From mouth-watering street food to exquisite fine dining, Tustin has steadily gained a reputation as a food lover's paradise, and through this article, I'm excited to take you on a culinary journey, sharing my favorite spots to dine in this vibrant city.
While this list showcases some remarkable restaurants, it's important to note there are many other exceptional dining establishments in Tustin that are not featured here. Our aim is not just to guide you to popular eateries but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city's diverse culinary landscape for yourself.
I've had the pleasure of dining at MaLuBianBian HotPot in Tustin on several occasions.
This spot is known for its robust soup bases and impressively stocked sauce bar, as well as consistently delicious dishes.
While the vertical display of the beef plate may seem unusual to some (and potentially messy with the dripping blood), it's a memorable and visually striking presentation that I quite enjoy.
One of the key highlights of MaLuBianBian is their unique skewer hot pot experience.
It's not for the faint of heart, though—the spicy option is genuinely fiery.
I recommend going with someone who’s well-versed in the nuances of hot pot dining, especially if you're new to this style of eating.
On my first visit, I found myself in unfamiliar territory with some of the items on offer.
But I just went with the flow, trusted my friend to order, and ended up eating and enjoying a variety of dishes.
What stands out about MaLuBianBian is their delicious, reasonably portioned food.
The skewers are a fantastic idea, especially for smaller groups.
You can order a wide variety of food without worrying about wasting or overindulging.
I, along with a group of friends, once sampled over twenty different items, including a special pork brain dish.
It’s probably a standout dish in the city and something I would highly recommend.
The service at MaLuBianBian is also excellent.
My kids particularly enjoy the free meal combo offered to them.
Peter's Gourmade Grill
I've been blessed to live just around the corner from a hidden gem in our local food scene - Peter's Gourmade Grill.
It's a modest takeaway joint tucked away in the plaza, easily overlooked if you're not in the know.
But oh, what a delicious discovery it has been!
One day, while waiting at the turn signal, my eyes wandered into the plaza and saw this little place.
The name intrigued me, and come lunchtime, I decided to venture out of my usual routine and give it a try.
At first glance, the prices seemed a bit steep for a casual lunch spot, but boy, was I in for a surprise!
Their menu is an impressive list of specialty burgers, sandwiches, gyros and salads.
I decided to go all out and ordered a burger.
The anticipation while waiting for my order was high, but the moment I bit into that juicy, well-grilled patty sandwiched in a fresh bun, it was all worth it!
I had chosen the Hermanator, a spicy number that made my taste buds dance with joy.
The fries were a perfect companion to the burger - perfectly salted and fresh.
The cherry on top?
Their homemade ranch dressing!
It added an extra layer of flavor that tied the entire meal together.
I was halfway through my burger when I realized that I had struck gold.
Christakis Greek Cuisine
Every now and then, I find myself craving traditional Greek fare, my taste buds longing for the comforting taste of succulent roasted lamb.
And when that happens, there's one place I head right to: Christakis Greek Cuisine.
The ambiance at Christakis is nothing less than enchanting.
The moment you step inside, you're transported to a cozy, casual setting reminiscent of a traditional Greek taverna.
What's even better is their romantic patio, a perfect spot for those looking for some alfresco dining.
Most evenings, you can enjoy your meal to the soothing tunes of live music, further enhancing the authentic Greek experience.
But what really brings me back to Christakis time and again is their food.
Their lamb, in particular, is a delight, always succulent, always melt-in-your-mouth good.
It’s not often you find a place that serves lamb for lunch, but Christakis is one of the few that does.
The portion size is surprisingly generous too, leaving you feeling well-fed and content.
Apart from the lamb, I've tried the rack of lamb too, which was equally good.
Fresh Off The Boat Fish Grill
I'm quite the seafood aficionado, and Fresh Off The Boat Fish Grill brings the ocean right to my plate.
This Mediterranean-inspired spot is my go-to when I need a serious seafood fix.
Its counter-serve style gives it a casual, non-fussy vibe which I absolutely love.
The menu is vast, with everything from gyros and kebabs to an array of seafood options, they even have beer and wine to wash it all down.
What draws me in every time, though, is their Mahi salad.
The fish is always fresh, cooked to perfection, and paired with a lemon vinaigrette that is just out of this world.
It's so good that I've even taken a bottle home with me.
And if you're in the mood to share, the combo platter is a delightful mix of Mediterranean delights.
The garlic sauce and pita that comes with it is the stuff of dreams.
When you go, don't forget to save some room for dessert.
Their Baklava is the perfect sweet ending to a hearty meal.
Barolo Italian Cafe
One of my favorite haunts in the city is the Barolo Italian Cafe.
This quaint, family-run establishment has been a mainstay for as long as I can remember.
I find it to be the perfect spot for both solo dining and entertaining guests - especially those with mixed dietary preferences.
During my last visit, I indulged in the tortellini boscaiola.
I can confidently say the creamy sauce, perfectly cooked mushrooms, and light tortellini were nothing short of a culinary delight.
I also love that most of their dishes can be made vegetarian.
If you're fond of tiramisu, theirs is house-made and simply divine.
It's the perfect sweet ending to a delicious meal.
For seafood lovers, their mixed grilled plate is a must-try.
Imagine a plate overflowing with sea bass, halibut, salmon, tuna, and shrimp - all cooked to perfection and super fresh.
The seafood linguine is another excellent choice.
All dishes are served piping hot, accompanied by a fresh salad and warm bread.
Casa D'Oro Italian Restaurant
My family and I have been residents here for years, and we've dined at every pasta place in the area.
However, if you want a taste of real, authentic Italian cuisine, you must visit the Casa D'Oro Homestyle Italian Restaurant.
It's an independent place that's been around for a long time, and I promise you, its charm has not faded one bit.
The food, oh, the food!
Every dish is a flavorful explosion, and the serving sizes are absolutely generous.
My partner particularly loves the meatballs and sausage here.
He loves it so much that he's even planning to bring some of Casa De Oro's pasta and pizza to the next family gathering.
As for me, I personally love Mondays at Casa D'Oro, when they serve lasagne and spaghetti, either of which comes with a salad or soup, all for just $12!
Isn't it incredible?
Dining at Casa D'Oro is not just about the food, though.
It's about the homely feel that the restaurant exudes.
Yes, the tables are a bit small, they're more for two than for four.
But that's what gives it a cozy, family-friendly vibe.
Tacos El Bandido Express
There was this one evening when my stomach was grappling with hunger, and I was yearning for something flavorful and hearty.
That's when I stumbled upon Tacos El Bandido Express, a humble-looking taco shop tucked in the corner of the city.
This place is absolutely great!
They have an amazing deal going on, $1.50 tacos on Tuesdays.
Don't be fooled by the size, these street taco-sized delights come loaded with a variety of meats.
I've tried the carnita, cecina, saudero, and the special crispy birria.
The menu is quite large, giving you ample options to try, and you'll certainly want to after having a taste of their food.
My favorites are the Birria tacos, the Taco Governador, which is a shrimp taco smothered in chipotle sauce and cheese, and the carne asada taco lavished with avocado sauce.
The food quality, quantity, and price - everything is just perfect.
Hong Kong Express
Hong Kong Express is my all-time favorite spot whenever I'm craving some Chinese food.
It's located right here in Tustin, and in my opinion, it's hands down the best Chinese joint, not just in the city but possibly in all of Orange County.
I've been a regular customer since 2003.
Throughout these years, the food has consistently been amazing.
The orange chicken is my top pick - a perfect balance between sweet and tangy.
And let's not even get started on the portions!
They are always more than generous, ensuring you're not just satisfied but also get great value for your money.
TANAKAYA Japanese Soba Restaurant
My local go-to spot for authentic Japanese cuisine has to be TANAKAYA Japanese Soba Restaurant.
Nestled in a humble location, the simplicity of its exterior and interior belies the culinary treasures it holds within.
A buzzing hub of activity, it's clear this spot is popular for a reason.
It's really the food that draws in the crowds.
The traditional Japanese Soba and Udon Noodles are the stars of the show, meticulously prepared with the expertise that brings people back time and time again.
Every time I've eaten here, I've found the food to be incredibly fresh, just like I imagine it would be in Japan.
Every time I stroll down the heart of Tustin, the inviting aroma of fresh pizza baking in the oven always leads me to one place, CENTRO.
It's a charming, family-run eatery that's earned a special place in the hearts of many locals like myself.
One of my favorite things about CENTRO is the ambient, chill space characterized by an exposed brick interior that simply oozes a rustic charm.
There's a certain warmth that permeates this place, making it feel like home.
It's perfect for any occasion, whether it's a family gathering, a date night, or simply a solo dinner outing.
I always look forward to their delicious pizzas, especially the ones with buffalo mozzarella.
The crust is perfectly baked, the toppings are fresh, and the blend of flavors is just right.
I've also tried their Caprese salad, and I must say, it's one of the best I've had.
The ingredients are fresh, the presentation is impeccable, and the taste is simply divine.
One of the unique things about CENTRO is that they serve wine from their own vineyard.
CENTRO also has a reputation for being dog-friendly, especially in the outdoor area, which is always a plus for a pet lover like me.
It's a small detail, but it really adds to the charm of this place.
As we walked into Friends Cafe, I was a bit concerned seeing the place completely empty.
But boy, was I wrong!
I opted for the spaghetti in meat sauce, served with these cute mini garlic bread on the side, while my partner chose the French dip.
One thing I noticed was how fresh everything tasted, especially the onion rings that came with his sandwich.
Even the ranch dressing was homemade.
Although the sauce on my spaghetti wasn't the typical red I was used to, it was surprisingly delightful.
I'd even dare to say it was as good as the one from the Old Spaghetti Factory but way more affordable.
To top it all, we were pleasantly surprised to see our bill was less than $35 for such large portions of food.
But that's not where the menu ends.
On another occasion, I dined here with my family and tried the wild turkey sandwich - a heavenly combination of turkey, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts on squaw bread.
My family relished their pizza, Chicken Alfredo, burgers, and mahi mahi wrap.
It's a little hidden gem in our city, tucked away within a liquor store.
Yes, you heard it right.
La Porteña, a small eatery, has been my regular haunt for quite some time now.
I am not the only one who's smitten, even my co-workers can't stop raving about this place, especially their empanadas.
So, when I decided to give it a try one fine day, it was the spicy beef empanada that I opted for.
All I can say is those empanadas are not for the faint-hearted.
They are spicy, packed with flavors, and downright irresistible.
I must say, they indeed serve the best empanadas in the city.
There's something about the way they are prepared and the authentic flavors that they carry, it's an absolute delight.
But it's not just the food, the people who work here are polite and friendly.
It feels like a family, a tight-knit community of food lovers.
There is an air of warmth and familiarity that makes every visit special.
The pizza and sandwiches are something I am yet to try, but they look really appealing.
Just another weekend in my hometown, and I was craving something comforting and familiar.
That's when I headed over to American Grub.
This place is a real gem in our city with its hip, brick-lined interior.
It feels like an authentic burger joint without being overly kitschy.
Now, I've dined in a lot of places in the city, but what sets American Grub apart is the wide variety of burgers they offer.
So many that you’ll need a minute just to pick one from their extensive list.
The black bean vegetarian burger has always been a personal favorite of mine.
It’s one of the few I've had that gets it right, every single time.
Not to mention, the cajun fries on the side are the perfect accompaniment.
Also, if you're like me and you're always on the hunt for the perfect breakfast option, their breakfast burger is on point.
The wings are another must-try.
Ask for them to be extra crispy, and you won't be disappointed.
And if you're not up for a burger, they've got sandwiches, salads, and a selection of desserts.
Leave room for dessert, trust me.
One other thing that really stands out is the service.
Sometimes, you can't help but crave a meal that's both hearty and healthy.
That's exactly what I found at Rutabegorz.
From the moment I stepped in, the casual ambiance of the café seemed to envelop me in a warm embrace, a sentiment echoed in the menu filled with vegan, vegetarian, and lean meat options.
The variety is simply impressive.
I have dined at Rutabegorz on numerous occasions, each time trying something different from their eclectic menu, and not once have I been disappointed.
One time, I decided to step out of my usual routine and tried one of their seasonal options - a decision I didn't regret as I found myself finishing every bite of the dish.
The quality of the food is not all that keeps bringing me back.
They make you feel at home, which is a rare gem to find these days.
And let's not forget about the fantastic meals my family enjoyed here.
Every single one of us, from my foodie parents to my picky brother, loved their dishes.
Roma D' Italia
If you're searching for an authentic Italian dining experience in the heart of our city, I strongly suggest you check out Roma D' Italia.
I remember the first time I walked into this rustic, intimate spot, I was immediately hit with the scent of fresh bread rolls that they serve before your meal.
I was taken aback by the casual yet charming atmosphere that somehow managed to transport me straight to Italy.
What I loved the most was their pepperoni pizza that was bursting with flavors, topped with melty cheese that just elevated the whole pizza-eating experience.
The pasta, although not exactly Al dente, was still enjoyable.
The red-sauce pasta classics are decent, perfect for a casual dinner or a hearty lunch.
Of course, the experience wouldn't be complete without mentioning their excellent service.
It's these small gestures of hospitality that truly make a difference.
Even though I had been to Italy last summer and had undoubtedly tasted some of the best food over there, this restaurant comes closest to the food in Italy.
It serves up some seriously authentic dishes that will leave you wanting more.
There's a lovely, buzzing bistro that I frequent, nestled in a quaint strip mall in our city - Zov's Tustin.
The ambiance strikes the perfect note for an intimate date night.
It's never too loud, and the dimmed lighting sets a warm, cozy mood.
We usually start our meal with their unique take on calamari.
Be warned, though, it's not your typical crispy calamari.
They grill it in a sauce, turning it into something more akin to calamari chowder.
It's quite an adjustment but not at all unpleasant once you get used to the idea.
As a main dish, I often opt for the chicken, although I'm not a big fan of their sauce - it tends to overtake the flavor of the chicken.
But the chicken itself is not dry, and if you're a sauce lover, you might actually enjoy it more than I do.
My partner usually goes for the salmon.
It's decent and a good choice if you're a salmon lover.
If there's one thing I love about living here, it's the abundance of amazing dining spots.
One of my absolute favorites has to be Chaak Kitchen, a fantastic restaurant specializing in modern Mexican cuisine.
The atmosphere is incredibly relaxing, with its open, breezy dining room adorned with wall plants creating a green, calming environment.
The menu may appear a bit pricey, but I promise you, it's worth every penny!
The flavors are fresh, rustic, and just burst in your mouth.
The pumpkin dip, pork belly tacos, and empanadas are some of my personal favorites.
Accompanied by their delightful and super refreshing cocktails, dining at Chaak Kitchen turns into a memorable experience.
Enjoying a warm night seated outdoors at Chaak Kitchen and sipping on an espresso martini, which I tried for the first time here, is just an experience out of this world.
The bone marrow corn is another must-try, it's incredibly delicious!
One day, I was wandering around the city looking for a new place to satiate my hunger.
That's when I stumbled upon Ramen Mura, a hidden gem in our bustling neighborhood.
Ever since that day, it's been my go-to spot whenever I crave a hearty bowl of ramen.
I usually try something new each time I dine at Ramen Mura, but there are a few dishes I keep coming back to.
One of them is their Black Garlic Ramen - the depth of flavor in that dish is phenomenal!
Their Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen is another favorite; it has just the right amount of spice that doesn't compromise the delicate pork broth.
The heat of the habanero peppers perfectly balances out the salty-sweet miso, creating a fusion of flavors that's sure to leave you wanting more.
What sets Ramen Mura apart from other ramen places is the quality of their noodles.
They're cooked to perfection - not too soft, not too firm.
And the portions are just right, leaving you feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.
But Ramen Mura isn't just about ramen.
They also offer a fantastic lunch combo, which includes special sushi rolls for a very reasonable price.
This combo is always a lifesaver for me, especially after a hectic day when I want a late lunch that hits the spot.
If you're craving authentic Mexican food with a twist, I highly recommend dropping by Taco Mesita.
Nestled in the heart of our city, its chill atmosphere and modern decor make it a great place for a casual meal or a meet-up with friends.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped in was the inviting ambiance and the spotless interior.
The open-concept kitchen is a huge selling point for me, as it's always reassuring to see your food being prepared right before your eyes.
And for those nights when dining indoors feels too stifling, they have a patio area perfect for enjoying the cool night breeze.
Not to mention, their drive-thru service is convenient for grabbing a quick bite on the go!
Let's talk about the food because, honestly, that's what you're here for.
They offer a variety of tacos that are simple to die for.
The steak tacos are perfectly charred yet tender, while the chicken ones are juicy and exploding with flavors.
Don't miss the Al Pastor, which they can customize to be vegetarian-friendly by replacing the pork with more veggies!
Each taco is served with a side of unique salsas - smoked tomato and whipped jalapeño.
Of course, a trip to Taco Mesita wouldn't be complete without trying their snacks.
The churros are an absolute delight - crispy and fresh from the oven.
I also gave their burrito a shot, and it was equally outstanding, especially the steak burrito that was bursting with flavor and tenderness.
Another star is their corn on the cob, which was simply scrumptious.
Tucked away in a small plaza, Sushi Wasabi is a hidden gem that I've been frequenting for years, since my high school days.
Despite the change in ownership, the quality and delicacy of the sushi and sashimi have remained consistent.
It's still the same intimate setting where you can get traditional and creative sushi rolls with a unique twist.
Just recently, I went there for lunch.
It's a bit of a hole-in-the-wall spot, but don't let that fool you.
The lunchtime offering was an omakase - a chef's choice meal that was reasonably priced.
Among the array of dishes, the blue crab hand roll and the tuna belly sushi stood out the most.
They were exceptional, a testament to why I consider this place home to some of the best sushi you will ever have.
One of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat is none other than Yogis Teriyaki here in Tustin.
Whether I'm ordering a solo lunch at work or getting dinner for the family, I can always count on Yogis for a satisfying meal.
Their teriyaki chicken bowl is a particular favorite of mine.
The chicken is always well-cooked, juicy, and flavorful, drenched in the most delicious teriyaki sauce.
It's just the right amount of sweet and tangy, a perfect complement to the tender chicken.
The portion size is generous, all at a price that doesn't break the bank.
For a little variety, I sometimes opt for the chicken and beef teriyaki combo with tempura vegetables.
The beef in the combo is just as tasty as the chicken.
Even during peak hours, I rarely have to wait more than five minutes for my takeout order.
Ameci Pizza Kitchen
Ameci Pizza Kitchen has become a staple in my dining routine. Maps once directed me to the wrong side of the building.
Their customer service is simply top-notch.
Each time I've ordered for pick-up, they've been efficient - always checking if I need separate containers for my orders and ensuring that everything is in order before I leave.
The restaurant has a homely vibe, with a seating area that's comfortable and inviting.
The food, however, steals the show.
The New York-style pizza, salads, subs, calzones, and other comfort food dishes are all delectable.
I can't help but reminisce about my partner and me enjoying their meat calzones.
They were considerate enough to put the tomato sauce on the side to avoid any sogginess - a small gesture that truly elevated our dining experience.
The taste of the calzone, loaded with rich, savory flavors, left us craving more.
Besides the calzones, another favorite of mine is their large pizza teeming with a variety of ingredients.
I've ordered it numerous times, and each time, the pizza is just as scrumptious as I remembered.
It's the kind of pizza that tastes exactly how a pizza should - absolutely delicious.
Their lunch specials are also worth a try.
I stumbled upon them during a lunch break, and let me tell you, their pizza dough is light, and their selection of toppings is practically unlimited.
The value for money is incredible, especially considering the large portions.
Whenever I feel like treating myself to a fine vegan meal, I head over to Freesoulcaffé located in the historic old Town Tustin area.
Their extensive plant-based menu, served in an industrial-chic setting, offers a unique dining experience.
I have always appreciated the creativity they bring to their dishes.
Their fettuccini Alfredo with vegan chicken is a delight to the senses with its perfect consistency and flavor.
And their Truffle Burger never fails to satisfy my cravings with its tantalizing taste.
To top it all off, I usually opt for their homemade brownie and ice cream, which is simply irresistible.
Yes, the prices might be on the higher side, but for the quality of the food and the unique flavors they bring to the table, I believe it's justified.
My gastronomic journey through the city has led me to taste everything from the spiciness of MaLuBianBian HotPot to the authentic Italian flavors of Casa D'Oro Homestyle Italian Restaurant and Barolo Italian Cafe.
Every restaurant in Tustin brings something unique to the table, which is why I consider myself lucky to be living in such a diverse and vibrant culinary destination.