Best Restaurant - 2008
Take a hole-in-the-wall. Bless it with two visionary owners/chefs, Mark Cleveland and Tanya Fuqua, who don't let ego get in the way of running a restaurant. Mix in a menu that changes every three months, daily specials, International Tuesdays (when junior chefs execute excellent three-course stabs at cuisines from Morocco to the Dominican Republic, Bulgaria to Paris), Beer-and-Pizza Wednesdays, and Wine Thursdays. Adhere to a vegetarian/vegan philosophy that demands all ingredients be organic and fair-trade. Run a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) through South Coast Farms that turns your restaurant into a virtual farmers' market every Thursday. And then make dishes every day that are the most inventive and flavorful things in Orange County. Add artists' exhibits, a dessert case, and on-the-premises-created products from hot sauces to pickled guavas, and you have Avanti Café.