Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




The establishments below are presented in alphabetical order.


Anepalco’s CaféOrange

Anepalco's Cafe | Orange

A concept like Mexican-French fusion might be nothing more than a head-scratching novelty in the hands of a lesser talent. However, the supreme skill of executive chef/owner Daniel Godinez has made Anepalco’s Café a place you must try. Godinez seamlessly blends the Mexican flavors of his childhood with the French technique that he perfected in the early part of his culinary career. His vision results in dishes like steak tomatillo crêpes and Serrano beurre blanc tilapia—wildly inventive creations whose novelty instantly gives way to sumptuous flavors. If you get up early enough, be sure to swing by here for breakfast to enjoy Godinez’s transcendent chilaquiles.

Review and rating of Anepalco’s Café in Orange.



ARC Food & LibationsCosta Mesa

ARC Food & Libations | Costa Mesa

Another reason why OC Mix is the most unique retail complex in Orange County is because it’s the home of ARC Food & Libations. The design is built to draw focus to the kitchen and its massive open flame, which executive chef Noah Blom and his crew utilize to create winning contemporary dishes that are noted for their straightforward nature and their adherence to artisanal ingredients. Simple fare like pig and duck isn’t buried under sauces; they’re each subtly accentuated with fresh herbs, vegetables and the like. The venue’s bar program is also home to the coolest cocktail in OC  the smoke and coffee bean-infused whiskey drink “Cigarettes and Coffee.”

Review and rating of ARC Food & Libations restaurant in Costa Mesa.



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HopScotch | Fullerton

HopScotch first turned heads because of its large whiskey collection – shelves are stocked with over 125 labels of the brown stuff – but has been able to retain focus because of the voodoo that executive chef Cody Storts whips up in the kitchen. The downtown Fullerton venue’s rustic and completely unpretentious setting makes for a fine backdrop for Storts to display his love for Southern cuisine as well as his willingness to push the envelope. Guests here can indulge in game items like venison osso buco along with more eclectic bites like the sinfully secretive lamb fries.

Review and rating of HopScotch restaurant in Fullerton.



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Lark Creek Newport BeachNewport Beach

Lark Creek Newport Beach

A lot of transplanted restaurant concepts have made their way down to OC in the last year. This one, which landed in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island by way of San Francisco, is the best of the bunch. It excels because executive chef John Ledbetter and his culinary staff approach food in a simple manner, where regional ingredients and sensible flavor composition trump flash. Entrées are anchored by steaks and chops, but they do leave plenty of room on the menu for some culinary mischief, as demonstrated by items like their barbecue chicken tamale pancake.

Review and rating of Lark Creek Newport Beach restaurant in Newport Beach.



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Little SparrowSanta Ana

Little Sparrow | Santa Ana

You may not find a place that feels cooler than Little Sparrow, which has instantly become a prime example of the kind of the sleek urban vibe that is being planted in downtown Santa Ana. Behind its municipal charm and slightly mid-century ambience is uncompromisingly good contemporary cuisine put forth by executive chef Eric Samaniego, a skillful gastronome who was a protégé of the late Charlie Trotter. His forward-thinking dishes like crispy sweetbreads with English pea purée, salmon with chorizo and homemade tagliatelle with braised lamb neck are killer enough to further subdue the increasingly unfounded stereotype of OC being a culinary wasteland. Not cool enough for you? After dinner, head down a narrow hallway and grab a cocktail at Little Sparrow’s dark, lounge-like bar, whose sleek, slick vibe lets you feel like you are immersing yourself into a whole different world.

Review and rating of Little Sparrow restaurant in Santa Ana.



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