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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                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                          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,


#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,


#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,


#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,


#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,


#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,


#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,

Metro Events

Dan Pittman

The Westin South Coast Plaza Raises Curtain on Broadway Show Series Promotions

COSTA MESA, CA, May 2, 2018 – In celebration of the Broadway Series now playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, The Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is raising the curtain on special guest promotions designed to enhance their theatrical experience. The Center is conveniently just steps away from the hotel.

With the arrival of the megahit show Hamilton on May 8, the hotel‘s cozy Lobby Bar is offering 10 different items priced at $10 each, so guests can enjoy themselves while they honor the show’s namesake Alexander Hamilton, who served as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and whose portrait is on the $10 bill.

For overnight guests coming to Hamilton, the hotel has a special package that includes overnight self-parking for one vehicle, complimentary internet access and two glasses of Federalist wine per night History buffs will know that the man who pioneered the Federalist Party was Alexander Hamilton. The winery’s flagship Visionary Zinfandel honors this early American patriot.

As the Broadway Series continues with shows like The Color Purple, School of Rock and On Your Feet!, the hotel invites guests to book an overnight stay and enjoy two glasses of a Broadway-show themed beverage, plus complimentary internet access and overnight self-parking for one vehicle per night.  

The Segerstrom Center promotion is called Raise a Glass and can be booked through the Westin South Coast Plaza’s Offer Page:

Or by calling the hotel at 714-540-2500 and asking to reserve the Raise a Glass package with rateplan: LPPKG1. For more information about the Broadway Series, visit

“We are delighted to invite our guests to enhance their Broadway show experience at nearby Segerstrom Center for the Arts by staying and playing with us,” said Tricia Eschle, the hotel’s director of sales.

Conveniently situated in Orange County’s commercial and cultural center, The Westin South Coast Plaza is considered to be Orange County’s landmark hotel and is the only premiere Westin property in the county. It features 394 spacious guestrooms and 35,000 square feet of unique indoor and outdoor meeting space that can accommodate up to 600 participants banquet style.  The unique Terrace Level offers a relaxing outdoor space ideal for wedding and gala events, plus an outdoor gazebo specifically designed for wedding ceremonies and themed events.

Located at 686 Anton Boulevard in Costa Mesa, California, The Westin is adjacent to South Coast Plaza, the renowned international shopping and dining destination. With a unique mix of more than 250 luxury and fashion boutiques and 30 restaurants, South Coast Plaza offers the ultimate retail experience.  For information about The Westin, call (714) 540-2500 or visit

22nd Annual Artist’s Eye Open Competition

May 23rd to June 24th
Open call for art. Take-in is Sunday, May 20 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Reception and Awards: Saturday, May 26th from 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Showcase Gallery and Bear Street Gallery invite you to attend the Opening Reception for The Artist’s Eye Competition. This is a friendly, open-to-the-pubic judged event with art submitted by roughly 40 local artists. It’s a fun evening and an opportunity to mingle with the artists, enjoy live entertainment and refreshments and watch as winners are presented with awards. We hope you will join OCFA for this exciting annual event.

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
From international superstardom to life-threatening tragedy, On Your Feet! takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet.
For more information and ticket purchases, contact Diane Pritchett: 714.435.2109 or

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

Use Promo Code SCMA to save 20% on Pacific Symphony concert tickets!

2018 Classical Series:

  • Performance dates: May 31 – June 2
  • Performance dates: June 14-16


Sunday Casual Connections Series:

  • Performance date: June 17, 2018


Tickets can also be purchased by phone.
Louise Jacobs, RMT/BC
Director of Group & Corporate Sales
Direct: 714.876.2311 │Tickets: 714.755.5799

Restaurant News

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.

Enhance Your Hamilton Theatre Experience with Dinner

Silver Trumpet would like to introduce their FOUNDING FATHERS Package and Dining Experience while Hamilton is playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. If you’ve been among the fortunate who have scored tickets to the blockbuster show, consider this: are you looking to attend the musical casually–or are you looking to have a full theatrical experience and memory?
Silver Trumpet is running a special prix fixe menu from May 8-28 while Hamilton is in town. When you have dinner at Silver Trumpet, enjoy validated self-parking in their convenient structure just steps away from the theatre! It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy dinner before the show, save money on parking, and have the convenience of location on your side!

Something New Brewing at Karl Strauss

Isomerization. It’s the chemical process in which alpha acids are converted into hop oils and infused into the beer during a rolling boil. Isomerizer IPA has aromas of passion fruit, citrus zest, and grapefruit backed by subtle flavors of cracked wheat. Finishing dry and hoppy, this single hop American IPA proves you don’t need to be a super hero or a Brewmaster to appreciate the isomerization of hops.


Oh look, it’s a brewery from San Diego talking about sunshine. How original. But for us, the perfect sunny day is so much more than our city’s cliché. Follow the Sun is bright, crisp, and refreshing, with Noble hop bitterness and a clean finish. This Pilsner is a toast to our community, a celebration of the spirit of San Diego, and an invitation for you to enjoy a sessionable beer that can hang out for as long as you can.


Wine & Music Wednesdays at Vitaly

Get wined and dined at Vitaly Caffe every Wednesday from 6PM – 9:30PM. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy an intimate night of live music and wine.

Tour of Italy | Friday, June 22nd at 6:30 pm – Take a trip through Italy at Antonello Ristorante with their series of special dinners featuring cuisine from the many unique regions of Italy. They will be featuring Campania, located on the southwest coast of Italy, this region is renowned for its buffalo mozzarella and regional pastries! Includes three course meal and wine pairings. $40 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 714.751.7153 for reservations.


Reserve Your Private Dining Room!
Antonello Ristorante offers several private dining rooms accommodating parties of just a few, or larger events of more than 80 guests! They have no room fees, and also offer set menus to cater to any budget. They are available to make arrangements for audio visual equipment, entertainment, and decorations. Valet parking is also available. Click here to make a reservation, or call 714.751.7153

Retail News

May Promo at the Retreat Salon

The Retreat Salon is doing an awesome promotion for the month of May! For the entire month of May, they will be offering $15 off any color and haircut service with an additional 15% off any products in the salon.

LIULI New Gallery Re-Opening & Tax-Free

Now through May 28

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 or call Diane Pritchett  for a hard copy of the 2017/2018 issue: 714.435.2109

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.