Orange County, CA Restaurant News
NEW RESTAURANTS IN ORANGE COUNTY
Orange County’s first drive-thru poke concept, FINS Poke Fusion, is now open in downtown Fullerton. The fast-casual eatery allows guests to assemble bowls of fresh cubed seafood with traditional accoutrements (think seaweed and roe) or order from a list of pre-designed options. Guests can also create their own poke-stuffed tacos. The venue has a sister location in Mission Viejo that does not offer a drive-thru service. FINS Poke Fusion, 513 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92832, 714-519-3014.
Downtown Santa Ana bistro Little Sparrow has been replaced by Black Box, specializing in burgers, beer and craft cocktails. Black Box, 300 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-592-6507.
Food hall Lot 579 has opened in Huntington Beach’s sleek new shopping center Pacific City. The dining venue is located on the east end of the sprawling oceanfront retail space and features both new and established fast-casual restaurants. Options range from classic to quirky: There's Bear Flag Fish Market, Australian meat pie specialists Pie-Not, dessert spot PopBar and gourmet sandwich shop BurntCrumbs. Lunch & Dinner daily. Lot 579, Pacific City, 21010 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, no phone.
Eat Chow, the casual/contemporary eatery in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, has announced plans to open a new location in Downtown Santa Ana. The restaurant is slated to launch by the end of this year. In addition to crafting upscale versions of classic American cuisine, the new location will differentiate itself from the original two locales by offering a full bar. Lunch & Dinner daily. Eat Chow, 313 N. Bush St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, no phone.
The iconic tiki-themed Laguna Beach restaurant Royal Hawaiian is reopening after shuttering in 2012. The venue, which initially closed after a 65-year run, is slated to welcome guests sometime in Summer 2016. Old-school patrons will be able to reacquaint themselves with the eatery’s beloved tiki cocktails and memorabilia, along with a more contemporary menu designed by chef Jonathan Pflueger. Royal Hawaiian, 331 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-715-1470.
The group behind Laguna Beach’s Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck has announced the launch of new neighborhood restaurant concept Hendrix. The venue will be in Laguna Niguel and is projected to open in winter 2017. A contemporary menu is in the works and will feature variations on today's New American culinary trends, from bites like fried Brussels sprout chips to roti-spit porcetta with roasted potatoes. There will also be a full beverage program with wine, craft beer, and cocktails.
Mezzet Mediterranean Cuisine has opened in the South Coast Plaza in the Crate and Barrel/Macy’s Home Store Wing. The concept offers East Mediterranean fare like kebabs and couscous dishes, plus Neapolitan pizzas and flatbreads. Mezzet Mediterranean Cuisine, South Coast Plaza, 3333 S. Bear St., Costa Mesa, CA 92704, 714-540-3365.
EMC Seafood & Raw Bar has opened in Irvine, joining the ever-growing number of Los Angeles-based restaurants drawn to Orange County. This sleek venue is staying true to its Koreatown roots by offering a range of seafood items, includung raw oysters, congee and whole branzino. Elegant, contemporary meat dishes juxtapose these options. Lunch & Dinner daily. EMC Seafood & Raw Bar, 14346 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604, 949-748-3979.
The Los Angeles-based seafood restaurant Water Grill is coming to Orange County. The new eatery is slated to open in fall 2016. Like its sister restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Diego’s Gaslamp District, the restaurant will present a rotating menu of upscale seafood dishes, emphasizing sustainable ingredients. Water Grill, 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, no phone.
Live Music at Holstein's Shakes & Buns
Holstein’s Shakes & Buns is raising the happy hour bar with a little live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Various local artists drop by the South Coast Plaza venue to perform acoustic sets for guests who’ve gathered to indulge in $7 appetizers, $5 cocktails and house wines and $3 draft beers. The tunes can be enjoyed from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Holstein's Shakes & Buns, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-352-2525.
Brunch at Pizzeria Ortica
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.
AYCE Mussels on Fridays at EATS Kitchen + Bar
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.
Slow Smoked Sundaze at Oak Grill
Oak Grill, the flagship restaurant at Island Hotel Newport Beach, hosts Slow Smoked Sundaze, a family-friendly barbecue Sunday 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. Oak Grill, Island Hotel Newport Beach, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-760-4920.
Former chef at Little Sparrow, Eric Sanmaniego, is now the chef de cuisine at Michael’s on Naples Ristorante. Michael's on Naples Ristorante, 5620 E. 2nd St., Long Beach, CA 90803, 562-439-7080.
Montage Laguna Beach has announced Michael Campbell as the new chef de cuisine of oceanview restaurant The Loft. Campbell joins the luxury resort's staff with impressive experience under his belt. In addition to opening popular Costa Mesa restaurant Pueblo, Campbell has worked as executive sous chef for San Francisco restaurant RN74; French eatery Numero 75; and Barcelona venue Arrel Del Bom. The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-715-6000.
ORANGE COUNTY RESTAURANT CLOSINGS
Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita has closed its doors. The Mexican restaurant, which had opened four years ago, cited a decision to not renew its lease as the reason for the closure. The restaurant’s original location in Costa Mesa remains open. Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar, 22322 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688, no phone.
Public Steak, the Costa Mesa restaurant opened by former Maestro’s executive chef Matthew Briggs, has shuttered. The sudden closing of the venue, which opened in spring of 2016, is said to have been due to a split in the ownership. The remaining owners have rebranded the venue The Scotchery Steaks and Sprits and have rolled out a menu of contemporary steakhouse fare. Public Steak, 3751 S. Harbor Blvd., Ste. C, Santa Ana, CA 92704, no phone.
Café Zoolu shut its doors after serving downtown Laguna Beach for 22 years. The venue, known for its unique mélange of Hawaiian, Cajun, Mexican and Asian cuisines, closed due to the retirement of chef/co-owner Michael Leech and his wife. There is no word on what will take over the space. Cafe Zoolu, 860 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, no phone.
View GAYOT's calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Orange County