Kona Grill, the Hawaiian-themed, Arizona-based restaurant chain, opened its first California location at the Irvine Spectrum last week, across from Yard House where the Improv used to be. The chain already has over 30 restaurants in 19 other states. Among the items on the menu are Macadamia Nut Chicken with a pineapple-papaya marmalade, Miso-Sake Sea Bass and a passion fruit creme brulee for dessert. Sushi rolls are also featured.
623 Fortune Dr, Irvine, CA 92618
Little Sparrow in Santa Ana closed Saturday. The owners have decided to change it to a new concept called BlackBox. In an e-mail, they wrote: "Over the past three years Little Sparrow quickly grew from a neighborhood cafe into a nationally and regionally award winning restaurant. Along the way we had a lot of fun—turning ourselves into a French pop-up, being on a reality TV show, and just generally being a part of the burgeoning dining and cocktail scene in Orange County. Now it is time for this little bird to pivot once again. This Saturday, April 16th, will be our final day of service as the Little Sparrow you know so well." Though the menu will change, they said BlackBox will retain Little Sparrow's award-winning craft cocktail program. Also, Hopper & Burr will still be there serving coffee during the day.
300 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92701
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In Laguna Hills, Stefano’s, an Italian-influenced cafe, serving mainly artisan paninis, opened last week. Among the menu items: Burgini Panini and a meatloaf sandwich on rye. Stefano's is owned and operated by the Stefano family, who also has a restaurant in Yorba Linda with the same name.
24781 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Patagonia Empanadas, which used to be located at the back of a liquor store in "a nebulous region of Santa Ana and Tustin best known for no-tell motels, abandoned restaurants and the 55 freeway", as Gustavo wrote, has moved into an actual restaurant space that used to be Crepeland in Orange. They still serve the same empanadas which Gustavo described previously as "gigantic, crust as soft as butter, ingredients spiked with serranos for an extra kick, and rarities thrown in among the tried-and-true chicken and spinach varieties."
2279 N Tustin St., Orange, CA 92865