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!

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…

The Beach Barrel brings back Ochoa’s Chorizo Chili

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What I love most about the crew at The Beach Barrel in Newport Beach is that they’re always trying something new, and it’s usually on the outer stratosphere of American grub. Jared Jones and Co. have brought us Hawaiian Sticky Buns, Jerk Chicken French Fries and, finally, one of their finest recipes has returned to the menu just in time for fall.

Have you had Ochoa’s Chorizo? If you haven’t been to this tiny Santa Ana storefront near Warner and Main you’re missing out on the leanest, tastiest chorizo in town. They sell it all kinds of ways too, spicy, mild—a green jalapeno version and even soyrizo made on site.

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To make their killer chili, Jared’s taking Ochoa’s spicy, adding a little more heat, ground beef and beans (plus some secret spices). You can order it in a bowl, but it’s better with a bunch of cheese on crunchy French fries and juicy burgers. If you haven’t had the Barrel’s signature burger patty you’re definitely missing out … it’s beefy and spiced, touting a unique flavor you won’t find at other burger joints.

The Beach Barrel is open 7 days a week on the Newport Beach Peninsula, and they stay open for dine-in, takeout and delivery until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Locals looking for delivery can use UberEATS: The Beach Barrel to make it happen.

For more on The Beach Barrel, check out this great article written by Valentine Bratoff for Spoon University!

The Beach Barrel
3305 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, Ca
949-531-6222

Grits’ Pancake Balls featured on Foodbeast

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Peter Pham and Reach from the Foodbeast crew recently visited Grits Fullerton to get a taste of Chef Cody’s delicious pancake balls. Cody’s take on the Danish aebleskiver is a more-cake-like take on the European original, only Grits executive chef is doing them up his way.

For example, take one of my favorite dishes of the year, Thai Balls—with pancake balls, fried pork cutlet, raw shallot/jalapeno/cilantro and fish sauce-maple syrup. I lovingly refer to the dish as the Breakfast Banh Mi (that’s Vietnamese, I know) but one taste of this dish and you’ll understand exactly).

Cody’s also been going through the cereals of his childhood to spruce up his balls and the results are insane, and insanely delicious.

Click here to see Foodbeast’s video and article about Grits Fullerton’s Pancake Balls!

Grits’ “California Love” Beer Dinner highlights the Golden State in 6 plates

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So far this year, Grits Fullerton‘s beer dinners have seen Chef Cody Storts explore, among several themes, Blood & Guts with Noble Ale Works and The Dirty South with Golden Road Brewing. But he had yet to properly mine his home state of California for inspiration.

For the “California Love” beer dinner Sept. 9, the Grits crew set out to prove why the West Coast is the Best Coast.

They tapped Chico, California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, their Barrel Room and popular Beer Camp series for six beers to pair with courses highlighting the traditional twists and out-of-bounds ideas Chef Cody’s known for.
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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Break of Dawn gets RAW, again; looks ahead to Filipino pop-up

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This Saturday, July 16, Chef Dee Nguyen of Laguna Hills’ Break of Dawn will unveil his latest pop-up themed “Pinoy Summer,” a journey through Filipino cuisine. While I’m sad I’ll miss Saturday’s event, I did have the pleasure of dining in late May at his “RAW 2” dinner, a second stab at a concept he masterminded last year with Daniel Doki Kim, now of Sushi Roku.

No menu or descriptions of the dishes were provided. For the many prix-fixe meals I’ve been to, I definitely enjoy this element of surprise. It’s something Grits Fullerton Chef Cody Storts pulled off well with his recent “Blood & Guts” dinner with Noble Ale Works, and I hope the trend of mystery dinners continues to grow. (Speaking of which, did anyone else grab a ticket to Foodbeast Chef Linh Nguyen’s “Wu-Tang” pop-up at Mesa in August? Talk about ‘Raaaaawwwww.’)

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Dee’s dinner felt like a summation of everything he’s done since the first RAW, from a trip through South America to foraging the hills and beaches of Orange County. As cliche as it sounds to say he gets better every time, he really does—creating a style of Asian-influenced global cuisine like nobody else in O.C.

He did post the dishes on Facebook after the event, so everything is accurate to what we ate, though some of the ingredients were things I couldn’t have imagined because I’d never heard of or eaten them before. Keep reading for pictures of each course (and a few surprise guests!) …

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B.O.D. After Dark: Breakfast man’s dinner dash

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Three amigos. 3 hours. 54 guests. 12 courses. 648 plates.

That’s the final tally for last Saturday’s “Cow-n-Buddies” prix-fixe, the latest in Break of Dawn Chef Dee Nguyen’s ongoing series of fine-dining dinners. It’s a concept he’s flirted with sporadically over the years, only realizing it consistently with this year’s successful meals including “Un Tour de Vietnam,” “Pig-N-Buddies” and multiple B.O.D. RAW sushi dinners, in tandem with Sushi Roku’s Daniel Doki Kim.

It takes months of planning, up until the day of, utilizing techniques new and old (garum, anyone?). This meal included 45-day aged prime rib, monkfish liver, veal with blue crab … the dude isn’t holding back, and he’s only getting quicker, better, more efficient and even more experimental. He does it as sport, on his own, for the high.

For those in the kitchen, it’s pure and unrelenting chaos. For those in the dining room, pure and unrelenting bliss, with course after course highlighting Chef Dee’s unique flavor profiles and plating. I’m writing a book with him and many of these pictures will find their way into those pages. Until you can get your hands on the final product, enjoy this look at Break of Dawn After Dark.

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Eclectic electric: Dinner at Taco Maria

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For as often as I visited Chef Carlos Salgado’s Taco Maria food truck, it’s a surprise to most everyone that I’d yet to dine at his proper brick and mortar in The OC Mix. In the time since he parked the truck and opened the joint, Salgado’s gone back to the farm for tortillas (read this next!) and become a hero for modern Mexican cooking, praised by Edwin Goei of OC Weekly, Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times, named a Food & Wine magazine “Best New Chef” and more.

Wifey Nadia and I came to celebrate my 33rd birthday and had the option of sitting at the chef’s counter, which, duh. Though Chef Salgado wasn’t in the house, his kitchen crew, helmed on this night by Roland Rubalcava (formerly of his own incredible Placentia mercado), was more than ready to shine with their precise techniques and explosive flavors.

I think Mexican food in America is wrongly pegged for having a low value. One-dollar tacos, combination plates with rice and beans, burritos at the drive-thru. But plates from chefs including Salgado, Diego Hernandez of Corazon de Tierra in Valle de Guadalupe and Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 in Tijuana redefine Mexican food for this generation of gastronomes.

Four courses runs $65 with an optional $29 wine pairing. I went with a glass of red from the Valle and let the kitchen take it from there. Photos are a bit grainy because it’s a dim space, but I started shooting with a Canon 50mm and it works well enough in low light settings and amazingly otherwise. Loosen your belt … … Read more…