The annual event known as Orange County Restaurant Week commences this Sunday. As a consumer, this is the week to experiment and save a few dollars. For the restaurants, it’s a week from Hell where they’re not turning much of a profit. If anything, this brings new faces who may become regulars.
Let’s be honest: there’s a lot to read. Hopefully you’ve got that friend who wants to click on every. damn. menu. Or (in our case) get selective. We decided to restrict ourselves to certain price points. Once you factor in drinks, tax and gratuity, you’re pretty much another $10-$20 deep anyway. We are going from most expensive to least, because it’ll keep you reading longer.
Five restaurants are stepping up and offering a “LUXE” experience for a whopping $80. For $30 over the previously highest price point, our expectations run high. And our guaranteed favorite: Selanne Steak Tavern. Excellent selection of entrees, two wine pours and a lovely setting (we prefer feasting in the cozy Wine Library) mean an excuse to get dressed up. Plus, possible Selanne sighting? Priceless.
Our next price point is $40. While there are many possible options, we whittled it down to three. If you haven’t stopped by Fly & Fish over by Newport Pier, you should. Chef Julio does great seafood, especially his chowder and cioppino. Bosscat by John Wayne will leave you in a food coma. And that whiskey selection is bonus. Finally, Justin Miller inside Pizzeria Ortica offers a little bit of everything on his menu. Pair that with something shaken or stirred from the bar, and you’re set.
What can we get for $20? More than you think. Try a pork belly sandwich, house made ice cream and Korean egg salad from Old Towne Orange’s Provisions. Yes, a motivator for selecting here is their legit tap list. The deal at Lillie’s Q is good for lunch or dinner, so stop by whenever for deviled eggs, smoked meats, sides and ‘nana pudding.
At lunch, we browsed the $15 menu for ideas. If you like hot pot, try the chicken special over at True Seasons Organic Kitchen. Diners into clean eating will appreciate the cooking broth and fresh veggies. Or head to solita for a quick bite, with grilled corn elote and a trio of tacos
Lastly, we spotted something else new while browsing C4’s lunch deal: Brunch! Served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., your $20 will earn you bottomless mimosas or champagne, a choice between four entrees and crispy tots. Sounds like our kind of weekend.
No matter where you choose, remember that it’s only from March 6 to 12. Start planning and booking after you’ve checked out the official site.
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.