This expanse of 50 cities and unincorporated communities is full of Attractions, Theme Parks, restaurants, and unique dining experiences. This article explores the unique dining experiences and exceptional finds in the OC.
Orange Hill Restaurant
Nothing out of the ordinary about the food served on the hill, but the view is to die for. After driving up a steep hill and handing your car to the valet, you will be amazed at the view overlooking Orange County.
The view is especially beautiful at night with the city lights twinkling while you are enjoying drinks and dinner. If you time your dinner right, you will also be treated to the Disneyland fireworks show.
You will need to make a reservation ahead of time and make sure to request indoor or outdoor seating. The outdoor balcony with fire pits has the best views.
The menu offers modern American fare with a long list of appetizers, steak, and seafood choices. Prices are high – you are paying for the view. The best deal is their 3-Course Prix Fixe Menu. You will get a starter, a dessert, and a choice from three main entries.
On our last visit, we tried the Lamb Chops, Filet Mingon, and the New Your Steak. All were cooked perfectly. The toffee pudding dessert was to die for.
My only complaint is about the service. It was slow at times, and they kept bringing items at the wrong times.6410 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869
From the top of a cliff overlooking the beaches of Laguna, this Mexican/American restaurant offers Mexican Fusion dishes, an ocean breeze, and a grand view. The prices are on the high end, and the place can get overcrowded, but you are here for the view.
One way to enjoy this restaurant is to get the weekend brunch. It is not a buffet, but a 4-course Prix Fixe menu for $45. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with their tacos, prime rib, and lamb chops.
During our last visit, we ordered the Oysters and Salamon Tostadas for starters. The main courses were Asparagus Omelet and Baked Eggs. We ended our meal with Sorbet and Flan. All the dishes were delicious, and the meal pace was excellent.
After a leisurely meal, you can walk along the cliff in Heisler Park or down to Main Beach. Heisler Park extends for several blocks with commanding views of the ocean and beaches below. Read more here.361 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
This hidden gem is inside the Sand and Surf Resort in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is right on the sand with seating indoors and on the patio. Both options afford great views of the ocean and the sounds of surf breaking on the beach.
The food is delightful too. We like to go for breakfast before a brisk walk on the beach. During our last visit, we had Strawberry & Cream Pancakes and the Wild Mushroom Benedicts.
If you don’t prefer those items, they have a large selection of pastries, omelets, bagels with salmon, fruits, and even steak and eggs.
The resort itself is a great place to spend a few days, especially during the warm months, to explore Laguna Beach and Orange County.1555 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Raya at The Ritz-Carlton
We came here after an educational Dolphin Watch cruise from Dana Harbor, ordered some drinks, and shared two excellent dishes. Both the Thai Curry Buddha Bowl and the Achiote Salmon were excellent. The Bowl was a new experience for us, with quinoa, black bean, broccolini, avocado, corn, sweet potato, and a soft egg – with curry. What an interesting mix.
After our lunch, we climbed down for a nice walk on the beach. The Ritz is located at the edge of Salt Creek Beach, so we enjoyed a long stroll before returning to our car.1 Ritz Carlton Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629
Ola Mexican Kitchen
The food and service are excellent. We especially like their Lobster and Shrimp Enchiladas, Fish Tacos, and Ribeye Fajitas.
The complimentary chips and salsa are more than enough for starters, but you can choose a more filling appetizer from the extensive menu.
The complete this delicious meal, we always order the Tres Leches, a traditional Mexican butter cake made with three kinds of milk.21040 Pacific Coast Hwy F200, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Enjoy delicious creations right on the sand at Crystal Cove state beach. The location, inside the historic district and in between cottages that were built in the 1920s adds to the ambiance.
As you sit and enjoy your drinks and meal, you will love the view, with lots of beachgoers, the ocean breeze, and the surf in the distance.
Our main course was Maine Lobster Club, Ahi Ahi Tacos, and a Tuna melt. I especially enjoyed my Lobster Club. For dessert, we shared Beignets and a Bread pudding.
It is important to note that there is no parking next to the café. You have to park at the State Park parking lot ( Los Trancos Parking lot) across the street. You can take a beautiful hike down to the beach or ride the shuttle for $1.50 per person.15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA 92657
C'est La Vie
A french restaurant right at Main Beach in Laguna. Sitting at the porch and listening to the surf while sipping our coffee and enjoying some French pastries is a nice start to our morning. The restaurant also serves full breakfast and brunch. They have a selection of Crepes and Omelets.
This place is a bakery and a full-service restaurant. Passers-by on Pacific Coast Highway stop to order croissants, macaroons, or french doughnuts filled with custard. But if you stop for dinner, you can order specialties like Grilled Riviera Octopus, Ahi Tartare Napoleon, or Cotes D' Agneau (Lamb) - or enjoy a dinner Crepe.373 S Coast Hwy #2111, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Bluegold is another restaurant with a great view of the Pacific City Mall in Huntington Beach. This one offers new American cuisine with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Menu items vary depending on availability.
We recently tried their breakfast while admiring views of the beach and the pier from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
We ordered scrambled eggs and an omelet. They were both fluffy and tasty. The dishes come with salad, but if you prefer you can order your favorite style of potatoes.
If you are an early riser though, then this place is not for you. They open for breakfast at 9 am.
During another visit, we went for dinner and drinks. While waiting for our table to be ready, we ordered The Perfect Storm from (a rum drink) the bar. We enjoyed a few sips of this delicious cocktail before we were whisked away to our table overlooking beautiful ocean views.
For dinner, we tried the Lamb Shank with asparagus risotto and had an El Chapo margarita.
Both food and drinks were above expectations.
For dessert, we couldn't resist trying Pumpkin Spice and Mocha Crunch cakes. Both were very tasty, but the Pumpkin Spice was exceptional.21016 Pacific Coast Hwy d200, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Sapphire - Laguna Beach
Sit back and enjoy a delicious meal for lunch or dinner. On weekends, you can also enjoy their brunch menu.
We happened to visit in-between lunch and dinner on a Friday. They have a reduced menu for that period. Although the items on the menu were few, they were all good choices. We tried the Mama's Fish Tacos and the Kobe Beef Havarti Cheeseburger - both were tasty and filling.
The drinks were excellent too. We tried the Sapphire Squeeze, Lychee Mojito, and The Perfect Storm.
This place is also a good spot to study or work while enjoying the view. They offer good free WiFi.
Parking is behind the restaurant in underground-covered parking. Remember to take a token from the restaurant reception before you leave.1200 S Coast Hwy #105B, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Fire+Ice – Gardenwalk
This Mongolian fusion style all-you-can-eat buffet lets you fill a bowl with your favorite ingredients then cocks the mix on a huge grill right in front of you. You pick the sauce and the spices to make it your own creation.
Even though it is a Mongolian grill, you can still design dishes with a Mexican or Italian flare.
They also offer a well-stocked salad bar, but my advice is to minimize your salad and go back for more grilled creations.
Some of the ingredients available are beef, shrimp, scallops, fish, cauliflower, and broccoli.
The drinks were excellent too. We tried the Pinicolada and the Mai-Tei.
After your meal and drinks, you can spend time exploring the shops at the Gardenwalk.400 Disney Way, Anaheim, CA 92802
Usually whenever I hear “School Food” I cringe. It mostly brings back bad memories. But this Korean restaurant changed my mind. I wonder if Korean kids actually eat this food at school.
The place offers tasty dishes like Spicy Ramen, Soup Topokki, Spam Rolls, Kimchi Fried Rice, and Mari Special Roll. If you are very hungry or ordering for a group, try the Combo Roll.
This restaurant is located on the 3rd floor of the newest mall in OC – The Source.6940 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621
Pirates Dinner Adventure
We enjoyed a three-course meal starting with soup or salad, a choice of roasted half chicken or ham, and ended it with Apple Cobbler ala mode.
The food is about average. You get soup, rotisserie chicken, potato, corn, bread, and a pound cake for dessert.
With general admission, you may end up at the higher rows, but you can upgrade and get a guaranteed seat on the first 2 rows.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong (Korean Bbq)
But I think I found the perfect place to try Korean Bbq.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is located inside a mostly Korean strip mall in Buena Park.
Every table in this place has a grill in middle. As you are seated, you will notice that the table is already full of appetizers and condiments around the grill.
The best way to experience this place is to order a combo of meats for the whole table.
For the two of us, we order the beef combo, which came with Thinly Sliced Brisket, Prime Marinated Beef, Prime Boneless Short Rib, Soybean Paste, and Kimchi Stew.
The best thing about this experience is that the waiter will grill the meat for you to perfection. Of course, you can do the grilling yourself if you are so inclined.
We devoured our beef with a large selection of sides including kimchi, boiled potato slicked with sugar and soy, fish cake noodles, sheets of rice paper, and a bean sprout salad.
The meal was satisfying, the service excellent, and the price very reasonable.
The restaurant we visited is in Buena Park, but they also have a location in Los Angeles.
5171 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621
Nova Kitchen and Bar
I wouldn't go as far as ethereal and magical, but it was a delightful experience.
The decor is elegant and the music exciting, with excellent service and exquisite food.
The restaurant is part of the Hyatt Regency hotel complex in Anaheim. It offers Asian Fusion cuisine and a great selection of cocktails and wines.
During our visit, we ordered the rainbow, spicy tuna with mango salsa, and a shrimp tempura roll. They came out quickly and were very tasty.
For drinks, we tried the Hibiscus Zest, Lights out Tokyo, and the Sunrise Tokyo - all were just right.
Our dessert was the recommended Chocolate Ganache Cake which came with ice cream - very delicious.
The prices were on the high side but expected at a high-end place like this one.
12361 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet
Open Buffets are dangerous for me, especially when the food is so delicious. This place is right on the edge of OC, in Cerritos, but deserves a mention here.
Dimassi's is a chain that started in Texas and finally made it to California. The restaurants offer a big spread of authentic Mediterranean dishes, starting with a selection of salads, three flavors of hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, and pita chips.
The main dishes include several rice varieties, some with lamb and others with beef or veggies.
Of course, you can't have Mediterranean food without a selection of meat like gyro, kafta, kabob, lamb shank, or fried chicken.
There isn't enough room to list all the savory selections, so head to the menu for more enticing details.12727 Towne Center Dr, Cerritos, CA
Harley Laguna Beach
It is a casual restaurant focused on creative, seasonal menus with fresh catches of the day.
I found it very interesting that the menu changes every day and highlights the catch of the day, including the name of the fisherman and location. It can't get any fresher than this.
On our last visit, we ordered the "Rod and Reel caught local Dorado Mahi Mahi" and the "Santa Maria Wood-Grilled Pachamama Pork Chops".
Other than the long and sexy names, what is so special about those dishes? In a word - delicious!
Both came with a great presentation and the right sides to complement the taste. Both are also very low-carb.
To go with this tasty food, we ordered the Funkasaurus (with rum) and the Hibiscus Martini.370 Glenneyre St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
If you like Asian food, you love the variety and quality of selection. During our last visit, we started with the Letus Wraps, Shrimp Dumplings, and the Kung Pao Dragon Roll.
For the main course, we picked Mongolian Beef, Crispy Honey Shrimp, and Stir-Fried Eggplant. Everything was delicious, and the portions were just right.
For dessert, we had two helpings of the Banana Spring Rolls – because one is never enough.
The drinks are also exceptional. Every cocktail on the menu tastes just right; we especially like the Coconut Mohito and the Mei Tei.
My favorite location is at the Garden Walk in Anaheim. After our meals, we can browse through the stores or walk to Down Town Disney for more fun.321 W Katella Ave Suite 120, Anaheim, CA 92802
Alessa is an upscale Italian restaurant with tasty creations that please the pallet and the eye - and the service is excellent.
On our last visit, we tried two ravioli dishes. We started with Zucca, a butternut squash ravioli with ricotta cheese. We then tried the Nonna Titina ravioli with cheese and spinach.
We enjoyed our meal with delicious drinks. I had the house Merlot which had a hint of plum and cherry flavors. My wife enjoyed a strawberry and basil mojito.
234 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA
A little shack in a residential area is hard to miss, but if you love Sushi, you must stop here.
Ozen offers a large selection of rolls, Sushi, Sashimi, and hand-rolls – ala-cart and all-you-can-eat. Everything is fresh and tasty.
We usually get the all-you-can-eat option and try new things along with our favorites. During our last visit, we tried the Ozen roll, Crunch roll, rainbow roll, and salmon and tuna sushi. We also had crunch and spicy tuna hand-rolls. All came out as expected and mouth-watering.
For dessert, we enjoyed several flavors of their ice cream macarons. Our favorites were green tea and mango.
While visiting, you can also try their selection of Japanese beers and Saki.
If you prefer you can order from the extensive menu with Bento boxes and non-sushi items. All bento boxes come with rolls, tempura, and miso soup.7185 Lincoln Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620
On our last visit, we enjoyed several rolls, hand rolls, and sashimi dishes. My favorites were the Viva Las Vegas and the Crunchy Shrimp Tempura rolls.
For dessert, we tried their coconut cream brulle and the Cinamon Tempura Ice Cream. both were delicious.
Roy's @ Garden Walk
Dining at Roy's is like taking a culinary safari across the Pacific Rim. This fusion cuisine restaurant offers seafood dishes like Hibachi Grilled Atlantic Salmon, Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, or my favorite the Shellfish Sampler.
If you prefer items from the land, try their Braised Short Ribs of Beef, or Katsu Chicken.
For starters, you can try their selection of Sushi rolls, Poke, or Shrimp Tempura.
Leaving the best for last, for dessert, we tried both of their creations. The Pineapple Upside Cake and the Chocolate Suflet were a good end to our meal.
The only drawback is the prices. On the plus side, the Garden Walk Roy's has a very nice patio seating with Hawaiian-style torches.
Steak lovers can’t miss this American Cuisine restaurant. The steaks are cooked just right and the service is excellent.
For our main courses, we tried steak with unlimited shrimp, baby-back ribs, halibut, and the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
We completed our meal with the “Chocolate Thunder from Down Under” – a delight of pecan brownie topped, vanilla ice cream, warm chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.7575 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
Fire Lake Grillhouse
The hotel has several restaurants and bars, each with its unique atmosphere and food selection.
We visited Fire Lake on Thanksgiving day and tried their Thanksgiving feast.
The feast is a 3-course meal, with each course priced separately, so you can decide how much to eat - and pay.
The meal started with a Squash Soup made with brown butter sage crème fraiche.
The main course was Smoked BBQ Spiced Turkey Breast, gravy, cranberry hibiscus sauce, yucca stuffing. The meal was delicious and satisfying.
You get to pick a side out of the available 4 options. We picked the mashed potatoes with cheddar and the Brown Butter Okinawa Sweet Potatoes Casserole.
The mashed potatoes were ordinary, but the sweet potato casserole was out of this world.
Of course, you can't have a Thanksgiving feast without pumping pie. We tried theirs and it was very tasty.
If you are not here for a special occasion like Thanksgiving, you can try their signature dishes like Fig & Venison Flatbread, Roasted Skuna Bay Salmon, or Bone-In Prime Filet.1601 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805
Tamba 30 (Indian)
During our last visit, we started with an assortment of appetizers. Our favorites were the Veggie Samosa and the Paneer Pakora.
For our main dishes, we shared the chicken Teka Masala and the Lamb Curry. Both were very tasty and the portions were large. We had lots of leftovers.
We ended our meal with "Gulab Jamun" - a very sweet milk-solid-based ball of joy.30 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805
The food and drinks were excellent. We tried their Trout Almondine and the Beet Salad. Both were delicious. The trout was cooked just right and the mashed potatoes were perfect.
My wife and I had the Zombie in the Park and we both loved it. We had seconds.
For dessert, we order the Crepes Flambee. It wasn't the best dessert we had. The crepes were ok, but they were smothered with the sauce.
I would still recommend this restaurant for their great-tasting dishes.222 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA
A delightful Italian restaurant in a strip mall located in Anaheim Hills. There is nothing special about the location, but the food was perfect. We enjoyed every bite and we ended up with a lot of leftovers.
For starters, we tried the Mozzarella Capres and the Garlic Bread. For our main meal we ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana, Pollo Parmigiana, and Capellini Gamberi (shrimp). Everything came out just right and was very tasty.
My wife tried their Riesling wine. She liked it so much, we ordered a bottle to go. They offer a $10 discount on the bottle with a meal.
We finish our diner with the dessert of the day and a tiramisu. The dessert of the day was an orange stuffed with delicious orange sorbet.
The service was also exemplary. Our main waiter and others were always around in case we needed something.
751 S Weir Canyon Rd # 151, Anaheim, CA
Advice: if you have a choice, don't dine in their outdoor tent. There is too much noise from the parking lot and neighboring establishments.
It used to be difficult to find a table here due to long waits, but recently they started to take reservations.
Some of the delicious selections here are classic cheeseburger, chicken pot pie, meatloaf & mashed potatoes, bbq baby back ribs, and prime center-cut filet.
On a recent visit, we tried the ribs, chicken Pot Pie, and the Country Fried Steak. We loved every choice.
The service was also excellent. Our waiter was friendly and attentive. He made us feel welcome.
We ended our meal with a scrumptious Berry Butter Cake.
Craft by Smoke and Fire
This unexpected gem is on Anaheim's Center Street Promenade and is famous for smoked briskets, BBQ, Steak, and Craft cocktails.
The place is spacious with outdoor seating and live music.
On a recent visit, we chose to sit outside to enjoy the California weather and watch people on the promenade.
We ordered brisket tacos, brisket burrito, and a smash burger. The food was delicious and the service was excellent.
For dessert we tried their bread pudding, it wasn't the best pudding we had, but it was a nice end to our meal.