One of the many inspired ideas you’ll find in our cover feature celebrating the best of everything in Orange County is a map called “Homesickness Antidotes.” Because so many locals are from elsewhere in the U.S., we thought, why not spotlight the O.C. places where you can satisfy geo‑specific food cravings?
I was born in Alabama and lived there long enough to develop a taste for barbecue, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. So I volunteered to find the best and most authentic soul food. But I spent my most formative years in Pennsylvania, where I developed an abiding appreciation for a proper Philadelphia cheese steak. (As a Penn State student in the ’70s, these were a brand of currency for me. I calculated my meager income using a simple how-many-cheese-steaks-will-this-buy? equation.) I selflessly volunteered for that assignment as well.
Other staffers, equally selfless, offered to spend their employer’s money to find the best local purveyors of San Francisco dim sum, Chicago hot dogs, Maine lobster rolls, Key lime pie, Montana beef jerky, Colorado game, and more.
You’ll find the results of our diligent search here. But lingering longer than the lip-sting of a hot-pepper-studded Works from John’s Philly Grille in Seal Beach was my sheer wonder at the breadth of culinary experiences available here. Nearly 3,000 miles from the City of Brotherly Love and I had my choice of three John’s Philly Grille locations, 11 locations of Philly’s Best, 20 locations of Jersey Mike’s, an indie shop called Frank’s Philadelphia in Costa Mesa, and others.
Sure, it’s still possible to get homesick in Orange County. But the cure usually is just minutes away.