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ARC Food & Libations is one of the 10 Must-Visit Restaurants in Orange County

After decades of languishing in the shadows of Los Angeles, the Orange County food scene has as of late been able to craft a strong identity all its own. Find out GAYOT's picks for the 10 Must-Visit Restaurants in Orange County.



Cucina Enoteca has rolled out a second Orange County location, in Newport Beach’s famed shopping center Fashion Island. Like the original OC space, the new space features an array of rustic Italian cuisine and an extensive list of wines that may be purchased at retail prices. Cucina Enoteca, Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-706-1416.
Din Tai Fung has opened at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa Din Tai Fung, the Los Angeles-area restaurant that has built a cult following around its Shanghai-style soup dumplings, has opened in an 8,000-square-foot space in South Coast Plaza. Din Tai Fung, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-549-3388.
The contemporary Chinese restaurant Twenty Eight will be opening its doors in the heart of Irvine’s original business district in Fall 2014. The restaurant is the brainchild of executive chef and partner Shirley Chung, whose pedigree includes an appearance on Top Chef and a successful stint as executive chef at China Poblano by Jose Andres. Chung promises to bring regional Chinese dishes to the venue, made with local seasonal ingredients and progressive flavors. Twenty Eight, 19530 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92612, no phone.
The people that were behind the departed Downtown Santa Ana restaurant The Crosby have reemerged with The North Left, a contemporary dining spot located in The Crosby’s old digs. The restaurant is serving small plates of contemporary food inspired by the flavors of the Pacific Northwest, but made from fresh and local ingredients. The venue is also offering a rotation of craft beers on tap, as well as barrel-aged cocktails. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat. The North Left, 400 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-543-3543.
A&O Kitchen + Bar Opens at the Balboa Bay Resort The Balboa Bay Resort has jumped into the world of the gastropub with the opening of A&O Kitchen + Bar. The restaurant, which is housed in a completely renovated space, where Duke's Place once resided, opened in June and features casual yet innovative contemporary fare, as overseen by the resort's executive chef, Vincent Lesage. Menu items range from pork belly sliders and a sausage flight to beer-marinated fried chicken and orchiette pasta. Lunch & Dinner daily. A&O Kitchen + Bar, Balboa Bay Resort, 1221 West Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92663, 949-630-4285.
Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square shopping complex is the home of the Mexican culinary concept La Vida Cantina. The restaurant is housed in the former location of El Corazon de Costa Mesa. Guests can sit on the venue’s massive outdoor patio and enjoy margaritas and other specialty cocktails, or indulge in modern Mexican dishes made with organic ingredients, such as lobster enchiladas served with a poblano cilantro tomatillo sauce. For more information, visit La Vida Cantina, Traingle Square, 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 949-612-2349.
Lillie’s Q, the critically acclaimed Chicago-based restaurants known for its barbecue and Southern side dishes, will be opening an Orange County location in 2014. The venue, which will be located in downtown Brea, is slated to open for lunch and dinner service. In addition to serving up Southern cuisine and barbecue entrées, such as slow-smoked pork shoulder, baby back ribs and tri-tip, the venue will also partner with neighboring restaurant TAPS Fish House & Brewery to feature specialty craft beers created by the latter eatery’s brewmaster Victor Novak. Lunch & Dinner daily. Lillie's Q, 240 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, CA 92821, no phone.
Waterline has opened at Balboa Bay Resort Balboa Bay Resort, the sprawling hotel and club located along Newport Harbor, has announced the opening of their new flagship restaurant, Waterline. The waterfront venue’s chef-driven, “water to table” concept highlights Southern California-inspired takes on seafood as overseen by executive chef Vincent LeSage. The restaurant will also feature contemporary cuisine, a breakfast and lunch menu, a Sunday brunch buffet, and a full bar overlooking the city’s famous marina. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner daily, Brunch Sun. Waterline, Balboa Bay Resort, 1221 Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663, 888-894-2788.

Find more recent openings with our list of the
Top 10 New & Notable Restaurants
and round-up of all the NEW Restaurants in Orange County

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Top 10 Steak Wines
Top 5 Tips for a Perfect Steak
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News Bytes

La Brea Bakery Café oatmeal-raisin cookies help raise money for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Cookies for a Cause
During the month of September, La Brea Bakery Café is donating $1 from the sale of every $4 specially marked two-pack of oatmeal-raisin cookies to Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign to help fight childhood hunger. Each dollar can help connect a child with up to 10 meals. For more information about the No Kid Hungry campaign, visit La Brea Bakery Café, Downtown Disney, 1556 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA 92802, 714-490-0233.
French Pop-Up at Little Sparrow
Little Sparrow is hosting their own pop-up restaurant concept within the confines of its downtown Santa Ana restaurant. The pop-up concept will be based exclusively on French cuisine, as created by the restaurant’s executive chef Eric Samaniego. Select menu items will include skate grenobloise, moules frites, coq au vin and steak au poivre. For more information, visit Little Sparrow, 300 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-265-7640.
Bistango Gardens Menu Debuts
Bistango, the sleek contemporary restaurant situated in the heart of Irvine’s classic business district, has created a special Bistango Gardens menu; a mélange of modern bites, craft beers, and carefully chosen wine selections designed to capture the metropolitan essence of the surrounding area. Guests can lounge in relaxing, earth-toned furniture and indulge in light modern fare such as hummus with kalamata olive, feta cheese and olive oil; Peruvian ceviche served with red onion, cilantro, and lime juice; and lamb sliders with goat cheese, arugula, and brandied balsamic cherries. For more information, please visit Bistango, The Atrium Building, 19100 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, CA 92612, 949-752-5222.
Connie and Ted's Possibly Coming to Laguna Beach
Rumor has it that Providence co-owners Michael Cimarusti and Donato Poto will open a second location of their popular and successful West Hollywood seafood spot Connie and Ted's in Laguna Beach. Connie and Ted's, 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046, 323-848-2722.

Chef Shuffle

Roy Hendrickson has left his post as executive chef at Zimzala, the flagship restaurant at the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach. Hendrickson has migrated south to San Diego, where he oversees the kitchen at Vessel Restaurant, the flagship eatery at the Kona Kai Resort & Marina. The replacement for Hendrickson has not been officially announced. Zimzala, Shorebreak Hotel, 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, 714-861-4470.
Bruno Massuger has been appointed executive chef at Back Bay Bistro, the flagship restaurant at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort. Massuger comes to the Newport Beach eatery armed with several years of experience culled in similar resort-type venues. In addition to overseeing the restaurant, he will also be managing the sprawling resort’s catering operation. Back Bay Bistro, Newport Dunes Resort, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-729-1144.
Cody Storts is no longer the executive chef at HopScotch. The popular chef parted ways with the downtown Fullerton restaurant in late July. Storts has resurfaced at Nieuport 17, where he is working with executive chef Greg Moro, while the Tustin venue goes through a renovation process. HopScotch, 136 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832, 714-871-2222.



Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for Orange County to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from yesteryear. Aqua, R.I.P.

Landmark in Corona Del Mar has closed its doors. The restaurant, which was known for its steaks and its late-night scene, held its final day of operation May 10. Plans for a new restaurant to occupy the now-vacant space have been announced, although the actual dining concept is still under wraps. Landmark, 3520 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, no phone.

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Discover the best restaurants in Orange County, CA

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Check out the 2014 edition of GAYOT's Annual Restaurant Issue, which features the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., Rising Chefs and more.

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