Orange County Culinary Events
Hungry? Need to fill your culinary calendar? Here is where you will find all the restaurant and culinary happenings in Orange County. GAYOT features a calendar of special dinners, tasting menus, prix-fixe meals, food festivals and other culinary events, including regularly occurring food events as well as special one-time-only events featuring top chefs. Keep checking back so you can know all that's going on in the world of restaurant and food events in Orange County. We've also got the latest Orange County Restaurant News and Wine Events.
Sundays through the Summer
Oak Grill, the flagship restaurant at Island Hotel Newport Beach, hosts Slow Smoked Sundaze, a family-friendly barbecue supper designed to capture the essence of the classic summertime cookout. Executive chef Marc Johnson taps into his Southern culinary roots for the weekly event, offering a menu loaded with exquisitely smoked meats and traditional sides. Fare can be enjoyed in the dining room or on the venue’s relaxed outdoor deck. Entrees and sides include baby back ribs, fried chicken, cedar-planked salmon, corn on the cob, mac ’n' cheese, sautéed greens and pecan pie. Guests might complement their meal with a glass of basil- and strawberry-infused lemonade. For more information, visit the restaurant website. Oak Grill, Island Hotel Newport Beach, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-760-4920.
The Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market is hosting its inaugural Farmers Market to Table Dinner. Held at Villa Park Orchards Packing House in Old Town Orange, the special event will feature several well-respected local chefs preparing a multi-course, family-style dinner that emphasizes the importance of locally grown food sources and ingredients. Participating chefs include Greg Daniels from Haven Gastropub, Danny Godinez from Anepalco’s Café and Dee Nguyen from Break of Dawn. Cost is $125 per person and proceeds support the new Orange Grown Education Farm in Old Towne Orange. The event is slated to begin at 6:00 p.m. with a 30-minute cocktail reception. For more information, please visit the event’s website
The Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA) is hosting its inaugural Tastemakers of Orange County event. Taking place at Costa Mesa’s South Coast Collection --- home of the perpetually white-hot OC Mix --- the event celebrates the culture and heritage of the county's Asian and Pacific Islander community through food and drink, as prepared by some of the area’s top culinary talent. Chefs include Greg Daniels from Haven Gastropub; Dee Nguyen from Break of Dawn; Amar Santana from Vaca and Broadway by Amar Santana; and Ted Lee and Takashi Abe from Bluefin. Guests will also enjoy live music and participate in a silent auction. VIPs are invited to a live cooking demo. General admission tickets are $85 and allow guests to enter at 7 p.m. VIP tickets cost $95 and include early entry at 6 p.m. Proceeds support OCAPICA’s non-profit efforts. For more information, visit the event website.
Explore downtown Santa Ana with Savor Santa Ana, a walkable food festival with nearly 50 participating restaurants and artisanal food producers. Attendees will enjoy five tastings for $10 at various downtown restaurants, as well as live music and craft beer. For more information, visit the official website. Downtown Santa Ana Historic District, N. Spurgeon and 4th St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-547-6100.
Newport Beach’s Fairmont Hotel will once again host the Golden Foodie Awards. The yearly black-tie ceremony, designed to honor some of the top chefs, bartenders and restaurants in Orange County, kicks off with cocktails and small bites prepared by several of OC’s most popular independent eateries. Participating restaurants include SeaLegs Wine Bar, Tempo Urban Kitchen, Provenance and AnQi Gourmet Bistro by Crustacean. The evening culminates in a formal award ceremony spread out over 20 different categories. For more information, visit the event website. Fairmont Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-476-2001.
The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach will host the sixth annual Festa Dell’Autunno, a celebration of Italy’s fall harvest season. The weekend will be filled with special culinary events designed to bring the thrill and romance of The Old Country to the Pacific Ocean. Highlights include a multi-course, prix-fixe dinner with wine pairings; an al fresco jazz brunch; and a street fair featuring live music, an auto exhibit and traditional flag performances. For more information, please the event website. The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S., Newport Coast, CA 92657, 949-467-6800.
Pizzeria Ortica, the popular Italian eatery located in Costa Mesa’s arts district, has launched Sunday brunch. Guests can prep for a day of theatre or shopping at nearby South Coast Plaza by digging into Ortica’s progressive-yet-approachable food and drink items, all carefully crafted by executive chef Justin Miller and bar manager Joel Caruso. Select items include house-made fennel sausage with Tuscan black kale and Calabrian chile; wood-grilled shrimp and polenta with fried green tomatoes; and poached eggs with roasted asparagus, Speck, and Fontina foduta. Dishes can be paired with cocktails such as a tequila-based bloody Mary or a mimosa built with passion fruit, orange and guava. For more information is available online. Pizzeria Ortica, 650 Anton Blvd., Ste. J, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-445-4900.
At the monthly dinner and beer pairing event at Del Frisco’s Grille in the Irvine Spectrum, guests can expect to see brews from top Southern California craft breweries in the spotlight. To eat, diners will enjoy a special multi-course, prix-fixe menu designed by executive chef Sarah Daniels. Seating is limited, and dates are subject to change on holiday weekends. For more information, including time and pricing, visit the restaurant website. Del Frisco's Grille, Irvine Spectrum, 772 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine, CA 92618, 949-341-0376.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Newport Beach gets a head start on the late-night happy hour concept with their "8 for $9 ‘til 10" menu. The popular Fashion Island venue known for their happening bar scene is featuring eight different cocktails and wines by the glass to go along with eight unique a la carte bar bites that can be enjoyed from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. for $9 each. Selections include ahi tuna tacos with radish-jicama slaw and creamy soy-lime aioli; short rib empanadas with fire-roasted poblano sauce; lobster lettuce wraps with crumbled bacon and onion strings; and a chocolate lava milkshake with Maker’s Mark bourbon. For more information, visit www.flemingssteakhouse.com. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fashion Island, 455 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-720-9633.
Paul Martin's American Grill has rolled out a special Taste of Paul Martin's happy hour menu featuring a host of small plates not found on the Irvine Spectrum eatery's regular menu. Selected bites include street tacos with handmade corn tortillas, smoked salmon lettuce cups, and mesquite-grilled steak skewers. The menu also features a burger, beer and fries section, which allows guests to mix and match various takes on the three items to create their own combinations. The discounts are available in both the bar area and on the patio, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. daily. Items range from $4-$12. For more information, please visit www.paulmartinsamericanbistro.com. Paul Martin's American Grill, Irvine Spectrum Center, 31 Fortune Dr., Ste. 302, Irvine, CA 92618, 949-453-1144.
Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar in Costa Mesa has started up a happy hour patio program. Dubbed the "high five happy hour," the program invites guests to sit in the venue's lakeside dining area and select from a large number of $5 food and beverage items. Featured bites include a Vietnamese beef bahn mi sandwich served with tangy Asian slaw, classic wings tossed in a sweet and spicy honey glaze, and a daily rotating selection of sushi. The program's list of libations includes a wide arrangement of seasonal fruit cocktails, house wines and craft beers. The happy hour is offered from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. daily. Silver Trumpet Restaurant & Bar, Wyndham Orange County, 3350 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-442-8593.
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Newport Beach has renewed their "5 for 6 'til 7" happy hour program with a trio of additional menu items. The latest $6 selections include the roasted mushroom ravioli appetizer stuffed with Portobello and shiitake mushrooms in a porcini butter sauce, and the sparkling "tickled pink" cocktail, a 99-calorie beverage that features a blend of Belevdere Vodka, orange juice, raspberries and a splash of Italian Mionetto Prosecco. The new choices are featured alongside a host of $6 wines and $6 appetizers, including seared ahi tuna and a prime burger. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fashion Island, 455 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-720-9633.
Andrea, the flagship restaurant at Newport Coast’s The Resort at Pelican Hill, hosts a unique prix-fixe dinner built to highlight Italy’s most popular regions. Each time chef Marco Crisculo crafts a special, rotating three-course meal showcasing the diversity of Italian cuisine through the exploration of regionally specific ingredients and techniques. Dishes are paired with a carefully selected glass of wine culled from Italy’s top appellations. The cost is $99, including wine pairings. Andrea, The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S., Newport Coast, CA 92657, 949-467-6800.
The Crow Bar and Kitchen host Fried Chicken Night, a weekly special built around one of the Corona Del Mar restaurant's most popular items. For $16, guests can enjoy one-half of a Shelton Farms fried chicken and a constantly changing rotation of side dishes, such as Yukon Gold potato and melted leek mash. Guests can also pair the meal with a specialty craft beer from San Diego's Stone Brewery for $5 more. Take-out is available. For more information, please visit www.crowbarcdm.com. The Crow Bar and Kitchen, 2325 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, CA 92625, 949-675-0070.
1st Tuesday of the Month
The French-Swiss restaurant Basilic Restaurant in Newport Beach's Balboa Island offers a special Raclette Night. Guests can drop by the eatery and enjoy unlimited helpings of chef/owner Bernard Althaus's take on the classic Swiss dish of freshly melted fatty cheese scraped directly off the round and served with boiled potatoes, gherkins, and pickled onions. The cost for this special all-you-can-eat feast is $21.50; a plate of charcuterie can be added for an additional $7. Basilic Restaurant, 217 Marine Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92662, 949-673-0570.
EATS Kitchen + Bar, the flagship eatery in the Hotel Irvine, is now offering a $12 all-you-can-eat special on mussels every Friday. Executive chef Jason Montelibano whips up an endless parade of of the mollusks --- they arrive flavored with your choice of garlic butter, lemongrass curry or tomato broth. EATS Kitchen + Bar, Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92614, 949-230-4452.
SOCIAL Costa Mesa hosts special Sunday Supper menus. Executive chef Jeffrey Boullt taps into his Southern roots by crafting a hearty weekly menu that emphasizes flavors and ingredients from the region, such as Cajun-style fried chicken and ham and cheddar biscuits. Bar director Mike West will also be creating fresh craft cocktails to pair with the dishes. SOCIAL Costa Mesa, 512 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 949-642-2425.
2nd Sunday of the Month
Lucca Cafe in Irvine hosts a special mid-afternoon Sunday Supper designed to replicate the feel and ambiance of a traditional family dinner. Executive chef/owner Cathy Pavlos rolls out a four-course menu, with a monthly changing theme focusing on a Mediterranean country, an intriguing European region, or the food of a renowned chef. This meal is augmented by rare and unique wines, as well as other edible surprises. Pricing is per person, and varies from month to month. Lucca Cafe, Quail Hill Village Center, 6507 Quail Hill Pkwy., Irvine, CA 92603, 949-725-1773.
SideDoor, the gastropub attached the legendary Five Crowns restaurant, features Sunday Sessions, their lively, eclectic take on the traditional Sunday brunch. From 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., the Corona Del Mar venue features innovative contemporary items like a "green eggs and ham" version of eggs Benedict, DJ's spinning music, art being created in real time, and limited-release craft beers. For more information, please visit www.sidedoorcdm.com. SideDoor, Five Crowns, 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, 949-717-4322.
Zimzala in Huntington Beach features their Sunday Bloody Mary Bar, a drink program boasting several intriguing variations on the classic tomato juice-based weekend cocktail ($7). Highlighted takes of the beverage include a version infused with Corona beer, a Cuban-themed variant made with spiced rum and red peppers, and an adaptation involving basil vodka and fresh basil leaves. For more information, please visit www.restaurantzimzala.com. Zimzala, Shorebreak Hotel, 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, 714-861-4470.
Three-Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink hosts a special Sunday Social dinner specifically designed to be reminiscent of a classic Sunday family supper. From 4 p.m.-9 p.m., restaurant owner and executive chef Ryan Adams jettisons the restaurant's normal menu and prepares one rotating, multi-course dinner based on seasonality, fresh ingredients and the concept of comfort food. Prices vary. For a look at the weekly changing menu, please visit www.370common.com. Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-494-8686.
Find out which restaurants and chefs top the list of GAYOT's 2016 Annual Restaurant Awards.