I've recently moved from NW Denver burbs to Orange County, and there has been some very pleasant finds. This is not meant to be exhaustive, but it's a quick rundown of what I've liked. You will notice a bias to RSM, it's where we're(SO and I) based right now. Will be looking for suggestions in laguna niguel soon....hint, hint.
Baja fish taco - corner of Alicia and Crown valley, next to Von's. Great fast food fish taco, the salsa bar has some of the tastiest onions I've found so far.
Itz-a-Deli - Lake Forest. TASTY corned beef on rye. Huge piles of meat on great bread. Veggie sandwich on squaw bread(think honey sweetened wheat-rye) is another favorite. $5 for sandwich and small cup of salad that will fill you up if you are there before 11:30 or after 1(they close at 3, itza lunch place).
Taco Mesa - Lake forest, Los Alisos and Trabuco. Great basic grilled meat on tortillas. Good guac and taste like homemade chips. Best is pork w/chile verde and the steak. $1 Taco Tuesdays, great deal. Horchata is a skip.
India Cook House? - Culver just E of I5. Good savory N Indian food(tikka masala, butter chicken, etc). The vindaloo/karahai stuff wasn't right, not enough heat. Adequate naan, didn't have crisp enough outside. Savory dishes were outstanding though, they stick in the head. I'm having a pavlovian response as I type this.
Caspian Restaurant - Culver just E of I5. Wouldn't have tried this place w/o some recs, just didn't have the feel of a great restaurant. It was very tasty, don't have a reference for authenticity. We went on a sunday night and saw the dancers....my brother in law from vermont was thinking of not going back(to vermont). My favorite was the chicken in thick sauce(pomegranate?) and rice with golden raisins, dried plums, and nuts. My wife liked the lamb that came with dill rice. HUGE portions, the three of us could have split an app and one main. The yoghurt drink was fantastic(du?).
Harbor Grill - Dana Point. Great fresh fish on mesquite grill. Surprisingly tasty NE clam chowder. Very nice breakfast, esp crab benedict. The huevos rancheros is a skip, doesn't have the right consistency.
Rose Canyon Cantina - Trabuco Canyon. Best marg I've had yet here, comparable to Mezcal 'coin' in Denver. Patio is an extremely pleasant place to have a meal, large trees shading the tables. Relleno and enchilada were probably good but not great, made better by locale and good drinks.
Canyon Cafe - RSM town center. Surprisingly good roasted chicken.
Taco Loco, Laguna Beach. Tacos taste really good after a day at the beach, but not something I'd go out of my way for.
Cinnamon Creations(?) - RSM town center. well executed generic breakfast. The bran blueberry muffin was the best part. Coffee had a really odd but identifiable odor of marijuana. Seriously. I thought the retiree behind me in line got her sunday morning started with a pipe.
Wine Bar, RSM town center. Hits and misses with food, the wine was nothing special at the tasting bar. Feels like they're still trying to get it figured out.
Opah - RSM town center. Blech.
Fat Burger - Aliso Viejo Town Center. Rather have an In-n-Out, esp for the highway robbery price.
If you made it this far, why don't you hit the 'reply' button to share your favorite hole in the wall in south OC? Please?