) Open Daily. Serves family style meals at dinner. This is a farm to table restaurant (so I don’t think they have a permanent menu–it changes according to what is available). Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Kanab

Luo’s Cafe–365 S. 100 E. (Chinese) Closed Sat lunch & Sun.  Reviewers say it has some authentic dishes such as mapo tofu, chinese broccoli, bittermelon & beef, etc. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Rocking V–97 W. Center St. (Southwest) Closed Tue & Wed.  Food supposedly is as good as in San Francisco or New York. Veggie enchilada is popular (also serves meat dishes). Fish tacos and key lime pie are good. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Layton

Black Bear Diner–310 E. Gentile St. (Diner) Open daily 6 am to 10 pm.  Most reviews are for breakfast. They say the pancakes are some of the best ever (baked items such as chicken pot pie, bear claws, etc. are said to be good). This is part of a chain, but still said to be one of the best breakfasts. (Dining room is open 6-27-20)

Little Taste of Britain–768 W 1425 N (British) Lunch Mon-Sat; dinner Fri & Sat (closed Sun). Reviewers say the fish and chips are spot on. Pea soup is also recommended. The weird thing is that Hug-Hes Cafe is also supposed to have good fish and chips, and Sill’s Cafe is supposed to have good scones (both of these are also in Layton). The scones, though, appear to be a Utah version that resembles a sopapilla, and bears little relation to the English ones. In any case, though, there does seem to be some good British food in this town. Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

99 Thai Fusion–768 W 1425 N (Thai) Closed Tue (and opens at 1:30 on Sun).  Reviews are good. Curry is recommended (they also have some less common dishes such as papaya salad). Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

Logan

Bluebird–19 N. Main St. (American) Closed Sun.  I’m not sure if people really go here for the food or for the quirkiness and novelty of it. It is a restaurant owned by Asian people who serve American food, but they have some Asian dishes such as sweet and sour chicken. One of the most popular American items (and supposedly extremely good) is the strawberry chicken (grilled chicken with a strawberry glaze). Also the desserts are very popular (especially the mud pie). Has a candy store inside the restaurant, and many people come just for this. (Temporarily closed 8-19-21)

Tandoori Oven–720 E. 1000 N. (Indian) Closed Sun.  Indian restaurant inside a gas station–people say the food is solid. They especially like that the spice level is straightforward–it you ask for spicy they will make it spicy. Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

Thai House–51 W. 200 S. (Thai) Closed Sun (and closed from 3:30 to 4:30 pm).  Thai food that impresses people from other cities, and which gets very good reviews. (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Moab

Antica Forma–267 N. Main St. (Pizza) Open Daily.  Wood fired pizza that gets good reviews. (Dining room is open 7-5-21)

Arches Thai–60 N. 100 W. (Thai) Open Daily.  Authentic and very good Thai, but prices are about double what they would be at most Thai restaurants. Curry is recommended (but all dishes appear to be good). (Dining room is open 7-5-21)

Desert Bistro–36 S. 100 W. (Southwest) Dinner only (closed Tue).  Prices are far above most other restaurants in town, but it has had excellent reviews for years, and I think this is probably the best fine dining choice. When I was in Moab I looked at their menu posted outside and saw that it was too expensive for me, but I think people will love the food if they can afford it. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Miguel’s Baja Grill–51 N. Main St. (Mexican).  Dinner only (closed Tue).  Fish tacos were good (in fact, some of the best I have had). However, the beans, rice, and salsa were somewhat bland. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Singha Thai–92 E. Center St. (Thai) Closed Sun lunch and closed from 3 to 5 pm.  More Americanized than Bangkok House, but customers can ask for food “Thai style” and order some off-the-menu dishes that are very authentic. Note: Bangkok House is still open but Arches Thai now has better reviews. (Dining room is open 7-5-21)

Monticello

Doug’s Steak and BBQ–496 N. Main St. (BBQ, Steakhouse) Dinner only (Thu-Sat only). Based on reviews, most people order the BBQ, and say it is very good (pulled pork, ribs, brisket, etc.). Some do not like the sauce, though. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Ja Roen Thai Sushi–360 S. Main St. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 2 to 4 pm).  Most reviewers say they were surprised to find Thai food this good in a small town like this. Down side seems to be that there is one person cooking, so wait may be longer than you want if you have a limited time to eat before hitting the road again. (Dining room is open 7-5-21)

Ogden

Aroy D Thai–1167 W. 12th St. (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon.  Mostly good reviews. It seems to be the best Thai food in northern Utah (north of SLC). (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Hanamaru–357 E. 37th St. (Japanese) Dinner Wed-Sat; lunch Sat only.  Udon, katsu curry, ramen, shabu shabu, sushi.  Mostly everyday Japanese food done very well at good prices. Note: was closed during Jan & Feb 2019 (perhaps the chef goes to Japan periodically?) (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Rosa’s Cafe–2660 Washington Blvd. (Mexican) Breakfast & lunch Wed-Sun; dinner Fri & Sat.  Enchiladas, burritos, etc. are covered with chile verde and/or chile colorado (some indicate that the chile verde is better). One reviewer says this is El Paso style, and he knows because he is from El Paso. Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

Orem

Asado Argentinian Grill–360 S. State St. (Argentinian) Closed Sat & Sun.  Good reviews–people like the quality and the flavor. There are two sections of the menu–the cheap section has empanadas, etc. and the expensive section has steaks (and people say they are memorable). (Dining room is open 7-7-20)

Bangkok Grill–934 N. State St. (Thai) Closed Sat lunch & Sun.  A restaurant for “picky eaters” (such as ones who have been to Thailand). Curries and noodle dishes are recommended (some curries are spicier than others, so you might want to order based on what spiciness you want). Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Great China–1632 S. State St. (Chinese) Closed Sun.  Mostly American style dishes, but it has pan fried noodles (and is a place Chinese people can go and find something they consider to be authentic). Reviews did not give very many details, though. If you get Americanized food they say it is cheaper than the other places. Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Keloke Dominican Rest.–266 N. State St. (Dominican) Open 11 am to 7 pm (closed Sun & Mon).  Served fast food style, but reviewers say it is authentic and very flavorful. Beef stew and passionfruit drink is one of the choices that would make a good introduction to this cuisine. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Red Fuego–820 E. 800 N. (Peruvian) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Sun).  Reviewers say the food is comparable to Peruvian food in large cities in the US (with very good restaurants). Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

TRUreligion Pancake & Steakhouse–360 S. State St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily).  When almost everyone talks about the breakfast, and say it is the best in Utah County, I think this is what most people consider to be their best food. I particularly like the fact that multiple items come with an optional green chile (and they say the green chile is very good) Map. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Park City

Adolph’s–1500 Kearns Blvd. (Swiss) Open daily (dinner only).  This is a European style restaurant with Swiss specialties. Multi course dinner, but many times the other courses are as good or better than the main one. Expensive, but may be worth it for your special occasion dinner. Check the reviews, though, because some are disappointed with the food. (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Bangkok Thai–605 Main St. (Thai) Dinner daily; lunch Fri-Sun.  A good choice to get good food at a reasonable price in PC (not an easy thing to accomplish). Most say the food is good but the service is bad. It helps to get a reservation (this will make the service better for you). (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Fletcher’s–562 Main St. (New American) Open daily (dinner only).  Good choice for your upscale, special occasion experience. Steak, chicken, mussels, ribs, lamb shank, and probably several other entrees are all very good. Everyone raved about the biscuits and jam (served with all meals). I’m listing this restaurant because people say it is worth the price. (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Harvest–820 Park Ave. (Cafe) Open daily 8 am to 3 pm.  Based on a post on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog it make me think you have have the quality here of Park City’s upscale restaurants without the high prices, so this place looks like a winner for breakfast or lunch. (Dining room is open 9-13-21)

Kuchu Shabu–1612 W. Ute Blvd. (Japanese) Dinner daily; lunch Thu-Sat.  Has shabu shabu, poke, hot pot, pho, etc. People complain about high prices and small portions, but have a high opinion about the food. (Dining room is open 8-22-20)

Szechwan–1612 Ute Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  This is a place that is inexpensive (by PC standards), has good service (waiters are not snooty), and you don’t need reservations. It also has good food, but it’s mostly Americanized. The lunch specials are about $10 (with American style dishes). There are some “authentic” dishes on the dinner menu (twice cook pork, etc.) but they are more expensive. This does not sound great, but it sounds good for PC. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Perry

Maddox Ranch House–1900 S. Hwy 89 (Steakhouse) Open Tue-Sat (open until 9:30 pm).  Primarily a steak place, but has turkey and trout (as well as fried chicken, hamburgers, and other items more popular at lunch). Yeast rolls with raspberry butter, chicken, homemade pies are very good. They raise their own beef and brew their own root beer. Very large restaurant (and people apparently drive from SLC to eat here). Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

Price

Farlaino’s Cafe–87 W. Main St. (American) Open 7 am to 7 pm (closed Sun).  It is not totally American–it has some Italian dishes including Italian sausage that people say is great for lunch or breakfast (Groovin Gourmet on Chowhound recommends the Italian sausage sandwich for lunch).  Pancakes are recommended for breakfast or burgers for lunch. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Provo

Black Sheep Cafe–19 N. University Ave. (Native American) Closed Sun (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Owners combine their Navajo dishes from their childhood with Southwestern flavors such as green chile, and the result is a very popular restaurant with a vast menu compared to what I have seen at other Native American restaurants. Green chile Navajo taco seems to be the most popular, but reviews of other items indicate it is best to keep an open mind about what you order. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Bombay House–463 N. University Ave. (Indian) Dinner only (closed Sun).  Probably the best Indian restaurant in a several-state area. Less spicy than most Indian restaurants, but you can get it spicier if you ask. Not a buffet–dishes are individually cooked.  (Additional locations in SLC). Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Communal–102 N. University Ave. (New American) Dinner only; lunch & dinner on Sat (closed Sun).  Seasonal and locally sourced food. Tends to be upscale and expensive, but portions are big (and they encourage people to share). People say the butterscotch pudding is not to be missed. Do not come here if you like high fat and sodium content (I think because of this some reviewers say the food is bland). However, because of the prices I would say take care in what you order. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Hruska’s Kolaches–434 W. Center St. (Bakery) Open 6:30 am until they run out of kolaches–usually about 11:30 am (closed Sun). Breakfast kolaches are popular (sausage, egg, etc.). Fruit kolaches are also very good. (Takeout and delivery only 8-19-21)

Koko Lunchbox–1175 N. Canyon Rd. (Korean) Open 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (closed Sun).  Authentic Korean–because of this it has better reviews than many other Asian restaurants in the Provo area (in fact I think it has the best reviews on Yelp). Some say it is as good as the food trucks in other cities, but here you can eat it in a restaurant setting. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Molly’s–753 W. Columbia Ln. (American) Lunch only (Wed-Sat only).  It is said to be home style food, and food you would find at a cafeteria but served restaurant style. Some reviewers recommend ordering something simple (more complicated dishes like meat loaf lack spicing). (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Note: Provo and Orem have a notable variety of ethnic restaurants due to Mormon missionaries going to just about every country, with some of the converts wanting to go to BYU for school and to stay in the area afterwards. I do not know if I have included the best ones on the list, and this certainly is not all of them, but I tried to include ones that had good reviews.

Saint George

Durango–245 Red Cliffs Dr. (Mexican) Closed Sun. Reviewers say it is better than Cafe Rio. Has green enchiladas, so I think it is worth a try. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Honolulu Grill–706 E. 700 S. (Hawaiian) Open 11 am to 7 pm (closed Sun).  Good value, and good Hawaiian style food. Katsu chicken, kalua pork, macaroni salad are good. (Dining room is open 7-7-20)

Red Fort Cuisine of India–148 S. 1470 E. (Indian) Closed Tue.  Reviewers say this is the real deal (many of them compare this to restaurants in large cities). (Dining room is open 7-7-20)

Viva Chicken–1183 E. 100 S. (Peruvian) Closed daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Has a large menu with probably anything you would want (including plantains and arroz chaufa). Chicken dishes are all recommended, but especially the rotisserie chicken. (Dining room is open 7-7-20)

Wagon Wheel Diner–2654 Red Cliffs Dr. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Wed).  Reviewers say this is the best place in the area to get breakfast. Located just west of the town of Washington. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Salt Lake City

All Chay–1264 W. 500 N. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2 pm to 5 pm).  Vegetarian Vietnamese food that is so good it is the number one restaurant on Yelp in SLC.  All the flavors are said to be authentically Asian. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Bruges Waffles & Frites–336 W. 300 S. (Belgian) Open daily except Sun. night.  Popular for breakfast (serves several types of Belgian waffles). Sandwiches, frites, and desserts are popular. Also in Provo and Draper. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Cafe Guanaco–1460 S. State St. (Salvadoran) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Sun).  Specialty is pupusas that are said to be delicious and “filled with tons of cheese and meat.” Carne asada pupusa is recommended. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Cafe on Main–2701 S. Main St. (Bosnian) Open 10 am to 7 pm (closed Sat & Sun).  Sudzukice (sausage) plate, tomato and cucumber salad, and tufahija for dessert are recommended. Other items to try include kebabs, schnitzel, and cevapi (grilled dish of minced meat). Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Dim Sum House–1158 S. State St. (Chinese) Closed Wed.  Dim sum served all day. Serves congee and some menu items. Everything is said to be authentic. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Feldman’s Deli–2005 E. 2700 S. (Deli) Closed Sun & Mon.  Jewish deli with very good reviews. Reuben is apparently the most popular item, but this restaurant also offers a number of items that are difficult to find just about anywhere in the West. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Golden Dragon–1716 S. State St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Dim sum and authentic menu items, but the emphasis seems to be on the latter. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Kobe–3947 Wasatch Blvd. (Japanese) Open daily except Sun lunch (closed from 2 to 5 pm Mon-Fri).  Known for it ramen (many say it compares with Tosh’s and it’s easier to get a table). Also has other menu items. (Dining room is open 6-27-20)

Les Madeleines–216 E. 500 S. (Bakery) Open 8 am to 2 pm (3 pm Fri & Sat); (closed Sun & Mon).  Gil Garduño describes a French pastry called Kouign-Amann that is crunchy and gooey at the same time with a caramel flavor. The specialty here is French pastries but has breakfast items as well (most reviewers think whatever you get should include the Kouign-Amann). (Dining room is open 9-13-21)

Market Street Grill–48 W. Market St. (American) Open daily (closed from 2 to 5 pm).  I was impressed by their fish specials, consisting of fresh fish flown in daily (the fish makes you imagine that you are in Seattle, where I had eaten very similar fresh fish the day before eating here). (Dining room is open 9-13-21)

Nauvoo Cafe–15 E. South Temple St. (American) Closed Sun.  Owned by the LDS Church and open to the public. Home style cooking served cafeteria style. Some say this is better than Lion House on the same block, but both have similar food. No coffee or tea is served, but they have decaf Coke. Turkey pot pie is the most recommended dish here (pot pie is also the most popular dish at Lion House, but the big thing at Lion House is the rolls). Some food may be bland and/or salty (like a typical cafeteria). (Temporarily closed 8-26-21)

Nomad East–1675 E. 1300 S. (Pizza) Open daily except Sun lunch.  Gil Garduño (Gil’s Thrilling And Filling Blog) says this is one of the ten best pizzas he’s ever had, so I think this is enough to put it on this list. In addition, though, the roasted local peach dessert looks like a must try dish. Map (Dining room is open 9-13-21)

Oh Mai–3425 S. State St. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Specializes in pho and banh mi, but has a varied menu. Offers vegetarian pho, and uses no MSG in the food. I think it looks interesting, and probably compares favorable to restaurants in larger cities. Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Red Iguana–736 W. North Temple St. (Mexican) Open 11 am to 9 pm–10 pm on Fri & Sat (closed Mon).  Has 7 types of mole (I only saw 6 on their menu, but this would be plenty). Note: there is another Red Iguana at 866 South Temple. I have seen on reviews that reservations are a good idea and parking is a problem (at least at the S Temple location). Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Settebello–260 S. 200 W. (Pizza) Open Daily.  “Almost” authentic Neapolitan pizza (but they say it’s about the best you are going to find in Utah or a lot of other places). VPN approved. Map  (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Thai Garden–868 E. 900 S. (Thai) Open Daily except Sun lunch (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Groovin’ Gourmet says it’s better than Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas–red curry with pumpkin is recommended. Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

The Med–420 E. 3300 S. (Persian) Closed Mon & Tue.  Persian & Turkish cuisine. There are several comments saying the food is not authentic, but Persian food is so good I think it might still be worth a try. Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Tortas Y Jugos El Morelense–2470 S. Redwood Rd. (Mexican) Closed Sun evening & Mon.  Recommended place for authentic Mexican street food. Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Tosh’s Ramen–1465 S. State St. (Japanese) Closed Sun (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Many say it is the best ramen in SLC, but is inconsistent (one visit could be great and another not so much). Take your pick between this and Kobe (also Tonkatsu is good). Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

South Salt Lake

Afghan Kitchen–3142 S. Main St. (Afghan) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Traditional Afghan food, which is a combination of Middle Eastern and Indian (based on some of the dishes that are available). Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Navajo Hogan–447. E. 3300 S. (Native American) Lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  Mutton stew on Sat. is popular. Navajo taco is a best seller, and many like the blue corn version. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Spanish Fork

Los 2 Potrillos–146 S. Main St. (Mexican) Open 10 am to 10 pm (closed Sun).  Authentic south of the border style food.  Specializes in fish tacos (owner is from So. Cal. and has connections to get fresh fish).  Also has enchiladas suizas and other menu items. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Springdale

Park House Cafe–1880 Zion Park Blvd. (American) Open daily 8 am to 2 pm (I think in winter it is closed Tue).  Popular for breakfast. Eggs Benedict are recommended. Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Spotted Dog Cafe–428 Zion Park Blvd. (American) Open for breakfast and dinner only (no lunch).  Mainly popular for dinner because it is casual but the food is more upscale than most (and not too expensive). Map (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Springville

Art City Trolley–256 N. Main St. (American) Closed Sun.  This restaurant has somewhat of a cult following–you sit in a real trolley car and eat diner food (but people say it is very good). Apparently there is a dining room next door if the trolley is overcrowded (which it frequently seems to be). People recommend hamburgers, mac & cheese, quesadilla, Philly sandwich. (Dining room is open 7-7-20)

Sundance

Tree Room–8841 N. Alpine Loop (American) Open Tue-Sat (dinner only).  Robert Redford’s 5 star restaurant.  Fine dining and expensive, and it seems to be a place that everyone enjoys. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

Torrey

Capitol Reef Inn–360 W. Main St. (American) Open daily 7 am to 9 pm.  Seems to be more New American than traditional American (lemon-hickory chicken is one of the specialties). Said to have good food at good prices. Map (Temporarily closed 11-14-21)

Vernal

Antica Forma–251 E. Main St. (Pizza) Closed Sun.  Gourmet pizza made with fresh mozzarella and interesting toppings. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

West Jordan

BFF Turon–8860 S. Redwood Rd. (Filipino) Closes at 7 pm (closed Sun).  Like most ethnic restaurants in Utah, the real comparison to make is with restaurants in other states. Reviewers say this restaurant stands the test very well. Turon is their specialty, but there is a large list of dishes with excellent reviews. (Dining room is open 8-26-21)

West Valley City

Don Pollo–3531 S. 5600 W. (Mexican) Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.  Specializes in Mexican style charbroiled chicken and various types of tacos (reviews are excellent for these as well as the salsas, etc.). Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Myung Ga–3353 S. Decker Dr. (Korean) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Sun).  Korean food that is delicious enough to impress people who are novices to the cuisine, and varied enough to give veterans something new to try. Tofu soup is highly rated. Map (Dining room is open 11-14-21)

Red Maple Chinese–2882 W. 4700 S. (Chinese) Open Daily.  One of the best dim sum restaurants in SLC, if not the best (reviewers say it tastes fresh). Also has a Chinese menu of other dishes. Map (Takeout only 11-2-21)

Thai Star–3197 S. Redwood Rd. (Thai) Dinner daily; lunch Thu-Mon.  Serves Thai food with some Lao dishes (but other restaurants have a better selection of Lao food). The best features here are freshness, good flavor, and good quality. I am not sure if it is really authentic based on reviews I read. Map (Dining room is open 11-2-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Note About “50 States, 50 Cuisines” (Condé Nast)

Condé Nast published an article on Sep. 14, 2020 explaining how they set out to go beyond a previous article that had identified the signature dish for each state, and to find food that goes beyond the classics and “to highlight a cuisine worth traveling to each state for, much of which you truly can’t get anywhere else.” For Utah it was Indigenous Southwestern Food of the Diné People of the Navajo Nation.

They say there are many restaurants and food stands between Salt Lake City and the state’s five national parks. A standout, though is Black Sheep Cafe in Provo. Dishes served include green chile and pork Navajo tacos and hog jowl nachos. Pueblo breads include fry bread used on the Navajo taco and a nanniskadii bun on the Black Sheep Burger. The food here is a melding of traditional Navajo dishes with Southwestern flavors.

 

Sources:

Adventure is Never Far Away (My Favorite Ethnic Restaurants in Salt Lake City)

Chowhound (Utah)

City-Data (SLC Restaurants)

City-Data (What/Where to Eat on Utah Road Trip)

Condé Nast Traveler (50 States, 50 Cuisines: The Food Worth Traveling For in Every State)

Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Google Maps

Trip Advisor (Park City)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Utah)

Zomato (Salt Lake City)

 

Restaurant Guide–San Francisco

Restaurant Guide Main Index


California

Los Angeles | Orange County | San Bernardino/Riverside | San Diego


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Alameda

Phnom Penh House–1514 Webster St. (Cambodian) Closed Sun.  People say the food here is excellent. The only thing is that it is different from Thai food in that it relies more on the freshness of the food and subtle flavors rather than spices, etc. Asian crepe is one of many interesting looking items (this is similar to the Vietnamese banh xeo). (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Berkeley

Note: Berkeley has a vaccine passport mandate for indoor dining.

Imm Thai Street Food–2068 University Ave. (Thai) Open Daily.  I honestly do not know how authentic it is, but from the photos it looks very visually appealing, and reviewers say it is very good. In 2019 there was about a 45 minute wait to get a table much of the time–I don’t know about post-pandemic. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Kiraku–2566 Telegraph Ave. (Japanese) Closed Mon & Tue (dinner only). Japanese tapas restaurant with a wide variety of dishes. Advice from reviewers is to order anything that looks interesting (it is all good). Not a sushi place– this is an Izakaya restaurant (but they have sushi also). There is a $15 minimum to eat here (or $30 if you make a reservation). It seems to be worth it for the type of Japanese food that it is hard to find in the U.S. Wait (without a reservation) can be up to 2 hrs. on weekends. (Dinning room is open 8-20-21)

Udupi Palace–1903 University Ave. (Indian) Closed Tue. South Indian vegetarian. Thali is good (I really liked the former Seattle location–I recommend thali sampler plate). Dosa is also very popular. Also in SF. (Takeout only 8-4-21)

Burlingame

Copenhagen–1216 Burlingame Ave. (Danish) Open daily until 6 pm (serves breakfast daily). This is a bakery and cafe. Some say it’s as close to true Danish as you can get in the U.S. Pastries, sandwiches, Danish meatballs. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Mokutanya–1155 California Dr. (Japanese) Open daily (dinner only).  A destination Japanese restaurant that is not terribly expensive, but has enthusiastic fans for its hard to find authentic and delicious dishes. Black garlic ramen is one of the specialties (this is an izakaya restaurant–not primarily a sushi one). (This seems to be a place to come with friends–they give you individual rooms for each table). (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Corte Madero

Burmatown–60 Corte Madero Ave. (Burmese) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon).  Excellent reviews, but restaurant is very small. It is recommended to go at the most off-peak time possible (but food is said to be authentic and very worthwhile). (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Cupertino

Red Hot Wok–10074 E. Estates Dr. (Taiwanese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:15 to 5 pm). Reviewers say this is one of their favorite Taiwanese restaurants in the Bay Area. This is pretty much everyday comfort food (not expensive or high end). (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Yayoi–20682 Homestead Rd. (Japanese) Open daily 12 pm to 8 pm.  Japanese Teishoku restaurant (several small dishes served with steamed rice). Has very good reviews. Udon and katsu are popular items. Also in Palo Alto. (Takeout and delivery only 7-16-21)

Daly City

Chibog–2055 Gellert Blvd. (Filipino) Open until 6 pm (closed Mon).  Reviews are not as good as Boracay Garden in South San Francisco, but there seems to be plenty here that is very flavorful (it would be best to read on-line reviews to see what they recommend). Probably cheaper than Boracay also. (Takeout only 8-4-21)

El Cerrito

Note: Contra Costa Co. requires diners to have a vaccine passport or a negative Covid test from the past three days.

99 Ranch Market–3288 Pierce St. (Grocery Store) Open Daily.  Good place for Asian groceries. Nearby, though, are a number of small Asian restaurants, dessert shops, etc. that look interesting. (Store is open 8-20-21)

New Dumpling–10064 San Pablo Ave. (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:30 to 5:30 pm).  Some say this is the best dumpling place in the East Bay. Green onion pancake is recommended. Located about 4 blocks from the BART station. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Zomsa–10558 San Pablo Ave. (Himalayan) Closed Wed.  Prices are very good for the Bay Area, and the Himalayan dishes seem to be especially flavorful. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Foster City

Joy–1489 Beach Park Blvd. (Taiwanese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Has a “secret” Chinese menu which is a favorite with Chowhounds (it’s actually written on cards on the wall). The regular menu is Hong Kong, Sichuanese and Taiwanese. Reviews in late 2018 and 2019 indicate that it is now “uneven.” Part of the problem is that the landlord raised the rent and they can no longer afford to serve the cheap dishes (such as Taiwanese pancakes). They do say, though, that they have authentic Taiwanese food. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Fremont

Din Ding Dumpling House–3213 Walnut Ave. (Chinese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 5:30 pm).  This is a Shanghai style noodle and dumpling house. Xiao long bao (with pork) is said to be excellent, but has many other excellent dishes as well. This is said to be a good alternative to the higher priced dumpling houses and is said to be the same quality (but perhaps not exactly the same menu). Also in Union City. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Line Thai–3964 Washington Blvd. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Opened in 2017, and many had been anxiously awaiting it. Reviewers say the curry is spot on, but the pad thai is really the special dish here (because they do it right and so many other restaurants do not). Spice levels are at Thai levels (so be cautious when ordering). (Takeout only 8-4-21)

Shanghai Flavor–46132 Warm Springs Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Mon  (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Has a very large menu of authentic dishes. Many say skip the xiao long bao (it is better at other restaurants). This place, though, has many items you may not find in other restaurants so this would be a good opportunity. (Takeout only 7-16-21)

Half Moon Bay

Barbara’s Fishtrap–281 Capistrano Rd. (Seafood) Open daily (closes at 7 pm weekdays).  Clam chowder, fish & chips. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Monsoon Himalayan–20 Stone Pine Rd. (Nepalese) Dinner only (closed Tue).  This is said to be one of the best Himalayan restaurants in the Bay Area (Little Nepal and Cuisine of Nepal are said to be the ones that would be comparable). (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Los Altos

Estrellita–971 N. San Antonio Rd. (Mexican) Dinner only (closed Mon) Note: has lunch Fri-Sun.  Mostly a pretty standard Mexican restaurant, but the best dishes on the menu are Yucatan and Oaxaca style. This seems to be one of the best “sit-down” Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Noodle Talk Home Cuisine–4546 El Camino Real (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 2:15 to 5 pm).  Authentic Hunan cuisine, but I think the “home cuisine” means that it is casual, inexpensive, and is more home style food than “banquet style.” (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Millbrae

Ben Tre–219 El Camino Real (Vietnamese) Closed Tue.  This is a “homestyle” Vietnamese restaurant that reminds Vietnamese people of home. It is not a special occasion restaurant and they do not have any special dishes–just ones that show you what people in Vietnam eat on a daily basis (and for this it is a good choice). Also in S. San Francisco. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Hong Kong Flower Lounge–51 Millbrae Ave. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Seems to be the No. 1 place in the Bay Area for dim sum (rec. by Chowhound). (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Hubei–1055 El Camino Real (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Authentic food from Hubei Province (and city of Wuhan). Some comments say that the Hubei food is not that great, but the hot-dry noodle is really worthwhile (and is the specialty of the restaurant). (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Stick & Steam–350 Adrian Rd. (Singaporean) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Reviewers who have been to Singapore say you get the same food here. May be a little expensive, but it seems to be because it is good quality. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Wonderful–270 Broadway (Chinese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Hunan style food that is said to be the spiciest in China (spicier then Sichuan). The flavor, though, seems to be excellent. Stir fried pork and marinated tofu seems like a good dish to try. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Milpitas

Banana Leaf–182 Ranch Dr. (Malaysian) Closed Sun (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  I think this is the place to go for Malaysian in the Bay Area (has the best reviews). Mango chicken is popular, and my experience in Seattle indicates that this may be a good bet. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Chili Garden–210 Barber Ct. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 4:30pm).  Hunan style (said to be one of 2 authentic Hunan rests. in the Bay Area–the other Hunan rest. was in Sunnyvale but is now closed-one that recently opened in Los Altos may also be authentic).  House special Chili Garden beef, sour cabbage bamboo pork (ask for Chinese menu). (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Mountain View

Caspian–1910 El Camino Real (Persian) Open daily except Sun evening.  Reviewers say the quality is good and they make good use of herbs and spices for a very nice flavor. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Oakland

Champa Garden–2102 8th Ave. (Lao) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  To me everything looks good, and reviews seem to support it. Lao Tae has better reviews, but it seems to have fewer items and has different hours. I would say take your pick (Champa Garden looks less expensive and more home style). Also in SF. (Takeout only 8-4-21)

Da Nang Quan–615 E. 12th St. (Vietnamese) Open 9 am to 7 pm (closed Thu). One of the best places for authentic Vietnamese (although Oakland has a large concentration of similar restaurants). Bun Bo Hue and banh xeo are specialties, but has a number of hard to find dishes. Specializes in central Vietnamese cuisine (Hue style). (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Doña–3770 Piedmont Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Popular during the pandemic because it has a large outdoor dining area. Food gets good reviews. Coming from El Paso the menu doesn’t look very exotic but it looks like a good find. (Dining room and outdoor patio are open 8-20-21)

FOB Kitchen–5179 Telegraph Ave. (Filipino) Dinner Wed-Sun; lunch Fri-Sun.  Several things stand out here including the variety of dishes they serve, how good it looks visually from the photos, and the reviews it gets (other Filipino restaurants in the Bay Area also have a large variety of dishes though). I think this is one of the places that is worth seeking out. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Lao Tae–6516 Moraga Ave. (Lao) Dinner only (open daily).  Food seems to be very flavorful and uniformly good. Lao sausage and crispy pork belly are particularly popular. (Temporarily closed 8-20-21)

New Gold Medal–389 8th St. (Chinese) Open daily (open late night).  Very authentic Cantonese food. Seems to have good food, but I get the impression that the staff expects you to know what you are ordering and some end up with items they do not like. Dry style chow fun is recommended. Has an extremely large menu (as most authentic Cantonese restaurants do). Serves food without MSG if you order it that way. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Phnom Penh House–3912 MacArthur Blvd. (Cambodian) Closed Sun.  It is billed as Cambodian, but actually has Thai and Lao dishes as well. Cambodian food seems to be good, but many people order the other items because they are more familiar with them (and say they are very good as well). (Takeout only 8-4-21)

Shan Dong–328 10th St. (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed from 3 to 4 pm).  Mandarin/northern Chinese. Handmade noodles, dan dan noodles, dumplings. One of the favorite Chinese places of locals. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Palo Alto

Chef Zhao Bistro–2180 W. Bayshore Rd. (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:30 to 5:00pm).  Chef Zhao appeared on the Yan Can Cook show and prepared a couple of notable dishes–fish and ma po tofu (both of which have good reviews at the restaurant and appear to be authentic). Reviewers also recommend Lanzhou beef noodle soup, chili chicken, and dan dan noodles (and say the Sichuan boiled fish is very good). Has xiao long bao. (Takeout only 7-16-21)

Richmond

Note: Contra Costa Co. requires diners to have a vaccine passport or a negative Covid test from the past three days.

Huong Tra–12221 San Pablo Ave. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Said to be a neighborhood favorite (is probably not a destination restaurant for the entire Bay Area). However, reviews and description of the food are very good, and I think there are many things here I would like to try (menu is pretty extensive). (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

San Francisco

Note: San Francisco requires diners to have a vaccine passport and does not accept a negative Covid test. Apparently those without a passport are allowed to sit in outdoor patios. (I will not do a further update to this list as long as they place these restrictions on the general public entering restaurants).

Beijing–1801 Alemany Blvd. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 8:45 pm. Beijing style. Reviewers say it’s the most authentic Beijing style rest. in SF. Beijing street pancakes, beef noodle soup, dumplings are recommended. (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

Bund Shanghai–640 Jackson St. (Chinese) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Tue).  Shanghai and Mandarin style. Said to be very good. Has XLB but reviewers recommend that you explore the menu. (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

Burma Superstar–309 Clement St. (Burmese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm). Reviewers say it is authentic. Samosa soup, tea leaf salad, chicken tofu kabat, pork curry. (4-4-19)

Champa Garden–613 Faxon Ave. (Lao) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Rice ball salad, drunken noodles, coconut soup are recommended. Also a Champa Garden in Oakland but I don’t know if they are related. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

De Afghanan–1035 Geary St. (Afghan) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon).  Seems to be an excellent place to try authentic Afghan food. However it is a very casual place that mostly serves kabobs. It is the variety of kabobs and the side dishes served that make it much more interesting than the average kabob restaurant. Also in Tracy, and takeout only in Fremont. (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Dim Sum Bistro–675 Broadway (Chinese) Open daily 8 am to 3 pm.  This is rated as the no. 1 dim sum restaurant on Yelp. Reviewers say it has some very good items (i.e. shrimp dumpling, steamed pork bun, siu mai, shrimp and chives dumpling). There are others they say to skip. Two important factors in its number 1 rating are its price (cheaper than most) and the fact that it is in a “good area” (I don’t know where the bad area is but they mentioned Broadway Dim Sum Cafe as being in it). (Takeout only 9-10-21)

Golden Crab House–1830 Irving St. (Seafood) Closed Mon & closed Tue lunch.  This is a Vietnamese style seafood restaurant, but you can get “regular” (non-Asian style) seafood if you want. House garlic noodles seem to be the most popular side dish to go with the seafood. Dungeness crab seems to be its seafood specialty. Popular for its fixed dinners for 2, 4, 10 etc people, but diners can order individual items as well. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Hon’s Wun-Tun House–648 Kearney St. (Chinese) Open 10 am to 7 pm (closed Sun). Authentic Hong Kong style noodle house (one of the few really authentic places in Chinatown). Serves many versions of wun tun (wonton) soup–all of them seem to be good. (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

House of Dim Sum–735 Jackson St. (Chinese) Open daily 6:45 am to 6 pm.  Menu consists of dim sum, noodles, and congee. Reviewers say dim sum is the authentic version from Guangdong and is not Americanized. They also say orders are very large (although the on-line menu indicates they are not much more expensive than at most dim sum restaurants). (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

House of Nanking–919 Kearney St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Owners are from Shanghai but the wife’s dad was from Nanking (I think they have both types of food in the restaurant). Some reviewers say a good strategy here is to ask the restaurant to bring them something they would recommend. They also have Nanking sesame chicken and probably other dishes that are representative of this cuisine. (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

Ken Kee Cafe–2109 Clement St. (Chinese) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Thu).  A Google search for dim sim without MSG turned up this restaurant, except that it is a full menu Cantonese/Hong Kong restaurant and not dim sum. The rating for this restaurant is higher than most others in Chinatown, including the ones I put on this list. Reviewers say it is one of the best bangs for the buck. Has authentic food, and some items take 30 or 40 minutes to prepare. (Dining room is open 9-10-21)

Kui Shin Bo–22 Peace Plaza (Japanese) Closed Mon.  Home style Japanese. Fresh fish specials are good. Mainly a lunch place (good prices for lunch) but it’s open to 8 pm. (7-13-19)

Lime Tree–836 Clement St. (Malaysian) Closed Mon (and closed from 2 to 5 pm).  Reviewers say you get good food and good prices. The city’s only Indonesian restaurant closed during the Covid period and reviewers recommend this as an alternative. There is another location at 450 Irving St. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Mandalay–4348 California St. (Burmese) Closed Tue (Dinner Wed-Mon; lunch Fri-Sun).  Not only is this a hard to find cuisine, but the restaurant gets excellent reviews. Tea leaf salad, sauteed green beans, chicken in garlic sauce. Reviewers say it is Burmese-Chinese, so Burma Superstar might be more authentic. Reviewers are particularly disappointed with the tea leaf salad, but like the curry chicken, fish soup, singapore noodles, balada, mango chicken, mango salad, and others. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Muracci’s Japanese Curry–307 Kearney St. (Japanese) Lunch only (closed Sun). It is actually open until 7 pm Mon-Thu, but some reviewers say they frequently run out of their best dishes earlier than this. I think this is probably one of the things that makes it good (everything is fresh and things are not prepared in large quantities). The specialty here is Japanese curry, which many people get with chicken katsu. The menu seems to be fairly limited but something really worth trying if you are a fan of Japanese food. (4-4-19)

Plaj–333 Fulton St. (Swedish) Open daily (dinner only).  Expensive and maybe dress up, but it’s a good chance to try a full menu of Swedish food (there are not many in the U.S.). (4-30-19)

Shanghai Dumpling King–696 Monterey Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  Recently moved to new location. Notes from the old location: best XLB in SF, and maybe the U.S; small place–cash only. New place seems to be the same, but I’m not sure about the cash only part. Some say the XLB here is better than in Shanghai. Also has a location in Millbrae. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

The Grotto–2847 Taylor St. (Seafood) Open Daily.  Touristy place–expensive with a good view, but my parents said this was their favorite seafood place in SF (the best food for the money). (Temporarily closed 8-4-21)

Ton Kiang–5821 Geary Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Wed. Dim sum served all day. One of the most popular dim sum places in SF. There is lots of competition, so it’s hard to say which one is best. If you come here try the Shanghai meat dumpling, mushrooms and shrimp, ha gao, onion pancakes, egg custard tarts. (4-4-19)

Udupi Palace–1007 Valencia St. (Indian) Open Daily. South Indian vegetarian. Thali is good (I really liked the former Seattle location–I recommend thali sampler plate). Dosa is also very popular. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

Yank Sing–101 Spear St. (Chinese) Closed Mon & Tue; Open to 7 pm Wed-Fri; lunch only Sat & Sun. In the running for best dim sum in SF. XLB is excellent also. 100 varieties of dim sum. Down side is that it is expensive, even for San Francisco. (Dining room is open 8-4-21)

San Jose

ASJ–1698 Hostetter Rd. (Taiwanese) Open Daily.  Possibly the best Taiwanese street food in Bay Area.  Most people like beef noodle soup, but other items are good also. Cash only. (Takeout only 7-16-21)

Khaosan Thai–2062 Curtner Ave. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Very good reviews. Has northern style sausage, papaya salad, and other dishes from the north (but I believe it has southern Thai dishes as well). (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Popular Bakery–1636 Alum Rock Ave. (Bakery) 7am to 5 pm Tue-Fri; 7 to 5 on Sat.  Portuguese bakery. Egg tarts, queijadas, meringue are popular. Rec. by Doug in Mesa (from Chowhound). (Takeout only 7-16-21)

Santouka Ramen–675 Saratoga Ave. (Japanese) Open daily 11 am to 8:30 pm.  Maybe the best authentic Japanese ramen in the U.S., but some reviewers say it is good but not exactly like it is in Japan. Cash only. (Dining room is open 7-17-21)

Zeni–1320 Saratoga Ave. (Ethiopian) Open 12 pm to 7 pm Thu-Sun only.  Apparently the best Ethiopian in the Bay Area. Vegetarian combo plate gets the best reviews. (Takeout only 7-16-21)

San Rafael

Pibil Authentic Yucatan Food–842 4th St. (Mexican) Dinner only (open Fri-Sun only).  This appears to be a family run place that started in a very small space in the San Rafael Transit Center, and now has a regular restaurant. The name tells you what kind of food it has (authentic Yucatan style). Probably in time they will be open more days of the week. (7-13-19)

Yet Wah–1238 4th St. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Reviewers say this is the best Chinese food in Marin County (if you don’t want to cross the bridge into San Francisco).  Has some authentic items on the menu. (4-4-19)

Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung–2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.  Shanghai style dumpling restaurant with Xiao Long Bao. Good reviews compared to several similar restaurants. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Orenchi Ramen–3540 Homestead Rd. (Japanese) Open daily (closed from 2 to 5:30 pm).  Ramen restaurant that is particularly noted for its good broth, and some describe it as solid but not particularly the best in the Bay Area. Tonkatsu is recommended. Patrons say it is not uncommon to have a 30 min. wait to get into the restaurant. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Tay Ho–2047 El Camino Real (Vietnamese) Open daily 11 am to 7:30 pm.  Banh cuon is the specialty here. I had it in Oklahoma City in the now closed Tay Ho restaurant (a chain with most restaurants in California, apparently including this one). I recommend it as much as the reviewers of this restaurant do. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

South San Francisco

Boracay Garden–269 El Camino Real (Filipino) Closed Mon.  This seems to be the best and most authentic Filipino restaurant in the Bay Area. It is more expensive than some of the others, but most dishes seem to be in the $15 range (not bad for the Bay Area). Also an advantage here is less greasy food and a very clean restaurant and restrooms. (3-5-19)

Sunnyvale

Chelokababi–1236 S. Wolfe Rd. (Persian) Open daily except Mon lunch & Tue lunch.  Good food, but more expensive than it might be in other cities (also seems to have more menu choices). (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

Saravanaa Bhavan–1305 S. Mary Ave. (Indian) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5:30 pm).  South Indian/Sri Lankan vegetarian restaurant. Some say this is the best South Indian rest. in the U.S. (there is also one in New York). Dosa, rasmalai. Serves thali. (Dining room is open 7-16-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (San Francisco)

Google Maps

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (San Francisco)

Zomato (San Francisco)

Restaurant Guide–San Bernardino/Riverside

Restaurant Guide Main Index


California

Los Angeles | Orange County | San DiegoSan Francisco


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Chino

Centro Basco–13432 Central Ave. (Basque) Closed Mon & Tue, closed Sat lunch.  Basque food that reviewers say is better than in Nevada & Idaho. However, the restaurant says it is “Basque inspired” (so maybe some things are have been changed to make them less authentic but more flavorful). (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Coachella

Carnitas La Piedad–49625 CA-86 (Mexican) Open daily 9 am to 6 pm. Small menu with carnitas being the specialty. Reviewers say not only is this very good, but many other items as well. Cheese enchiladas are topped with chile that is not wimpy. (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Colton

Gul Naz–1624 E. Washington St. (Pakistani) Closed Mon.  Serves halal food with what is described as very good herbs and spices. People say everything is very delicious. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Island Breeze–1063 S. Mt Vernon Ave. (Jamaican) Closes at 6:30 pm (closed Sun).  Jamaican food that seems to be done the right way. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Maharajah–1091 S. Mt. Vernon Ave. (Indian) Closed Tue (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Formerly called Ravi’s. Family run restaurant with very good food. Thali is recommended (sampler plate). (Takeout only 8-19-21)

Corona

Kra Z Kai’s Laotian Barbeque–1218 Magnolia Ave. (Lao) Open 11 am to 8 pm (closed Sun).  Lao restaurant that specializes in short ribs, chicken, and other BBQ meat (Asian BBQ just means that it is slow cooked). Lao sausage is also recommended. Papaya salad is spicy, but there are no surprises and you will know what is spicy and what is not. One person said this is real, everyday Laotian food (and this is what makes it so good). Also in Stanton, CA. (Dining room is open 8-29-21)

Min’s Dumpling House–1297 E. Ontario Ave. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Several types of good dumplings, but xiao long bao is recommended (several say this is the next best XLB to Din Tai Fung, which is the best). They are glad they have a place like this in Corona. Also has a location at 440 N. McKinley St. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Eastvale

Little Eastern Cafe–4910 Hamner Ave. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 8:30 pm.  Reviewers say it has a real Chinese flavor. Menu is not extensive (especially with authentic items) but it does seem to have so good dishes such as yu xiang pork, braised tofu, and boiled fish in chili sauce. (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Loma Linda

A Dong–25685 Redlands Blvd. (Cambodian) Closed Mon.  Vietnamese restaurant that supposedly also serves Cambodian food (but this isn’t reflected by reviews I have seen). People respect it because it has been in business for a long time and remained consistent. (Dining room is open 7-25-21)

R Thai Cuisine–25685 Redlands Blvd. (Thai) Closed Tue. Thai people say it is authentic. Mom & pop place that sometimes has snags in the food or service because they have a large number of customers (but mostly they manage to keep up). (Takeout only 7-25-21)

Note: Loma Linda is well known for having a large vegetarian population, but I could not find a large number of vegetarian restaurants listed. Tess’ Place was popular but now is apparently closed. The best bets seem to be Thai and Chinese restaurants in Redlands and San Bernardino (R Thai in Loma Linda has some vegetarian dishes, and probably A Dong as well).

Montclair

Szechuwan Garden–8851 Central Ave. (Chinese) Open daily (open until 9:30 pm). In a search for an actual authentic Chinese restaurant in the Inland Empire I found this place–supposedly has very good Sichuanese food that will save you a trip to Monterey Park. Menu sounds good, and food looks good. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Norco

Cowgirl Cafe–2859 Hamner Ave. (American) Open daily 6 am to 2 pm.  Known mainly for its breakfast–reviewers say it is better than the other choices in the area. Chicken fried steak and biscuits & gravy are popular items. (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Palm Desert

Alps Village–77734 Country Club Dr. (German) Dinner only (closed Sun).  Located in a strip mall, it is certainly not upscale although reviewers say it is a little pricey. Good reviews, and I think it looks interesting because popular items include jagerschnitzel, cabbage rolls, spaetzle, and real German pretzels. (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Flor de Jalisco–42215 Washington St. (Mexican) Open 11:30 am to 9 pm (closed Sun).  Reviewers say food is delicious and authentic. Has a varied menu including mole. The negative ratings I saw were for the service (not the food). This is a down home restaurant (not a touristy one). (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Palm Springs

533 Viet Fusion–1775 E. Palm Canyon Dr. (Vietnamese) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Web site says it is a mix of traditional and modern Vietnamese dishes. Has a large spring roll menu, pho, vermicelli dishes, banh xeo, bun bo hue, and other very traditional dishes but that are not found in many Vietnamese restaurants. Also has pad thai, ramen, and I think other fusion items. Reviews indicate that the pho is the best in PS but another attraction is the large selection of items that you cannot find elsewhere. Owners are not Vietnamese but they have a reputation in the community as having good food. Map (Dining room is open 11-16-21)

El Mirasol–140 E. Palm Canyon Dr. (Mexican) Closed Mon & Tue.  Maybe the best Mexican food in Palm Springs. Seems to be California style. (Dining room is open 7-25-21)

Fuzion Five–285 S. Palm Canyon Dr. (Vietnamese) Closed Tue.  Perhaps the best choice for traditional Vietnamese dishes such as banh xeo. Higher prices, though, than most visitors would find in their home town. Map (Dining room is open 11-16-21)

Jake’s–664 N. Palm Canyon Dr. (American) Closed Sun dinner & Mon.  Upscale soup and sandwiches with items such as Hangar steak and eggs sandwich. Map (Dining room is open 11-16-21)

Lulu California Bistro–200 S. Palm Canyon Dr. (American) Open Daily.  Has an array of upscale American food. Featured on Gil’s Blog (some dishes that look good include oven roasted turkey and filet mignon. Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Pomme Frite–256 S. Palm Canyon Dr. (Belgian) Dinner only (closed Tue & Wed); lunch on Sat & Sun.  Pommes frites, stroganoff, chicken vol au vent. Some reviewers say the main courses are the best items here (not so much the pommes frites, salads, etc.). Map (Dining room is open 7-25-21)

Rooster And The Pig–356 S. Indian Canyon Dr. (Vietnamese) Dinner only (closed Mon & Tue).  Menu is not large and they do not serve standard items such as pho and vermicelli bowls. What they do have are items that are not found in many Vietnamese restaurants (some may be fusion such as charred brussel sprouts but some look Viet style and just hard to find in other restaurants). They have a jasmine tea leaf dish which I think might be Cambodian. Note: restaurant requires a vaccine passport or negative Covid test. Map (Dining room is open 11-16-21)

Shanghai Reds Bar & Grill–235 S. Indian Canyon Ddr. (Seafood) Dinner only (closed Mon & Tue).  Known for its fish tacos. This is probably a good place to get good food and not spend as much money as at the average Palm Springs restaurant. Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Sherman’s Deli & Bakery–401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way (Deli) Open daily 8 am to 9 pm.  Gil describes this as “an old-fashioned kosher-style Jewish deli to which savvy patrons pilgrimage from all over the world.” The food seems to bear out the claim. Also in Palm Desert. Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Rancho Mirage

Catalan Mediterranean–70026 Hwy 111 (Spanish) Dinner only (open daily).  Spanish tapas restaurant (one reviewer said they have a two course fixed-price menu for $25). Almost all reviewers give it five stars. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Francesco’s Cafe–72047 Dinah Shore Dr. (Persian) Closed Sun.  This is an Italian and Persian restaurant, but reviewers recommend ordering from the Persian side of the menu. Ambiance is like a down home diner (but one reviewer said they charge $23 for a dinner–would probably be for something like the lamb chops). Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Redlands

MU Restaurant–309 W. State St. (Thai) Closed Sat lunch; closed Sun & Mon. Vegetarian Thai food that many say is very authentic (they also have meat dishes). Note: closed between 3:00 and 4:30 in the afternoon. (Dining room is open 7-25-21)

Rui’s Shanghai Bistro–1711 W. Lugonia Ave. (Chinese) Closed Tue.  Authentic food that people say tastes like the food in San Gabriel Valley, but with less menu selection. Their main food style is Shanghai, but others are offered as well (particularly Sichuan). (Dining room is open 7-25-21)

Thai Spoon Cafe–802 W. Colton Ave. (Thai) Closed Mon.  Good reviews. I don’t know if it is totally authentic, but there are no indications in the reviews that it is not. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Riverside

Anchos Grill–10773 Hole Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily. Probably California style. Fresh tortillas. Some say the best meals are the ones with meat (steak, chicken, seafood, pork, etc.). Popular on Chowhound. Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Best Thai–1735 Spruce St. (Thai) Open Daily. Very good reviews. Seems to be authentic. Reviewers say it is LA quality and that the vegetarian dishes are good. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Las Campanas–3649 Mission Inn Ave. (Mexican) Lunch Fri-Sun; dinner Wed-Sun. Located in the Mission Inn Hotel. There are some reasons this probably should not be on my list (it looks expensive, you probably need reservations, and I don’t know if it is truly authentic). The reasons maybe it should be on the list: whether or not it is authentic, it looks like high quality food (and it probably is authentic) and I’m looking for places that will provide a unique and memorable experience with Mexican food (and this may be one of those places). The combination plate looks good from the photos. A lot of the food looks non-traditional, so the trick is to find out if it is modified in a good way or a bad way (I’m not sure how it will be). Map (Dining room is open 11-16-21)

Mamma Mia–10971 Magnolia Ave. (Italian) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Very favorable reviews about the food’s flavor and freshness. Popular items include pizza, lasagna, and meatballs. (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

Oasis Vegetarian Cafe–11550 Pierce St. (Vegetarian) Closed Sat (closes early Fri & Sun).  Connected to La Sierra Natural Foods store, so the setting is much like a food court. Mainly has sandwiches and burritos, and they have good reviews. (Store is open with deli dining 8-19-21)

San Bernardino

Happy Family–2150 S. Waterman Ave. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm). Vegetarian Chinese food that reviewers say is quite good (even those who do not normally eat vegetarian). Has a few meat items also. (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Royal Dumpling House–1689 Kendall Dr. (Chinese) Closed Sun.  Diners say they are excited to have authentic Chinese food in San Bernardino, although it does not seem to be as good as you can get in LA. Specializes in Shanghai style dumplings including XLB. This is a mom & pop restaurant, so you don’t get “conveyor belt” food as you do at some of the larger restaurants. (Temporarily closed 10-4-21)

Temecula

Havana Kitchen–41955 5th St. (Cuban) Breakfast & lunch only–open to 7 pm on Sat.  The big draw here is the Cuban coffee, but food gets equal compliments. Cuban sandwich is said to have the proper meat, sauce, and toppings that makes it both authentic and very good. Ropa vieja is popular. Sampler plate is recommended (and can probably feed 2 people). Map (Dining room is open 11-16-21)

Nuristan Food–27287 Nicolas Rd. (Afghan) Open Tue-Sun (closes early on Sun).  Grocery store with a small restaurant that serves kabobs and other items (kabobs are fresh and natural, giving them a very good flavor). Note: Pamir Kabob House used to be a popular Afghan restaurant, but it apparently changed ownership and moved to San Diego (and now commenters recommend Nuristan even though it seems to have a smaller menu). Map (Dining room is open 8-19-21)

Upland

Ashirwad–583 E. Foothill Blvd. (Indian) Closed Mon. Vegetarian Indian restaurant with very good food (and reviewers seem to know Indian food). Masala dosa is recommended, but has a wide variety of good dishes. Has thali (sampler plate). Map (Dining room is open 10-4-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Riverside)

Eater Los Angeles (Palm Springs Restaurants)

Gil’s Thrilling (and Filling Blog)

Google Maps

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp

Yelp (Wayne W.)

Zomato (Inland Empire)

Restaurant Guide–Orange County

Restaurant Guide Main Index


California

Los Angeles | San Bernardino/Riverside | San Diego | San Francisco


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Anaheim

Aleppo’s Kitchen–513 S. Brookhurst St. (Syrian) Closed Mon. Legit Syrian food with very good reviews. Voted “Best Middle Eastern” by OC Weekly. (Dining room is open 10-3-21)

E-San Rod-Sap–1719 W. La Palma Ave. (Thai) Open 10 am to 6 pm (closed Tue). Northeastern Thailand (E-San) style food with very good reviews. When I have had this type of food before I particularly liked the pad thai (and some of the reviews I have read confirm that this place has the real deal). However, there are a number of other dishes that are not common in Thai restaurants and that will have an authentic spice scale if you order them here. Cash only. Note: the Thai and Laos Market is next door. (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Jagerhaus–2525 E. Ball Rd. (German) Closed Mon; Opens 9 am; closes 7 pm Tue-Thu; closes 9 pm Fri-Sun.  Famous for its breakfast (German potato pancake with lemon and sugar).  Many people also like the lunch and dinner menu (Schnitzel and Bratwurst get a lot of good comments). Most people, though, say to go for breakfast. (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Lindo Michoacan–327 S. Anaheim Blvd. (Mexican) Open daily (serves breakfast).  Some say it is the best and most authentic Mexican rest. in Orange County. However, it is a taco restaurant, so the menu is somewhat limited (also has burritos, menudo, etc.). Also in Santa Ana. (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Noodle House–613 N. Euclid St. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 9:30 pm. Authentic Chinese–some dishes are as good as in SGV. Green onion pancake, xiao long bao, hand cut noodles, three cup chicken, fish in spicy sauce, Chinese burrito are recommended (not all as as good as SGV but all are good). (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Sahara Falafel–590 S. Brookhurst St. (Middle Eastern) Open daily 10 am to 2 am.  I have heard that in Israel they love falafel, but they know they can’t make them as good as the ones in Lebanon. In Orange County people apparently go to Sahara for the really good ones, and the reviews seem to be unanimous about this. (And yes, they do serve other good items besides the falafel). (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Sawali Grill–3414 W. Ball Rd. (Filipino) Open daily 10 am to 6:30 pm. Small rest. with 7 tables. Positive is that the food tastes like home cooking. Some say that it is somewhat inconsistent though. (Dining room is open 9-2-21)

Buena Park

Mountain–7446 Orangethorpe Ave. (Korean) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  This restaurant seems to have many items that you probably have not seen at other restaurants. If you don’t know what to order, don’t worry–reviewers can’t seem to find anything they do not like. From the photos, though, I worry about there being too much food, especially with all the side dishes (perhaps it is best not to go alone). (Dining room is open 9-2-21)

Costa Mesa

Din Tai Fung–3333 Bristol St. (Taiwanese) Open Daily.  Taiwanese chain that opened this restaurant in OC, specializing in its famous (and very popular) xiao long bao (XLB).  In fact, this may be the place in the US to get the authentic version (at least the Taiwanese version).  Pork is the most popular, but they also have shrimp, red bean, and others.  Also try the sauteed string beans.  (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka–665 Paularino Ave. (Japanese) Open daily 11 am to 7:30 pm.  Tokusen toroniku ramen is recommended. (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Outpost Kitchen–1792 Monrovia Ave. (New American) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily). Excellent food, but breakfast seems to be particularly interesting (many recommend the Aussie scramble, tropical muffin, and a number of other dishes). This place has every trendy label you can put on it–gluten free, organic, and vegan (if you want vegan). Don’t worry–everyone says you will enjoy the food either because of this or in spite of this. Also at 3420 Bristol St. (Dining room is open 9-2-21)

Taco Maria–3313 Hyland Ave. (Mexican) Dinner only (closed Mon). Offers much more than tacos–this is an upscale restaurant from one of the country’s most acclaimed chefs. Tacos are available with blue corn tortillas. A four course dinner with wine pairing is also available.  This was named the best restaurant in Orange County by OC Weekly in both 2014-2018.  I don’t know how expensive it is, but it’s listed as $$$ on Yelp. (Dining room is open 9-2-21)

Vietnam’s Pearl–1215 Baker St. (Vietnamese) Closed Sat evening & Sun. Described as “authentic,” a “true gem,” a “great alternative outside of Little Saigon,” and better than anything in San Diego. Has a wide menu, but the pho is very popular. If this is the same restaurant as the VP that used to be in Seattle, I highly recommend it based on my own experience. (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

Water Grill–3300 Bristol St. (Seafood) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  Not on the waterfront, but said to have excellent seafood. Fish & chips, halibut, chilean sea bass, and oyster bar are some of the popular items. Seems to be a quality place where the prices are better than on the oceanside. Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Cypress

California Fish Grill–10569 Valley View St. (Seafood) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm. This may be one of the best bets for affordable but very good fish and seafood. People recommend Taco Tuesdays, the Cajun salmon, ahi tacos, shrimp wrap, and really a long list of choices. Several locations in OC. (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

Dana Point

Waterman’s Harbor–34661 Golden Lantern St. (Seafood) Open Daily.  Many years ago I ate at the Crab Cooker in Newport Beach, and was impressed by the seafood (so I didn’t want to leave this category off the list). Some say Waterman’s Harbor is now the best balance of good seafood, an ocean view, and prices that are not out of line. Is dog friendly. Update 2021: Much of the menu is now quite expensive, but the fresh catch of the day may be the best bet out of this group. Less expensive items include the raw bar, fish tacos, fish & chips, and a salmon burger. Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Fountain Valley

Au Lac–16563 Brookhurst St. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon (and closed from 3:30 to 5:30 pm). Serves vegetarian Vietnamese food. Despite being a little different from “normal” Vietnamese food, reviewers say it has real Vietnamese flavors. (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

Brodard–16105 Brookhurst St. (Vietnamese) Open daily 8 am to 9 pm.  Said to be very good home style Vietnamese food that has been going strong since 1996. Named best Vietnamese by OC Weekly for 2018. Reviews indicate it has good quality and a good variety of dishes.Map (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Istanbul Grill–18010 Newhope St. (Turkish) Open daily to 2 am (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Good food for a good price (lunch was about $10 in 2019). (Dining room is open 9-2-21)

Fullerton

Fuoco Pizzeria–101 N. Harbor Blvd. (Pizza) Open Daily. The owners, reviewers, and even the OC Weekly assure us that this is the “real deal” Neapolitan style pizza. The margherita pizza is said by many to be the best in the US, and definitely the most authentic. Also has the “real deal” spumoni for dessert. Certified by VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana). Web site says they are open from 11 am until they run out of dough. Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Garden Grove

Vientiane Thai Laos–10262 Westminster Ave. (Lao) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Wed).  Authentic and flavorful Lao food. This is a hole in the wall restaurant run by a family.  Reviewers say everything is prepared the way it is supposed to be (both in flavor and in authenticity). Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Irvine

Angelina’s–8573 Irvine Center Dr. (Pizza) Open Daily.  Neapolitan pizza certified by VPN. Reviews reflect the fact that they cook it the authentic way. Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Annapoorna–14450 Culver Dr. (Indian) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Named best Indian restaurant in Orange County by OC Weekly 2018. South Indian cuisine–good place for dosa. Map (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

HiroNori Craft Ramen–2222 Michelson Dr. (Japanese) Open Daily.  Named best ramen restaurant in 2018 by OC Weekly. Pork and vegan ramen are equally flavorful (according to OC Weekly). Map (Dining room is open 10-3-21)

Jinbei–3923 Portola Pkwy. (Japanese) Open daily (closed from 2 to 5:30 pm).  Good sushi, but it is one of the few really good Izakaya restaurants with a large menu. Map (Dining room is open 10-3-21)

Laguna Beach

Brussels Bistro–222 Forest Ave. (Belgian) Dinner daily; lunch Fri-Sun.  Casual restaurant with very good food (but it’s a little pricey for casual).  Vol au Vent de poulet, Liege meatballs, pommes frites, and all you can eat mussels (Mon, Tue, & Wed) are recommended.  Some say in summer there are bigger crowds so they like to avoid it. Map (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Mission Viejo

Hayashi–27531 Puerta Real (Japanese) Open 9:30 am to 7 pm (closed Sat & Sun). A locally popular Japanese fast food style restaurant that most reviewers simply describe as “really really good.” Udon, ramen, and salmon bowl are recommended. Reviewers say the food here is too good to just order things like teriyaki (that you can get at many other restaurants). (Dining room is open 10-3-21)

Paul’s Pantry–27409 Bellogente (American) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily).  Named the best breakfast restaurant in Orange County by OC Weekly in 2018. They say whatever breakfast you get, be sure to have a cinnamon roll with it. (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

Newport Beach

Fly N Fish–2304 W. Oceanfront (Seafood) Open Daily.  Good reviews. Fried shrimp and clam chowder are popular (not high end seafood). However, some say you can have a Newport Beach dining experience at a much lower price than other restaurants, and to them it is just as enjoyable. Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Hook & Anchor–3305 Newport Blvd. (Seafood) Open Daily.  OC Weekly said this was the best seafood restaurant in the county in 2018. Best of all, it is not restricted to upscale food, but also has very good poboys, fish tacos, lobster fries, etc. Map (Dining room is open 11-17-21)

Orange

Anepalco–3737 W. Chapman Ave. (Mexican) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily).  Voted Best Mexican Restaurant by OC Weekly 2016. Authentic food with flavorful sauces–this is a rather upscale sit-down Mexican place. (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Placentia

El Farolito–201 S. Bradford Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily (open for breakfast). Reviewers say this is one of the two best places for “authentic” Mexican (along with Los Compadres in Long Beach). Some authentic looking dishes include red enchiladas, fish al mojo de ajo, carnitas, steak picado. Some Cal-Mex looking dishes include tostado salad, burrito, taquitos, and the enchiladas shown on the Yelp photos. It seems to be good for both types of food. (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

San Juan Capistrano

Sol Agave–31111 Rancho Viejo Rd. (Mexican) Open Daily. Upscale restaurant that is described as “authentic” and “artisan.” The restaurant grew out of a very popular food truck. The menu is pretty basic (tacos, burritos, simple meat plates) but the preparation of it is what is said to be special. (Dining room is open 8-9-21)

Santa Ana

El Moctezuma–809 N. Fairview St. (Mexican) Open daily 9 am to 10 pm. Oaxacan style. Has 5 kinds of mole. (Also in Orange at 1740 W. Chapman Ave.). From reviews, I would say the one in Santa Ana is better. (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Noodle Place–2321 E. 4th St. (Chinese) Open 11 am to 7:30 pm (closed Sun).  Inexpensive street food style noodles that are apparently near the top of this category of food (reviewers stress not only the quality of the food but the low cost of buying it). (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Stanton

Irrawaddy Taste of Burma–7076 Katella Ave. (Burmese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Authentic Burmese food in an area where this cuisine is not very common. Gets recommendations from Burmese patrons. Map (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Thai Nakorn–11951 Beach Blvd. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Some people say this is one of the top Thai, if not the top one, in the U.S. Get beef curry, chicken yellow curry, papaya salad (but if it’s really the top restaurant in the U.S. I would say you could order just about anything). Map (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Tustin

Honda-Ya–556 El Camino Real (Japanese) Open daily (dinner only).  Izakaya style–good food, sushi, and drinks (in fact, most say it has excellent food).  Also has a location in Fullerton and in LA (Little Tokyo). (Dining room is open 10-3-21)

Masala Bae–13812 Red Hill Ave. (Indian) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Specializes in south Indian food including dosa. (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

Westminster

Banh Cuon Tay Ho–9242 Bolsa Ave. (Vietnamese) Open 8 am to 7:30 pm (closed Tue). I have been to the one in Oklahoma City, and know that this is a “real deal” Vietnamese restaurant (although it is a little on the downscale, fast food side). I recommend the Banh Cuon (rice sheet wraps), but I make sure to tell them to omit the MSG. Map (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Le Croissant Doré–9122 Bolsa Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily 7 AM to 6 PM. One source indicates it is a bakery (not a restaurant), but other information indicates that they also serve food. In any case, the bakery is the main reason to come here. Fruit tart is recommended. Map (Dining room is open 10-3-21)

Mai’s Kitchen–9039 Bolsa Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.  Authentic Vietnamese (the canh chua actually has okra in it). It’s also cash only (so this keeps the price down quite a bit). They seem to have quite a few dishes you will not find at most restaurants. Map (Temporarily closed 11-17-21)

Sumran Thai–6482 Westminster Blvd. (Thai) Closed Tue (and closed from 3 to 4 pm).  Just when I think I have found all the best Thai restaurants some more pop up, such as this one listed by OC Weekly as the best Thai of 2016. I would like for some of the reviews to recommend a favorite dish, but it seems that everything is good (so there is no favorite dish that I can tell). OC Weekly says they have E-San sausage, so personally when a restaurant serves Isan style Thai food I will probably order this. Most reviewers say it is really not a good idea to order the food here “hot” (if you are basing it on “hot” in other restaurants). Map (Dining room is open 6-30-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (Orange County)

Gayot–2021 Best Seafood Restaurants in Orange County (CA) Area

Google Maps

OC Weekly–Best of 2015, 2016 (no longer on line)

OC Weekly–Best of 2018

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (California)

Zomato (Orange County)