North American eateries

Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 24. The scale used to be 0 to 10, so restaurants written about before 2012 may have only had their ratings adjusted by formula and not by hand (hence all the 2s, 5s, 8s, etc.) The scale works as follows:

24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16
15 14 13 12 11 10
9 8 7 6 5 4
3 2 1

An asymmetrical 0 to 24 scale may not be intuitive, I realize. But as a rule of thumb: a double-digit score means I liked it, while a single-digit score... less so. Also, as you might expect, scores from many years ago may not be very reliable, so do check the dates.

Orange County

In a place notorious for landslides, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that seemingly every restaurant I used to enjoy has gone downhill.

Click on the column titles to sort the entries!

Name Cuisine Address Last update Score
Taco RosaMexicanregional chain: Newport Beach, Irvine2015-02-1311
This is a higher-end Mexican restaurant. I got a chile relleño that had an unusually flavorful cheese mixture inside. I missed having some beans on the side, though.
ChakraIndianCampus near Bridge, Irvine2011-04-090
Stuck in Irvine on a business trip, I tried this place. After boggling at the prices — I'm used to places like Fremont's Shalimar, with amazing entrees for $6 and naan for $1, as opposed to the $20+ and $5 respectively that Chakra charges — I put in my order. What I received was a small dish of vegetables chopped down to the consistency of cat food and a basket of burnt naan. Then I actually tried eating my meal, and almost broke my teeth on the rock-hard, apparently uncooked lentils. When the waitress came by to ask how things were, I politely pointed out that my meal was inedible, and she asked whether I wanted something else. I said I'd have another look at the menu. When she came back, she informed me that the lentils were "supposed to be that way" and that if I wanted to order something else I'd be charged for both entrees. At this point, the idea of eating gravel with blackened bread didn't appeal, so I paid my exorbitant bill and left — but not before hearing a woman who was apparently the proprietor wandering around apologizing to several similarly disappointed diners. No apology for me, though.
Juice StopSmoothiesLa Palma & Imperial, Anaheim2007-02-1814
This is still the best smoothie place I've ever been. Nice to see that something out here hasn't gone drastically downhill.
Taco MesaMexican (taqueria)Chapman & James, Orange2007-02-1814
This place has held up. It's an unusual taqueria — they have weird red tortillas and a unique bean preparation and a heavy emphasis on lettuce — but it's pretty good in its way.
Campitelli CookiesDessert (cookies)Santa Ana Canyon & Avenida Margarita, Anaheim2007-02-1711
This place has declined a bit from its heyday twenty years ago; the cookies are smaller, doughier, and needless to say, more expensive. But I wouldn't, like, spit them out or anything.
Rockwell'sBreakfastSantiago & Santiago, Villa Park2007-02-178
This used to be an 8, thanks to the heavenly spinach omelette. That omelette, on my most recent visit, had become decidedly mundane: both the cream in the filling and the egg itself had become three times as thick. It was a sad parody of what it once had been.
Cinnamon WorksBakerySanta Ana Canyon & Avenida Margarita, Anaheim2007-02-175
As recently as five years ago this place sold some of the best muffins I'd ever had. Now it appears that everything is oversweet and underdone. I'm sure I would have loved that when I was six.
Roma D'ItaliaItalianEl Camino Real & Sixth, Tustin2005-08-1616
Roma D'Italia is an archetypal red-sauce place with checkered tablecloths, but very good. I've had some okay meals here and some great ones: perfect gnocchi in a nuanced and delicious tomato cream sauce or cheese ravioli in a bright, tasty "fresco" sauce. The dessert menu also kicks no small amount of ass, featuring a slice of amazing German chocolate cheesecake the size of a small car.
Papa Hassan'sMiddle EasternGlassell & University, Orange2002-01-2814
The adaas (lentil soup with rice and pasta bits) is terrific, and the ful maddamas is great, but now that I have more than memory to use as a basis for comparison, I have to admit that the ful here is not quite in the class as that at the Kabab Cafe in Queens. Still good, though.

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