Orange County is an often underrated mecca of delicious flavors for your tastebuds. From red patty buns to gelato with faces, the OC has a creatively tasty food scene.
To consolidate the many restaurants of the many cities in Orange County to just 50 was very difficult. However, this is the best we can do to give you some of the best, diverse spots around in this tasty section of Southern California (in no particular order mind you). Trust us — you won’t want to wait on going to these places.
$$$ (Level: Date Night)
1. Las Brisas
Las Brisas literally translates to “The Breezes.” Why, you may, ask is this relevant? Because this restaurant allows you to eat the best Mexican seafood next to the ocean. I shall repeat: you’re eating food next to the damn ocean. Talk about aesthetic — this establishment shines its light on the patrons with their dynamic dishes, along with (literally) the sunlight reflecting on the ocean.
Agora Churrascaria is nothing to skip over as you attempt to find yourself a nice Brazilian barbecue restaurant in the OC. This buffet-style spot has a wide variety of meats, salad fixings, and other items that will make you salivate from the smell that hits you when you enter. Like, have you ever tasted of a bacon-wrapped filet mignon? That is next level, without a doubt.
Steak. It’s freaking delicious. What more could you want? Okay, how about eating a steak with a piano player busting out fancy tunes in the background while you look and appreciate the rustic, authentic decor of the restaurant around you? You’re probably at Summit House, and if this is the case, it’s a decision you will not regret, as the workers here will tell you about some of the most delicious tasting foods ever.
If the words “authenticity” and “France” are ever supposed to be together in a sentence together, one of the reasons this would be is to describe the bomb-ass French cuisine of Marché Moderne. This place is one of the few genuine French restaurants that serves classic French foods like escargot and foie gras with a modern twists to them.
Level: Average Joe ($$)
If you’re feeling those Disney vibes, but don’t have enough in the bank to drop on tickets, head over to the neighboring Downtown Disney and go to Jazz Kitchen. Fresh beignets, steaming bowls of gumbo soup, hearty servings of jambalaya, southern fried chicken and waffles, and a plethora of seafood bring all the heavenly flavors of New Orleans right to you.
Is all-you-can-eat your way of life? Are you a sushi enthusiast? Then Sushi4u is where you want to be. Sushi4u offers great quality fish, a wide selection of nigiri and sides, and many other things that’ll make any sushi advocate a happy camper (or in this case a happy diver…. you see what I did there… because fish live in the ocean). They don’t skimp on the ratio of fish to rice and really give you your bang for your buck.
In the midst of a distant strip mall in La Habra, you hear lively music and people chattering enthusiastically. You’re probably hearing the vibrant atmosphere of Moro’s Cuban Restaurant, serving up traditional foods of Cuba that will make your taste buds come alive. Empanadas, garlic shrimp, mariquitas — it’s all here for your consumption.
If you’re in the mood for some seafood, then try the oysters, chowder, and seafood stew at Shuck Oyster Bar. Delivered from over 60 farms, these oysters are guaranteed fresh and therefore tasty. The ambiance is also very nice at this establishment, giving you the feeling of being on vacation at one of those seaside bars.
What’s brewing at Kimmie’s Coffee Cup is delicious family-style comfort food that will leave your breakfast and lunch cravings happy and satisfied. The best part is that their portions are known to be very generous, which is a total plus.
10. Vegan Nirvana
For all my veggies lover out there, Vegan Nirvana will put you at peace in one of the best food comas of your life. Some say that this is the best plant-based food restaurant out there, and meat eaters (like myself) alike even apprecitate the appetizing grub they offer. The names of the items are whimsical, giving customers the pleasure of ordering things like the “Kingdom of God,” the “Ocean of Love,” and “Deep Sea Meditation.”
Rasoi Curry Point serves classic Indian dishes, such as the chicken tikka masala and (my personal favorite) fluffly naan bread along with more eccentric, spicier curries. They also have an all-you-can-eat option so there is no shame in dropping a few extra dollar bills to fully enjoy an unlimited supply of this yummy food.
For all my alcohol lovers out there that are just looking for some good vibes, good food, and good amounts of booze, Wursthaus is definitely the place you should visit. Known as a popular gastropub in the downtown Santa Ana area, this place offers Belgian fries, drunken fries, and mouthwatering, gourmet sausages. Also, they have some pretty damn good music that you can dance along with while you’re a bit inebriated from the many assortments of booze. Just saying.
13. The Kroft
This list would not make sense without a restaurant dedicating itself to make the best poutine out there. The Kroft brings out the pig in all of us by doing just that. This establishment also makes their meals with ingredients that follow the phrase FLOSS — fresh, local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal. Poutine fries, cheese curds, and meats of all kinds are only the few things you will drool over at this place.
If you’ve never heard or experienced teppanyaki-style food, then going to Koki’s is a must. The chefs are literally five inches away from your face, making your meal while simultaneously entertaining the you. The chefs form onion ring volcanos, toss zucchini into your mouth, perform egg tricks, and display other antics to keep you delighted.
The good food of New Orleans, AKA Cajun food, is embodied in Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking, a restaurant that cooks the best chowder, jambalaya, and gumbo in town. They don’t just call it kettle cooking either, they actually cook the entree right in front of you in their decked out kettles, meaning you’re getting the freshest eats. Spice level is all up to you, so don’t hold back.
16. Urban Seoul
If traditional Korean dishes and Mexican/American styles of food ever had a flavor baby together, Urban Seoul would be the result. Created in the name of culture mixing, this establishment has a large array of plates that combine two countries together to make one mouthwatering entity. Items like the OG bibimbap and spicy rice balls are available to keep the true nature and cultural foods of Korea, as well as the American-influenced Kalbi burgers.
17. Waffle Affair
What more in the world could you ever want than a house dedicating itself to produce the best waffles in all of OC? This is what the Waffle Affair is about. Not only are their waffles made from scratch and baked to order, but the ingredients are incorporated into the waffle itself to prevent you from missing even one bit of the tasty goodness. Chocolate chip, maple bacon glazed, banana and nutella are only a few of the different varieties. Seriously, if you like waffles even a tiny bit, this place is a must.
When you think of fish, you would probably imagine just the “cha-ching” sound, because seafood served alone can sometimes be a pretty pricey. Slapfish accommodates for those tighter budgets by turning fish dishes into a fast food sandwich empire, serving the freshest of fish in between crispy buns for a fair price. Surf ‘n turf lobster rolls and clobster (yes, crab and lobster) grilled cheeses are a couple of items that you will die for here.
Udon. Even before you read the rest of this paragraph, I know you’re drooling. Who doesn’t just love those thick, Japanese noodles? Fukada will make you obsess over this classic Japanese dish item even more than you could imagine, because it’s known as one of the best udon shops in the OC. Come extra early to avoid the huge crowd that will be waiting restlessly to dive into Fukada’s glorious food.
20. GD Bro Burger
We’ve all had a burger before. Let me ask you, then, have you ever tried a burger with red buns? GD Bro Burger strives to think of unconventional ways to construct a hamburger in between their signature bright red buns. Mozzarella sticks and pico de gallo may not be your traditional burger toppings, but these imaginative masters do not give a flying fadoodle about conventional rules.
Made from the marriage of two Orange County food trucks, Burntzilla is an establishment that puts any other sliders (mini burgers between some Hawaiian buns) or any other zillas (mini hot dogs between some Hawaiian buns) to rest. With many different french fry options (such as carne asada, fried chicken, bacon, garlic, and naked), as well as a plethora of drinks and desserts, this is the ultimate source of some America’s favorites.
22. Taco Asylum
For all you that go crazy for tacos, you’re going to get yourself locked up at the Taco Asylum, located at the popular Camp in Costa Mesa. With both happy hours and Taco Tuesdays, this place will introduce you to the strangest, yet most appetizing tacos you will ever taste such as the bacon PB&J, baby octopus, and shrimp pad thai tacos.
23. Tang 190
What? A Korean restaurant with mostly soups? Tang 190 keeps it simple, offering short rib soup, potato soup, and complimentary side dishes. Of course, they serve bibimbap and a few other non-soup items to please the rice lovers. Everything here is jam-packed with flavors.
24. Cafe Hiro
Before you begin debating with your fellow diners about which kind of food to indulge in, consider the fact that Cafe Hiro blends the flavors of Japan, Italy, and France — it’s the ultimate fusion that you cannot miss. Think about sea urchin uni spaghetti and salmon spring rolls. Intrigued? You’re just going to have to try it for yourself.
25. The Pizza Press
It wouldn’t make sense for this list to be compiled of several restaurants and not have a pizzeria. The Pizza Press, located near Disneyland in Anaheim, is typically full of customers that want to try out these unique, delicious pies. This spot follows a playful newspaper theme, naming some of their pies after prominent papers. Rumor is that these pizzas are so good people order more than one for themselves. We won’t tell…
It goes without saying that a good barbeque place needs to have quality service and quality food. Anjin nails this with its appetizing Japanese barbeque. Although it is not all-you-can-eat and you have to order every once in awhile, this does not change anything about the experience. People praise everything about the food for its quality. Prime boneless short rib, salted tongue, kobe style beef — it’s all here, ready to be consumed by you.
27. The Playground
Like one can infer from the name, The Playground is a place where you just have fun with your food. How, you ask? This restaurant makes great effort to change its menu every single day. Popular items are reused every now and then, but for the most part, you’ll see new dishes on their menus daily. The names of the dishes will definitely peak your interest, such as “Justin’s Super Spicy (For White Boys) Isaan Style Sausage” or “Jan Remembers His Glory Days.” Much fun.
28. Break of Dawn
Break of Dawn is a restaurant like no other. While a seemingly regular brunch place, the story behind the restaurant is so much more than just that. Take the opportunity to ask a staff member or do a lil’ research on their story before trying their brilliant food. Be warned, this tale may be a tear jerker. And you might just cry because the food is that good. French toast creme brûlée and goat chili are some of the more interesting things on the menu that may compel you to come to this spot.
The Black Trumpet delivers on a perfect foodie experience with quality food that matches the beautiful decor. Inside, diners enjoy a jazzy “dinner club” atmosphere with nothing too flashy — the perfect hang out for cool cats like yourself. The menu is split into Earth, Land, Sea, and Green, a unique way to display the many tapas and small plates they have to offer.
30. The Smoking Ribs
Located in Garden Grove, it may surprise some that a barbecue restaurant is highly-acclaimed amongst many great Vietnamese and Korean places around here. Do not let the location fool you, for The Smoking Ribs are some of the most tender, flavorful ribs in town. With classic Southern eats such as pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, and onion rings, The Smoking Ribs is the joint to try when you’re feeling you want hella meat that’s hella yummy.
Level: College Student ($)
31. Seaside Bakery
It’s 1 am and you notice that all your favorite late-night shops are starting to finally to close. You’re hungry. You’re scared. You suddenly remember reading this article and its talk of the wildly popular Seaside Bakery. This small shop right on the oceanside of Newport Beach is open 24 hours. It caters to all cases of the drunchies for college students nearby in the area, serving tasty ham and cheese croissants, as well as a multitude of donuts and other pastries/drinks.
32. Chelo Creamery
Chelo Creamery’s mission statement is “make life sweeter” — simply put, but powerful. They have a crazy assortments of items on their menu, giving customers the ability to choose between gelato, Italian ice, waffles and cream, gelatoroons, shaved ice, and ice cream. Woah. It also goes without saying that this shop’s product deserves to be in an art gallery, because the presentation is mighty fine.
33. Poke Dot
The poke craze seems to be the hitting foodie scene with high mileage as many people search for some of the best poke in their region. Poke Dot would be one of those places. Serving a wide variety of fresh fish and vegetables, this establishment will have your palette in a rush with its salty and sweet flavors.
34. Mil Jugos
“Stellar Venezuelan food is somewhat uncommon to see in Orange County” is something an amateur who has not tried Mil Jugos would say. Mil Jugos, being the first ever Venezuelan restaurant in downtown Santa Ana, has picked up speed with a lot of advocates for their mouthwatering foods straight out of their home country, like cachapas and arepas.
35. Banzai Bowls
Acai bowls are not only trendy AF, but offer a healthy yet tasty option for any meal. Banzai Bowls delivers some of the best bowls in the market, featuring dreamy names like Maui Sunrise and Sharks Cove that go along with an aesthetically pleasing bowl of fruity goodness. Delicious pitaya bowls and refreshing smoothies are served as well.
Piadina is an Italian word referencing a type of flatbread. This restaurant provides you the best of Italy, all served in a convenient pocket of yum. Serving fresh and traditional sandwiches, salads, and even gelato, this is the place to go to get the best, inexpensive Italian food.
First things first, we can all agree that whoever created the name of this restaurant was a baller. The real focus here is on the food, and the food they serve is simply awesome. Creating excellent fusion foods with Asian and Mexican influences, this restaurant dons a simple menu that delivers on a whole different level, serving yummy bowls and burritos for the people.
If you ever want your tummy satisfied with some of the best custard and ice cream ever, Joe has you covered. Joe’s Italian Ice is one of the best and most friendly places to be when you’re craving some dessert. You can get a wild array of flavors that are posted on their Facebook and Instagram every day. If you’re lucky, you can catch the homie Joe out in the front just greeting people. His vibrant attitude makes the experience that much better.
39. Yoshiharu Ramen
Ramen is one of those foods that really never gets old. Yoshiharu Ramen embodies the principles of quick and quality service, serving their noodles fast to eager and hungry patrons. All your favorite traditional ramens are here, like the spicy miso ramen and shoyu ramen.
40. M & M Donuts
In a region very close to Disneyland, this mini shop brings in a large number of customers during the weekends who want to get their hands on these infamous donuts. Open from 9 am to virtually the entire night, M & M Donuts provides some of the most mouthwatering donuts in Orange County. Their most iconic products are the glazed blueberry donuts and their M&M covered donuts. Just let the first bite of glaze and sugar dissolve into your mouth.
41. Yogi’s Teriyaki
There’s nothing in life more simple and filling than a bowl of rice, meat, and sauce to top it off. This is the type of meal that Yogi’s Teriyaki provides, undoubtedly one of the best local teriyaki bowl shops in the county of Orange.
#SpoonTip: You get to choose the amount of their homemade sauce that you want, so do NOT hold back. Your taste buds will be glad.
42. Honey & Butter
You may be looking at this picture and wonder what the heck have you stumbled upon. These, my friends, are Pokemon macarons. At Honey & Butter you can find cats, video games, and anime in the form of a fancy cookie. Hurry over, because after they open at 12 pm, they close once they sell out. The hype for this small store is real.
43. Afters Ice Cream
Ever heard of a milky bun? You know, kind of like a donut with ice cream in it? If you have, most likely you would have heard it from someone who’s been to Afters Ice Cream. With the expression, “ice cream is cheaper than therapy,” Afters Ice Cream indulges its customers on yummy sweets. If you’re on the fence between a good day and a bad day, you will not regret a trip to this popular destination.
44. Eiswelt Gelato
Admittedly, I think stuffed animals are pretty awesome. Now imagine having stuffed animals that are edible and tasty. A bittersweet moment, but mostly sweet. Eiswelt Gelato provides such an experience with gelato that have adorable little faces on them and the cones are shaped in an unique fashion. Flavors like durian and s’mores may seem unusual, but are delicious regardless.
45. Snow Monster
Ice cream sandwiches, shaved ice, and drinks that come in cute little monster drink jars are the many things Snow Monster offers to its patrons. Bonus points, Snow Monster gets next-level with their board games so you can play some Jenga or cards whilst indulging. The best part is you don’t even have to return your jar that the drink comes out in — you just get yourself a nice, free souvenir with your drink purchase.
46. Kech Cafe
Alright, get this: this establishment is literally inside a gas station. But don’t let that fool you, because this Shell station is the most legendary of gas stations. Kech Cafe prides itself in serving Mediterranean food to hungry customers who might like a side of food with their order of gasoline. Everything with pesto in it is a must, like the chicken pesto sandwich or the garlic chicken pesto pizza.
47. Mick’s Karma Bar
Hidden in a the midst of a business park, Mick’s Karma Bar is presented as one of the finer burger places of the OC. It attracts customer to its hip shop with a simple chalkboard in the restaurant boasting all of their tasty eats. Order a classic karma burger with fresh Karma fries along with their original strawberry basil lemonade for the ultimate wombo combo. You’ll be sure to come back for more after your first experience.
48. Crepe Coop
Crepes, coffee, and tea — enough said. Without a doubt, this place provides some of the best crepes in town, both in the Union Market of Tustin and the Anaheim Packing District. Nothing more to say, really, except that it’s a delicate pancake with sugar and fruits in it. Why wouldn’t you want to come and try it?
Based off our list, you can tell we’re huge fans of delicious dessert. But our love for ice cream and ice bars cannot match those of Bardot Bars and Coffee. Said to only hire people who straight up have an endearment for gelato and coffee, this shop is meant to give you that wistful vibe for something nice and refreshing. Grinding coffee beans fresh on order and hand crafting their own gelato, Bardot ensures you won’t get desserts like these anywhere else.
50. Cream Pan
Probably ranked by OC dwellers as one of the best (if not THE best) bakeries in town, Cream Pan has every aspect on fleek: the food, the atmosphere, the staff, and the display. The signature in this restaurant would be the strawberry croissant, which is super popular to the locals, in addition to other popular items such as the mango cheesecake and Azuki bread.