Taste of Garden Grove tickles the tastebuds

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By Loreen Berlin: Restaurants in Garden Grove are participating in the first "Taste of Garden Grove," which is part of the annual California Restaurant Month.

VisitCalifornia invited the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce and City of Garden Grove to participate in the event.

This is a great opportunity to try great foods from six diverse Garden Grove restaurants, through Sunday, Jan. 22.

By Loreen Berlin: Restaurants in Garden Grove are participating in the first "Taste of Garden Grove," which is part of the annual California Restaurant Month.

VisitCalifornia invited the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce and City of Garden Grove to participate in the event.

This is a great opportunity to try great foods from six diverse Garden Grove restaurants, through Sunday, Jan. 22.

And,  there's a rare opportunity to “Cook with the Chef,” offered by Executive Chef Hany Ali at Great Wolf Lodge — Southern California in the Lodge's "Wood-fired Grill."

There's an open kitchen at the Lodge, where guests can see the beautifully-displayed foods being prepared. The Lodge's restaurants are not only open to registered Lodge guests, they are open to local residents who may call and make reservations in the different restaurants inside Great Wolf Lodge.

Executive Chef Ali's staff prepared their Backyard BBQ Platter, as an example from the regular menu, which is made with an assortment of meats including hickory-smoked St. Louis ribs, hardwood smoked brisket and smoked sausage. The platter also includes macaroni and cheese, lodge-made pickles and cole slaw, served with warm cornbread.

"This is a mouth-watering combination of great flavors for the meat-lover, with a glass of wine," said Ali.

If your pallet leans more to vegetarian, they have that too, with roasted wild-mushroom risotto, crimini, portabello and shitake mushrooms, asparagus, roasted tomatoes and mushroom juice — all gluten-free.

"We're known for our allergy-free program," Ali said. "We focus on all-natural produce that is locally-grown and we have no hormones in any of our chickens; it's all natural.”

On Historic Main Street, “Elvis is in the building” at Azteca Restaurant and Lounge, where great traditional Mexican food can be found while viewing Elvis memorabilia and hearing him croon.

Azteca also features karaoke.

On Jan. 15, he Taste of Garden Grove began, and Azteca was packed with two large groups of people enjoying the cuisine while holding a birthday party and a celebration of life.

Azteca offers a great "Special Three-Course Meal" that includes soup/salad, entree and dessert as part of the week-long Taste of Garden Grove, along with a great variety of foods from the regular menu.

"This is our first time to participate," said Manager Alex Olea. "It's a good program and it's right for the business."

Doug's Downtown Grill, also on Historic Main Street, is a popular eatery serving traditional American food in a warm and friendly atmosphere that includes booths for seating and a sports bar, along with a patio area.

Carolina's Italian Restaurant has been in Garden Grove for 40 years and is participating in the Taste of Garden Grove. Owner Tim Ibrahim is a board member of the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce and said he likes the idea of the Taste of Garden Grove.

"I think this is a great idea; people need to hear about the event and then it will grow each year and become a real success," he said. "We serve strictly Italian food at Carolina's and have two large dining areas in our Garden Grove restaurant and a larger Carolina's in Anaheim.”

"We also have two kitchens in the Garden Grove facility,” he added, “one for our dine-in patrons and one for take-out customers… We have a wide-selection of 400 wines for our customers to choose from…”

Other restaurants participating in the Taste of Garden Grove are: Garlic and Chives, the SunSpot Restaurant, The Smoking Ribs, The Wharf and the Wild Crab.

For more information about Taste of Garden Grove, visit www.ci.garden-grove,ca.us/restaurantweek.

Bon Appetite mon ami!