Top 6 Restaurants in Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana, CA has such a great diversity of different cuisines, and this list should give you the best of the eateries Santa Ana has to offer. With so much to choose from, after lots of careful deliberation (and a lot of full bellies), we’ve gone for these six.
6. Tacos Manuel in Santa Ana, CA
What if we told you that perhaps one of the tastiest restaurants in Santa Ana isn’t really a restaurant? It’s a truck, but boy, what a truck. Here you find tacos for only $1, and these aren’t just any tacos. They’re the tacos of dreams, the real deal.
This truck isn’t just a big deal in Santa Ana, CA: according to Yelp’s 2016 rankings, it’s the 20th best restaurant in the whole of the United States. Their menu doesn’t have a wide range, just five different kinds of tacos and burritos but, with such a small area to focus on, the quality of the produce is really perfected. They guarantee all the ingredients are freshly soured, and they really do taste that way. As for the texture of the tacos, you’ll only find better in Mexico. A real steal.
The truck can be found at 17th & Mabury Tuesday-Sunday.
5. Shabu Shabu in CA
It’s not just for the novelty that locals and visitors alike love this restaurant. Since the popularity of Japanese food really boomed, we’ve all tried sushi and we’ve all enjoyed ramen, but the practice of shabu-shabu hasn’t yet captured the popular imagination.
Well, perhaps it has in Santa Ana. On the coldest nights, this place is so busy you could wait for as long as an hour, but it’s really worth it. The traditional way to have shabu-shabu is with beef which you slowly stir into a vegetable broth as the meat cooks.
Here you can have beef of the finest cuts, but there’s also the option of chicken, crab, vegetable and pork. When you’ve finished your cuts, the waiter then prepares your now meat flavored broth into a beautifully flavored noodle soup. The attentive care shown to the customer really distinguishes it from other shabu-shabu places. This is a masterpiece of slow dining, a real delight.
Find it at 1945 East 17th Street.
4. Mil Jugos in CA
We can’t get enough of Mil Jugos, and neither can California. Norah Briceño and her mum Solange opened their restaurant in Santa Ana seven years ago. At the time, it was the only Venezuelan restaurant in CA, and it’s been so successful they’ve now opened another in L.A.
What really distinguishes Mil Jugos from the pack is their commitment to Venezuelan cooking. Their chefs work to really bring out the richest flavors of Latin America, with its unique blend of European and indigenous heritage.
We have to recommend their arepa and their licuados. Licuados at Mil Jugos are some of the best smoothies in California. They’re made which a spoonful of sugar and the fruit of your choice, and their sweetness and tartness in all the right places means they go down easy. If you eat it with their arepa, which can be served with cheese, shredded meat, avocado, chicken, the crunchiness of this perfect pastry with the smoothie is just so good. For me, it’s better than a burger.
Find them at 320 West 5th Street.
3. Somboon Thai Food in CA
It’s impossible to complain about Somboon Thai. They’ve made the list because they do traditional Thai food, and boy, do they do it well. Sometimes only Thai will do, and when it’s that time, pick up your jacket and take yourself to Somboon Thai.
Here you can enjoy the best of traditional Thai food. Their chicken skewers with peanut sauce are just right, with an excellent tenderness of meat and the perfect tartness of nut sauce. Their curries excel in that all the different flavors are all in perfect balance, as everyone hopes of Thai food but they don’t always get. But really, we need to talk about the tofu. If every tofu tasted like this, the U.S. would have a lot more vegetarians. The fried surface crunches just right, the tofu dissolves on the tongue, and the sweetness makes your eyes water in thanks.
The best Thai food in Santa Ana, CA
Find them at 1180 South Bristol St.
We at Save On Paving can’t resist Irenia, and if we could we wouldn’t want to. Filipino food is increasing in popularity, and is ever-forecast to be the next big food trend which really sweeps across the United States. Although the rest of the country may still be waiting, chef Ryan Garlitos is really making it happen in Santa Ana.
Begin with their dried anchovies, that crunch and slide so delicately to delight the palate. After that try the Adobo, the most tender cut of a pork shoulder which melts on the tongue, and the combination with mustard greens is perfect.
It’s the rarity of their contrast between savory and sweet which really delights at Irenia, and you leave feeling both refreshed and happier than when you entered. It seems Garlitos is eager to please both American customers and Filippinos who want a taste of home. He is definitely succeeding.
Find Irenia at 400 North Broadway.
Playground has to be number one. Head chef Jason Quinn has made the news twice; once for his win of the food network’s The Great Food Truck Race (truly deserved), and once for biting back at a Yelp reviewer who badly reviewed his restaurant. It may be true that ‘KOBE BEEF SHOULD NEVER BE WELL DONE’ but ‘Burn in Hell’ might have been excessive.
Regardless, if that kind of sass helps this chef keep working his magic, then let it be. At Playground, they really care about the food. Their signature burger is made with better beef than some restaurants which claim fine dining. Using cuts of Waygu beef to produce their patties, the taste is truly divine.
If burgers aren’t your thing, their menu changes every day (a rare delight), and boasts offerings like Korubuta pork bao, or golden rice served with macadamia nuts and the tangiest salted coconut cream. Their play with ingredients and commitment to creativity is astonishing.
Find them at 220 East 4th Street opposite the historic Yost Theatre.
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