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Feel like you could eat a cow? Try these places

January 17, 2008|BRIAN QUINES

Make sure you have a cardiologist standing by before you indulge in Orange County's largest slabs of meat. We tracked down glistening pieces of the finest cuts all weighing in at two pounds or more! Quality is not compromised at these restaurants, each with a different vibe for any carnivore.

Don't be fooled by the dim lighting and low ceilings that create an atmosphere of formality. Captain Jack's Seafood and Prime Rib (16812 Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Beach, [562] 592-2514), a family-owned restaurant since it opened in 1965, gets rowdy when nine-to-fivers and locals in flip flops flood the restaurant and throw back drinks at night. Patrons flock to this maritime-themed restaurant for the mouth-watering 32-ounce prime rib--a two-inch thick piece of certified Angus beef that is slowly cooked for about 24 hours before served.

The juicy slab emanates aroma and flavor and leaves nearly no room for the accompanying baked potato. Those craving huge slabs of seafood should consider Captain Jack's gargantuan, garden hose-thick king crab legs (market price).

For a steak cooked the cowboy way, head to Trabuco Oaks Steak House (20782 Trabuco Oaks Road, Trabuco Canyon, [949] 586-0722; www.trabucooakssteakhouse.com). The roadhouse serves steaks cooked over a true mesquite grill. No electric or gas, just fire and wood.

Fancy clothes ain't welcome here, city slicker, and employees will cut your tie off if you even try. Hundreds of ties adorn the walls, including Richard Nixon's, displayed near the entrance. The big daddy on the menu is the Cowboy ($46.96), a 32-ounce aged top sirloin steak. The waitress warns that even medium cooked steaks will have some pink so order accordingly. For a side, try the hand-cut fries. They're even better than In-N-Out's spuds.

Big bucks and a little bit of insider knowledge will get you one of the biggest steaks in Orange County. The steak--and maybe the price--is too large to fit on the menu. Fleming's Steakhouse (455 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, [949] 720-9633; www.flemingssteakhouse.com) secretly offers a gargantuan 40-ounce porterhouse (that's 2.5 pounds; not surprisingly many diners share the beast between friends) for $76.95. Unfortunately, if you eat it all, you don't get it for free.

And casual carnivores beware: While there were some couples and families scattered throughout the restaurant, Fleming's is a formal dining restaurant that attracts white-collared, six-figure types who come to the restaurant to impress colleagues and close big deals.

-- BRIAN QUINES

THE GUIDE@LATIMES.COM

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