I’m always on the lookout for delicious hole in the wall restaurants in Orange County. There is something fun about discovering a little restaurant or cafe that is literally just a little hole in the wall. Some of my favorite places to get  pizza, mexican food & sandwiches are all products of a restaurant that you would call a hole-in-the-wall.

Luckily, Orange County has plenty of restaurants to choose from. Today’s 12 for Tuesday,  features Anita from the diary of a Mad Hungry Woman,” & she is  sharing her 12 favorite hole in the wall restaurants with us.

hole in the wall restaurants in orange countyOrange County is home to an eclectic mix of cultures and they are best defined in the rich variety of cuisines we can find here. Most of the best places to eat are the hidden gems dotted around, not easily found by the untrained eye, but houses some of the best ethnic foods available. Some of these holes-in-the-wall restaurants may not be pretty to look at and may even be intimidating to some, but get past that and you will find some of the most delightful offerings your palate will thank you for.

Hole in the Wall Restaurants in Orange County

1. Pupuseria San Sivar (Costa Mesa) — El Savadorean food featuring pupusas, little pockets made from corn meal and stuffed with various things such as pork, chicken or beans. They are eaten with a Salvadorean coleslaw named curtido. Cheap, filling and absolutely tasty. I also love their chicken soup, a hearty bowl of piping hot soup with vegetables served with rice, plain pupusas and a quarter piece of chicken.

2. Kareem’s (Anaheim) — Mediterranean food at its best. Kareem’s unassuming storefront disguises the fact that they have the best koftas around. The meat is seasoned with a house secret blend of spices and their babaghanoush is the best I’ve tasted in Orange County. Just go for these two items and you won’t go wrong.

3. Pho 79 (Westminster) — there is pho everywhere in Westminster but oxtail pho is only served in a handful of places in Little Saigon. The oxtail is fall off the bone here and is unctuously rich and delicious. It isn’t on the menu, but all you have to do is tell them you want oxtail and within minutes a bowl will be on your table, piping hot and ready to go.

4. Vientiane Laos (Garden Grove) — the restaurant recently got a re-model and now can accommodate more people than before. The menu consists of both Laos and Thai dishes although it is the Laos specialties you should come here for. Just ask them for recommendations although my favorites are the crispy rice salad and the home made sausage.

5. Annapoorna (Irvine) — one of the few places which serves south Indian cuisine. Try their lunch buffet for under $10 every single day although weekends offer specialties such as biryani rice

6. Tacos Ensenada (Lake Forest) — featuring seafood dishes as well as other Mexican favorites. Deep fried whole mojarra (tilapia) is delicious as well as camarones al mojo de ajo (garlic shrimp)

7. Sutha Thai (Tustin) — a small unassuming hole-in-the-wall serving some delicious Thai food. Family owned and operated, the dishes are all freshly prepared and authentic. Try beef salad, pad Thai or one of their curries.

8. Jack’s Bakery (Garden Grove) — Jack is Armenian but spent most of his life in Lebanon. His baked goods and grilled meats are so delicious you will keep coming back for more. Try one of his boeregs or shish kebabs for lunch

9. Kang Lac Bakery (Westminster) — this Vietnamese bakery does more than just baked goods. Their menu offers wonderful noodle and rice dishes as well as Asian breakfast favorites, congee, Chinese crullers, lotus leaf sticky rice, BBQ pork buns and more.

10. Taqueria El Campeon (San Juan Capistrano) — more a take out joint than a sit down restaurant, El Campeon is about as authentic as you’ll get. Menudo is on the menu every single day, not just on weekends, and their generously assembled tacos are filled with any meat of your choice and ample enough to satiate all appetites.

11. Anepalco’s (Santa Ana) — Chef Danny has a background in French cuisine and brings that together with his Mexican heritage in an eclectic menu you’ll have to taste to believe. Try his outstanding chilaquiles or huevos divorciados for a breakfast treat.

12. Warung Pojok (Garden Grove) — the only Indonesian restaurant in OC is more a fast food joint, but offers a good selection of Indonesian dishes which changes daily. Rice vermicelli, tofu and egg curry, tomato eggplant, chicken noodles with soup on the side are all stellar.

hole-in-the-wallAnita Lau is a Hong Kong-born food writer and critic. Well traveled and published on 4 continents, she is the author of a cookbook entitled “Asian Greens” and also writes the food blog “diary of a Mad Hungry Woman“ and contributes to the OC Menus blog. She has served as a judge at the Hong Kong Culinary Awards and Top Chef Korean Food Challenge on the PBS series Cathlyn’s Korean Kitchen. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @MadHungryWoman.


Thanks for all of the amazing restaurant reviews & hole in the wall suggestions and recommendations. The only question now, is which to sample first?!

xoxo, K