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 indoor 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.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 to 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.
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, it 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
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.
The wine list and the mixed drinks are just right. On a recent visit, we tried their Mango Mojito and the 1988 Martini. Both were excellent.
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
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 balls 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.