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Orange County Restaurant News

Pickled Monk gastropub in downtown Fullerton is a casual neighborhood venue




Hungry for OC restaurant news? Tap into what's happening with new restaurants, find out what your fave chefs are up to, and learn everything else you need to know on the Orange County food landscape.

Also, check out GAYOT's calendar of food events in Orange County.

NEW RESTAURANTS IN ORANGE COUNTY

Royal Hawaiian, the iconic Laguna Beach venue known for its tiki bar vibe, is reopening in April. The relaunch marks more than a comeback of a beloved spot, whose original run spanned from 1947 to 2012. It also represents a return to Laguna Beach for restaurateur Mariano “Maro” Molteni, who initially left a mark on the city with his former restaurant Maro Wood Grill. Together with his brother, chef Martin Molteni, Maro will be overseeing a gently modernized, Polynesian-inspired menu featuring approachable bites like coconut fried shrimp, hoisin BBQ-glazed baby ribs, and Pacific grilled swordfish. An abundance of classic tropical and tiki drinks will also be poured behind the bar. Royal Hawaiian, 331 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-715-1470.
 
Popular Hong Kong-based dim sum venue Tim Ho Wan is coming to Irvine. Slated to open this spring, the restaurant will be located in the Asian food-focused Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center. The OC outpost marks the first Southern California foray for the restaurant, which also has branches in New York City, Las Vegas and Waikiki. Tim Ho Wan, Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center, 2700 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 127-131, Irvine, CA 92606, no phone.
 
River Jetty Restaurant Group have opened CdM, an American-inspired concept in Corona del Mar River Jetty Restaurant Group (A Restaurant, A Market) has opened CdM in Corona del Mar. Corporate executive chef Jonathon Blackford crafts a menu of seasonal American fare. Leather booths and tables surround a centralized bar, while the restaurant’s downstairs room hosts a speakeasy-style bar offering exclusive cocktails and spirits as well as a vintage photo booth. CdM, 2325 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, CA 92625, 949-287-6600.
 
OmG - Omakase by Gino is now open in downtown Santa Ana. The tiny 10-seat venue is the brainchild of owner/chef Gino Choi, whose sushi skills cultivated a cult following in north Orange County. The restaurant offers two nightly seatings and features a daily changing omakase (chef’s choice) tasting menu featuring fish flown in daily from Tokyo’s prestigious Toyosu Fish Market (formerly Tsukiji Fish Market). Guests can augment the intimate-by-design dining experience with an array of beers, wines and sakés. Dinner nightly. OmG - Omakase by Gino, 304 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, 657-231-6008.
 
The gastropub Pickled Monk is now open in downtown Fullerton. At the helm of this casual neighborhood venue is executive chef David Fune, the former food truck chef who went on to hone his craft at such high-end Orange County spots as Splashes and the Balboa Bay Club. Guests can expect refined yet approachable takes on contemporary fare, which can be paired with a craft cocktail or a selection from the thirty beer taps. Dinner nightly. Pickled Monk, 101 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92832, 714-793-9100.
 
Brazilian steakhouse and churrascaria Silva’s in Santa Ana lets guests indulge in a compact all-you-can-eat menu of locally sourced meats and vegetables, served gaucho-style. Former Roy’s Newport Beach chef John Vega oversees the kitchen, which also offers traditional Brazilian appetizers and entrées for those wishing to forgo the AYCE route. Beer, wine and Brazilian-inspired cocktails round out the menu. Lunch & Dinner daily. Silva's, 3672 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, CA 92704, 855-600-5500.
 
Descanso, the latest entry in Costa Mesa’s ever-growing cavalcade of kicked-up Mexican restaurants, is now open. The venue focuses on bringing Mexican street fare indoors, where guests can watch chefs prepare their meal in front of them from a traditional plancha, or griddle. Overseeing the culinary concept is chef Sergio Ortega, the Michoacán-born chef whose previous stints in Orange County include AnQi and RAYA at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The restaurant also serves up an array of soups, salads, small plates and entrées, and has a full-service bar featuring craft beers, Mexican wines and specialty cocktails. Lunch & Dinner daily. Descanso, 1555 Adams Ave., Ste. 103, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 714-486-3798.
 
Harley, the highly anticipated chef-driven concept from former Haven Gastropub co-owner/executive chef Greg Daniels, has opened in downtown Laguna Beach. The venue, located in the space previously occupied by Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, aims to combine warm, homespun hospitality with an elevated farm-to-table menu driven by seasonal inspiration and relationships with trusted purveyors. Guests can also expect to encounter a list of craft cocktails, local brews, and wine. Harley, 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-715-1530.
 

Find more recent openings with our list of the Best New & Hip Restaurants in Orange County

NOTEWORTHY ANNOUNCEMENTS

Sunday Mariachi Brunch at Playa Mesa
Playa Mesa in Costa Mesa features a mariachi brunch. Guests that show up to the Mexican restaurant from 12 p.m.-2 p.m. can enjoy the sounds of a trio playing traditional mariachi music, augmenting the mood created by dishes like house-made chorizo and fries; blistered ham with scrambled eggs and pico de gallo; and cured beef with soft egg, onions and jalapeño. For more information, please visit the restaurant’s website. Playa Mesa, 428 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 949-287-5292.
 
Cheese Takeovers continue at SideDoor Cheese Takeovers Continue at SideDoor
SideDoor's monthly Cheese Takeovers continue the third Wednesday of each month at 4:30 p.m. with artisanal cheeses from boutique creameries in California and beyond. Cheesemonger Tracy Nelsen will be on hand to educate guests. The featured cheeses will also find their way into select SideDoor menu items for that evening only. Upcoming events include February 20th (English Cheeses), March 20th (Hook’s Cheese, Mineral Pt., WI) and April 17th (Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville, CA). A five-piece cheese board costs $28. SideDoor, Five Crowns, 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, CA 92625, 949-717-4322.
 
Kids Eat Free at House of Blues Anaheim Saturdays & Sundays
House of Blues Anaheim, the restaurant and concert venue tucked inside Anaheim GardenWalk, features a Kids Eat Free lunch program. Local and vacationing parents that purchase an adult full-priced entrée can enable their children under 12 the chance to enjoy complimentary kid-friendly items like chicken tenders, mini-cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza. The program runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. House of Blues, Anaheim GardenWalk, 400 W. Disney Way, Ste. 337, Anaheim, CA 92802, 714-778-2583.
 

UPDATES ON OC CHEFS

Montage Laguna Beach has promoted Benjamin Martinek to chef de cuisine of Studio Montage Laguna Beach has promoted Benjamin Martinek to chef de cuisine of Studio, its flagship restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He has been part of the resort's culinary team for seven years, most recently as sous chef at Studio and before that as an executive sous chef at The Loft. Martinek takes over from executive chef Craig Strong, who is opening his own restaurant, Ocean at Main, in Laguna Beach. Studio, Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-715-6030.
 

ORANGE COUNTY RESTAURANT CLOSINGS

Pascal, the San Juan Capistrano restaurant and epicerie operated by legendary Orange County chef Pascal Olhats, is closing its doors. Olhats is shuttering the venue to focus energies on his other projects, including teaching, mentoring, and overseeing Cafe Jardin, the restaurant in Newport Beach’s Sherman Library & Gardens. The last day of service will be March 30. Lunch will be served Monday through Friday, and dinner service will occur Monday through Saturday until the final day. Pascal, 31451 Rancho Viejo Rd., Ste. 103, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675, 949-488-0031.
 
Cafe Tu Tu Tango has closed its doors. The restaurant, which was known for its lively patio crowd and its menu of small plates, had been a fixture at The Outlets of Orange (formerly known as The Block of Orange) since 1998. A non-dining establishment is slated to take over the space. Cafe Tu Tu Tango, The Outlets of Orange, 20 City Blvd. W., Orange, CA 92868, no phone.
 
Bonefish Grill at Tustin Market Place has shuttered. No reason was given for the closure of the seafood restaurant, which debuted there with a good amount of fanfare in 2013. No replacement dining venue has been appointed to the space. Bonefish Grill, Tustin Market Place, 3040 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92782, no phone.
 
McCormick & Schmick’s, the longstanding seafood restaurant in Irvine’s original business district, has closed its doors. No reason was given for its shuttering. No plans for the now-abdicated space have been revealed. McCormick & Schmick's Seafood, 2000 Main St., Irvine, CA 92614, no phone.
 
Yen Ching, which has been faithfully offering Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine in Orange since 1978, closed its doors after New Year's Eve. Yen Ching, 574 S. Glassell St., Orange, CA 92866, no phone.
 
Downtown Laguna Beach’s Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink closed its doors. Executive chef and restaurateur Ryan Adams, who launched the restaurant in 2011, has announced he sold off the venue to pursue other culinary projects. The property’s new owner is Greg Daniels, former partner and executive chef at Haven Gastropub in Orange. Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, no phone.
 

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