10830 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 963-1700
If you have a taste for authentic Texas barbecue, look no further. The menu at Abilene offers mouth-watering barbecued brisket—cooked for eight to 12 hours in a pit oven—and superb baby-back or beef ribs. Steaks include baseball-cut prime rib and delicious ribeye (also in sandwich form). Or you may want to try a steak-and-shrimp combo or the scrumptious catfish dish. Another delicacy is the spiced beef Texas sausage; it goes great with a Big Red, soda straight from Texas! Homemade soups are featured daily, but save room for some pecan or sweet-potato pie.
Services: takeout and catering available. Full bar. Reservations accepted. Hours: Mon.-Wed., 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Sun., noon-8:30 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
Azteca Restaurant/Crooners Lounge
12911 Historical Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 638-3790
Crooner's bills itself as Southern California's only "Elvis Lounge," a full bar featuring music and memorabilia from the Rat Pack and the King himself. Weekends feature rockabilly to the nines, Friday nights feature Main Street's Classic Car Show outside, and Saturday nights feature Elvis' movies on the TV. You can also re-create Elvis' Fun in Acapulco vibe with some great Mexican food at Azteca restaurant, which offers a menu filled with the owner's original recipes. Try the garlic tacos and garlic salad to set the party off, or ask about the daily special.
Services: takeout available. Full bar. Hours: daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; lounge open till 1 a.m. or later. All major credit cards accepted.
200 S. State College, Brea, (714) 529-1998
Have your exquisitely juicy prime rib beef served to you by a pirate!?!?! Or maybe a clown!?!?! Bobby McGee's offers good-humored, fantasy dining at its finest, as the costumed staff serve up delicious grub. This fun-filled dining extravaganza offers a little bit of everything: from zesty filets topped with Dijon mustard, sliced and sautéed mushrooms, and Beranaise sauce to some of the best fresh fish available. And remember: though Bobby McGee's is fun for all ages, on Tuesday nights, kids eat free.
Services: full bar. Reservations suggested. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri., 5-11 p.m.; Sat., 4-11 p.m., Sun., 3-10 p.m.
18633 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 963-4999
It's always a party at Café Plaka, where beguiling belly dancer Bathsheba (who performs Friday and Saturday nights), live music and dancing Greek waiters keep thing lively Thursday through Sunday. The exotic menu features Californian, Mediterranean and traditional Greek specialties. Try a lamb dish like arni psito (slices of roast loin of lamb served in natural juices), filet mignon, or chicken and pork souvlakia from the grill. Select from an outrageous assortment of appetizers such as vegetarian grape leaves or calamarakia (fried baby squid). And don't miss the baklava for dessert. Have fun!
Services: takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: lunch: Mon.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner: Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.; Sun.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930
One of the premier concert venues in Southern California, the Coach House is a casual, intimate setting for enjoying world-famous artists from all musical genres. Such famous acts as Berlin, Chris Izaak, Leon Russel and Cracker make regular appearances here. At your table, you'll dine on American cuisine, choosing from an entrée, appetizer and dessert special offered each night. The regular menu features swordfish, New York steak and burgers. Their crispy mozzarella sticks, nachos or jalapeño poppers go great with a cold brew and good music.
Services: full bar. All major credit cards accepted.
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
17595 Harvard Ave., Ste. B, Irvine, (949) 660-1332; also in Brea; Irvine Spectrum Center, Irvine; Laguna Hills Mall, Laguna Hills; MainPlace Mall, Santa Ana; South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa; Tustin Marketplace, Tustin
There's always a Coffee Bean nearby when a java craving comes calling. Their coffee selection is vast and tasty, featuring blends from East Africa, such as an Ethiopian mocha, and Latin America, like the Colombia Supremo—or order an Indonesian flavor like a Java Estate. Iced drinks include espressos, cappuccinos, lattes and iced teas. There's also a selection of tea-latte drinks and non-coffee iced blends. Order a fresh bagel, brownie, muffin or croissant to go with your favorite blend. All coffee extracts are processed to neutralize unpleasant acids so the coffee is exceptionally smooth and undiluted.
Services: takeout available. Hours: daily, 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (hours may vary). Most major credit cards accepted.
Crazy Horse Steakhouse
71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 585-9000
Newly relocated, Crazy Horse Steakhouse is now at the Irvine Spectrum, attracting urban cowboys and cowgirls in record numbers. The venue features an unbeatable lineup of such country artists as Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, John Berry and Neal McCoy. Crazy Horse is renowned for its juicy steaks, prime rib and fresh seafood, using the most succulent cornfed, certified Angus beef, properly aged and cut fresh daily. Their superb wine list perfectly compliments the entrées. For dessert, try their signature "mountain-high mud pie," and send your taste buds to paradise.
Services: banquet facilities available. Full bar. Reservations accepted. Hours: daily, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
910 E. Birch St., Ste. 300, Brea, (714) 255-1800
It's food, drink and pool this summer at Diamonds. Enjoy hot pool and cool air-conditioning, and lose yourself in a big billiard room that boasts 13 beautiful Brunswick Gold Crown III tables and 12 large video monitors, so you can catch the game while shooting stick. Or order some delicious food from the appetizer and sandwich menu, all of which is served until 1 a.m. Caffeine junkies can order up an espresso, cappuccino or café latte to chase away the shakes. Beer lovers need to hit Wednesday nights, when domestic pints are only $2 and premium pints are a measly $2.50, among many other drink specials all week long. There's also a dart room and various video games for ardent gamers to enjoy.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted.
3800 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 494-2071
Established in 1952, this award-winning Italian restaurant received Best Pizza honors in the Entertainment Book for five straight years. Offering a huge menu selection, including American dishes, you'll want to try the enticing chicken picata, fettuccini Alfredo, lasagna, shrimp and pastas. The chicken Parmesan melt sandwich or the calimari steak will create lasting memories in your stomach. The building has a mid-'50s design with high walls and Palo Verde brick—not found much anymore—plus the lava fireplace keeps your dining experience heartwarming.
Services: takeout available. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8-1 a.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. MasterCard and Visa accepted.
Din Din at the Bamboo Terrace
1773 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-5550
Din Din was added on to the family-owned restaurant's name, Bamboo Terrace, to signify the transfer of operations to the family's third generation. They are committed to serving great-tasting Chinese food using only high-quality ingredients, such as 100 percent white-meat chicken and USDA-choice flank steak, all sans tenderizers and MSG. The dining area resembles a bamboo terrace, and the walls are adorned with Asian art and early 20th-century black-and-white photographs depicting Chinese immigrants. The Asian beer-house-style bar offers a vast selection of tropical drinks and specialty martinis. Weekends feature live, all-original local bands.
Services: takeout, delivery and catering available. Full bar. Parking available. Hours: lunch: Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner: Tues.-Thurs. & Sun., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m. American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Diner's Club accepted.
Galaxy Concert Theatre
3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-6605
One of the hippest concert venues in Orange County, the Galaxy Concert Theatre is a casual theater-style setting for enjoying world-famous artists from all genres of music. Such famous acts as Sugar Ray, Soul Brains, Lee Rocker, the Fenians and Jerry Lee Lewis make appearances here. At your table, you'll dine on American cuisine, choosing from an entrée, appetizer and dessert special offered each night. The regular menu features swordfish, New York steak and burgers. Their crispy mozzarella sticks, nachos or jalapeño poppers go great with a cold brew and good music.
Services: full bar. All major credit cards accepted.
7887 Center Dr., Huntington Beach, (714) 892-2227Dance the night away at one of Orange County's most renowned night clubs! Geckos features dancing, pool and music performed by popular local bands and DJs—including radio personalities from the world-famous KROQ. And to make the deal even sweeter, Geckos offers a "Baja Beach Happy Hour" on Thursdays, from 5-10 p.m., with 50-cent tacos and $2.50 gold margaritas, along with a wide range of nibbly food and other specials to get your night off to a fantastic start.
Hours: Thurs., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri., 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 6 p.m.-2 a.m.
The Gypsy Den
Located in the Lab anti-mall, 2930 Bristol St., Ste. B102, Costa Mesa, (714) 549-7012; and in the Artist's Village, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 835-8840
At both locations, tasty salads are plentiful, and the yummy soups and healthy, hippie sandwiches are great. Don't forget to leave room for their baked goods—or their amazing crème brûlée. Chill out in their comfortable décor of earthy walls, funky art and saved-from-the-second-hand-store furniture. Beer and wine are served at the Santa Ana location. Both locations are open seven days per week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they feature some of the finest in local poetry and acoustic music.
Hours: Santa Ana location, Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri., 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Costa Mesa location, Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri., 7:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 8 a.m.-midnight; Sun., 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714)556-0176
A little bit of Cuba located in the Lab. Besides being a great place for cocktails, this hip hideaway is the place for nueva Latina cuisine. Some of the sandwiches are humdingers, packed with meat and served on a heavy bread. Eat one these, and you can forget about work for the rest of the day. If that doesn't work, try a Lemon Drop Martini during happy hour (Mon.-Sat., 5-7 p.m.). On certain nights, the place heats up with Latin flamenco guitar and two wild flamenco dancers, and the steel-drum Sunday brunches are amazing. There is terrific ambiance here, created by a myriad of candle trees and the dark-wood décor.
Services: catering available. Reservations suggested. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat.-Sun., 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
Hard Rock Cafe
451 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-8844
If you're stranded at Fashion Island after a three-hour shopping spree, just sit back in a plush booth or at the big rectangular bar. Besides great piped-in tunes and fantastic music paraphernalia (shoes worn by Elton John, Prince's purple suit, a red-leather outfit worn by Gwen Stefani, and more), you'll find a wide range of menu items, including burger platters, salads and "really big" sandwiches. And don't miss such Hard Rock specialties as the delicious chicken pasta with red-pepper cream sauce, Texas T-bone steak, and the grilled marinated chicken breast.
Services: takeout available. Full bar. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11:30-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30-12:30 a.m. All major credit cards accepted.
34091 La Plaza, Dana Point, (949) 489-7809
Experience Orange County's premier steakhouse restaurant. A favorite with Dana Point locals, Hennessey's Broiler gives you the ambience of real, outdoor fire pits with the culinary delights of top-notch chefs. The menu includes mouth-watering halibut resting in a bed of spinach and mushrooms and smothered in wine sauce, 20-ounce Porterhouse steaks that positively drip with flavor, and flame-broiled rotisserie chicken, slow-roasted over a wood-fired grill and rubbed with their own house spice blend.
Services: full Bar. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
3950 Campus Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 262-6270
Hogue Barmichael's hasn't changed their prices in eight years, so you can still get a mouth-watering, half-pound hamburger fried over an open-fire grill for only 5 bucks—and that's with a side of steak fries! This restaurant prides itself on serving a fusion of traditional, American grill favorites with Asian cuisine, made all the better by a friendly staff and lunchtime happy hour specials. As if the food wasn't good enough, this is still the best place to hear all your '80s favorites in an intimate setting. A Flock of Seagulls, Dave Wakeling, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Missing Persons—all of the new wave greats call this place home when they're in OC, and with burgers this good, it's completely understandable why that is.
Services: delivery, catering and takeout available. Full bar. Reservations suggested for big concerts. Ample parking. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11-2 a.m. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted.
Huntington Beach Beer Co.
201 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-5343; www.hbbeerco.com
Huntington Beach Beer Co. (HBBC) is fast becoming a downtown landmark. As the name implies, HBBC is known for its fresh, hand-crafted ales, which are brewed with local flair, evident from names such as Huntington Beach Blond, Pier Pale Ale and Main Street Wheat. The constantly expanding menu features everything from appetizers (like breaded calimari and grilled quesadillas) to main dishes (like grilled mahi mahi, jambalaya and brick-oven-baked pizzas). Because everything's made fresh to order, you really can't go wrong for lunch or dinner. One outstanding dish is the Chinese chicken salad, which doesn't skimp on the good stuff, including grilled chicken and a homemade dressing with pizzazz. Since the beer company is located one floor up from the hustle and bustle of Main Street, its two heated patios are perfectly situated for kicking back and swilling tasty brews.
Services: takeout available. Beer, wine and cider only. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. (light menu available until midnight). All major credit cards accepted.
Irvine Spectrum Center
71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 789-9180
The Irvine Spectrum Center is Orange County's premier dining, shopping and entertainment destination. Stroll through its European-flavored boulevards. Enjoy concerts, dancing, movies, comedy and nightclubs. Restaurants abound at the Spectrum, with everything from casual takeout places—such as Johnny Rockets, Pasta Bravo, Surf City Squeeze, Twin Dragon and more—to finer dining at restaurants like Bertolini's Authentic Trattoria, the Cheesecake Factory or Wolfgang Puck Café, to name but a few. Try Dave & Buster's or GameWorks for some gaming fun after you dine. It's NEVER dull at the Spectrum.
1086 N. State College, Anaheim, (714) 758-1057
JC Fandango offers an international flair at its absolute most elegant, offering OC's cosmopolitan nightclub-goers an opportunity to dance the night away to some of the hottest salsa and Spanish rock music, being performed by some of SoCal's best bands and DJs. This is a class act all the way, and that shows nowhere more than in the incredible, delectable selection of Latin food, most notable the incredibly impressive paella, which combines lobster, shrimp, clams, pork, chicken, ham and sausage, cooked in theair own juices and seasoned with Spanish saffron. Magnifico!
Services: takeout and catering available. Full bar. Reservations suggested. Strict dress code. Valet parking. Hours: Fri.-Sun., 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m.
110 Marina Dr., Long Beach, (562) 598-6800
Commanding a picturesque waterfront location in scenic Long Beach, Khoury's has a little something for everyone. Breakfasts run the gamut from good, old-fashioned bacon and scrambled eggs to such exotics as a puff pastry stuffed with crab and topped with a lobster bisque sauce. Lunch and dinner are just as fabulous, allowing diners to partake of such enticements as a Seafood Buffet featuring all you can eat live Maine lobster, king crab legs and clam cakes, along with a fresh pasta bar, oysters on the half-shell, smoked salmon, prime rib and, for dessert, the extremely popular flaming bananas or cherries jubilee. And as if the excellent food and ocean view weren't enough, Khoury's offers a wide range of entertainment, from swing dancing to Monday-night football on two large-screen TVs. Surely, it's no wonder why Khoury's is becoming one of Long Beach's most popular destinations.
Services: takeout and catering available. Reservations two weeks in advance essential on Fri.-Sat. Valet parking Fri.-Sat. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. & 3-9 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
Madeleine Mongolian BBQ
2394 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-1421
Sporting an easy-to-find Costa Mesa location and a friendly, family-style atmosphere, Madeleine Mongolian BBQ offers meat-lovers some of the tastiest Mongolian- and Chinese-style barbecue dishes around, along with excellent chicken and shrimp meals, and even great options for vegetarians. Whatever you do, though, try the marvelous, exotic Pho noodle soup—you won't regret it!
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., noon-7 p.m.
Margaritaville Mexican Cantina
2332 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 631-8220
Jimmy Buffet would be proud of what his lyrics have inspired: a trail of red-blooded—and -nosed—Americans anxious to get "wasted away again" and again. And Margaritaville is the perfect venue in which to do it, where you'll find every flavor of margarita imaginable: banana, mango, strawberry, watermelon, etc. And if they don't have the flavor you want, they'll make it. The menu features Mexican and American food, and there's live entertainment every night. The room is always festive and lively, especially on weekends when party-goers throng on the dance floor, getting lugged-up on their favorite "frozen concoction."
Services: takeout, delivery and catering available. Full bar. Reservations accepted. Hours: daily, 11:30-12:30 a.m. All major credit cards accepted.
858 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6711
Nestled within the art community of Laguna Beach, Mark's Restaurant has established itself as one of the premier dining experiences in Orange County. With his culinary talents, executive chef Martin Gonzales has created a moderately priced menu that offers a wide array of California cuisine with featured daily specials. The restaurant serves dinner Monday through Saturday in a beachy, naturally lit setting with palm trees, crispy-linened tables and an ocean-breeze-filled outdoor patio.
Services: takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 5-10:30 p.m.; Sat., 5-11 p.m.; Sun., 5-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
Memphis Soul Cafe and Bar
2920 Bristol, Costa Mesa, (714) 432-7685
Just when you thought there wasn't a hipafied, West Coast-cool restaurant around, this café opened. Specialty cocktails, ambient electronic music, and a mid-century vibe is what awaits inside. The menu offers an excellent choice of Southern, regional America with a Southern slant. The grilled pork chop with a cherry glaze and an okra gumbo is a brilliantly prepared delicacy. A seafood special is offered daily. On the lunch menu, try the turkey-breast-and-pesto sandwich with the house salad, or the catfish po'boy.
Services: takeout available. Full bar. Reservations accepted. Hours: breakfast: Sat.-Sun., 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner: Mon.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.; Sun., 5-9:30 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
750 St. Clair, across from the Lab, Costa Mesa, (714) 545-3331
The place for a cool lunch on a hot summer day, Mitae Ramen offers a tantalizing selection of ramen, Chinese dishes and California rolls at an exceedingly reasonable price. This OC classic, a favorite among Costa Mesa locals, features delicious home-style cooking and generous portions. The restaurant's specialties include Hiyashi Chyula (fresh, cold vegetables with noodles and vinegar dressings), cold tofu salad, chicken salad, and a delightfully tangy hot chicken teriyaki with curry rice. Of course, it's the ramen this restaurant is known for, and in that department, Mitae Ramen is unbeatable.
Services: takeout and parking available. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
144 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 437-7700
We're talking upscale and posh ambiance at Mum's, a restaurant that also harbors a martini lounge, billiard room and an attached room called Club Cohiba (open Friday and Saturday nights). The menu features an excellent array of California cuisine, including sushi specials, pastas, salads, steak and seafood. Try the sumptuous blackened halibut with carrot-butter sauce, or the rack of lamb with an herb crust. Feeling carnivorous? Order the filet mignon or the New York strip steak. Don't forget to top off your fine dining experience with a nice stogy or a dry martini.
Services: takeout and catering available. Full bar. Reservations essential. Valet parking available. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. & Sun., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-midnight. All major credit cards accepted.
Newport Rib Company and Naples Rib Company
2196 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 631-2110; 5800 E. 2nd St., Long Beach, (562) 439-RIBS
The Newport and Naples Rib Companies aren't just about ribs: diners can look forward to Hawaiian-style barbecued chicken breasts—dripping with a tangy lemon glaze—and such mouth-watering appetizers as steaming-hot, deep-fried mozzarella sticks; fresh-grilled artichokes; tangy baked beans with just a hint of brown sugar tempering the taste; and the near-legendary onion brick, a monolithic concoction of cripsy and crunchy onions good for hands-on snacking before the entrée is served. But as good as everything is, it's the ribs that make the restaurant—and the Newport and Naples Rib Companies do ribs better than just about anyone. Generous hunks of barbecue-drenched meat are so well-cooked it's falling off the bone—straight into your salivating mouth. This is paradise for serious meat-lovers who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. Plus, there's tableside magic at Naples Rib Company, Wed., 6-9 p.m., and at Newport Rib Company, Sun., 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Services: catering for large groups of 50 to 1,000 available. Newport Rib Company's banquet room seats 85; Naples Rib Company's banquet room seats 50. Hours: Naples location, daily, 4 p.m.-closing. Newport location, daily, 11:30 a.m.-closing.
1830 Main St., Irvine, (949) 724-9776
Offering a fusion of Californian, American and Mediterranean cuisine, the Oasis is the place to go for casual elegance. Included on the menu are Michael's Grecian chicken (marinated breast of chicken flame-broiled and basted with their special blend of Greek seasonings, garlic lemon and extra virgin olive oil) and mouth-watering certified steaks, as well as a wide range of succulent seafood, including the buttery, delicious Australian Lobster Tale. And when dinner's done and you're still not quite ready to call it a night, stick around: the Oasis offers dancing Thurs.-Sat. until 3 a.m.
Services: takeout and catering. Full bar. Reservations suggested. Parking available. Hours: daily, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. & 6-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
9606 Hamilton St., Huntington Beach, (714) 593-3883
Interested in an exotically ethnic dining experience like no other? Chef Renzo from Peru and Chef Criss from California join forces at the Peruvian Grill in Huntington Beach, where they take you to the land of the Incas and back into Peruvian cuisine in a new style—featuring a menu that puts a contemporary spin on Peruvian dishes. But the Peruvian Grill also features typical international cuisine, ceviches and much more. If you want Peruvian dining excellence at moderate prices, then experience it from chefs who know how to transplant your taste buds to another land.
Services: takeout available. Hours: lunch: Mon.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner: Mon.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-9:30 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
16612 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 842-6882; 5274 E. 2nd St., Long Beach, (562) 433-5859
Long Beach's favorite Thai restaurant is now in Huntington Beach! Phucket's chefs specialize in authentic Thai cuisine made only from the freshest ingredients. Select from a huge selection of dishes, including Ruby Siam (sliced chicken with cashew nuts and roasted chiles) and the sumptuous beef green curry (sliced beef in green curry, coconut milk, bell pepper and basil). With friendly and excellent service and a fine selection of wine, beer and sake, this is the place to eat whether you're returning from a long day at the Huntington Pier or from wandering Belmont Shores. The exotic scent of the far East will stimulate your appetite the moment you open the door.
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. MasterCard and Visa accepted.
Plein Air Cafe
850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 760-9711
Located in the Orange County Museum of Art, the Plein Air Café is a great lunch room at which to surround yourself in fine art and cuisine. The menu features a variety of sandwiches and salads along with such specialties as the fresh Dungeness crab cakes, the shrimp-and-vegetable dumplings (stuffed with shrimp, carrots, garlic and cilantro), and the excellent mango-and-brie quesadilla. The portions are big and the main-course items are moderately priced. After your meal, meander through the museum to help ease the digestion.
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
7979 Center Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 891-9160
Offering a wide array of dance music and culinary treats, it's no wonder that the Rhino Room remains one of OC's preeminent night spots. Rock out every Monday to live bands edging for a spot in the LA Music Awards. Boogie down on Tuesdays to listen to DJ Beej of Rubber spinning techno and trance. And live DJs on Friday spin techno, trance and hip-hop at "the Social." It's all happening at the Rhino Room, where you can dine on such original finger foods as the Rhino Crunch (succulent chicken fingers rolled in Capt. Crunch cereal) as well as their unique signature pizzas and tasty stuffed mushrooms. Throw in $2 Purple Hooters and Kamikazes on Tuesdays, and you've got a serious party going down.
Services: full bar. Reservations accepted. Hours: daily, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted.
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, Irvine
71 Fortune, Irvine, (949) 453-0777
Located in the Irvine Spectrum, Rock Bottom produces 3,120 barrels per year in-house. Tasty brews include Cryin' Coyote Light Ale, Regatta Red, Bogie Brown and Sticky Tongue Stout, to name but a few. Besides a full-service bar, a live DJ and dancing on weekends, the brewery offers a fine food selection, from pizzas and bountiful salads to hearty meats, ribs and chicken. Try the addler-smoked salmon or the Mediterranean pasta. Larger-than-life desserts include carrot cake and deep-dish apple pie. The atmosphere has a Colorado mountain feel with rich woods and bright, open seating.
Services: takeout available. Full bar. Valet parking available. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted.
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, Long Beach
1 Pine St., Long Beach, (562) 308-2255
Offering similar food and drinks as its Irvine cousin, the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery's Long Beach location offers some of the most killer drink specials around. "Monday Madness" allows visitors to partake of a pitcher of beer and a bucket of wings for a mere $10, with Kamikazes for only $2. On Tuesdays, wolf down $2 tacos and $2 margaritas, then come back the next day for "Pint Night," when if you drink the beer, you can keep the glass. You can also join the staff as they tap a new keg on "Thirsty Thursday," when they offer $1 pints from 7 to 8 p.m. You'd think all of this would be enough, but the Rock Bottom offers a regular happy hour (Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.), with offers half-price appetizers and both pints and well drinks for a measly $2.25. Surely, this is a prime location for Long Beach's discerning-yet-economical drinker.
Services: takeout available. Full bar. Valet parking available. Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted.
100 Main St., Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, (949) 675-7760
How do you make OC's premier "California Casual" restaurant even better? For a start, Studio Café has just started brand-new happy hour specials (Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.), featuring $1 off their Beer of the Month and complimentary Studio Bar burgers (served from 5-6 p.m.). What—you want more? Okay, they're still serving their famous "Adios" blue drinks, some of the tastiest spirits around, and their liquor selection's now augmented by a new Martini Bar. Still not enough? How about the return of renowned chef Steve Palmer, who's reworking the entire menu. Throw in entertainment seven days per week—and starting in July, on a brand-new stage to boot—and the Studio Café is poised to maintain its place as Balboa's most happening night spot.
Services: Full bar. Reservations accepted. Hours: Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. & 5-11 p.m.; Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. & 5-11 p.m. Visa, MasterCard and American Express excepted.
Tapas Restaurant and Nightclub
4253 Martingale Way, Newport Beach, (949) 756-8194
Newport Beach's premier Spanish-themed restaurant, Tapas Restaurant and Night Club continues its stellar tradition of merging fantastic, authentic Spanish cuisine with some of SoCal's hottest salsa bands and flamenco dancers. Now featuring reggae on Wednesdays and club music on Thursdays, this award-winning restaurant still rests its reputation on its fantastic food, including three types of paellas and 20 varieties of tapas. This place is hotter than a Mexican chile pepper and never fails to provide a good time.
Services: takeout and catering available. Full bar. Reservations essential on Saturdays. Parking. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Wed.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. All major credit cards accepted.
14988 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, (949) 551-2998
Inside, you'll find the longest bar in OC and more than 100 brands of tequilas on the shelf behind it. Tuesdays at Tia Juana's feature 50-cent tacos during happy hour (4-8 p.m.) and a live salsa band by night. Don't deny yourself the free happy-hour buffet every Wednesday through Friday or the $2 margaritas and well drinks. Thursdays are hot with salsa music and free dance lessons (also on Saturdays) with Rudy from 8 to 9 p.m. Fridays host more hot salsa bands, while Saturdays feature a DJ spinning—you guessed it—salsa, rock en español and disco. Party on!
Services: takeout available. Full bar. Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11-1 a.m. All major credit cards accepted.
Troquet French Bistro
3333 Bristol St., South Coast Plaza, Ste. 3001, Costa Mesa, (714) 708-6865
Want to relive the ambiance and classic culinary aroma of the French Riviera, or maybe just live the fantasy you envisioned while reading Peter Mayle's A Year in Province? Trouquet French Bistro offers the best of Provincial French cuisine with an American twist. Enjoy a cozy, romantic setting while feasting on Maytag blue cheese appetizers or scallops, followed up by a dinner of veal cheeks. Top off this dining extravaganza with either a chocolate soufflé cake or the heavenly prune Armagnac ice cream. Trés magnifique!
Services: full bar with an excellent wine list. Reservations suggested. Parking available. Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5:30-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5:30-10 p.m.
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Wahoos Fish Tacos
1862 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 631-3433; with locations in Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Lake Forest, San Clemente, Irvine and another one in Costa Mesa
It has been said that Wahoo's has the world's greatest fish tacos. That would pretty much be the truth, especially when said tacos are immersed in savory black beans, splattered with spices, and piled with shredded cabbage and grated Cheddar cheese. A favorite with local surfers for years, it's no wonder that this restaurant is multiplying at a lagamophic rate, covering Orange County and spreading into Los Angeles and even Colorado.
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. MasterCard and Visa accepted.