The city of Anaheim sees droves of visitors every year, due to a famous and superlatively happy theme park. However, few of those visitors venture outside of the park to explore the city’s local food scene. From vegan bites to authentic Asian food and vibrant Latin flavors, this Southern California spot is worth exploring.
Napa Rose, Anaheim | Cove Bar on Paradise Pier / Yelp
Napa Rose is located inside Disneyland’s Grand Californian resort, but you don’t have to buy a park pass to dine here. The restaurant attracts visitors and locals alike, with its upscale atmosphere and consistently spot-on plates. The head chef at Napa Rose is highly decorated and has cooked for the likes of the James Beard Foundation. As its name suggests, the restaurant is inspired by the Napa Valley wine country in Northern California. The menu reflects the fresh flavors, ingredients, and characters that have become so synonymous with the area’s cuisine. An extensive wine list provides an excellent selection for wine by the glass, by the bottle, or expertly paired with your meal.
Yes, Healthy Junk is entirely vegan, but meat lovers may not even notice. Their food really is that good. The small restaurant is located on Anaheim’s historic Center Street Promenade. The interior is an eclectic mix of old and new, with a hipster-chic vibe. The menu is seasonally driven and lets veggies outshine the rest. Regulars flock to Healthy Junk for filling salads like the mighty kale or the mango tango but don’t think that all they serve is rabbit food. Hearty fan favorites include a burger (vegan, of course) topped with a crispy Anaheim chili pepper, vegan beef fajitas, and a Philly cheese steak (spelled chez stake, so there’s no confusion for carnivores).
Get ready for an evening out, where you can feel worlds away from Southern California. Baci di Firenze Trattoria has been bringing a taste of Italy to Anaheim for almost a decade now. Tucked in a strip mall near the Santa Ana River, this little spot can be easily missed. But step inside and you’ll be greeted with friendly service and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The menu features expected Italian classics like pastas, veal dishes, and risottos. For a fresh take on tradition, try the lobster ravioli or the chicken with mushrooms, artichokes, and flamed-brandy demi glaze sauce.
Please don’t confuse this great restaurant to a similarly named, bad Italian-esque chain. Olive Tree in Anaheim is family-owned and serves authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. Since opening a decade ago, the restaurant has garnered numerous awards and accolades from local newspapers, magazines, and restaurant circles. The menu features traditional, home-cooked dishes that taste genuine. Go for standards like falafel, hummus, and shwarma, or venture outside of your comfort zone a bit; your palate will definitely be rewarded. Try the musakhan: roasted chicken with onions and fragrant spices like sumac and saffron. Or, go for stewed lamb with freekeh: a hearty grain that comes from wheat.
The Packing House isn’t just one restaurant but a charming historic building turned into a one-stop-shop for foodies. You can dine on anything from Indian food to crêpes to Vietnamese cuisine, all under one roof. Indulge in creative comfort food at Kroft or go a little on the lighter side with Japanese food at Orange TEI. For a unique night out, visit The Blind Rabbit, a 20s-themed speakeasy serving craft cocktails and tasty, well-thought-out small plates, burgers, and desserts. Each of the restaurants in the Packing House is highly rated, so you simply can’t go wrong.
PokiNometry offers a truly unique, customizable fresh seafood experience. Customers line up in cafeteria-like fashion and craft a bowl of goodness that is all their own. First, you choose a base of rice, salad, chips, or a wrap. Then comes the filling. Crab meat, avocado, cucumber, and white onion get scooped on and then you get a choice of eight different sushi-grade fish options. Finally, top it with sauces and garnishes, and you’re ready to eat. Regardless of your selections, you can be sure that each ingredient is as fresh as possible. PokiNometry has been hugely successful in Anaheim because customers just can’t get enough of their made-to-order, personalized, sushi heaven in a bowl.
A great restaurant on Anaheim’s historic Center Street Promenade is Pour Vida Latin Flavor. This south-of-the-border joint opened in spring of 2015 and has won over the hearts of local diners. The chef is well known in the area for his work in other great restaurants so that has helped spread the word about his newest venture. At Pour Vida, the menu is bright and energetic, with robust flavors and ideas. Salads and tacos get an upgrade with creative ingredients and combinations. Beef tacos are made with skirt steak and then jazzed up with pineapple, ginger, and soy. Fish tacos are made chic with lobster and roasted corn chipotle relish. For a real kick, order the pasión caliente fresh-pressed juice: a mix of carrot, habanero pepper, passion fruit, apple, black peppercorn, and lemon. It’s sure to cure whatever ails you.
With updated style, The Ranch brings a bit of the Wild West in a modern way. The restaurant and saloon is the brainchild of the owner of a tech company but feels far from the busy world of California’s current tech industry. Instead, step inside and be transported to rural America, where home-style food is made from scratch. The menu features traditional American fare, made with the highest quality ingredients. Steaks are hand-cut, and sourced from US ranches. The lamb is always grass fed, and likely to be flown in from a farm in Colorado. Side dishes like green bean casserole and twice-baked potatoes round out the feeling of down-home cooking. The Ranch also hosts live country music and is a great place to put on your cowboy boots and throw down on the dance floor.
The folks at Reunion Kitchen & Drink have created a space for people to gather and enjoy good food. Service is of the utmost importance, as a guest’s experience is top priority. Simply put, it’s a comfortable place to enjoy a great meal with friends. The interior of the restaurant is light and airy, with an open kitchen, so you can see right where your meal is coming from. The food is inspired by comfort classics but gets twisted to make something new and exciting. Fan favorites include dishes like turkey pot pie, fried chicken with mashed potatoes, biscuits, and gravy, and a ham sandwich with barbecue sauce and swiss cheese. Stop by Reunion Kitchen & Drink for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and get ready for one of the most relaxing, unpretentious meals you’ve ever had.
With an eye on fresh veggies, Thuyen Vien cooks up a fusion of authentic Vietnamese dishes, sans the meat. The restaurant is hidden away in a strip mall, under a sign that simply says, ‘Pho Veggie.’ But don’t pass up this gem. The dining room is small but clean and quaint. At Thuyen Vien, the portions are generous, and pricing is extremely affordable, with most dinner entrées under $15. House specialties include dishes like garlic chicken, banana leaf tacos, and pumpkin curry. And of course, they make a phenomenal bowl of pho that is always popular. Keep in mind that even though the menu lists items as meat dishes, everything is happily made without the use of animal products and with vegetarians and vegans in mind.