Anaheim Dining Guide

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Tastes for All Tastes

Anaheim and Orange County dining options

Eating at Annual Conference is easy: The Anaheim Resort District, centered around Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center, is home to dozens of options, and there are plenty of exciting meals to be had for those willing and able to travel further afield. This guide contains recommendations from several local librarians, as well as a roundup of restaurants based in or near the district.

Price estimates are per person for a dinner entrée (or equivalent at tapas restaurants) and do not include appetizers, desserts, beverages, tax, or gratuity.
$ Up to $10
$$ $10-$20
$$$ $20-$30
$$$$ More than $30

Reservations Recommended

In the mood to dine at one of the local hot-spots? Stephanie Beverage, regional manager of Orange County Public Library, and her husband John Sparks recommend some of their favorites (with a bonus recommendation, Mr. Stox, by Anaheim librarian Marissa Lighthiser). Last-minute tables can be hard to come by, so call ahead.

Catal Restaurant
1580 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, 714-774-4442. $$$.
Catal is probably the best restaurant in Downtown Disney, offering upscale Mediterranean cuisine with excellent service. The ambience is formal but relaxed, with a nice mix on the menu. Prices are a bit on the high side but this is a lovely dining experience. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
1590 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, 714-776-5200. $$$.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen is what its name suggests—a Cajun-Creole restaurant that evokes the feel and flavor of New Orleans. Live jazz accompanies food that is spicy and lively. The Sazerac cocktail and the Bananas Foster are worth a try. Lunch and dinner daily.

Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria
1550 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, 714-776-6200. $$.
Another option in Downtown Disney is Naples Ristorante for pasta and pizza. The restaurant offers indoor and patio dining, with a wide variety of Italian dishes. The thin-crust pizza is popular and the restaurant’s open kitchen creates a lively and fun atmosphere. Lunch and dinner daily.

House of Blues
1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, 714-778-2583. $$$.
Both music club and restaurant, the House of Blues is one of Downtown Disney’s busier locations. The restaurant features a mix of American cuisines, with everything from Cajun shrimp to pizza. Of note is the popular Sunday Gospel Brunch. Lunch and dinner daily.

Zov’s Bistro
17440 E. 17th St., Tustin, 714-838-8855. $$$.
Zov’s is a local institution, serving wonderful Mediterranean cuisine. The modern menu offers lots for vegetarians and omnivores alike. The on-site bakery and café offers less expensive and take-out options; Zov’s cookbook is also worth a look. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily.

The Cellar
305 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714-525-5682. $$$$.
The Cellar is one of Orange County’s finest restaurants. Established in 1969 in the cellar of an old hotel, the Cellar has been offering wonderful French cuisine ever since. The menu is full of classic dishes such as escargot and caviar presented beautifully and served impeccably in an intimate atmosphere. Dinner Tue.-Sun.

Café Tu Tu Tango
20 City Boulevard West, Orange, 714-769-2222. $$$.
Café Tu Tu Tango is a fun casual dining spot in the Block at Orange, an outdoor shopping mall. The Café specializes in small, tapas-style appetizers that are meant to be shared and can easily make a meal. It’s designed to look like an artist’s loft in Barcelona, and you can relax and enjoy a specialty martini and tasty appetizers as you watch the shoppers go by. Lunch and dinner daily.

Mr. Stox
1105 E. Katella Ave, Anaheim, 714-634-2994. $$$$.
Mr. Stox is a classic, old-school restaurant specializing in American fine dining sourced from the abundance of fresh food available in Southern California, from Santa Barbara shrimp to herbs and produce grown on-site. The 1,200-square-foot wine cellar offers selections from around the globe. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily.

Historic Orange

The City of Orange, a 20-minute drive east of the Anaheim Convention Center, has more eateries than there are days in a year. Nora Jacob, library services director of Orange Public Library, recommends these eight, each within a 10-minute walk of the beautiful new Orange Public Library and History Center downtown. Called the Old Towne Orange Historic District, the city’s downtown is the second-largest historic district in the nation (only Williamsburg, Virginia, is bigger), with 1,237 historic homes and businesses listed on the National Register within one square mile. Park at the library and stroll through the wonderful neighborhood to eat and shop.

Aldo’s Ristorante-Bar
190 S. Glassell St., Orange, 714-516-1690. $$.
Homemade Italian fare and a solid wine list are the draws here. Anything with eggplant is particularly delicious. Try the melanzane sorrentino, or eggplant rollatini with marinara sauce. The chicken parmigana is also tasty, and some library staff swear by the veal dishes. Lunch and dinner daily. Business attire preferred.

Café Lucca
106 N. Glassell St., Orange, 714-289-1255. $.
Grilled specialty panini and an outrageously delicious selection of sorbets and gelatos are the key attractions at Café Lucca. Fresh-baked bread is used in the grilled panini; try the Positano (tuna with lemon zest and fresh basil, among other
ingredients) or the Palermo with pepperoni and red pepper pesto. Be sure to look at the ceiling here; it’s stamped tin. Lunch and dinner daily.

Citrus City Grille
122 N. Glassell St., Orange, 714-639-9600. $$$.
Some call it American cuisine, others call it Mediterranean fusion. Whatever it’s called, the food here is fresh, nicely seasoned, and presented beautifully. The seared ahi salad, stuffed chicken breast, and oven-roasted duck breast are all delicious works of art. Green, yellow, orange, and bright purple walls, modern lighting, stainless steel countertops, and a great selection of wines and cocktails keep the ambiance lively. Lunch and dinner Mon. –Sat. Business attire preferred. Reservations recommended.

Felix Continental Café
36 Plaza Square, Orange, 714-633-5842. $$.
Cuban and Spanish dishes here have delighted customers since the 1970s, and if you stay late into the night, you may encounter Cuban expats with stories about Fidel and life in earlier times. Sidewalk tables outside let diners experience downtown Orange up close. Try the paella, the chicken a l’orange, or picadillo criollo, a dish of seasoned ground beef and pork cooked together in a Cuban sofrito sauce with raisins and olives. Lunch and dinner daily; breakfast Sat.–Sun.

Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen
141 S. Glassell St., Orange, 714-633-3038. $$.
Executive chef Gabbi Patrick creates contemporary interpretations of Mexican/Oaxacan, Mayan, and Aztec dishes. That’s a fancy way of saying that Gabbi’s offers a slightly different, delicious take on an all-too-familiar cuisine. Try the “inside out” chile relleno, the superlative posole, the various tacos, or the daily special. There’s no signage—look for the black awnings over a brick storefront just south of the Army-Navy store. Lunch and dinner daily.

PJ’s Abbey
182 S. Orange St., Orange, 714-771-8556. $$$.
Originally a Victorian-style Baptist Church built in 1891, “the Abbey” today provides a charming setting with the original stained glass windows and polished wood furnishings. Old family favorites (ah, the meatloaf!) join contemporary American-style cuisine (mmm, portobello and tenderloin fettucini!) on the menu here. The salads are great, especially the humbly-named spinach salad. Be sure to try Peggy Jean’s mixed fruit cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert—it’s fabulous. Lunch and dinner daily; breakfast Sat.–Sun.

264 N. Glassell, Orange, 714-633-3260. $.
At “Ruta’s,” the salads are gigantic and their ingredients are creative–greens, nuts, fruit, cheeses and more are combined in ever-changing selections. There are a lot of vegetarian choices here, but chicken, turkey, and tuna also make it into many of the dishes. Choose from some of the unusual wraps or the plentiful homemade soups, if the salads don’t call to you. Located in what used to be the home of a citrus rancher, Rutabegorz offers outside patio dining for a most pleasant lunch or dinner experience. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat.

Watson Drug and Diner
116 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, 714-633-1050. $.
The iconic American diner and soda fountain. The ’50s ambiance is authentic—Watson’s is 107 years old—but it’s the food that brings everyone back. All the soups are created from scratch; malts and shakes from the soda fountain are made with real ingredients; and burgers, sandwiches, and daily specials offer hearty portions. If you like chicken and dumplings, this is the place! No alcoholic beverages, though. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Vegetarian-Friendly Options

Orange County has numerous restaurants that cater to vegetarians and vegans. Stacy Russo, head of reference and instruction at Chapman University in Orange, suggests several of the area’s best:

Au Lac
16563 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, 714-418-0658. $$.
Au Lac serves vegetarian, vegan, and raw food within a stylish environment. The waitstaff is knowledgeable about what dishes contain dairy; no dishes contain egg. It has been reported that the revered Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh eats here when he visits Orange County. Recommended: veggie spring rolls, soy beef with broccoli, and raw taco. Lunch and dinner Tue.–Sun.

Gypsy Den Grand Central Cafe
125 N. Broadway Ave., Santa Ana, 714-835-8840. $.
The Gypsy Den is located in the Artist Village neighborhood in downtown Santa Ana. The restaurant serves meat dishes, but is vegetarian-friendly with several sandwiches, salads, entrees, and vegetarian chili. The Gypsy Den has a second location at the L.A.B. Antimall at 2930 Bristol St. in Costa Mesa, 714-549-7012. Recommended: veggie BLT. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Native Foods
2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-751-2151. $.
Native Foods serves California vegan cuisine; all of the dishes are free of animal ingredients. The food is flavorful and unique, and a true feast for the senses. Mock meat dishes are made with seitan (wheat protein) and tempeh, a blend of soybeans, grain, and rice culture. Recommended: jerk burger, Baja surf tacos, “Save the Chicken” wings, and native seasoned fries. Lunch and dinner daily.

Thai Specialty
2500 E. Imperial Highway, Suite 128, Brea, 714-256-2229. $.
This is one of the best Thai restaurants in Orange County. The interior is calm and elegant with outstanding service. It is not a vegetarian restaurant, but tofu can be substituted for the meat in most dishes. Recommended: spicy garlic tofu, vegetable curry, spicy fried rice with tofu, and basil and chili tofu. Lunch and dinner daily.

Veggie Grill
4213 Campus Dr., Irvine, 949-509-0003. $.
Located across the street from the Irvine campus of the University of California, the Veggie Grill is a 100% vegan restaurant. The dishes are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and whole grains, and free of cholesterol. The food is always exceptional. Recommended: Island Getaway burger, Chickin’ Marinara sandwich, Chill Out Wings, and Chop-Chop Chef salad. Lunch and dinner daily.

Wheel of Life
14370 Culver Dr., Suite 2G, Irvine, 949-551-8222. $$.
Wheel of Life is a Thai and 100% vegan restaurant run by a fourth-generation vegan. The atmosphere is incredibly friendly from the moment you walk in the door. Wheel of Life’s offerings include soups, salads, curries, noodles, rice dishes, and numerous mock meats. Recommended: spicy crispy chicken. Lunch Wed.–Mon., dinner Wed.–Mon.

Out and About

Driving is a California tradition, and these restaurants, suggested by Margaret Donnellan Todd, county librarian for the County of Los Angeles Public Library, are worth a trip.

El Cholo
840 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, 562-691-4618. $$.
A very casual, family-owned restaurant in business for 80 years. El Cholo has the best and strongest margaritas in town, says Zagat, and green corn tamales “straight from heaven.” Lunch and dinner daily.

Café Hildalgo
305 N. Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, 714-447-3202. $$$.
A Spanish/Mexican restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere, but polarizing cuisine: People seem to either love the food or hate it. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner daily.

Stubrick’s Steakhouse
118 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, 714-871-1290. $$$.
A trendy place with a varied menu and live music on the weekends. Dinner daily.

Olde Ship British Pub
709 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714-871-7447. $$.
A traditional British pub with a second location at 1120 W. 17th St. in Santa Ana, 714-550-6700. Lunch and dinner daily, breakfast Sun.

The Cliff Restaurant
577 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-494-1956. $$.
Outdoor dining on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It’s not about the food, it’s about the view! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

The Cottage
308 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-494-3023. $$.
A long time favorite. No view, but the cottage is a charming craftsman-style beach house. Breakfast is a favorite with the locals, but lunch and dinner are good as well.

No Travel, No Problem

Many of the dining options in the immediate vicinity of the Anaheim Convention Center are within the conference hotels or accessible on foot or by conference shuttle.

Café Oasis, Hilton Anaheim
California Grill, Hyatt Regency
Chaparral Café, Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites
Goofy’s Kitchen, Disneyland Hotel
Hearthstone Lounge, Disney Grand Californian Resort
Hook’s Pointe, Disneyland Hotel
Mimi’s Café, Howard Johnson Anaheim
Molly’s Kitchen, Sheraton Park Hotel
Overland Stage Southwestern Grill and BBQ, Sheraton Park Hotel
PCH Grill, Disney Paradise Pier Hotel
Pickford’s Restaurant, Red Lion Maingate
Storytellers Café, Disney Grand Californian Resort
SunSpot, Anaheim Marriott Suites
Tivoli Garden Café, Clarion Hotel

California Cuisine
Café Del Sol, Anaheim Marriott
Copa de Oro, Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort
K’ya, Hotel Menage
Napa Rose, Disney Grand Californian Resort
Serengeti Restaurant,
Embassy Suites Anaheim South
Tangerine Grill and Patio, Anabella Hotel

Gandhi Palace Restaurant, Ramada Plaza Anaheim Resort

Agwio Ristorante, Doubletree Guest Suites
Panini Grill, Courtyard Marriott

Yamabuki, Disney Paradise Pier Hotel
The Sushi Bar, Hilton Anaheim

The Mexicana Café, Clarion Hotel

Steakhouse 55, Disneyland Hotel
JW’s Steakhouse, Anaheim Marriott