More veggies = less guilt about ordering alcohol; photo courtesy True Food Kitchen
More spring menus? Why, yes. A change in seasons gets kitchens excited about new produce and ways to incorporate it into their menus. This time around, we find one DTSA local and a few well-branded names cranking out delicious dishes.
Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar – Huntington Beach, Orange, Brea, Irvine
One of our favorite chain brands, Lazy Dog’s been putting out delicious seasonal fare from the first time we tried their lamb osso buco. These days, their selection includes Slow-Cooked Lentil Soup, flavorful Street Corn Wheels, and the hearty Veggie Burger Bowl. Say hello to spicy carrots, avocado, baby kale, marinated tomatoes, black sesame seeds, roasted red peppers, lentils and a lemon vinaigrette to make this meal sing. Their creative team, headed by Chef Gabe Caliendo, is making the most of the test kitchen at their Brea location. www.lazydogrestaurants.com.
Chapter One: the modern local – Santa Ana
You could be good and order their Roasted Beet or Caprese Salad. Or you could say, “Eff that!” and do the French Dip. We consider the happy medium to be Chapter’s Pancit Bihon: Vermicelli rice noodles, chicken, pork belly, snow peas, carrots, celery, cabbage and fried garlic. Bonus: They’ve also started a $15, two-course lunch. Start with Tomato-basil Bisque or California Green Salad. Then move on to seafood, salad, or that yummy pancit. Did we mention unlimited fountain drinks? Available weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 227 N. Broadway, (714) 352-2225; www.chapteronetml.com.
True Food Kitchen – Newport Beach
We believed the food at True was so healthy already, that modifying the menu was practically pointless. Fortunately, the powers that be disagree with us. Spring brings updated versions of fancy toast (asparagus, hemp seed, green garbanzo), seasonal salad (watercress, sprouted almond, tumeric chia vinaigrette) and a Grilled Artichoke and Pesto Pizza. Featuring summer squash, Aleppo chili and vegan almond ricotta, this is one tasty pie. 451 Newport Center Dr., (949) 644-2400; www.truefoodkitchen.com.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill – all locations
Tacos might not be a spring thing, but bringing back Chimichurri ones made with Wild Alaska Coho Salmon is pretty sweet. Made of parsley, basil, olive oil, and garlic, its Argentinian-inspired flavor makes everything taste better. As an alternative to chips and pinto beans, healthy eaters can now request a side of greens with lemon agave vinaigrette as their side option. Sounds like springtime to us. www.rubios.com.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.