Salerno, 220 Beach St., Laguna Beach. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. (714) 497-2600. Owner Tony Manzi's accent is nearly as thick as his meat sauce, and his menu is just as hearty. Try the gnocchi, baked mostaccoli with Italian sausage or, if you happen to be dining with understanding friends, the fettuccine with garlic and oil. Las Barcas Mexican Restaurant, 21032 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (714) 536-2616. Oversize portions, the hodgepodge decor and a colorful variety of local folk make this tiny eatery a beachside winner. The food is good and cheap, featuring ranchero sauce-covered burritos, fresh snapper tacos and homemade tortilla chips. Be prepared to take out, though, as there's always a crowd.
Sonic Drive-In, 15640 Brookhurst St., Westminster, and 1632 N. Lemon St., Anaheim. Both open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday till 1 a.m. (714) 531-8000. Nearly every aspect of this drive-in is perfect. From the Texas-size drinks (even the straws are big) to the bodaciously hot-to-handle onion rings and juicy hickory burgers. Pull in underneath the turquoise-and-white canopy, park next to a squawk box and order up.