10 OC Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners for Holidays

A must-try for any out-of-towner
A must-try for any out-of-towner
Kristine Hoang/OC Weekly

Now that Christmas is just a few days away, crowds at South Coast Plaza are growing bigger and trips to John Wayne Airport to pick up friends and family more frequent. As local hosts, we’re responsible for entertaining our guests, which can be a daunting task if they’re adamant about getting a real Orange County experience. If you want to take care of them right, you’ll have to start with feeding them the right food—that is, dishes special and exclusive to the county.

You can eat almost everything here
You can eat almost everything here
Jennifer Fedrizzi/OC Weekly

10. Fourth Street Market (SanTana)

Fourth Street Market is one of the newest features of downtown SanTana. A food haul offering everything from Jason Quin’s food stands (Noodle Tramp, PFC, Wagyu Chuck) to Dos Chinos, it’s a good base point for exploring the rest of the city on foot. Park in one of the structures, grab a burger from Wagyu Chuck, and explore the nearby art galleries and concert venues. E 4th St, Santa Ana, (714) 486-0700; 4thstreetmarket.com

One of the most delicious poke bowls in OC
One of the most delicious poke bowls in OC
Charles Lam/OC Weekly

9. Pokinometry (Anaheim)

The poke in Southern California probably isn’t the same as the poke in Hawaii, but that doesn’t change the fact that new poke restaurants were opening almost every month this past year and continue to do so. For guests who are curious about the trend, take them to Pokinometry—one of the most consistent poke joints in the county. It’s also convenient that the restaurant is located near downtown Disney and Disneyland, which out-of-towners might be interested in visiting. 184 South Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, (657) 208-3488; pokinometry.com

One of OC's best
One of OC's best
Edwin Goei/OC Weekly

8. The Playground (SanTana)

The Playground isn’t just one of the best restaurants in Orange County; it’s also one of the most unique. Here’s Edwin to elaborate:

Complacent and apathetic aren't traits you want in a chef, and the words certainly don't describe Jason Quinn, who made waves last week for telling a Yelper to "burn in hell" after the customer leveled a personal attack on his burger, his 3 percent kitchen surcharge and his family. But here's all you need to know: You want to come, you want his burger, and you want Quinn to remain as defensive, as passionate and as bullheaded as he's always been. He's only 25 and still has the reckless bravado and screw-it-all attitude endemic to youth. At the Playground, Quinn exhibits the ballsy confidence that's gotten him this far. He scribbles on his chalkboard wall, "If you want your meat well done, bring it with you" because he not-so-coyly refuses to do his burgers warmer than medium rare.

220 E 4th St #102, Santa Ana, (714) 560-4444; playgrounddtsa.com; Twitter: @playgrounddtsa

The best post-airport meal!
The best post-airport meal!
Krista/Flickr

7. In-N-Out (Multiple Locations)

If you’re picking up a hungry person from John Wayne Airport, here’s a tip: there are multiple In-N-Out locations ten minutes away from it. Truly, there’s nothing like welcoming a non-Californian than with one of the state’s signature fast food burgers. Any order here—from cheeseburgers and (purposefully) soggy fries to animal-style everything—is an acceptable way to welcome someone. 3361 S Bristol St, Santa Ana; 4115; Campus Dr, Irvine; (800) 786-1000; in-n-out.com; Instagram: @innout

For those who take coffee seriously
For those who take coffee seriously
OC Weekly Archives

6. Portola Coffee Lab (Multiple Locations) In Orange County’s coffee scene, Portola Coffee Lab is the crème of the crop—and a perfect attraction for coffee lovers in your circle. Those who care about the most meticulous details of coffee preparation will appreciate Portola’s efforts to select, roast, and brew the best beans they can find. A catch-up session over coffee starts with a “performance,” if you will, by the baristas who’ll pour cream and stir coffee with patience and precision.  3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa; 2493 Park Ave, Tustin; 201 E. 4th Street, Space 103, Santa Ana; 143 N. Glassell St., Orange; 21010 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; 27741 Crown Valley Parkway, Mission Viejo; (949) 284-0596; portolacoffeelab.com; Instagram: @portolacoffeelab


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