While this OC city is well known for its flourishing downtown nightlife scene, chock full of boisterous bars and new dining spots popping up regularly, some of the best Fullerton restaurants can be found elsewhere. We love these underrated spots that locals know are good, whether or not they have a PR agent touting their wares. I mean, they probably don’t. And we like that.
Here are three underrated food spots in Fullerton that you need to try the next time you are in town.
#1: Don Jose
1725 N Placentia Ave.
My family has been going to Don Jose’ since I was a kid and the quality of the food still tastes just as good as it did more than ten years ago.
Located near Cal State Fullerton, Don Jose’ offers all the standard Mexican food dishes such as burritos, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and tamales at very reasonable prices. Plus, free chips and salsa as soon as you take your seat.
Undoubtedly the best dish you can get here are the Seafood Enchiladas, which come with a side of rice and beans. It’s a rather simple dish–sautéed shrimp and fish wrapped in tortilla and topped with cheese and tomatillo sauce–but quite tasty.
Another favorite dish of mine are the shrimp fajitas, which feature half a pound of succulent tender shrimp, grilled with onions and bell peppers in a mild jalapeño garlic butter.
Don Jose’ offers Lunch Specials as well for about seven bucks.
#2. Kim Loan
1651 W Orangethorpe Ave.
Look, Kim Loan isn’t going to win any fancy awards for its beautiful interior design anytime soon–the tables are old and the ceiling tiles have a yellowish glow. It’s situated in un-prime location, between a beauty salon and a payday advance service, and can easily be missed by those driving by along Orangethorpe Avenue.
But the food? Well, that’s a completely different story.
As one of the few Vietnamese restaurants to prosper outside of Little Saigon, Kim Loan has quietly delivered consistently enjoyable food for more than twenty years (and survived two fires). The majority of items on the menu are priced at $6 or less, and with more than two hundred different variations there are plenty of options to choose from.
I recommend the fried salted shrimp, crispy egg noodle with seafood and veggies, young chow fried rice and the BBQ pork vermicelli (Bún Thit Heo Nuông, #45).
#3. Dog Haus
2555 E Chapman Ave.
Besides having a clever name, Dog Haus also serves the best hot dogs in Orange County.
When the first Dog Haus in Orange County popped up in Santa Ana less than two years ago, I had never heard of the sausage restaurant. Like many others, I was surprised by how delicious a “gourmet” hot dog really could be.
There really isn’t one hot dog I recommend you try because every one I’ve tried has been equally tasty. However, if there were a few I would recommend they would have to be the Downtown Dog (smoked bacon wrapped dog, caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, mayo, mustard, ketchup) or the Soo Cali Dog (wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado, tomato).
The fast-casual concept inside is also part of the fun as well. After ordering at the counter, you have the choice of devouring your hot dog around communal-style tables or at more intimate tables that are placed around the perimeter of the restaurant.