A pizzeria, an oyster bar, a Provencal bakery, a coffee bar and an Irish pub may not have a lot in common except that all of these options opened here in 2012. Expect legit dining at each of these options, with a side of everything from perfectly matched booze to some of the best coffee in Orange County.
Pandor Artisan Boulangerie and Cafe
1126 A Irvine Ave.
Newport Beach, CA 92606
The website URL says bakery, but Pandor is so much more than just bread. This restaurant, which opened in June, specializes in cuisine from Provence and offers omelets, quiche, sandwiches, viennoiseries and paninis. Still, it is a French bakery, so you’ll want to try the bread. This is the place to go if you’re dining with a European who always laments the quality of bread here in the States. The breads here may make your European companion forget that he or she is across the pond.
Theorem by Portola Coffee Lab
3313 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The craft beer market has really taken off in the United States, and particularly in California. Theorem opened its doors Sept. 18 and introduced Costa Mesa and Orange County to craft coffee for the person who doesn’t just want a cup of coffee to stay awake, but rather, a coffee experience. The experience in this bar, which only has six seats, is much like drinking wine or craft beer. The barista doesn’t just make a drink for the guest, but educates about the nuances of the types of coffee. If you are not just a coffee drinker, but a coffee aficionado, Theorem is the place for you.
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Shuck Oyster Bar
3313 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Oysters are not for everyone, but Shuck Oyster Bar, which opened Sept. 5, wants to make sure that oyster lovers and novices have the best possible dining experience. This restaurant offers a seasonal menu of almost 50 varieties of oysters. Such a vast selection might be intimidating even to a person who loves oysters. Fear not, like any craft food or beverage experience, the staff members are there to guide you based on your individual tastes, and with so many different varieties, you should find something you like.
Dublin 4 Gastropub
26342 Oso Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
A lot of places are called Irish pubs simply because they throw some signs on the wall and have Guinness on tap. (The Rumjacks wrote a song about this phenomenon.) Dublin 4, named for the area where the two owners grew up, does have Guinness on tap, but it is a much better representation of an Irish pub — not just because it opened on St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to having Guinness and Harp on tap, Dublin 4 rotates 10 seasonal beers you may enjoy along with the seasonal menu. Some of the most popular items are the lamb burger and the fish and chips. The scallop dishes also come highly recommended.
216 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
When you think of a pizza place, you probably think of a place with greasy pizza (not that there is anything wrong with that) where youth sports teams go after games. Brick is certainly not that. Many things set Brick apart from other pizza places: an heirloom tomato salad with beets and persimmons, Sunday brunch and sausage that is made right in the restaurant, to name a few. The pizza with chicken, bechamel, potatoes and fontina is also something you won’t find at other pizza places. The same can be said for the bloody Maria that includes chili-infused vodka in a glass rimmed with bacon salt. If you’re looking for a quality pizza experience, try Brick.
Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.