Los Angeles

The 13 Best Places to Eat in Anaheim Right Now

Courtesy of MFK by Aysee
Courtesy of MFK by Aysee
Courtesy of MFK by Aysee

Outside of Orange County, Anaheim is mostly known for its largest tourist destination: Disneyland. But locals know that the city extends far beyond The Happiest Place on Earth, with plenty of non-Disney things worth doing — and the food scene doesn’t end at the resort zone, either. Dig deeper into the strip malls, modern food courts, and transit terminals in Anaheim’s surrounding grid, and you’ll uncover restaurants serving food from around the world that are cool enough for LA, but could only exist in the OC.

From speakeasy fine dining to all-Halal feasts (and every down-home American breakfast in between), here are the restaurants you should be eating at in Anaheim right now.

The Blind Rabbit
The Blind Rabbit
The Blind Rabbit

The Blind Rabbit

Hidden spot for fine cocktails and decadent food
Orange County’s first speakeasy is thankfully still one of its best. Some of the most creative mixologists in the region continue to pass through The Blind Rabbit’s hidden front doors, where they craft seasonal menus of stalwart classics and custom cocktails that range from off-the-wall to tiki-inspired. A food menu of equal decadence (bone marrow, duck confit mac & cheese, lamb chops) awaits — if you can find the place.

Olive Tree

Middle Eastern food at Little Arabia’s preeminent restaurant
Orange County’s unofficial “Little Arabia” is a conglomeration of restaurants and businesses around the intersection of Brookhurst and Ball in West Anaheim; Olive Tree is its most notable food ambassador. The eatery (which recently expanded across the strip mall) serves familiar Middle Eastern food like falafel and beef shawarma alongside hard-to-find regional specialties from Palestine, Libya, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Courtesy of MFK
Courtesy of MFK
Courtesy of MFK

MFK by Aysee

Filipino bowls and a dinner you eat with your hands
In the Philippines, chef Henry Pineda’s aunt and grandmother own a small chain of restaurants specializing in sisig, or crispy chopped pig-head parts that come sizzling on a cast-iron plate. In Anaheim, Pineda serves the same dish but is more well known for his quick-service rice bowls topped with everything from spiced chicken adobo to crispy pork belly lechon. Order in advance for a full kamayan dinner, where you’ll eat a traditional Filipino meal of various fried and stewed meats off banana leaves with no utensils.

Club 33 and Napa Rose at Disneyland

The two best restaurants at the Happiest Place on Earth
Amusement parks are known for hocking lots of junk food, but Disneyland’s most exclusive dining experiences instead offer up-close views to upscale, cheffy freedom. At Napa Rose inside the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Chef’s Table offers custom, multi-course meals from chef Andrew Sutton, who puts SoCal twists on NorCal-inspired California cuisine. Club 33, meanwhile, is Sutton’s more historic affair. The exclusive, membership-only restaurant hidden somewhere in New Orleans Square is where, for $10,000 a year (plus a $25,000 initiation fee), you get five annual passes, private tours, access to VIP treatment and the privilege of reserving a time to try Sutton’s take on classic American fine dining.

Courtesy of The Ranch
Courtesy of The Ranch
Courtesy of The Ranch

THE RANCH

Farm-to-table steakhouse and dance hall
THE RANCH (yes, all caps) can best be described as a new-school steakhouse — enough nostalgia to represent the genre, but with a contemporary upgrade to keep the food snobs happy. Executive chef Michael Rossi and master sommelier Michael Jordan (both formerly of Disneyland’s Napa Rose) represent Western farm-to-table with seasonal takes on classic meat dishes, like a 36-ounce bone-in rib-eye and Beeler’s Family Farm pork chop. Bring lots of friends, and stick around for the live music afterward!

The Oyster Bar SKC

Southern selections inside a transit hub
The Oyster Bar SKC is the only sit-down restaurant operating inside ARTIC: Anaheim’s new train and bus terminal that looks like a fluorescent rainbow airplane hangar just off the 57 Freeway. With a New Orleans theme, The Oyster Bar focuses on seafood-drenched pan roasts — made through steam kettle cooking, thus the “SKC” — and its raw bar, which stocks shells of all kinds from every coast.

Courtesy of El Gaucho
Courtesy of El Gaucho
Courtesy of El Gaucho

El Gaucho

Argentine market and deli that’s perfect for lunch
From the outside, El Gaucho looks like it could be just another suburban carniceria, but this Argentine market and deli counter offers so much more. Shelves of South American goods and a well-stocked butcher counter await for the grab-and-go set, while the attached deli oozes Italian influence with Argentine pizzas, charcuterie sandwiches, and empanadas stuffed with Mediterranean spiced meats like beef and tuna.

Ma’s Islamic Chinese

Pork-free dishes from Western China
If you ever needed a reminder of how diverse Chinese food can be, spend a Sunday grubbing with a posse at Ma’s Islamic Chinese, a restaurant that from the outside looks like a mosque but might as well be Muslim Chinese food heaven. No pork, but lots of beef, lamb, and noodles dot a menu of massively portioned dishes, each originating from the Hui people of Western China. Food here is hearty, heaving with spice and designed to be wiped up with a fresh sesame-seed flatbread that tastes like the bridge between the Arab and Chinese worlds — just like the Hui themselves.

Healthy Junk
Healthy Junk
Healthy Junk

Healthy Junk

Vegan fast food and other comforts
When a former manager of beloved Costa Mesa vegan restaurant Native Foods strikes out on her own, you get Healthy Junk: a haven of animal-free comfort food on a redeveloped promenade in Anaheim. Almost In-N-Out burgers, mock-meat Tex-Mex, and not-lame salads made this one of the OC’s early vegan spots that helped spawned the current wave of cruelty-free dining.

Don Churros Gomez

Churro truck straight outta Jalisco
Forget the Instagram-famous wannabes at The Loop and Churroholic: Don Churros Gomez is the real deal. Pulling from a family recipe brought here from the highlands of Jalisco, this Anaheim food truck makes not long and lean churros of the carnival variety, but puffy, fat and stout ones oozing caramel and topped with ice cream. It’s what churros have always wanted to taste like — worth the wait!

Flickr/Bob B. Brown
Flickr/Bob B. Brown
Flickr/Bob B. Brown

The Original Pancake House

Old-school breakfast in a classic setting
The Original Pancake House might have started in the Pacific Northwest, but its Anaheim location has become a breakfast institution for its decades of dedication to the international art of flapjacks. Specializing in sugary and fruit-filled pancake recipes from around the world, TOPH is where you’ll find Danish, Dutch, and Tahitian specialties plus crepes, bacon waffles and enough maple syrup to put you in a sugar coma before lunchtime.

The Scratch Room

New, creative modern brunch  
Traditional breakfast mashes up with contemporary SoCal culture at The Scratch Room, where brunchy burgers come on French toast-dipped brioche buns, and the Benedicts are topped with corned beef hash, salmon cakes, carnitas, and more. The family-owned restaurant is everything a modern diner in Anaheim should be — machaca breakfast burrito and all.Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist covering music, food, craft beer, art, culture, and more. You can find her most weekends hiking the San Gabriel Mountains, then hunting for tacos afterwards. Follow her on Twitter @thesarahbennett.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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