If Dad's been picking up the restaurant checks for most of the year, this Sunday is your chance to turn the tables. For Father's Day, choose a place he'd like and you grab the tab.
If he loves something for nothing, even when it isn't his buck, take him to the Royal Thai Cuisine restaurants, which are serving each father a complimentary appetizer at both the champagne brunch and dinner. The brunch, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., begins with a crisp Thai salad, followed by a choice of six entrees. The price is $10.95 a person. The regular dinner menu will be served from 5 to 10 p.m. Make your reservations at either of the two Orange County Royal Thai Cuisine restaurants: 4001 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, (714) 645-THAI, or 1750 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (714) 494-THAI.
For Father's Day a la Francais ( le jour du pere ?), Etienne's will open especially to honor dads from 5 to 9 p.m. They'll serve from the regular menu, which emphasizes such classic cuisine as duck a l'orange, chateaubriand, rack of lamb and table-side presentations of salads and flambeed desserts. A la carte entrees range from $16 to $22 and they'll light a candle on a complimentary pastry for each dad. Etienne's is at 215 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente. (714) 492-7263.
Or how about buying Pop a beer? For fathers who fancy a frothy mug of brew, you can choose from brew pubs at each end of the county. In Dana Point, the Heritage Brewing Co. will celebrate with live reggae from 4 to 9 p.m. But they'll serve their all-American menu, with all entrees $10 and under, from 11:30 a.m. till 10 p.m. The brewed-right-there choices for the day will be Lantern Bay Blonde, Sail Ale and Dana Porter. Come on your bikes or from the beach. It's strictly casual at 24921 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point. (714) 240-2060.
To the north, the Fullerton Hofbrau will cater to fathers from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., pouring a liter of freshly brewed beer (a choice of natural dark lager, Earl's ale or a light Weizen ) for $3.25. Special family-style dinners vary from fish and chips for $6.95 to a combo of Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls, barbecued chicken and smoked pork chops for $10.95. All dinners, prepared by chef Horst Volsing, include salad, bread and a dessert choice of strudel or chocolate mousse. The microbrewery-restaurant is at 323 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton. (714) 870-7400.
If Dad loves jazz, consider the Studio Cafe, where live music tunes up at 8:30 p.m. Earlier in the day, an extensive buffet brunch with salads, waffles, omelets cooked to order and carved meats will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's $10.95. Dinner begins at 4:30 p.m., with a range of fresh fish, ribs, chicken, Oriental dishes, pastas and pizzas, priced from $8.95 to $16.95. 3201 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar. (714) 675-7575.
Or you could really take Papa back a few years--to Medieval Times, where he'll dine on hearty fare (including whole roasted chicken and spareribs) and take in the show that features horsemanship, swordplay, sorcery, romance and a jousting tournament. The 1 p.m. show is $25.95 for adults, $17.95 for children 12 and under. The 4:45 and 7:30 p.m. shows are $27.95 for adults, $18.95 for children. Medieval Times is at 7662 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. Reservations: (714) 521-4740 or (800) 899-6600. Tickets are also available through TicketMaster.
Both El Torito Grills and Caliente will cap off the holiday--literally--by giving each father a baseball cap emblazoned with chili peppers and the words, "hot dad." All three restaurants will serve a buffet brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Grills are at 951 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, (714) 640-2875 and 633 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 662-2672. Caliente is at 1910 Main St., Irvine. (714) 975-1220
Out in Rancho Santa Margarita, Robert and Mary Douk's new Stuft Noodle in Dove Canyon will honor fathers with a sit-down brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. With a choice of appetizers, plus soup or salad, entree selections will include artichoke, mushroom and pancetta frittata; seafood cannelloni with tomato and basil coulis, and chicken breast with Marsala sauce. The price, $13.95, includes a glass of champagne. 31911 Dove Canyon Drive, Trabuco Canyon. (714) 589-8115.
Just in time for Father's Day, green corn tamale season arrives at Cafe El Cholo in La Habra. Folks actually mail-order these sweet treats, so don't miss them at El Cholo's Sunday brunch, served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They're $2.75 each and make a great side dish or appetizer. Entrees are in the $7.25 (chili rellenos) to $8.25 (steak picado) range and include beans, rice or papas rancheras, taquito chimi, guacamole, coffee cake and fresh fruit. Mariachis will play for this sit-down celebration at 840 E. Whittier Blvd. (714) 525-1320.