Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Places in OC for Comfort Food

Sometimes there is no better cure (or reward) for a tough day at work/school/insert-your-institution-here than some good old fashioned comfort food. A couple of places in Orange County recently opened up, here's a quick description and location for where to head to the next time you want to make your heart and tummy happy:

Celebrity Soul Food Buffet is one of OC's latest comfort food
restaurants (image via Yelp user Alyssa B.)
Celebrity Soul Food Buffet
Lake Forest

If you're all about southern cooking, you might want to check out Celebrity Soul Food Buffet. You can load your plate with all types of comfort food: fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler. That's a short, short list of what's available here. You can go traditional and add collard greens, fried okra or black eyed peas to your mountain of food, or you can just order a one, two, or three item entree that comes with a couple of sides.

Yelp reviewers are enthusiastic of this place that's been open for about a month - they gave it four out of five stars (out of 122 reviews).

Socal Locale offers more info about the place in their article, "Soul Food Has Come to South Orange County and It's All You Can Eat."

The buffalo wing mac from Elbows Mac N' Cheese (image
via Yelp user Coco T.)
Elbows Mac n' Cheese

At the top of the comfort food chain, macaroni and cheese has got to be in the top three. Or maybe it's even number one. Regardless of the ranking you give it, Brea has a restaurant devoted to the artistry of pasta and melted cheese.

They also serve cheese melts from the classic grilled cheese to a fancy chicken pesto melt, and they serve a wide variety of sides like bruschetta

The real star, though, are the mac and cheese dishes. From a pizza mac with pepperoni, (called the "Do You Want a Pizza Me") to a southwestern take with cheddar, jack cheese and fire roasted peppers (called "Living Fajita Loca"), there's going to be a variation that's got your name on it.

The reviews on this place seem lukewarm though - Yelp reviewers gave it three and a half stars out of five (out of 24 reviews).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kebobs in the OC

The shrimp kabob plate from Mama's Kabob (image via Yelp
user Cam D.)
If you're like Steven Stephen, you're wondering where to get the best kabobs in the OC. Wonder no more, here's a handful of the best places, as rated by Yelp users. 

One note, I expanded the search to include kebabs, since it's essentially the same thing, except it's not cooked and served on a skewer. 

Mama's Kabob, Stanton
5 Stars (out of 87 Yelp reviews)

"It's a small mom and pop shop in a strip mall. Food was decent and I would come again. The owners were very nice and personable."  - Michelle F.

"You can feel the love and dedication in all the things they bring out." - Huy N

"Had the chicken kabob and fell in love." - Dan H. 

"The Chicken Kabab is Delicious... Well cooked, Juicy and very flavorful. The Kafta Kabab also SOOOOOOOOO DELICIOUS!!! One thing though is on the Beef Kabab, it's like a carne asada meat rather than the various other places I go [that] use the nice cubed pieces of marinated steak. This can be improved.
- Maggie M. 

"The Kafta Kabab is my personal favorite but the Chicken Kabab is very flavorful too. The Shrimp Kabab is served with a special red sauce which tastes like lobster sauce in butter. Their garlic sauce is a fine pair in any of their dishes."  - yumyum b

The Kofte Kebab from the Istanbul Grill California in
Fountain Valley (image via Yelp user Gloria V.)
Istanbul Grill California, Fountain Valley
4.5 Stars (out of 329 Yelp reviews)

"My husband and I love Istanbul Grill. The food and service is amazing!  We will be back soon with friends and family." - Lisa M.

"This restaurant is just great. Food is delicious, staff are super friendly,  place is very clean and service is perfect.  The prices are more than reasonable." - Nick A. 

"Ordered the prime rib and chicken kabab combo, chicken adane and gyro dinner. Food was great! Prime rib and chicken kabab were tender and moist." - Lindon K. 

"The kefta and the doner kebab rivaled any I've had so far." - Kunney T.

The Kabob combo from the Kerostena Grill (image via
Kerostena Grill web)
Kerostena, Garden Grove
4.5 Stars (out of 296 Yelp reviews)

"Kerostena is truly a hidden gem. Although it's small, it's very clean and organized and the service is top-notch. They also earned themselves additional brownie points for a soda fountain/beverage station for refills because I'm always thirsty =) Last but certainly not least, the food is amazing! Kerostena is definitely a must try." - Rachel V.

"The beef kebab was just okay but the chicken kebab simply sang of juiciness and tenderness...metaphorically. Sheesh, lighten up, veganazis." - Andrea R.

"Food portion was plenty. The seasoning was really good and the meat was tender. You get a lot for what you pay for." - Maila H.

"Everything is made fresh in-house and oh, so satisfactory. Go here, get anything off the menu, prepare to be amazed. #PartyInMyMouth :)" - Kevin W.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thai Kitchen

Thai Kitchen in Irvine is worth a try if you're not in a hurry
(image via Yelp reviewer Jennifer T.)
Every day on my way to and from work, I've driven pass Thai Kitchen in Irvine. It was always on my to-do list of places to try out, but the fact that they only open for dinner made it seem impossible.

Finally, one night it's neon sign was ablaze with temptation and I could resist no longer. I had read the Yelp reviews which were lukewarm (they scored the restaurant 3.5 out of 5 stars), so when I went inside and stood around for a few minutes waiting for service, I was not surprised.

The most common complaint was how slow the service was, and it does seem that one server to attend to the guests in the dining room as well as the few of us that were ordering take-out was not enough person to go around. I felt bad for one guy who had ordered his food ahead of time and still ended up waiting.

It took about 15 minutes to get my Pad Thai with tofu, and cost about ten dollars. Not bad. The portion was pretty big, and tasted fresh. I later read a lot of people on Yelp saying that the food was just okay, but I liked it. Do I like it enough to go again?  That I don't know, all the elements would have to come in place again: available parking (it can fill up pretty fast), a somewhat empty restaurant, and the patience to wait.

Would I recommend it? If you have time, patience, and a love of Thai - absolutely!

Thai Kitchen
4250 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92604

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where to Get a Good Samich in Orange County

I don't care what Orange County Register readers voted, I refuse to acknowledge that the #1 place for sandwiches is Subway's. Not because they can't make a decent sandwich, but because I find it hard to believe that in this great big area, that's the best people came up with.

In response, I decided to do some research on what other OC peeps are digging into on their lunch hour - here's a list of some of the highest rated sandwich places on Yelp:

Kech's in Fountain Valley
scored 5 out of 5 on Yelp
(image via Remy M)
Kech Cafe, Fountain Valley
Yelp Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dang, what is it about Fountain Valley that they're cranking out all kinds of good food? First it was doughnuts, now this - a kind of build your own gourmet sandwich a la Chipotle or that other sandwich place that will not be named.

I suspect the reason for the high rating has a lot to do with the rest of Kech's menu, which includes wraps, pizzas and coffee drinks.

The Prosciutto Cotto panini from
Paninoteca Maggio (image via
Yelp reviewer Paul T)
Paninoteca Maggio, Santa Ana
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Besides boasting to have "the best espresso in town," Paninoteca also offers sandwiches made with imported Italian cold cuts, fresh veggies, cheeses and fresh bread direct from "one of the finest European bakers in Orange County."

Oh they also offer salads, but does that really matter after reading that description for their sandwiches?

One Yelp reviewer suggests to "follow them on Facebook for specials and updated hours. Because it is a small business, they are not always open."

The Hot Headed Italian Meat Head
(Image via Yelp reviewer Masa H)
MeatHeadz Sandwich Shop, Huntington Beach
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Proudly proclaiming that they offer "the biggest, baddest sandwiches money can buy," MeatHeadz offers the build-your-own set up with meats and cheeses they slice daily. They also offer their own spin on the sandwich, like "The Ground and Pound" (featuring "Pow" sauce), "The Superhotty," and "The Divorce is Final" - check out what they're made of here.

If sounds like a lot of hype, dwell on how Yelp user Brett L. describes it: "If MeatHeadz was a person, it would probably be Justin Timberlake. Coolest restaurant goin'."

The Itallian Stallion on Dutch bread;
combos include a cookie or chips
(Image via Yelp reviewer Michelle M.)
Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop, Lake Forest
Yelp Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I know, with a name like Mr. Pickle's you half-imagine a white van parked in front of the place with some guy dressed in a clown suit inviting you to pet his puppy.

Or maybe that's just me...but this place boasts an "addictive" garlic sauce and a warm cookie to complete your custom-made or specialty sandwich.

A Noonerz sandwich, with freshly baked
ciabatta bread (Image via Yelp
reviewer Mel H.)
Noonerz, Laguna Hills
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

With "20 years of awesome sandwiches" to their credit, Noonerz in south OC gets a lot of praise. In addition to offering sandwiches like the "Best Fat Free Tuna Salad" or "Turkey Bruschetta" sandwich, they offer "handcrafted" sides like pasta or potato salad and coleslaw.

As Anthony N., a self-professed "burger guy" said about it on Yelp, "Noonerz is damn good."

Delifornia's veggie on squaw, with goat
cheese and arugula (Image via
Yelp reviewer Virginia S.)
Delifornia, Anaheim
Yelp Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Calling itself a "California inspired sandwich shop", Delifornia specializes in sandwiches and salad that are hormone-free with no antibiotics or additives.

Located in downtown Anaheim, their sandwiches have an array of flavors like a roasted turkey with warm brie, avocado and roasted garlic aioli, or a chicken salad sandwich with dried cranberries, crispy celery, and toasted walnuts.

I personally like the idea of their roast beef, horse radish cream, onion and cheddar sandwich. What's it called? The Knuckle Sandwich. Awesome.

The California Delight by Board &
Brew (Image via Yelp reviewer Tracey T.)
Board & Brew, San Clemente
Yelp Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Did you know that Board & Brew has been "keepin' it real since '79?" To be honest, I didn't even know they existed, but they make a point that with quality sandwiches presented in a straightforward menu and served alongside craft beers is what sandwich lovers are all about.

They offer different variations of a turkey or tuna sandwich, but what adds to their allure is a selection of grilled sandwiches, like the baja chicken (marinated breast with avocado, grilled onions, japlapenos and melted jack cheese).

How enthusiastic are the customers? Toni S. (all the way from Costa Mesa, mind you) raved that, "this place is unreal! I got the Baja Beef sandwich and it was out of control!!"

With all those exclamation marks, it's gotta make you a least a little curious to try it out...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekends are a Drag at Velvet Lounge

If you want a fun way to kick off (or end) your weekend, you
can't go wrong with the brunch and drag show at Velvet
Lounge in Santa Ana (image via Yelp user Jordan Bennett)
What can you do in Orange County if you want to have a really memorable weekend? How about a gourmet brunch complete with bottomless mimosas, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, and entertainment provided by drag queens!

The Velvet Lounge in Santa Ana has a weekend brunch bash that's been voted as the best drag show by OC Weekly two years running!

I've gone to these shows three times, back when it was only offered on Sundays. It's been crazy-crowded (but everybody's friendly, so it feels like a big party), the food that's made to order (particularly the pasta) is awesome, but the buffet selection (reheated waffles and pancakes, store-bought mini-muffins, etc) is just okay.

The service is also okay, the last time I went I noticed a little burnout from the staff, but again, everyone is very friendly.

The reason to go of course, is the show. Four queens take turns on stage, walking through the crowd, cracking jokes and performing. It's an all ages show (if children are accompanied by an adult), but as my friend pointed out, she would not want to bring her teenage daughter with her, since the queens can get a little risque and it would be just too embarrassing to laugh at jokes about blow jobs with your kid sitting next to you.

If you go, make a reservation, take some extra cash for tips, and do a vocal warm-up to be in singing form. It is almost guaranteed one of the girls will perform a song you love, and after a couple mimosas you'll decide that you love every song and will sing along, even if you barely know the words (not that I'm speaking from personal experience).

Brunch with the Brunchettes
Tickets: $35.99
Saturdays/Sundays: 11 am and 1 pm
Reservations: 714-232-8727

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sugar Bomb Alert: Donut Bar Opens in Fountain Valley

Orange County's Donut opens Saturday, with free donuts!
(image via Facebook)
Who knew OC had such a sweet tooth? On Saturday, Orange County's Donut Bar officially opens in Fountain Valley, promising the "world's best donuts" just like the original San Diego's Donut Bar.

With a constantly changing menu, some flavors have included the Samoa (based on the Girl Scout cookie), salted caramel, and red velvet.

Unique to Orange County is the "milk bar," whole, strawberry, and chocolate milk is kept on tap. They should do that with a coffee bar: strong, extra strong, and never sleep again.

This shop will be going up against Afters, another recently opened Fountain Valley dessert place that serves - get this - doughnuts stuffed with ice cream.
You saw right, that's ice cream. IN A
DOUGHNUT. (image via Yelp user Tuilagi S.)
That's right, you choose your doughnut and your ice cream (flavors range from churro to Vietnamese coffee) and Afters does the magical rest. These concoctions from heaven are known as "milky buns."

And if you're still into cronuts (even though that's so 2013), Fountain Valley has those too at the Fusion Tea Bar; in fact, several places all over OC sell their version of the "cronut." So if you can't get over the idea of something that's part croissant and part doughnut, you can find it in any of the following locations:
The Donuttery, Huntington Beach
Pandor Bakery, Newport Beach
Fusion Tea Bar, Tustin and Fountain Valley

Oh, and thanks to OC Weekly, this just in: Orange County's Donut Bar will be giving away free doughnuts on Saturday as part of its opening. You can thank them (with a full mouth) later.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Los Tacos Ricos in Lake Forest - True to Name?

Los Tacos Ricos serves up street style tacos
in Lake Forest (image via Yelp user Alexa Z)
I finally checked out Los Tacos Ricos, after having seen all the coupons for it in the PennySaver. Located in Lake Forest (next to my favorite Thai restaurant), it's boasts authentic street-style tacos and a variety of agua frescas along with other Mexican food favorites.

I ordered three types of taco (asada, de pastor, and carnitas style) and a ceviche tostada. Normally a taco runs about two dollars, which seems a little steep when you see how small they are, but if you go on their Taco Tuesday it's $1.50 and they use homemade tortillas. All tacos come with cilantro and onion, and they have a salsa bar with a all the traditional toppings for a good taco: guacamole, radish, salsa, and lime.

This was the only part I was less than impressed with - since it was late afternoon when I went, the salad bar was looking a bit tired, the pico de gallo looked old and translucent and needed changing out. Also the agua fresca (I noticed one of them was cucumber flavor) was being kept in a bin of half melted ice and also needed changing out.

A little bit of disclosure, being a vegetarian, I should have no business reviewing this place, so I entrusted the sampling to my dad, who grew up in Tijuana and knows a thing or two about what a good taco should taste like. He gave it a thumbs up and I noticed Yelp users liked it too: it has a 4.5 out of a 5 star rating from 40 reviewers.

All in all, I say it's worth checking out for foodies looking for a taco fix, but I'd recommend visiting early in the day and on a Tuesday for max savings.

Los Tacos Ricos
22722 Lambert St #1702
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Cafe in Huntington Beach is VegiLicious

Newly opened Vegan cafe, VegiLicious, offers a menu of
dishes that are all natural, organic, and of course, tasty
(image via VegiLicious)
Officially opening today, VegiLicious is a vegan restaurant in Huntington Beach that's promising to provide "great food and service which in return will bring you happiness in both mind and body."

Contrary to what you may think, vegan food goes beyond salad. The menu at VegiLicious offers a variety of dishes that include sandwiches, burgers, soups and their specialty, curry.

Their signature curry alone is reason to check it out: it's served with grilled "chicken" breast or "hamburger steak." VegiLicious combines more than 20 kinds of spices and vegetables and cook their curry for hours.

A big plus are their desserts, which are also vegan. You get a choice of strawberry or coconut ice cream, or a chocolate cheesecake.

Located in the Huntington Harbour Mall (behind Trader Joe's), it's a small distance from the beach. You might want to take advantage of the great weather while it lasts and make a day of it.

16821 Algonquin St, #103
Huntington Beach

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dunkin’ Donuts Coming Back to Orange County!

In 2015, Dunkin' Donuts is coming back to California!
(image via
Have a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthy? Or at this point are you asking, what's a resolution?

If you're still managing to be good, all that will go flying out the window with the latest news: Dunkin’ Donuts is returning to California after ten LONG years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me my Krispy Kreme too, but I’ve been hearing too much about how good Dunkin’ Donuts are from those fortunate enough to live near one (or in one, as will be my plan until I get tired of them or can't fit out the door).
They will also be opening new shops in Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Diego counties starting in 2015. 2015!?

7-Eleven $1 Coffee Wednesdays
Speaking of breakfast, it maybe too soon to start thinking about Dunkin’ Donuts, but you can still get your caffeine rush on at 7-Eleven. For the rest of January, 7-Eleven is offering Dollar Coffee Wednesdays, where any size coffee costs just that, $1. This is an effort to get people to try their latest premium dark roast, but at that price, you can try all their varieties before choosing a favorite – mine’s the fusion energy one – at least I think that's the official name, it’s usually too early to read (much less remember) anything when I get my coffee.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's Restaurant Week in Newport Beach

If you’re like me, you tend to drive through/around/over/under Newport Beach without ever considering stopping there. Not that it isn’t beautiful or offers lots to do, but for the simple fact that it’s expensive. Like take-a-loan-out-to-eat-there expensive.
Okay I exaggerate. A little. But all that changes beginning today, when Newport Beach begins its Restaurant Week. Now in its seventh year, the event is the biggest it’s ever been, with 70 restaurants participating. This means all over the city some of the best restaurants will be offering dishes in prices that range from $10 to $20 per person for lunch, and three-course meals for $20 to $40 per person for dinner.

It’s a long list but here it is, along with the recommendations of Orange County Register reporters Nancy Luna, Cathy Thomas and Brad A. Johnson about which ones they think are worth checking out. 
21 Oceanfront

Amelia’s Restaurant

Avila’s El Ranchito

Back Bay Bistro

Back Bay Tavern

Balboa Bay Club - The First Cabin 
For $20, you can lunch on brandied lobster bisque, almond-crusted rainbow trout and Little Gem potatoes.

Bambu Restaurant & Lounge

Barolo by the Sea 

Bayside Restaurant

Bistro Le Crillon

Bloomingdales 59th and Lex Café

Bluefin Restaurant
Brad advises that for a $20 lunch, this popular sushi restaurant is going to be packed. His highlights to try include blue crab salad, green tea tiramisu and of course, the assorted sushi.

Bluewater Grill

Brasserie Pascal
Brad A. Johnson recommends the onion soup, braised short ribs, and Parmesan risotto at this "true French bistro."

Café Jardin

Canaletto Newport Beach

Chart House

Coliseum Pool and Grill at the Resort at Pelican Hill 
For lunch, try a vegetable soup made with veggies straight from the Irvine Ranch. There’s also a winter green salad served on grilled ciabatta bread.

Crow Burger Kitchen

Cucina Allesa

DivBar Smokehouse BBQ
Per Brad A. Johnson: "Rock 'n' roll. Cold beer served by the jug. Barbecue beef brisket. A spectacular view of the harbor. What else could you need?" 

Eat Chow
Considered "a pretty good deal for $30 at dinner  for three courses," Brad lists the fried green tomatoes, roasted chicken and banana chocolate chip bread pudding as the must-tries. 

Five Crowns
The OCR recommends you “dig into the crisp bricked chicken” as one of the entrée choices for the three-course dinner. The chicken is brined for 12 hours before being cooked, and if that doesn’t provide flavor, nothing will.

Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar 

Fly N Fish Oyster Bar & Grill

Harborside Restaurant

Il Farro Café

First course options include deviled eggs, tuna dip or hummus, and second course is your choice of gumbo or Caesar salad. Follow this up with your choice of voodoo chicken pita, BBQ pulled pork sandwich or wild salmon & avocado tacos. Did we mention it’s $10? Hungry now?


Malarky’s Irish Pub

Mariposa at Neiman Marcus

Mario’s a Taste of Italy

Mayur Cuisine of India

Modo Mio Cucina Rustica

Muldoon’s Irish Pub

Newport Beach Brewing Company

Newport Landing Restaurant

Ohana House 

Orange Coast Winery

Palm Terrace Restaurant
Proclaiming this as the best food served at Taste of Newport, Nancy Luna described their braised short ribs as “melt-in-your-mouth.” There’s also poached salmon on wild mushroom risotto available as part of the $40 dinner package.

Pelican Grill at the Resort at Pelican Hill 

Pescadou Bistro
For the $30 three-course special, OCR foodie Cathy Thomas suggests this menu: Cream of mushroom for the first course, followed by duck for the main course. 

Pita Jungle
OCR’s Nancy Luna loves Pita Jungle’s offer of being able to choose any of its entrées as part of the $20, three-course special. She suggests the hot pitas or wood-fired pizzas; all meals are served with hummus dips and one of four different desserts.

Port Restaurant & Bar
Two words: Breakfast Pizza.

Rockin Baja Coastal Cantina

SHOR American Seafood Grill

Sol Grill

SOL Mexican Cocina
Cathy Thomas raves that the achiote-grilled salmon is to die for – it’s one of the entrée choices for a $30, three-course dinner.

Rothschild’s Restaurant

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine

Royal Thai Cuisine
Nancy Luna recommends the “stand-out” appetizers and entrees like spicy coconut soup with chicken, hot sour chicken soup, fired snapper, honey duck and the Crying Tiger. With courses for $10, this is a great value.

Sam & Harry’s
Summer House
Tamarind of London
Based on the restaurant across the pond, some things worth trying are the butter chicken naanwich and beef vindaloo.  

Ten Asian Bistro

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The (Steak) Knives Are Out: Restaurant Week in Irvine

Irvine invites you to chow down at a discount
during Restaurant Week (image via Facebook)
It's Restaurant Week in California, when eating establishments invite foodies to sample their best dishes. This is the week Irvine participates, and from now until the 17th, you can have a two or three course meal offered at a discount.

This is Irvine's third year participating, offering prix fixe lunch and/or dinners in over 30 restaurants. With your choices of cusine coming from all over the world, this is the perfect opportunity to try those restaurants you've always seen and wondered about.

No tickets or reservations need to be made, although for the more popular resturants, it might be a good idea to double-check about the reservations.

Here's a list of the participating restaurants:

6ix Park Grill
90 Pacifica
Ajisen Ramen
Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails
Capital Seafood
Chakra Creative Indian Cuisine
Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle
Crystal Jade
Cucina Enoteca
Elements 102
El Torito Grill
Gatten Sushi
Ha' Penny Pub
Il Fornaio
Izakaya Wasa
Lucca Café
Luna Grill
Mastro's Steakhouse
The Melting Pot
Mother's Market & Kitchen
Prego Ristorante
Oak Creek Café
Papaya Thai Bistro
Paradise Restaurant
Paul Martin's American Grill
Pho Saigon Pearl
Pita Jungle
Sandwich Club
Seasons 52
Steelhead Brewing Co.
Stonefire Grill
SWSH Shabu Shabu
Taco Rosa
The Winery
Wasa Sushi 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Best Eats in Orange County Honored

I don't know what it is about Orange County, but we love to vote on our favorite foods: whether it's the Orange County Register (Best Pizza Round Table? Really?!), or the OC Weekly, everyone has an opinion on the best places to eat. And now there's the Golden Foodie Awards.

Held for the first time on Sunday, the GFAs gave out golden statues to the best food Orange County has to offer. The awards were created by the Orange County Restaurant Association and handed out in a ceremony held at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel.

Below is a rundown of the winners, provided by Golden Foodie Award winner Nancy Luna, who won for her online food column, "Fast Food Maven." 

Best Food Types

Best Foods

Best Restaurant Features
Golden Chef: Yvon Goetz, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
Golden Pastry Chef: Rachel Klemek of Blackmarket Bakery, Irvine

Friday, September 28, 2012

Irvine Goes Global Saturday

So, okay, the OC Weekly may refer to Irvine as "a master-planned, vanilla-flavored utopia" but at least for for one day it's going to be transformed into the multi-cultural community of diversity it can be.

On Saturday, the city will hold the annual Irvine Global Village Festival, considered to be "the best cultural festival in Orange County." By the city of Irvine anyway.

From 10 am to 6 pm, the Bill Barber Park will host hundreds of performances on five stages, while attendees can browse the marketplace, watch demonstrations or sample all the different types of international cuisine to be offered.

For the spiritually inclined, there will also be a world religions area, where you can interact with the many different religions from Irvine.

The event is free, although you have to buy tickets ($1 each) for the food, which ranges from 1 to 3 tickets. On-site parking will not be available, but shuttles have been arranged to take people to the event.

What: 11th Annual Irvine Global Village Festival
Day: September 29, 2012
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Place: Bill Barber Park

Friday, September 7, 2012

Drink It Up, OC: Things to Do This Weekend

If we're lucky enough to get a little reprieve from this heatwave that never ends, there could be beer, movies, and food in your future. This weekend has a lot going on, so here's a rundown on a couple of the highlights:

3rd Annual O.C. Brew Ha Ha
Oak Canyon Park, Irvine
There is some serious beer consumption to be had at this event, with over 60 breweries being represented and over 150 different types of craft and import beers being served. Throw in some popular food trucks and live entertainment and your Saturday is booked!

Regular ticket prices start at $40 ($15 for designated drivers!), and the proceeds will benefit the Fallen Firefighters Relief Fund, a non-profit organization that aids surviving spouses and children of Orange County Firefighters lost in the line-of-duty.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the event's website.

The 3rd OC Film Fiesta
Santora Arts Building, Santa Ana
The gorgeous Santora Arts Building oozes history and glamour
(image via NewSantaAna)
Now running in its second week, the OC Film Fiesta continues on Saturday, transforming downtown Santa Ana into "a cinematic mexi-pop wonderland." With free screenings (visit website for complete film descriptions), live music and the added Taste of Santa Ana, attendees will have their share of entertainment.

Rita Hayworth as Gilda (image via
Highlights include a screening of the 1946 classic Gilda, starring one of Hollywood's most famous Latinas and sometime Santa Ana visitor, Rita Hayworth. To honor the event, the OC Film Fiesta will be teaming up with the United Artists of Santa Ana to recreate a 1940s cabaret, with live flamenco entertainment and a tour of the Santora Arts Building, including the dance studio that once belonged to Rita Hayworth herself.

For $10, you can sample the food of the city's most popular restaurants at the Taste of Santa Ana, with proceeds benefiting the UASA. You can purchase tickets here.

For the festival's complete schedule, visit the OC Film Fiesta's website.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fairs and Festivals for Father's Day

If Mother's Day is about having brunch and bringing flowers, Father's Day is shaping up to be about drinking beer and hitting the fairs. This weekend there are fairs and festivals cropping up in all corners of Orange County. Here's a sprinkling of them.

Taste of OC is a 2-day event of
food, drink and fun (image via
Taste of Orange County: 5-Star Culinary Festival

Technically not a fair, but the Taste of OC is returning after sixteen years and is promising to be a foodie's dream with more than 50 restaurants and wineries taking part. Everything that is food will be represented at the event, being held at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine both Saturday and Sunday.

Wine and tequila tasting seminars (that sounds like code for having a bender, but whatever) restaurant tastings, and local celebrity chefs will also be on hand for cooking demonstrations. You need to buy tickets to the event, but dads get in free on Sunday, and children under 15 also get in free with an adult. Check out the details on

June 16: 12 pm - 10 pm
June 17: 12 - 8 pm
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine

image via
Chili at the Beach
For something more informal, head over to downtown Huntington Beach where there's gong to be more than 30 teams competing in a chili contest. There's also going to be a marketplace with vendors, live music, and a beer garden. The event is free, but tasting that chili's going to set you back anywhere from $5 to $23. The proceeds will go for the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley and CHOC Children's. For more information, visit downtown HB's website.

June 16: 11 am - 6 pm
Downtown Main St, Huntington Beach

The Big Irish Fair
Considered to be the largest Irish fair in the Western America, the Big Irish Fair takes place in Silverado Canyon, (located next to Irvine Lake) "where Ireland meets the wild, wild west." Taking place over the span of two days, there are 16 entertainment areas that will be featuring Irish music and dance competitions. Sheep herding demonstrations and children's rides will also be going on. Tickets range from $15 to $18 for adults, $12-$15 for students and seniors (kids 12 and under are free with an adult). Visit the Big Irish Fair's website for details.

June 16-17: 10 am -7 pm
Oak Canyon Park, Silverado Canyon

The areas in downtown Laguna Beach that will be featured
in the 5th annual Fete de la Musique (for a closer look, visit
the Laguna Beach Sister Cities website).
Fete de la Musique
A stroll through Laguna Beach on a Saturday afternoon sounds nice enough, but throw in a music fest for free and now it's entertainment! The fifth annual Fete de la Musique is a brief afternoon of live music that happens on various corners in downtown Laguna Beach. Consisting of mainly local musicians, be serenaded as you enjoy the sites, whether the trendy shops with beachwear, or the stunning view of the beach that's literally across the street. For the interesting history behind the Fete, visit the website here.

June 16: 1-4 pm
Downtown Laguna Beach

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Kicks Off in Orange County

This weekend seems to be exploding with so much stuff to do around Orange County, that I thought I'd give a rundown on some of the highlights:

Summerfest 2012 will be going on in Fountain Valley this
weekend (image via Patch)
Summerfest 2012
Although it may sound like some kind made up holiday (i.e. Festivus), Summerfest is actually heading into its fourth year in Fountain Valley, and is scheduled to run through to Sunday, June 10th.

Free to everyone, it's being held at the Fountain Valley Sports Park at Brookhurst and Heil.

Events include a classic car and truck show on Saturday and for the first time ever, a dog show on Sunday. Dogs are being welcomed to peruse the grounds and cheer on (or is it laugh) at other dogs participating in the small dog race, agility course, or flying disc competition.

And of course, both days will feature carnival rides, food, live music, and a beer and wine garden. You can find out more details on Fountain Valley's city website, or read the Patch for a day by day breakdown of events.

Mr. BBQ 2011 - long may he reign, or at least until they
choose a new one this year (image via Nibbles of Tidbits)
Orange County BBQ and Music Festival
Considered by OC Weekly to be Orange County's "longest-running and best-attended barbecue contest", this year's event promises to be just as big, with events like a Mr. BBQ Pageant, beer tasting, and of course, rib eating contest.

There will be activities for the kids like a petting zoo, bouncers and face painting, and a "butterfly celebration" where butterflies are released for children who are seriously ill or have passed away.

Held at the Orange County Fair & Event Center until Sunday, admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children, or you can get a $25 2-day pass. All proceeds are going to support Kristies Foundation for terminally ill children.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the event's website.

Lynn Shubert in front of the Fuddy Duddy, a B-17
WWII bomber that will be on display this Sunday
(image via OC Register)
Bikes and Bombers