Best Strip Mall Orange County 2013 - Heritage Plaza
Peel back the beige, bland skin of Irvine's über-planned exterior, and you'll see one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. Nowhere is the cultural mix more apparent than at the Heritage Plaza shopping center. Most strip malls have a couple of anchor stores that draw traffic to the other tenants. Because Heritage Plaza is flanked by two competing shopping centers, its smaller tenants have as much pull as the Ralph's and CVS at its core. The Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa and food court tenants such as ramen-specialist Santouka and GoSquared Takoyaki occupy one end, with ice cream-filled mochi maker Mochilato and the addicting cream-puff purveyor Beard Papa sharing the same storefront. Indian food? Annapoorna is one of the county's best restaurants. Korean food can be found at Koba Tofu Grill and the steadfast Han's Market. The vegan Thai restaurant Wheel of Life stands firm next to Chinese restaurant Seafood Noodle House. If you must go with American food that's not a fast-food franchise, Weekly favorite Bruxie is setting down roots across from where a Korean sushi restaurant once stood. Need to buy a bike? Jax Bicycles has you covered. How about America's first outpost of Daiso, the Japanese $1.50 store? You can lose hours ogling cheap home goods if you can stand the blinding glow off the Barbie-pink interior walls.