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75 Best Places to Eat in OC

New in South Coast Metro 05-10-18

From the Orange County Register                                                                             By Brad A. Johnson
Sunday, May 4, 2018                                                                                                     bajohnson@scng.com
                                                                                                                                          bradajohnson on Twiter

Through all the highs and lows of an incessant dining routine, my mission is always clear: provide a roadmap to the best places to eat in Orange County. These are the pins on that map.

#2 Vaca

Although huge American-style steaks really aren’t a thing in Spain, this Spanish steakhouse from Amar Santana and Ahmed Labbate has nonetheless become the undisputed king of Spanish cuisine in Southern California. The house specialty is the 50-day dry-aged ribeyes that weigh upward of 2 pounds. The Spanish hams are superb, too, as are the paellas and tapas, especially the bikini sandwich and the chicken canelon. What to drink: The Vaca tonic is sublime, but you’ll also want to consider a bottle of Spanish wine.
695 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-463-6060, vacarestaurant.com

 

#3 Arc

Chef Noah Blöm is largely responsible for kindling the wood-fire revolution that has swept America, but unlike most restaurants that have followed in his footsteps, Blöm’s kitchen at Arc is fueled exclusively with wood. No gas. No electric appliances. Everything cooked here is touched by wood fire and smoke: mushrooms with a free-range egg, chicken and broccoli casserole, crab cakes, meatballs, lobster and a burger like you’ve never seen. The sirloin steak with duck-fat potatoes is easily the best steak you will find for $24, but if you dare to splurge, there’s a whole other world of fancier cuts.
3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-500-5561, arcrestaurant.com

 

#9 Capital Grille

Professional waiters wear white jackets and trade business cards with high-powered customers at this old-school steakhouse at South Coast Plaza, which seems to have gotten better and better over the past couple of years. The dry-aged, bone-in New York strip is as good as it gets, and it gets even better with a stiff Manhattan. For dessert: coconut cream pie.
3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-432-1140, thecapitalgrille.com

 

#10 Taco Maria

Chef Carlos Salgado’s reinvention of Mexican cuisine is one of the most important things to happen to the California food scene this decade. No one else is doing what Salgado does with tortillas and beans, or for that matter with wood-fired arrachera or tongue-searing scallop aguachile. Chorizo, mole, carnitas … the menu (prix fixe most nights) might sound familiar, but the flavors and presentations will have you second-guessing everything you thought you knew about Mexican food. At lunchtime, and on Tuesday nights, Taco María goes à la carte and actually serves tacos, albeit not your typical idea of tacos.
3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714-538-8444, tacomaria.com

 

#13 Mastro’s Steakhouse

Great steaks are expensive. Period. There’s no way around it. If you want a truly special steak, you’re going to have to pay dearly for it. The chef’s-cut 30-ounce ribeye is as hedonistic as it gets, but this is also the finest USDA Prime beef available. The chilled seafood towers are the envy of seafood towers everywhere. Fair warning: Bathroom attendants assist you in the john, even though nobody needs or wants that.
633 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, 714-546-7405, mastrosrestaurants.com

 

#30 Din Tai Fung

Taiwan’s most prestigious dumpling chain has several California locations but none swankier than the South Coast Plaza branch. Everyone is here for its famous Shanghai-style xiao long bao, also known as soup dumplings. But the menu goes so much deeper than that. The deeper you dig, the more you will be rewarded. The wait can stretch upward of two hours, so put your name down and go shopping. They’ll text you when your table is almost ready.
3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-549-3388, dintaifungusa.com

 

#59 Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge

The pre-theater menu of this restaurant inside the Segerstrom Concert Hall has been retooled as an intimate steakhouse. The steaks are excellent but not particularly large because most people who eat here don’t want to have to carry a doggy bag into the theater after dinner, which makes sense. Great wines. Terrific foie gras torchon.
615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-429-7640, patinagroup.com

Metro Events

Knife Pleat to Open at South Coast Plaza

Renowned L.A-based chef-restaurateurs Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi will bring French concept to luxury center’s Penthouse in 2019

South Coast Plaza is pleased to announce that Knife Pleat, a new French restaurant by chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, will open in early 2019. A power couple in Southern California’s culinary scene, Esnault and Sarmadi are highly regarded for Spring and Church & State, sought-after downtown Los Angeles restaurants that have earned stellar reviews from top critics. Both French restaurants have consistently placed in Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold’s annual “101 Best Restaurants” for the Los Angeles Times.
The couple envisions Knife Pleat as “elegant yet approachable,” designed to complement the contemporary style of South Coast Plaza while incorporating elements of tradition. The cuisine of Knife Pleat will reflect Esnault’s modern interpretation of classic French techniques, drawing from his 25 years of fine dining experience in Europe, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The restaurant, located in the exclusive Penthouse on level 3, measures 5,000 square feet and will accommodate 90 guests. The name Knife Pleat came about as a play on food and fashion at South Coast Plaza. It is borrowed from a fashion term referring to a precise pleat with folds pressed in one direction.

Upcoming Shows at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

There are benefits to living and working in South Coast Metro. Special group tickets are available for the following shows:
School of Rock on Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 pm.
Special ticket price: $89.00
Based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into grade-A rockers. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber.
On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan on Thursday, August 23 at 7:30 pm.
Special ticket price: $80.68
On Your Feet! is the inspiring true story about heart, heritage and two people who believed in their talent—and each other—to become an international sensation: Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
For more information and ticket purchases, contact Diane Pritchett: 714.435.2109 or alliance@southcoastmetro.com

Free Events on the Argyros Plaza for May

We explore the Southern California music scene and select up and coming artists that you want to see before everyone else. Americana singer-songwriter Stevie Talks begins his Tuesday residency with free live performances on the Julianne and George Argyros Stage. Stevie Talks walks to his own indie-folk infused beat.
  • Tuesday, May 22 at 6:15 pm

Plaza Fit
Plaza Fit offers free after-hours workouts with local instructors on the Julianne and Argyros Plaza every Wednesday in May. Bring your own mat and stand in Tadasana at our yoga class (5/2, 5/16, 5/30) or enjoy a little merengue, salsa, cumbia and reggaeton during the newest Dance Cardio class (5/9, 5/23) in the City of the Arts!

  • Wednesday, May 23 at 5:45 pm
  • Wednesday, May 30 at 5:45 pm

Apollo Bebop: Live on the Argyros Stage
Named after the Greek God of music, Apollo Bebop is a five-piece band who “have figured out a contemporary marriage of jazz and hip-hop a la The Roots” – OC Weekly. Inspired by artists Chance the Rapper and John Coltrane among others, the band is both classic and contemporary and frequently perform across the Orange County music scene.

  • Friday, May 25 at 6:15 pm
Dylan Romaine Quartet: Live on the Argyros Stage
Join us on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza for a free performance by the jazz guitarist Dylan Romaine and his ensemble. This promising Quartet offers an exciting repertoire perfectly balanced with a refreshing sense of improvisation.
  • Saturday, May 26 at 6:00 pm
Jill Sargeant: Live on the Argyros Stage
From New York to Los Angeles, many find Sargeant’s voice to be soothing and melodious à la Norah Jones while her ukulele infuses her music with an upbeat and jazzy rhythm. Listen to “Sweet to Me” off her debut album, Sweet and Sour, and you’ll find yourself swaying to and fro.
  • Sunday, May 27 at 5:00 pm
Sophia Dion: Live on the Argyros Stage
Drawing inspiration from musicians Joss Stone and KT Tunstall, Dion recently garnered an audition for Season 14 of NBC’s “The Voice.” Sophia Dion’s indie-pop lyrics and soulful guitar riffs encouraged Acoustic Guitar magazine to name her as an up and coming female artist to watch in 2017.
  • Thursday, May 24 at 6:15 pm

Check out the 2017/2018 edition of the South Coast Metro 360!

The glossy, full-color magazine that covers Orange County’s  cultural, culinary and commercial center. Visit our website at southcoastmetro.com or call Diane Pritchett  for a hard copy of the 2017/2018 issue: 714.435.2109

Marketing Materials

There is an ample amount of marketing materials

South Coast Plaza Gift Certificates
South Coast Plaza gift certificates make the perfect gift for any occasion. For more information contact Diane Pritchett: 714.435.2109.