First, I want to thank everyone for their recommendations and I want to sum up our trip as far as the culinary experiences in one post. I hope I don't get in trouble for combining both culinary & travel experiences because I cannot report about the culinary part and not link the travel part to it. They go together.
Day 1 - arrived John Wayne Airport, OC, from Ohio, headed down PCH to Laguna Beach with intentions of stopping at House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer for a combination of our lunch/dinner. The sun had just come out in LB after heavy rains & mudslides. The main drag was closed & the traffic was rerouted to clear out mud. Sad sight. But, we managed to find parking & have lunch/early dinner at House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer. I had the grilled mahi-mahi lettice wraps. My husband & son had the swordfish burritos while my daughter had the mahi-mahi tacos. Very good. The view was nice & we needed those beers after the long flight from the midwest.
Day 2 - Paramount Pictures tour in the morning. Walked to Mario's Peruvian & Seafood Restaurant on Melrose Ave. We got there just before noon & had the last table. Others had to wait outside for the next table. Got the Lomo Saltado, Pescado Sudado and Arroz chaufa deCamarones and shared family style. We were so impressed. It was our first time ever eating Peruvian food. We had a lot of restaurant choices that CH'ers provided including Lucy's, the Columbian restaurant, farmer's market, etc. Afterwards, we went to walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame - not impressed - reminded me of Niagara Falls - touristy & seedy. Headed to the Getty Center - beautiful place - too bad we didn't plan enough time to visit. Dinner was at the Canary in Westood - Persian. I had a few Persian restaurants in mind in the area & the Canary ended up to be near where we found parking. Finding parking at 5pm was difficult in Westwood. I probably would have chosen someplace else different but we were not disappointed. Among our family, we had the mirza ghasemi and the Gormesh Sabzi, a lamb kebab platter & a salad & soup.
Day 3 - Lunch at Crab Cooker in Newport Beach. I don't think any of us were impressed since we were already having such good food elsewhere. Dinner was at Habana at the urban anti-mall. Cuban - good. No complaints - the food was presented beautifully. We had a hard time finding any place open on Christmas Eve without nosebleed prices.
Day 4 - Christmas Day. I had packed a collapsible cooler in my luggage to use for a picnic in Joshua Tree National Park b/c I didn't think any place would be open. The day before, I went to Albertsons and picked up pre-made sub sandwiches, single servings of potato salad & hummus & pretzels & beverages. Packed the cooler & headed for JTNP Christmas morning. Found a remote location to have a very nice picnic in the park. I am a very untraditional mom - I'm sure there were many moms back home in the midwest slaving over turkeys/hams/standing beef rib roasts, etc. It was a good thing we entered the park via the south entrance after detouring to Palm Springs & the other upscale desert towns b/c when we exited the park in the town of Joshua Tree, I was alarmed - it was like a no-man's land of outlaws - I was scared - had we entered the park from Joshua Tree, I would have been scared there were outlaws hiding behind rocks ready to shoot us!!! We still had some daylight hours left so we made a small detour to Pioneertown - creepy.
Day 5 - Griffith Park. Lunch at India Sweets & Spices on Los Felix Ave. Wonderful! Dinner - the kids were ready for pizza so we went to BJ's Pizza near the Balboa Pier and then afterwards walked Balboa Island admiring the holiday lights on boats & houses.
Day 6 - Birch Aquarium, SD. Stopped at Bull Taco in Oceanside for lunch. My son had the swordfish burrito, daughter had the shrimp burrito. My husband and I had a combination of tacos including the duck, asada carne, shrimp curry & swordfish. Those were the best tacos & burritos our family has ever had.
Day 7 - Lunch - Vien Dong in Garden Grove, CA. My husand & son had bun cha ca Thang Long. My daughter and I had the simple pho. We also had two orders of cha gio which were wonderful. Dinner was pizza at Big Belly Deli in Newport Beach. We had such a big lunch that we didn't want anything too much to eat for dinner.
That sums it up. Thanks to all the CH'ers for all your help!
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
14271 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843
Mario's Peruvian & Seafood
5786 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
2930 Bristol St Ste A110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The Crab Cooker
2200 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Big Belly Deli
6310 W Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Thang Long Restaurant
9550 Bolsa Ave Ste 115A, Westminster, CA 92683