Orange County is a foodie’s paradise with numerous blogs and websites devoted to profiling local culinary hot spots and gastronomic hangouts. Let your taste buds experience great food inspired by cuisines from every corner of the earth. Whether you’re planning a trip to Southern California or are looking for a new favorite dinner spot not too far from home, check out some of the must-visit food destinations that OC locals just can’t get enough of.
2700 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606
If you love Asian food, stop by Diamond Jamboree in Irvine and you can get your fill of nearly every type of Asian cuisine imaginable. If you’re lucky enough to find a parking spot, you’ll be able to walk to 22 different dining options in this shopping plaza. A favorite hangout for the locals is the 85C Bakery Café, which serves fresh sweet breads and baked goods. Be prepared to stand in a long line and don’t forget to order your iced sea salt coffee to wash down the overload of carbs that you’re bound to order. While this bakery may serve as the anchor store for this plaza, you’ll have an opportunity to please your palate with noodles, sushi, crab legs, BBQ chicken, tofu, gourmet Chinese food and even Vietnamese sandwiches. Choose from a variety of dining environments from casual to elegant.
71 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
The Irvine Spectrum is not only a great place to shop or catch a movie, it has become a gastronomic attraction for diners from all over Southern California. This outdoor mall brings together 15 full-service restaurants including Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and American cuisine. Indulge in some barbecue brisket from Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill or sip some fine wine while admiring the rustic décor at Cucina Enoteca. If you’re just looking for a sweet treat during a Saturday night shopping spree, stop in at Casey’s Cupcakes or Cold Stone Creamery.
6362 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road
Anaheim Hills, CA 92807
There are few local burger joints that get more buzz than Slater’s 50/50. Founded by Scott Slater in 2009, the business has grown from a single restaurant in Anaheim Hills to six award-winning locations throughout Southern California. The famous burgers here are not for the faint of heart. Mix 50 percent ground bacon and 50 percent ground beef and you have what’s been dubbed the best burger by the OC Register, OC Weekly and San Diego Magazine. Pair your burger with some ice cold beer on tap and add a side of beer-battered onion rings and you’re in burger heaven.
556 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
It’s rare that you would wait two hours for a seat at a restaurant and then vow to do it again as soon as possible. Izakaya Honda-Ya exerts that incredible power over sushi lovers in Orange County. This small, hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant is tasty, authentic and well worth the wait. Hang out with friends in a casual setting and enjoy home-style traditional Japanese food without the fanfare. You can order dishes here you generally won’t find at other Japanese restaurants. Try the grilled rice balls, crab cheese croquette or the homemade crab siu mai. Doors open only for dinner at 5:30 p.m. but make sure you get there early to snag your place in line.
Orange County Great Park Farmers Market
6990 Marine Way
Irvine, CA 92618
Gourmet food trucks and fresh produce abound at the weekly Farmers Market held at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. If you’re looking for tasty but casual eats on a Sunday morning, stop by this open-air market, which is open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Grilled corn on the cob, barbecue sandwiches and even burritos with kimchi can be found within a few steps of the entrance. Share a picnic table with strangers and then walk off those calories by browsing through the many vendor stalls of special teas, gourmet olive oils and homemade baked goods.
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Truc Dever is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.