Celebrate #30YearsofZovs with these throwback dishes at original menu prices!

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Angel Hair Pasta

Zov’s Restaurant Group will celebrate 30 years since the opening of its Tustin flagship location in January 1987 by offering popular menu items at throwback prices. During the last week of each month Zov’s locations in Anaheim, Irvine, Newport Coast and Tustin will feature one dish at its original menu price.

Chef Zov Karamardian—originally a home cook and then a caterer—started her restaurant group in 1987 in Tustin and is regarded as one of the founding chefs of the Orange County culinary scene. Inspired by (and later a friend to) Julia Child, Zov has authored 2 cookbooks while growing her restaurant group to locations in Anaheim, Irvine, Newport Coast, Tustin and John Wayne Airport.

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Zov catering a party!

Zov’s was awarded the 2015 Small Business Award by the State of California, and Zov cooked at the James Beard House for the third time in late 2015. She was honored as the 2016 Golden Foodies Chef of the Year by the Orange County Restaurant Association in late 2016.

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Zovs Tustin in 1987

Chef Zov—known for her unique Middle Eastern-fusion cuisine—turned to social media for input on what dishes should be featured.

“These flavors represent the foundation of my cooking,” Chef Zov said. “Over the years some of these dishes may have come and gone, but seemingly they have not been forgotten. We’re excited to share these special menu items in celebration with our longtime guests.”

The Dishes: 

Jan. 29-Feb. 4: Angel Hair Pasta with garlic, basil, parsley, tomato, pine nuts, feta, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil; $9.50
Feb. 26-March 4: Golden Lentil Soup
March 26-April 1: Sautéed Calamari
April 30-May 6: Roasted Rack of Lamb
May 28-June3: Fusilli Pasta with Chicken
June 25-July 1: Pork Prime Rib with Sour Cherry Sauce
July 30-Aug. 5: Mezze
Aug. 27-Sept. 2: Swordfish Piccata
Sept. 24-30: Rosemary Garlic Chicken
Oct. 29-Nov. 4: Cavatappi Pasta with Vegetables and Fontina Cheese

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Chef Zov, with OCHSA culinary students, at a recent demo

In addition to this promotion, Zov’s also welcomed Gelato Paradiso to Zov’s Bakery in Tustin where several flavors of gelato and fresh waffle cups are being served.

For more information, and Zov’s full menu, visit zovs.com.

A Meal at the 3rd Best Restaurant in the World

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It’s 2017 … let’s kick off the year in style!

Whether you agree with the concept of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list or not, the fact remains—not only do the annual rankings include culinary heavy hitters worldwide, but landing a spot does wonders for the notoriety of a restaurant for years to come.

In the United States only 6 restaurants made the 2016 list in total, though the No. 3 spot does belong to the U.S.

Rather, it belongs to James Beard Award-winning Chef Daniel Humm and Co. of Eleven Madison Park in New York, a contemporary American restaurant in the Metropolitan Life North Building on Madison Avenue (across the street from the famous Madison Square Park Shake Shack).

Though he’s been at the helm for a decade, Humm and his partner Will Guidara purchased the restaurant from previous owner Danny Meyer just a few years ago. In early 2016, Humm pared down the restaurant’s lengthy four-hour tasting menu for a new minimalism, which made news in The New York Times.

“I think we’re at a point where eating 25 courses is not necessary,” Humm told The Gray Lady. “We feel strongly about it. That’s not what we want anymore, as diners. It’s too much.”

My wife and I arrived in Spring 2016 to celebrate 10 years together, just as they hit seasonal stride with their new menu.

Read more…

Niyaz’s Top 20 O.C. Dishes of 2016

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My top food moment of 2016 … Zov winning the Golden Foodie Award for 2016 Chef of the Year!

It’s been a great year for Orange County foodies.

We have Lobster Fries, Spaghetti Pizza and Churro Loops; Top Chefs in the kitchen and new openings at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep up. There’s been a lot of delicious dishes to try, and while I couldn’t get to them all, I did manage to enjoy my fair share of awesome plates.

Here’s the 20 best things I ate and drank this year!

Read more…

Naugles now open daily, plans for 1,000 more in the works

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For Christian Ziebarth—raised in Fountain Valley, a former website designer and food blogger who’s now the president of Naugles—it’s always been about Mexican food.

“My dad worked in LA and was always trying new Mexican food. One of his criteria on whether it was good or not was if gringos didn’t want to eat there,” Ziebarth says. “If they had food blogs back then, he probably would have been a food blogger.”

It was Ziebarth’s dad who introduced him to Naugles, as he would make Ortega Burgers at home, an idea he borrowed from the fast food chain. Ziebarth would later experience the real thing on a trip to his grandparents’ house in Joshua Tree. He remembers thinking, “This is really good! Now I know why everyone’s talking about it.”

Though the brand would eventually die due to merger, now at age 47, Ziebarth is the guy responsible for wrestling Naugles back from Del Taco in a trademark lawsuit.

He’s become a champion of the fast-food world—also landing on the OC Register’s 100 Most Influential People of 2016 list—and now he’s on the cusp of the biggest venture yet: Turning Dick Naugles dream in to a reality again, by resurrecting the fast food brand and building it into a 1,000-unit behemoth. … Read more…

Falasophy to bring falafels and more to Downtown Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market

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While Rashad Moumneh’s Falasophy food truck will still make the rounds for public and private events, Falasophy’s next stop will be a brick-and-mortar location inside the popular 4th Street Market in Downtown Santa Ana.

With a menu focused on falafel, hummus and sides—benefited by “Chief Falasopher” Rashad’s past experience as a corporate restaurant executive—Falasophy has created thousands of fervent “Falasophy Disciples” across Southern California. The menu will grow at 4th Street Market to include even more craveable Lebanese street food.

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Disciples can still enjoy their current favorites—including the Banh Mi Falafel Pita, Falafel Tacos, Plato’s Salad Bowl (pictured) and Hand Cut Fries—plus new additions including the Garlic Chicken Panini and 24-Hour Steak Shawarma Pita. Falasophy will also expand the popular line of salad and hummus bowls with a variety of protein options.

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Knefeh—the famous “sweet cheese” dessert consumed at most street corners in the Middle East—will also be on the menu. Falasophy’s products will continue to be made from scratch, using all natural, fresh ingredients. In addition, they’ll be sourcing organic ingredients to the extent possible, including organic garbanzo beans. All oils used will be non-GMO.

Falasophy is scheduled to open in early January inside 4th Street Market, 201 E. Fourth Street, in Santa Ana. For their current menu, truck schedule and more info, visit falasophy.com.

For more info, read these stories in the Orange County Register and OC Weekly!

Order Evan Kleiman’s holiday pies at Alta Baja Market + Bottomless Drinks with tacos THIS SUNDAY!

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If you’re looking for a delicious way to end your Thanksgiving feast, look no further than Alta Baja Market. That’s where Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food,” will be selling some incredible pies for the holidays.

Alta Baja Market is the only place to get these pies, and you must call directly at 714-783-2252 to place an order. Pie orders will also be available for pickup Dec. 22-24.

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Available Varieties Include:
Brown Butter Sweet Potato with Gingersnap Crust … $28
Double Crust Apple … $36
Chocolate Espresso Pecan … $38

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CARLITO’S WAY BRUNCH: Every third Sunday of the month, this Nov. 20 being such a day, is also Carlito’s Way Brunch. That means bottomless mimosas/micheladas with and order of their incredible breakfast tacos for $24 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check it out!

Alta Baja Market
inside of 4th Street Market
201 E. 4th Street
Santa Ana, Ca 92701
(714) 783-2252

Tempo Urban Kitchen adds Chef Cody Storts, new locations and brunch + plus a huge party!

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Chef Cody Storts, formerly of Grits Fullerton, has joined the team at Tempo Urban Kitchen as Executive Chef. Tempo Urban Kitchen, started nearly 2 years ago by Lascari’s and Cibo Fresh President Jorge Cueva, focuses on American-inspired Mexican food, inclusive of the melting pot of influences modern America draws from.

Cueva recently opened his second location in Anaheim Hills, with plans to expand to Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, and Tokyo, Japan in the coming year. Storts will helm the expansion in the kitchen, with his first item of business being the launch of Tempo’s brunch menu this weekend.  … Read more…

This Chocolate Chip Muffin, for President

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If there’s one platform I can truly get behind this election season, it’s that we should support our local businesses.

If we’re talking donut shops in Orange County, my favorites are all over: Cream Pan in Tustin (cake donuts, bagettes, strawberry croissants); Surfin’ Donuts (multiple South County locations; get the Tiger’s tail); Sidecar Doughnuts in Costa Mesa (everything); and my favorite family-run shop: Michael’s Coffee House across the street from Saddleback Church in Lake Forest/Foothill Ranch.

I hate to say I don’t know the name of the family that runs the place, but they’re always so slammed when I’m in there, I’ve never had much of a conversation with them. What I can tell you is to order any of their customizable sandwiches on a huge, buttery croissant; the blueberry donut is my wife’s favorite, and THEY MAKE THE GREATEST CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFIN OF ALL TIME.

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It’s all about the ratios. Lets talk about that muffin top—the good kind. In this case, the best kind.

It’s like a flying saucer landed on a wax-paper-wrapped pedestal for all to gawk in awe at. Because it’s so huge and cooks over on the pans, the perimeter of the top tastes more like a muffin version of Chewy Chips Ahoy! The inside of the top and the bottom of the muffin are perfectly soft and fluffy, and not overly sweet. Large chocolate chips stud the top and float around in abundance within, too.

It’s hard to tell someone to go driving for a chocolate chip muffin, but that’s exactly what I’m saying you should do. Take the toll road to save time if you must, (Bake off the 5, cutting across Rancho will do it too), but this is one decision you won’t soon regret.

Michael’s Coffee House
29200 Portola Parkway
Lake Forest, Ca 92630
949-455-1348

Paso Robles expansion in full swing for Pizza e Vino’s owner

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Pizza e Vino owner Steve Dickus’ expansion into Paso Robles is in full swing.

While his crew has been holding down his Neapolitan pizzeria in Rancho Santa Margarita—earning high placements on both the Orange Coast Magazine and Orange County Register “Best Pizza 2016” lists—Steve’s been working on 2 new restaurants in Downtown Paso Robles.  … Read more…

3 Tacos to Get Your Hands on This #NationalTacoDay

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Today’s not just any Taco Tuesday, it’s National Taco (Tues)Day and for that we celebrate. The noble taco is always there to provide sustenance, a trusty fallback and often an equally trusty fall-forward if we can call it that. I just love tacos. And I’m pretty sure you do too.

In honor of the day, here’s 3 tacos to get your hands on this #NationalTacoDay:

Chorizo Breakfast Tacos at Alta Baja Market (above)
4th Street Market, 201 E. 4th St., Santa Ana
www.altabajamarket.com

Alta Baja Market’s menu is full of Southwestern inspiration. Especially so on the weekends when the brunch menu features sweet or savory versions of New Mexican blue corn waffles, plus some seriously overstuffed breakfast tacos.

ABM co-owner Delilah Snell’s kitchen features the best local ingredients. She makes her own preserves, pickles and other goodies, and she puts the same care into these amazing tacos by using the world’s most perfect flour tortillas from Burritos La Palma, chorizo (of the gods) by Electric City Butcher, delicious Gonestraw Farm Eggs and house made pico de gallo. Austin, we see you.


 

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Falafel Taco at Falasophy
Menu & Schedule: www.falasophy.com

No taco has been as unique to me this year as Rashad Moumneh’s Falafel Taco at Falasophy. His #FalafelChariot, aka the food truck he runs between OC and LA, doles out delicious twists on falafel and hummus to vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike.

The taco’s components are well thought out: an El Metate flour tortilla cradling pineapple-juice pickled jalapenos for a mild bite, serrano chile crema for spicy-cool interplay and pickled cabbage for acidic crunch, all surrounding three golden, herbaceous falafels. The dish even landed at No. 33 on OC Weekly’s Top 100 Dishes of 2016, picked by “Taco USA” author and Editor-In Chief Gustavo Arellano. Quite the stamp of approval!


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Tahini Chicken Tacos at Zov’s
Locations throughout Orange County
www.zovs.com

2016 Golden Foodie Awards Chef of the Year Zov Karamardian is known for her blend of Mediterranean and French cuisines, but it’s her take on the chicken taco that had me swooning last year when I discovered these tasty bites on her Happy Hour menu in Anaheim.

The chicken is “spiced,” as it’s described on the menu, and I can’t really say what’s going on here except that it’s tasty and succulent. A mix of veggies, herbs and micro greens add a zip of freshness, with red pepper aioli and tahini providing a tasty sauce to tie all of the flavors together.

With the Ducks season about to start, these are a smart bet before the game, plus parking is validated for the entirety of the game so you can park and walk or Uber over. Tacos that basically pay for themselves … I’m in.