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. We feature 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.
The First Annual Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival will celebrate the culinary world among the city’s coastal backdrop. The inaugural fête will feature three days of cooking demos from some of OC’s most talented chefs, exclusive sommelier panels and appearances by the likes of Rick Bayless and Richard Blais. Some of the local toques slated to appear include Craig Strong of Studio at the Montage Laguna Beach, Alan Greeley of Golden Truffle, and John Ledbetter of Lark Creek Newport Beach. The event kicks off with a special VIP party hosted by Red O, and will be followed by two days of food and wine at the Newport Beach Civic Center. For more information, including ticket data, visit www.newportwineandfood.com.
The 2014 Sunset Savor the Central Coast will feature over 200 wines and 30 local chefs. Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani will prepare a duck dish at the main event on Saturday at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, and Chef Tanya Holland will lead an Italian flavors seminar on Sunday. Other activities include a chance for participants to meet with winemakers, brew masters and artisans, and to tour the Central Coast Pavilion. Tickets for the main event range from $85 to $150, with tickets to additional events starting at $25. For more information visit www.savorcentralcoast.com
The Third-Annual Golden Foodie Awards will take place at the Fairmont Newport Beach. The special award show and gala will roll out the red carpet to honor the top culinary talent and dining venues in Orange County. Guests will have the chance to indulge in several singular bites from some of OC’s biggest restaurants, enjoy hand-crafted libations, experience live music, and take in the pageantry of the awards show itself. Select restaurants include Selanne Steak Tavern, Lucca Café, SeaLegs Wine Bar, Maro Wood Grill and HopScotch. Tickets are priced at $150. The event is slated to run from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. For more information, visit www.goldenfoodieawards.com. Fairmont Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-476-2001.
The Westin South Coast Plaza is hosting the 2014 March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. The fundraising event will bring some of Orange County’s most popular chefs together to create signature dishes for attendees, who will also have the chance to indulge in artisanal libations and participate in live and silent auctions. Some of the participating chefs include Yvon Goetz of The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Eric Samaniego of Little Sparrow, Cathy Pavlos of Lucca Café, Seakyeong Kim from Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza, and Casey Overton of The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach. The cost is $400 per person. Festivities are slated to start at 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.marchofdimes.com. The Westin South Coast Plaza, 686 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-540-2500.
Andrea, the flagship restaurant of The Resort at Pelican Hill, will be hosting a special wine pairing dinner presented by guest chef Massimiliano Mascia. The chef comes from Italy’s acclaimed Ristorante San Domenico to the Newport Coast resort to create a five-course menu, which will be paired with select wines culled from some of Italy’s top appellations. Select courses include roasted quail with star anise and carrot puree; potato gnocchi with tarragon shellfish ragout; and thyme-roasted lamb chop with eggplant cake and artichoke purée. The cost is $195, inclusive of tax and gratuity. For more information, visit www.pelicanhill.com. Andrea, The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S., Newport Coast, CA 92657, 949-467-6800.
The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach is hosting their fourth annual Festa dell’Autunno event --- a weekend fete designed to celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest and the release of the venue’s own property-cultivated olive oil. Guests that come to this weekend festival can indulge in special wine-pairing dinners featuring regional Italian cuisine, an al fresco jazz brunch, wine tastings and a street fair brimming with art, music and specially prepared bites. For more information, visit www.pelicanhill.com. The Resort at Pelican Hill, The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S., Newport Coast, CA 92657, 949-467-6800.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel presents The Diamond Ball, an event to raise funds for animal charities. This year’s proceeds will benefit the Wounded Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence. The evening includes a silent and live auction, and a four-course dinner created by executive chef Pedro Contreras. The evening also includes The Diamond Drop Extravaganza, an opportunity where guests can donate gems and jewelry in support of the cause. The event begins at 5 p.m. and costs $250 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity. For more information, visit thediamondball.org. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, One Ritz-Carlton Dr., Dana Point, CA 92629, 949-240-2000, 800-241-3333.
Ways & Means Oyster House offers up Clambake Wednesdays, a special meal that puts a California spin on one of New England’s most traditional seafood-centric happenings. Guests can belly up to the Orange-based restaurant’s oyster bar and indulge in a one-dish seafood feast featuring seasonal West Coast clams, mussels, andouille sausage, potato and corn on the cob, all served in a spicy seafood lager broth. Additionally, the meal comes with a complimentary pour of wine. The cost is $9.99, and guests have the option to add a half lobster for $12. It's available at the oyster bar only. Ways & Means Oyster House, 513 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866, 714-516-1800.
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.
Memphis Café in Costa Mesa has extended happy hour to every day of the week from 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. with both drink and appetizer specials. Sister restaurant Memphis at the Santora in downtown Santa Ana now offers happy hour from Tuesday through Saturday from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Memphis Café, 2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-432-7685.
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.
Sol Cocina, located on the waterfront in Newport Harbor's Balboa Marina, hosts Taco & Tequila Tuesdays every week starting at 4 p.m. These events feature live music and food and drink specials, including $2.50 grilled fish tacos, $5 guacamole, $3 Mexican beers, $5.50 margaritas, and tequila tasting flights. Sol Cocina, 251 E. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-675-9800.
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.
Tabu Grill offers a special prix-fixe menu Sundays through Thursdays. Guests that come to the cozy Laguna Beach restaurant may enjoy a four-course menu that changes weekly, based on seasonality and sustainability. The cost is $29 per person. The dinner can enjoyed with wine pairings for an additional $10 per person. Tabu Grill, 2892 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-494-7743.
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.
The Playground in Santa Ana offers a unique Sunday Supper experience that showcases the restaurant's dedication to fresh ingredients and spontaneous creativity. Rather than receiving a menu upon arrival, each party will be informed of what fresh ingredients are in the kitchen, and will then work with the restaurant to design a multi-course menu based on what is available. The cost is $40 per person, including tax and gratuity. The first seating takes place at 5 p.m. Reservations are mandatory, and there is one reservation for every 15-minute block. For more information, please visit www.theplaygrounddtsa.com. The Playground, 220 E. 4th St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-560-4444.
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.