California (LA and Orange County)

 

Mama D's  (Newport)

The greatest service I have ever had in a restaurant.  This could easily be a regular.  The food while not the best Italian I have ever had, this is the type of restaurant you want to come back to.  The bread is great and all the entrées are reasonably priced.

Lee's Sandwiches

Several locations. Your sandwich will come on bread that is still warm from the oven.  MMMMmmm

Philly Grille

The best Philly Cheese steak around Orange County.

Old World

They have some great sausages here.  Bratwurst and snitzel.  It is quite the environment too.  It really is very ethnic, right down to the dauxhound races held outside during certain months.

BJ's Pizza

Decent Pizza, even Better Pazookies (for desert).  Pazookies are "Cookie pizzas" served warm and delicious.

Portillo's

The best HotDogs in California (Chicago Style) and yes they taste better then Pink's.

 

The Original Pancake House

I first discovered this small chain in Chicago under the name Walker Brothers.  The line would go out the door (Hour+ wait) every Sunday.  It's a similar situation here in Colorado at the Belleview location.  This is the type of breakfast place you can go to for lunch (and is open for lunch).  It will fill you up but more importantly it is VERY tasty.  Click the link for more info and locations.

Suggested Meal:  The Apple Pancake-BIG juicy and delicious  (Trust me, this is their specialty), glass of fresh squeezed OJ and a side of Bacon..

 

Between Orange and San Diego County:

Tratoria Trulli

I really enjoyed this restaurant.  It is a small Italian restaurant with the perfect charm.  All the wait staff are from Italy and so are the chefs.  The food has fabulous flavor and their house bread has a special sauce that is very tasty.  Be careful not to fill up on it.  This restaurant is reasonably priced, there is even some limited outdoor seating.  It can get full at times but is always worth the wait.