Restaurants in Orange CountySunny Orange County, California, is reputed to have some of the nation's best surfing spots. Visitors and locals alike will also find that this beach paradise offers plenty of tasty dining options. From fast food counters to chain restaurants to high-end establishments, the Orange County dining scene has something for everyone. Thanks to the diverse population in the area, a variety of American, ethnic and fusion cuisines are available. Classic California CuisineAlmost every major city in Orange County features several restaurants boasting classic California cuisine. A fusion-based cuisine, California cooking draws inspiration from the fresh, local ingredients available in the state and the traditional cuisines of the diverse ethnic population of the state. Seafood dishes that combine traditional Asian flavors with fresh-caught local seafood are particularly popular. In the spring, dishes made from locally raised lamb can be found at many restaurants.Many diners assume that California cuisine is offered only in expensive, upscale restaurants. However, chow hounds can find great deals on California cuisine by wandering away from the beach and onto the side streets of cities such as San Clemente, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa. California cuisine that draws inspiration from classic Mexican cooking is particularly popular in these cities. Beach bums will find unique, wholly Californian twists on tacos and enchiladas at fashionable food stands close to surfing areas. Exotic Fare from Africa and The Middle EastDiners who are looking for a little something different in Orange County will be delighted to find that there are a decent selection of African and Middle Eastern restaurants. Irvine, Anaheim and Costa Mesa boast some of the area's best restaurants in this category. Cuisine from Iran, Lebanon and Egypt can be found in both formal dining and quick service restaurants throughout these cities. Ethnic markets in some communities also offer prepared Persian dishes.Moroccan and Ethiopian food are also very popular among Southern California diners. High-end Moroccan establishments with belly dances and multi-course formal dinners are scattered throughout the southern part of Orange County. Ethiopian restaurants can be found on the side streets of major cities and in bedroom communities. Specialty bakeries also cater to the tastes of those who want to try sweet treats from Morocco and the Middle East. Latin American DelightsThanks to its proximity to Mexico, Orange County boasts some of the best Mexican and Latin American cuisine available in the nation. Regional Mexican restaurants are prevalent in almost every community in the county. Taco bars and quick service establishments are popular among the beach crowd. Such restaurants can be found on or near piers in beach town. Many of the Mexican restaurants in the area specialize in fish and seafood dishes that are simply not offered at most Americanized Mexican restaurants.Diners who want to try dishes from Central and South America are also in for a treat when visiting Orange County. Delicious pupusas from Honduras and creative fusion stir fries from Peru can be found in central and southern Orange County. Brazilian steakhouses are also popular with diners in the area. Mexican bakeries, or panaderias, can be found in almost every city in the area. These bakeries offer a wide variety of fresh-baked treats to the diner in search of a quick breakfast or snack. Noodle Houses and Asian Cuisine GaloreDiners who are interested in sampling authentic noodle dishes from Japan and China will find a wealth of restaurant options in Irvine, Anaheim and the surrounding communities. Many of the noodle houses make their own noodles from scratch. They are offered in soups and salads or served cold with dips. Those individuals who are looking for classic Chinese cuisine are best served by sticking to the northeastern edge of the county. Indian restaurants are located in every community.A wealth of Vietnamese cuisine can be found in the city of Westminster and surrounding communities. Thanks to a huge influx of immigrants during and after the Vietnam War, the area offers every style of Vietnamese cuisine imaginable. Pho and noodle houses operate alongside restaurants specializing in seafood. Many Vietnamese restaurants serve a fusion meal of traditional seafood chowder and classic Southern crawdads. Korean barbecues are also prevalent in Westminster. These establishments are perfect for diners who enjoy the experience of cooking at their own tables. Italian Home CookingOrange County's southern communities offer some of the best Italian food available on the West Coast. The majority of Italian restaurants in the county offer home-style cooking. Diners will find classic dishes such as lasagna and spaghetti as well as regional creations such as homemade gnocchi and marinated squid. Most of the Italian restaurants in the area are decently priced and are suitable for family get-togethers. Fine Dining & SteakhousesOrange County is rightly regarded as one of the richest counties in California. A wide variety of fine dining establishments and steakhouses cater to those individuals who want to dine in style. The majority of fine dining restaurants in the area offer a combination of seafood and fish dishes alongside fresh, locally raised meats. Asian fusion cuisine also features prominently in many of these establishments. Diners who are looking for the best in fine dining should stick close to the beach or explore the streets surrounding upscale shopping centers.Upscale steakhouses can be found in most large cities in Orange County. The finest steakhouses are located in the southern end of the county near major shopping centers. These restaurants serve classic American meat and seafood dishes with creative sides. Steakhouses are favored for business get-togethers and for the celebration of life's milestones. Vegetarian and Vegan CuisineA handful of vegetarian and vegan restaurants are scattered throughout Orange County. These establishments are designed to appeal to everyone in the family and offer a wide range of dishes. Some of the best vegan restaurants in the area draw inspiration from Asian cuisine. These restaurants can be found scattered throughout Orange County, though the majority are located in beach communities. Vegan bakeries and coffee shops can be found in almost every major city in Orange County.
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