Global: Hot Pot

The season’s chill brings a craving for roiling cauldrons of hot pot. The pan-Asian dish, a central and usually communal vessel of bubbling broth in which all manner of meats and vegetables are quickly cooked, is essential to Orange County’s cool-weather diet.

Middle East Sweets

After a falafel platter, kebab plate, or rich Persian stew, traditional Middle Eastern pastries are the perfect indulgence. Miles Clements has suggestions for savory or sweet baklava and beyond, Turkish to Persian-style European delights.

Global Diner: Falafel

Common to Middle Eastern cuisines, and popular all over Orange County, the chickpea fritters called falafel are a vegetarian option in which all palates can delight. Anaheim’s Little Arabia is the perfect place to search for our three local favorites.

The Global Diner: Banh Mi

Banh mi has long been one of Little Saigon’s most important culinary treasures. Thanks to the neighborhood, it has become a cultural phenomenon in Southern California. You can find this Vietnamese sandwich almost everywhere now, but here are three of our favorites.

The Global Diner: Fish Tacos

Try to imagine the quintessential fish taco and there’s a good chance you’ll immediately dream of Baja. The two are intimately connected, but the fish taco is one of the fundamental foods of all of coastal Mexico, as beloved by sun-bleached surfers as they are by those who grew up on Sinaloa’s shores.

The Global Diner: Korean Cold Noodles

This time of year, we all sprout a sweet tooth, seeking icy satisfaction in a milky paleta or frozen banana. But there’s no better chill-out on long, blistering days than Korean cold noodles.

Global Diner: Paella

Confined mostly to tapas-inspired bites and dishes beset by a fusion of Iberian flavors, Spanish cuisine is rare in Orange County. So it’s no wonder that finding a good paella—rice stained a glorious saffron, seafood plump with its own briny juices—can be so difficult. Luckily, local diners aren’t limited to traditional paella. Consider one of the dish’s many Spanish-speaking variations.

Global Diner: Bento Box

The concept of washoku—the harmony of food—is at the heart of Japanese cuisine. This cooking philosophy is designed to be both nutritionally fulfilling and aesthetically engaging: just the right balance of textures, flavors, colors, and smells. Outside of an elaborate multicourse kaiseki meal, the best and most accessible way to fall under the spell of washoku is with a bento box.

Global Diner: Ethiopian Combo Plate

There’s something magical about a good Ethiopian meal. The East African cuisine, after all, draws heavily upon the special alchemy of long-simmered stews known as wot, dishes that transform humble ingredients such as lentils and split peas into objects of almost luxurious richness. The best way to experience those flavors is a classic combination plate.

Global Diner: Pozole

Every bowl of pozole is full of elemental pleasures: swollen kernels of hominy and hunks of fatty pork bobbing in rich, porky broth. A homey Mexican favorite, its origins trace to pre-Columbian traditions that have been refined, reimagined, and reborn over centuries.