This week is seriously just flying by. Before I even realized it, we’re smack dab in the middle of Orange County Restaurant Week, and this time around, I’m determined to take advantage. Are you guys familiar with OC Restaurant Week? It’s a week when some of the area’s best restaurants offer specially priced, prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner, and it goes through this Saturday, March 11th. It’s the best time to check out a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, or to branch out and maybe taste something new at your favorite spot. I always say that I want to try a new place on the list, and somehow, we always forget. Not this time! The full list of restaurants that are participating this time around can be found right over here along with the menu options they are offering. Lunches range from $10 to $20 per person, and dinners run from $20 to $50 per person, depending on the restaurant. Below I’m rounding up a few of my favorite places on the list, and whether you’re a local or just visiting, I think these are all pretty great. New spots I’d love to try? Beachcomber Cafe, Five Crowns (I’ve been once a while back but would love to go again), and Skyloft. Any on the list that you guys have tried and loved?
AnQi – Admittedly, I don’t even know what to recommend here because a few friends and I enjoyed a whole tasting menu bonanza, and I just couldn’t leave it off the list. If Asian fusion is your thing, then this is your next date-night spot.
Cafe Gratitude – For the vegans (and non-vegans really) looking for a new place to try. Personally, I’m into the bowls. And absolutely do not go here without getting a cocktail – the Skinny Margarita is fresh AF.
Canaletto – For me this is a go-to for a girls’ happy hour. The bar area is light and bright with fireplaces lit in the winter time, and the menu includes glasses of wine, pizzas and flatbreads, and yummy Italian appetizers for a happy hour steal.
CUCINA Enoteca – This one is probably my favorite restaurant in Fashion Island, and there are a lot of good ones there. (A bunch on this list, actually.) Their polenta board is hands-down my favorite thing on the menu, but I also love the giant meatball, the burnt brussel sprouts, and the burrata jar, all for sharing.
Fig & Olive – There are a few of these around the US, but I feel like the Newport Beach location is so nice for apps and vino with the girls or a full-blown three hour (plus) lunch – I’ve done both. The Crostinis are my main jam, and I really could just make a meal out of mixing and matching them. (Check out the photo above.)
Fly N Fish Oyster Bar and Grill – Located right by the Newport Beach pier and the beach itself, this is the place I love to take out-of-town guests. Every time we go to Fly N Fish, I wish so badly that I liked oysters, but sadly I just don’t. Luckily I DO love clam chowder, and Fly N Fish has some of the best that I’ve tried. I usually get it in a bread bowl with a glass of wine and call it a day.
Newport Landing – Located right in the Balboa Fun Zone, this place has amazing water views from their upstairs patio. Dine downstairs for a fancier vibe, or head upstairs to the bar / patio area for something a bit more casual. They also have a great happy hour.
Red O Restaurant – Two words for you: spicy margarita. It’s actually called the Alacran Margarita, and it’s my fave. They also have a great happy hour if you’re looking for some apps to go along with that marg.
SeaLegs Wine Bar – I mean, you had me at wine, but this place also has amazing food. And what I love best is hands-down the brunch. A sourdough breakfast sandwich or bananas foster French toast anyone? Yes and yes. Luckily for me, this place is a short bike ride from our house in Huntington Beach.
The Capital Grille – Our first choice for a steak in Orange County is definitely A Restaurant (sadly not participating in OC Restaurant Week), but this place is really good too. It’s my usual way to get Eric to agree to Christmas shopping with me – dinner at The Capital Grille followed by a couple of hours of speed shopping during South Coast Plaza’s extended holiday hours. It’s pretty much a tradition these days.