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THE BEST OF O. C. : Top of the Orange County Line : Times Readers Choose Their Favorites, From Pizza to Sunsets

January 31, 1991

The Times' survey of what's best in Orange County is tallied, and the readers have spoken. According to the rigidly unscientific results, the people who are used to the best and know where to find it behave this way:

If they like that planned community feeling, they live in Irvine, otherwise in Laguna Beach.

If Mom and Dad want a day out with the kids, they hop into their Mercedes-Benz and motor off to Disneyland, going much of the way along scenic Pacific Coast Highway, which displays the county's most laudable long-term trend--surfing.

They'll stop for breakfast at Mimi's Cafe, and if they want a cheap dinner afterwards, they'll drop by a Sizzler.

If it's to be low-cost fun, they'll take the kids to the playgrounds at Atlantis Park in Garden Grove or Huntington Central Park, pick up some sandwiches at Togo's or burgers at In-N-Out and picnic at Irvine Park or the Corona del Mar bluffs.

For singles, a romantic weekend starts when the new couple meet at the Red Onion. Friday, they stop by the Goat Hill Tavern for a beer, dine at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach to soak up the view, hop to El Torito for a margarita or two, then take in a set of jazz at the Studio Cafe in Corona del Mar or a dance at The Hop in Fountain Valley, hoping Bill Medley will be singing there. They stop at Denny's after hours for an early breakfast. And if this relationship is going anywhere, maybe next time dinner at the Ritz-Carlton to make a very expensive impression.

The healthy folk stock up at Mother's Market & Kitchen, take in the sunrise from the top of Old Saddleback, catch some fish at Irvine Lake, bike down the Santa Ana River Trail and take a walk around Balboa Island.

The sporting set will drop by Anaheim Stadium to eat a hot dog and root for Rams quarterback Jim Everett. Afterwards, there'll be golf at Tustin Ranch Golf Club. The kids can try miniature golf at Family Fun Centers at Fountain Valley.

And couch potatoes will eat, eat, eat: The Crab Cooker for seafood, the Olive Garden for Italian, Tony Roma's for barbecue, El Torito for Mexican, Royal Thai Cuisine for Asian, Round Table for pizza and Dad's for doughnuts.

There were a few surprises. Readers' favorite local celebrity has been dead for 11 years and their favorite new trend is truly trashy (see next four pages).

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