By Rick & Sandi Griffin & McKenna, on July 10, 2013

Orange County culinary adventure

The first thing that came to mind when we thought about Orange County, California
was housewives and Disneyland, neither of which were on our must-see list.  Since culinary travel has become a popular trend and we like to think of ourselves as trendsetters, we decided to eat our way around the O.C. Orange County would truly prove itself to be a satisfying destination as we broke bread and made memories.

We didn’t have to travel far to find ourselves a world away. Centered in Orange County, California is one of the oldest and largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam, known as Little Saigon. A visit to Shun Fat Supermarket, a Vietnamese superstore, should go on the top of your must-see list. We took a behind-the-scenes tour with a local chef and were awestruck by the hundreds of varieties of fresh, and sometimes unusual, produce. It was a culinary and cultural awakening. Throughout the community you will find dozens of restaurants specializing in authentic Asian cuisine from

hand-rolled spring rolls

, to pho, to seven courses of beef.

Just a long foul ball from the O.C.’s Angel Stadium and the Anaheim Grove you will find The Catch, a local favorite that has been serving up the finest meats and seafood for over 30 years. This is not your typical sports bar, although it has staples like sliders and chili cheese fries. The menu really sets itself apart from expected sports bar fare with items like miso-marinated sea bass, lobster diablo, and master chef prime sirloin. However, all entrees are dwarfed in comparison to the O.M.G. Burger, an eight-pound cheeseburger that is so big it can feed a family of six. In a man versus food moment, Rick gave it his best shot, but barely made a dent in the enormous burger, coming up about seven pounds short of cleaning his plate.  

The Anaheim White House (and just that, an Anaheim white house), has been under the direction of Chef Bruno Serato since 1987. The decor of this Italian steak house is ornate with gilded gold everywhere and rich fabric draped from the ceilings and walls. The hall is lined with framed photographs of celebrities who have dined there. Don’t let any of that intimidate you. Bruno Serato’s simple philosophy is to treat each and every one of his patrons as distinguished guests in his home, and that he does. The menu has a large variety of flavorful dishes to choose from like Ossobuco Milanese, Bucatini con Gamberi, or steamed lobster. If your budget allows, spring for the $85.00 Wagyu steak, a 16-oz. Australian Wagyu/Angus “Kobe-style” beef. As overstated as the menu and decor might be, the chef is not. Every day, without fanfare, Bruno Serato cooks and delivers freshly prepared meals to over three hundred homeless children, having served over half a million to date. We found nothing more satisfying than dining in a restaurant that does good.

Viewfinder Tip: Collect recipes from your favorite meals on your travels. Chefs are usually more than happy to share them with you.

If it’s a great milkshake and a view you’re after, the Shake Shack on the North Coast Highway in Laguna Beach is it. With a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and a 1960s surfers’ vibe, you get the feeling that you have just stepped into a movie scene with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. We ate burgers and milkshakes made with fresh dates; and while they were good, it was that view of the Pacific that left the biggest impression.

Speaking of views, the Beachcomber Cafe (on the beach below the Shake Shack) sits smack-dab in the sand in the historic district of Crystal Cove State Park. The open-air patio has a winning combination of breathtaking sunsets and fabulous food. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with vintage 1950s-inspired beachy California flair. The sunsets are legendary and are celebrated nightly with the raising of the martini flag. The food is incredible with the likes of truffle mac and cheese and roasted french feta with oven roasted tomatoes, olive tapenade, and a rustic crostini, all of which we loved.

As the sunset on this delicious culinary journey we realized the only thing we enjoy more than traveling is eating and when those two collide, then we have achieved nirvana. 

What’s your idea of a foodie-themed trip?