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Best Late-Night Eats In Orange County

May 12, 2013 4:30 PM

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(credit: The Playground)

(credit: The Playground)

(credit: The Playground)

(credit: The Playground)


There aren’t very many 24-hour places in Orange County, but the ones that do exist make up for it by the breadth of variety and quality. Whether you think the midnight snack should just be labeled second dinner or are in need of a post-clubbing pick me up, here are the best places around OC for a late-night bite.

(credit: Honda-Ya)

(credit: Izakaya Honda-Ya)

Izakaya Honda-Ya

2980 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
(714) 577-0401
Open Monday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 5:30 p.m. to midnight

556 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 832-0081
Open Monday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 5:30 p.m. to midnight
www.izakayahondaya.com

Honda-Ya is an izakaya, which loosely translates to Japan’s version of a gastropub — a casual place to beer it up, and also serves food. But really the alcohol is a bonus, since Honda Ya’s menu is made up of comfortingly good, atypical Japanese food — not typical sushi or udon dishes. The stars of the selection aren’t sushi or udon, although those are on the menu too, and are pretty fantastic. The small plates — the charcoal-grilled yakitori dishes (okra wrapped in bacon, chicken livers, pork belly); bite-sized fried chicken; deep fried tofu — make a late-night run to Honda Ya perfect for a large group who can share everything over sake, beer or shochu.

(credit: The Playground)

(credit: The Playground)

The Playground

220 E. 4th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Open Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. to close (kitchen closes at 9:45 p.m.), Thursday to Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)
www.playgrounddtsa.com

You could say the Playground is too hipster, or too trendy or overrated because it’s the creation of 25-year-old Jason Quinn, a chef who made his name via his food truck the Lime Truck, or because it’s in a gentrified area of Downtown Santa Ana. An alumnus of the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race”, the cocky chef did, after all, tell a Yelper to “burn in hell” after a bad review. But leave all these preconceived notions of what the Playground is at the door; Quinn has a right to be defensive. A bastion for food with conviction in OC (he refuses to cook burgers warmer than medium rare), the menu changes on a daily basis, and it is full of lovely gastronomical surprises. From pork belly extravaganzas to Jidori chicken dishes to white wine sangria with a twist, each visit is a distinctly different experience, and always one to look forward to. Bonus: Tables are communal, so be prepared to make friends with other gushing customers over dinner.

(credit: BCD Tofu House)

(credit: BCD Tofu House)

BCD Tofu House

9520 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 636-5599
Open 24 Hours

2700 Alton Parkway #135
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 553-6465
Open 24 Hours

5321 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90621
(714) 521-4500
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The success of BCD Tofu House is proof that catering to a niche market works. You like spicy food? Asian soup? Post-drinking, pre-hangover rituals? Got the munchies? Then the BCD Tofu House is for you. The 24-hour, sit-down restaurants in Irvine and Garden Grove will cater to your every need. With wobbling blobs of tofu swimming in spicy broth, served with your choice of seafood or meat, brought out in piping-hot stone pots, the soups are for whatever ails you. Choose the spiciness level and crack an egg in it. Bonus: Cleanse your palate with traditional Korean pickled vegetables served with your soup.

(credit: The Crosby)

(credit: The Crosby)

The Crosby

400 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 543-3543
Open Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
thisisthecrosby.com

How can you go wrong at the Crosby? Like most things in Santa Ana, it’s where cultures collide and fuse together into something that’s interesting and unique. While the dark ambiance and hip DJs make for a great late night hangout, the fantastic food is enough reason to go back again and again. Not every experiment works out smoothly, but sometimes the clash is delightful (yes, I’m looking at you, swordfish ceviche). The Crosby’s late night menu features traditional bar food with a gourmet twist: chicharron nachos, pork po’ boy with smoked pork belly , garlic truffle fries and more.

(credit: Luc Dinh Ky)

(credit: Luc Dinh Ky)

Luc Dinh Ky Tap 1 and Tap 2

Tap 1
9812 Bolsa Ave., Ste 100
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 839-6813
Open Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Tap 2
9600 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA
(714) 775-8811
Open Sunday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.

There’s a plethora of late night Vietnamese places to eat in Westminster, but both branches of Luc Dinh Ky win us over with their clay pot rice dishes, dry noodles and free chrysanthemum iced tea. The bo luc lac clay pot (shaken beef) and the salmon are winners, but there’s many other viands on the menu. They also serve noodle dishes dry and with the broth. Win! (Don’t forget to bring cash — they don’t take credit cards.)

(credit: Tacqueria de Anda)

(credit: Tacqueria de Anda)

Tacqueria De Anda

Multiple Locations With Varying Hours
www.taqueriadeanda.com

The beauty of Tacqueria De Anda is that there’s always a 24-hour one close to you, so if you get a craving for late night tacos, you know where to go. And they’re all pretty much straightforward taco shops — hole in the wall places, if you must — but they’re clean and well-lit with a limited menu that ensures fast service. And while the menu doesn’t deviate from the usual Mexican fare (tacos and burritos with your choice of carne asada, carnitas, chicken, al pastor or lengua) the meals are always fresh and delicious. The best part? Everything is pretty dang affordable.

Lilledeshan Bose thinks every meal should be either breakfast or a midnight snack. Read her work on lilledeshan.com or reach her on Twitter @lillitot.

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