Looking for hearty, American-inspired delicious dishes along with a unique handcrafted cocktail program? Then Costa Mesa’s Arc Food & Libations is the perfect choice. This contemporary eatery offers diners a one-of-a-kind experience where many of the dishes are served in cast-iron skillets. With a wood-burning oven as the centerpiece of the restaurant, guests can even see the food being made. Food with a focus on flame, flavor and artistry is the name of the game here. While you wait for your food, sip on specialty cocktails like the little white lie, with whiskey, grapefruit and lemon basil, as well as citrus and egg white.
A terrific option for those in the mood for Italian is Old Vine Cafe, which can be found in the unique setting of Costa Mesa’s The CAMP. Inspired by the street corner cafes of Europe, Old Vine Cafe offers diners a full range of innovative menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which reflect a focus on regionalism and the use of seasonal ingredients. From caramel apple French toast to omelets and paninis for lunch, to pastas, sautéed sea scallops and Porcini mushroom mac and cheese for dinner, there’s something for everyone’s tastes here.
Opened for decades, Costa Mesa’s Golden Truffle restaurant is a staple in the community. Thanks to Executive Chef and owner Alan Greeley, dishes with Caribbean, and Asian influence are thoughtfully executed for diners to enjoy. The restaurant even offers a “Soul Food” night each Wednesday, where Chef Greeley picks a country and cooks its authentic food. What makes this restaurant great is that the menu, and the wine-list are constantly changing. One of Costa Mesa’s more casual cafes is Eat Chow, known for serving a mixture of American food like burgers and sandwiches, while also offering the Mexican flavors of everything from traditional flan to BBQ duck enchiladas to tacos. The eatery also offers dog-friendly outdoor seating!
There are also some of the finest steakhouses anywhere in Costa Mesa. For instance, Mastro’s Steakhouse offers only the best steaks and sides to choose from in a fine-dining setting. If you’re looking for something more intimate, look no further than La Cave, which offers a darkened ambience, and Frank Sinatra-themed nights on certain dates. It’s sure to impress your date, as will the delicious chophouse selections. The restaurant features the most optimal fine dining experience for those looking for a steakhouse with the best cuts of meat.
Costa Mesa is known for its selection of excellent Asian restaurants. AnQi, which is known for serving a unique twist of California Asian cuisine situated in an architecturally stunning setting, is brought to Costa Mesa diners by the An Family of Crustacean in Beverly Hills. Set within a starkly beautiful space, the Asian fusion small plates and noodles dreamt up by Master Chef Helene An are incredible. Must order items include the filet mignon potstickers and An’s famous garlic noodles with rare Vietnamese spices.
Make sure not to overlook Din Tai Fung if you’re a fan of Taiwanese dumplings. Michelin-rated and acclaimed by the New York Times as one of the world’s finest restaurants, this dumpling house located inside the South Coast Plaza is a winner that will make even the most discerning foodies hungry for more.
In the mood for tapas? Then head down to the hipster setting of South Coast Collection (SOCO), where you’ll find Pueblo. The restaurant serves small bites from a Spanish-inspired menu. The cuisine, which uses the freshest ingredients, includes dishes like crispy pork ribs, ceviche, crispy potatoes and seared prawns. Another tapas restaurant is Vaca, just steps across from South Coast Plaza. The eatery’s executive chef, Amar Santana, was a contestant on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” series. The focus of the restaurant is food sourced from outstanding ingredients, 90 percent of which comes directly from Spain. The restaurant serves juicy cuts of steak, as well as freshly made tapas like tender octopus. Located in The OC Mix and acclaimed with scores of excellent reviews from esteemed publications, Taco Maria presents diners with its own unique take on modern and contemporary Californian-Mexican food. What was once a food truck is now an actual restaurant that serves a variety of innovative and delicious menu selections, including items like tacos, quesadillas, mole chicken, and carnitas. The Los Angeles Times recently rated Taco Maria, which is overseen by a Michelin-rated chef, as one of the top restaurants in Southern California.
If French food is on your mind, you won’t want to miss out on Marché Moderne for some of the finest French cooking in the area. Located at the Penthouse at South Coast Plaza, diners can expect traditional French cuisine with an occasional modern twist in a setting that is cozy, yet urban. Marché Moderne translates as “modern market” which accurately describes the cuisine at this cosmopolitan French bistro. Chef-owners Florent and Amelia Marneau bring strong French recipes together with modern American cuisine to create exceptional dishes such as bouillabaisse, mussels with pommes frites and other delicious creations.
Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist and always travels with her pillow. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.