Little Saigon banh xeo specialist expands to a sleek new space in Fountain Valley.
Banh xeo is one of Vietnamese cooking’s many pleasures, a lacy rice-flour pancake stained yellow with turmeric and stuffed with bean sprouts and fillings such as pork and shrimp. Quan Mii makes some of O.C.’s best, crispy yet tender and served with a raft of fresh herbs. 16031 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, 714-486-1996
Isla Cuban-Latin Kitchen
Old Havana lands in La Palma with more than just Cuban flavors.
The dining room at Isla Cuban-Latin Kitchen is downright transformative, a luxe-looking space designed to evoke old Caribbean glamor. All the Cuban classics are here, like a finely pressed media noche sandwich and shredded ropa vieja beef. But there’s also mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish of savory green plantains mashed with garlic, pork rinds, and olive oil topped with juicy roasted pork. 30 Centerpointe Drive, La Palma, 714-735-8597
Pop Pie Co.
Sweet and savory pies come to the former home of Pie-Not in Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa wasn’t without an all-day pie shop for long, as San Diego’s Pop Pie Co. has filled the flaky void left by Pie-Not. Pop Pie’s chicken potpie and roasted veggie and curry pie are savory favorites, alluring counterpoints to the shop’s signature sweet treats such as the salted caramel apple crumble and the strawberry-rhubarb crumble. There’s a full coffee bar, too. 270 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949-524-3015
Chungchun Rice HotDog
A popular Korean snack chain brings its rice flour-battered hot dogs to O.C.
With more than 300 locations worldwide, Chungchun Rice Hotdog is making a foray into O.C. with locations in Garden Grove and Irvine. This is Korean street food gone fast-food: hot dogs dunked in a rice-flour batter, fried, and coated in crispy panko crumbs. The result is lighter and crunchier than the standard corn dog, with optional coatings such as crushed ramen noodles. 9760 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, 714-583-8099
DRINK OF THE MONTH
In Southern California, seasons are a state of mind. So even as winter sets in, it’s still easy to find a sip of summer. For that, head to San Clemente’s OC Fresca, where the bar is all but dedicated to aguas frescas. The Horchata Colada makes a great escape with creamy horchata, sweet-tart pineapple agua fresca, a squeeze of lime, and a splash of coconut rum.