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Find Your Flavor in Fullerton & Brea

Written By: Jessie Dax-Setkus

Photographed By: Michelle Slieff

Adventure Provided By: Bobby Navarro of

When you think of the Fullerton and Brea area, the first thing that pops in your mind is likely all of the surrounding community colleges and the ever famous Cal State Fullerton. What many don’t realize is that these northern Orange County cities are hubs for elegant, flavorful and artistic cuisine. Honestly, food has been in this area’s genes for generations as Fullerton was known as an agricultural center for their acres of iconic orange groves. As local foodie Corky Nepomuneco mentions, “The sense of community here is fantastic. Fullerton is a progressive city with a small town feel. I lived up in LA for a while, but when I moved down here I fell in love with the area — it’s hard not to.” Mom and Pop restaurants line the streets welcoming families, couples, students, locals and travelers alike to try the plates of love they have to offer. It’s an area of passion, flavor and most of all fun. We found nine restaurants that that will not only show you a good time but will also help you find a new flavor hub in Orange County. restaurants in fullerton

Zombee Donuts
802 E Chapman Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831
714.879.1078 |

All of our lives we have been told that donuts aren’t good for us and blah blah blah. For a while, we turned to healthy alternatives, but slowly we find ourselves crawling back to the sugary allure that this deep fried dough has to offer. Let’s face it, we are helpless. Especially when we are faced with options like those offered at Zombie Donuts. It is the perfect combination of horror movie plus every nutritionalist’s nightmare that make these donuts … scary delicious. But how do you combine zombies and donuts? As owner Marie Guillen says, “My daughter and I just love “Walking Dead, ” combine that with the influence we got from visiting Voodoo Donuts in Portland and Zombee was born.” Try a Red Velvet Eyeball, The Monster donut which features Monster energy drink in the frosting, or a Cereal Killer, which offers favorites like Cocoa Puffs or Fruit Loops as toppings. Think you’ll miss out because you’re a vegan? Think again. They have a rotating menu of vegan donuts to appease the animal-friendly crowd. This week is Maple Glaze with Cinnamon Sugar. Perhaps you think you can come up with a creation even Dr. Frankenstein would be proud of – submit it. Write down your idea, recipe, title, and put it in their idea box — who knows, maybe it will appear as the newest member of the Zombee clan. If you want a sweet treat that bites back, check out Zombee Donuts. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: Get ‘em while they’re hot because the vegan donuts sell just as fast if not even faster than the regular donuts according to Marie.

Grits Fullerton
133 W. Chapman Ave #102
Fullerton, CA 92832

When you think of a typical, hearty breakfast, what comes to mind? Living in California, grits were probably not your top choice. This is where Grits Fullerton is planning to change the norm. Chef Cody Storts proudly hails from the Lone Star State and brings one of their staples, grits, along with him. They aren’t just any grits though, think Popcorn with Havarti Grits, Jalapeño, Sweet Caramelized Onion, Cheddar and Pepper Jack Cheese Grits, or Maple Bacon and Buttermilk Grits. One thing Grits Fullerton strongly offers is “spork hospitality” as Chef Cody says it. “Spork hospitality is the ability to do anything; we are mulitaskers at Grits.” Multitaskers they certainly are offering with housemade sodas on tap and upgraded coffee. What is upgraded coffee you may ask? It is premium coffee, hand roasted by a someone that Chef Cody knows on a first name basis. In three mere weeks, you can experience this amazing environment and delicious eats, complete with a Viking table that was made by the local kids at Brea Olinda High School. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: Grits puts a major focus on breakfast and lunch as they are only open until 5 p.m.

Pie Dog
229 E Commonwealth Ave
Fullerton, CA 92832
714.681.1298 |

Anywhere with a sense of humor already has a leg up in my book, and Pie Dog is not only the king of dogs and burgers—but puns. Any place with a burger offering feta cheese, mayo, sautéed peppers and red onions that is called the Boba Feta is OK in my book. How about The Paq-Man—a Philippine Spicy Sausage? The thing that really gets you though is the casual warning at the end of the table warning you to “watch out for the hookers” that hang your purse from hitting the floor. There’s a great vibe that fills Pie Dog. Owner Donny Gaudiano mentions when I commend him for his fine choice of ‘80s tunes, “I am a child of the ‘80s, it’s feel good music. So is the food. But the main draw is the beer. This is the best food to go with the main attraction.” Grab a quality brew, a housemate burger, and a good chuckle at Pie Dog — it is nothing but a good time. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: Take advantage of our beer o’ clock (happy hour) $3 and $4.50 on selected craft beers.

Native Knowledge: The Blazing Saddles Burger is both a best seller and Donny’s favorite item on the menu.


100 S Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832
714.278.0944 |

“Kentro” is the Greek word for “city center, ” and indeed this restaurant is! People from all walks of life gather to feast on fine dishes like the Pan-Fried Cheese, Zucchini Chips, House Spanakopita and Moussaka. Grab a Greek Coffee and you will feel like a real Grecian sitting at the Parthenon. The thing is — that is what they want you feel at Kentro as it was created to replicate the experiences Owner Vasili Kotsiovos had while traveling through Greece. Not only did Vasili want to focus on the amazing flavors he experienced on his travels, but the all around atmosphere he encountered while walking the ancient and beautiful streets of Greece. If you are looking for a true taste of Grecian life, pull up a chair and prepare to say, “Opa!” restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: Parking can be a beast on the weekends and Thursday nights because of the surrounding bar scene — consider calling Uber. It’s worth it.

El Amerikano
100 S Harbor Blvd #D
Fullerton, CA 92832
714.525.2126 |

Gastropubs are booming right now, but what about Gastropubs with a Latin influence? Enter El Amerikano where you can get quality espresso, wine, and beer along with Prime Rib Nachos, or Amerikano Fries, which is their flavorful interpretation of loaded fries. No need to worry if you are a vegetarian because you still have delicious options like Eggplant Enchiladas and Cauliflower Fritas to choose from! Owned by the same company as Kentro, El Amerikano also offers a very chic, European feel with all the cheesy, hearty options of an American menu. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: El Amerikano does not take reservations, so beat the dinner crowd or prepare to have some quality drinks at the bar while you wait — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Tempo Urban Kitchen
1060 Imperial Hwy
Brea, CA 92821
714.529.2900 |

You always hear the phrase, “That guy walks to the beat of his own drum.” That is exactly what Jorge Cueva, Owner of Tempo Urban Kitchen does — he walks to his own tempo if you will. Pretty much everything here is housemade. Handcrafted cocktails with Tequila infused with mango, jalapeño and Tajin are proudly displayed for all to see — and enjoy. Speaking of Tajin, a Mexican spice mix, that is a common theme at Tempo as they make their own Mexican candy with Tajin daily. They are also the only restaurant to offer Tajin inspired drinks. Try whimsical dishes like When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip. A fun play on family style dippers consisting of tostadas, beans, spicy dip, guacamole, pico de gallo, two salsas and quest cotija. Their ceviche is one word, fantastico. Think fresh seafood mixed with mangos and pear — it is a kick of flavor you can’t get enough. Get kick of flavor and a fresh cocktail all made mere steps from your table at Tempo.

Native Knowledge: Feeling social? The middle of the restaurant has a communal table that is perfect for meeting fellow foodies!

TAPS Fish House & Brewery
101 E Imperial Why
Brea, CA 92821
714.257.0101 |

Nothing to see here, just another fish house right? WRONG! In the fickle industry of the restaurant business, TAPS Fish House & Brewery has stood the test of time as they have been alive and well for 15 years! It’s no surprise with dishes like Lobster Corn Dogs, Seafood Ceviche Cocktail, Ahi Tartare Tacos and Lobster Dumplings. It doesn’t stop with the food. TAPS brews their beer on site with 13 beers brewing at one time, and with the changing of the season they host a beer and food pairing to commemorate both their amazing food and brews. But with all of the fresh, delicious seafood to work with, what is Executive Chef Manny Gonzalez’s selection for prime fish? “Halibut is easily my favorite fish to work with. Just put it on a plate and it honestly sells itself, ” he mentions as he places a smorgasbord of Ceviche Tostadas, Blackened Fish Tacos and Lobster Corn Dogs in front of us. When you come to TAPS, hopefully, you are on a see-food diet because you’ll see it and eat a lot of it. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: If you are up for a great happy hour, TAPS is your place. TAPS Happy Hour, Monday through Saturday, runs specials on TAPS beers, wine and cocktails and 15 amazing appetizers for $7 each.

Lillie’s Q
240 S Brea Blvd
Brea, CA 92821
714.482.2001 |

Who’s up for some moonshine? Before your brain goes wild thinking about mystery whiskey in a jug I will tell you this, Lillie’s Q does moonshine right — very right. Cucumber  Basil, Spiced Peach and Cherry Limeade Moonshine are just a few of the many flavors available for you to get your ‘shine on. Pair it with some Fried Pickles, Smoked Chicken Wings, Baby Back Ribs and Smoked Deviled Eggs and you would think you might just be part of one of the happiest hours there is. But that isn’t enough for Executive Chef Kody Havener, he housemakes his own assortment of pickles. Golden beets, cauliflower, watermelon rinds, bread and butter pickles, and even lavender beet eggs are not out of reach for this ambitious chef. He mentions, “I find that people who drink hard liquor typically like something salty to go with it, so pickling isn’t just a phenomenon that’s coming — it’s here.” There is also a strong hint given that a pickle platter might be making an appearance on the menu in the near future as I am introduced to their smoker playfully named Bertha. Hearty food, quality moonshine cocktails and housemade gourmet pickles are a recipe to return to Lillie’s Q in my eyes. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: After you fall in love with Lillie’s Q signature sauces, they are available to purchase and bring home with you!


Macallans Public House
330 W Birch St
Brea, CA 92821
714.529.1224 |

Irish food is known to be tasty, but not known to be aesthetically pleasing. Macallans changes that because as Executive Chef Roman Jimenez mentions they are, “Rustic with a purpose.” Welsh Rarebit, otherwise jokingly referred as British hangover food, is wonderful Guinness Irish Cheese, Arugula, and burnt citrus jam nestled on top of perfectly charred farmer’s bread. Corned Beef Sliders, Mac Bombs, and Wings with a whiskey glaze are creative takes on typical pub food. There is a lot of passion in this building, especially when Owner Dan O’Mahony exclaims, “You have to do what you are passionate in—there is something to be said about it. People see it.” If you want to feel like a real pub crawler, check out the Scotch menu and get a couple flights to go with your tasty bites. Bring your love of food to Macallans where their love is making comfort food —fantastically. restaurants in fullerton

Native Knowledge: Macallan’s has only been in town for five months! Come welcome the new neighbors by enjoying their happy hour from 4-6 p.m. daily!


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