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!

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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…

6 O.C. burgers that honor National Burger Day all year long

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If blood type were determined by what you ate, I’d probably be blood type cheeseburger, or cheeseburger/pizza (kinda like Type AB). Not saying it’s a good thing, just saying there’s something about a grilled/seared/charbroiled beef patty with gooey cheese, cradled between two pillowy buns that I just can’t get enough of.

In celebration of National Burger Day, here’s 6 burgers in Orange County that I could always go for, no matter the day! … Read more…

OC Weekly’s Fresh Toast: Brunch your face off

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OC Weekly‘s sold out Fresh Toast brunch-a-thon swarmed Newport Dunes and Waterfront Resort Saturday, where more than 40 local restaurants and vendors shared their best brunch bites for 1,500 famished weekend warriors. For me it was a little bit of business—Knife & Spork Public Relations client Zov’s was a participant—but the event was a whole lot of gustatory pleasure too.

I walked around shooting pictures and munching on a variety of snacks from some of my favorite O.C. restaurants and places I haven’t made it to yet. For a first-time fiesta, everything ran remarkably smooth. There were definitely some booths I missed, but on a positive note, there were enough vendors present to disperse the crowd so lines were never too long.

I’ve been sorting through my shots and I’m already hungry for Fresh Toast 2! Keep reading to see the dishes I got my hands on … … Read more…