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230 Forest

230 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, CA, 92651

949-494-2545

Lagunatics and sightseers mingle at this lively open-air cafe, where the martinis are as popular as the modern California cuisine…

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Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails

2607 Main St., Irvine, CA, 92614

949-387-8887

Irvine’s corporate zone is home to this slick, spacious restaurant that focuses on seasonal cuisine built on local, sustainable foods…

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AnQi by Crustacean

3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA, 92626

714-557-5679

Tight focus on the fare makes dining at this South Coast Plaza hot spot better than ever…

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Back Bay Bistro

1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Coast, CA, 92657

949-729-1144

Though you won’t see ocean waves, waterfront seating on the quiet bay abounds at this relaxed venue…

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Bistango

19100 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, CA, 92612

949-752-5222

A longtime airport-area mainstay, Bistango has remained surprisingly contemporary, with creative dishes such as…

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EATS Kitchen & Bar

Hotel Irvine, Irvine

949-225-6780

Choose the attractive, fire-pit patio for the best ambience at Irvine’s retooled business hotel restaurant…

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Memphis Soul Café & Bar

2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA, 92627

714-432-7685

Memphis was one of the county’s first retro restaurants. It’s set in a sassy shoebox, with a ’50s look and a menu to match: fried chicken, cornbread, gumbo, and steaks…

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Opah

26851 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA, 92656

949-360-8822

Trendy and sleek, this neighborhood hottie oozes a hip energy that attracts single minglers and ‘burban scene-hunters in search of artfully prepared California cuisine…

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Pitfire Artisan Pizza

353 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, CA, 92627

949-313-6333

The first O.C. shop from this thriving L.A.-based chain is not your nonna’s pizzeria…

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Seasons 52

3333 Bristol Ave., Costa Mesa, CA, 92626

714-437-5252

The ground floor of the departed Clubhouse has been replaced with this attractive bar and grill from Darden Restaurants…

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Slowfish

16051 Bolsa Chica St., Huntington Beach, CA, 92649

714-846-6951

Easily missed in a strip mall along busy Bolsa Chica, this slightly hip storefront serves up distinctly modern Cal-Asian fare…

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Studio

30801 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651

949-715-6030

After a stellar run at Pasadena’s Langham Huntington hotel, executive chef Craig Strong brings his considerable talents to Montage resort’s ocean-view fine-dining venue…

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Sundried Tomato Café and Catering Company

31781 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA, 92675

949-661-1167

These breezy cafes are a great find for light lunch and uncomplicated dinners. Small and large plates for the California palate…

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The Cat & The Custard Cup

800 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, CA, 90631

562-694-3812

There aren’t many options in La Habra, but this reliable English-themed tavern charms, with fireplaces, a cozy bar, and smiling service…

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The Wild Artichoke

4973 Yorba Ranch Road, Yorba Linda, CA, 92885

714-777-9646

Chef-owner James D’Aquila and his winsome crew raise the culinary bar at this teensy, modest storefront…

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The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

2647 Park Ave., Tustin, CA, 92782

714-258-7600

The O.C. power crowd doesn’t care that The Winery isn’t a winery, but a huge, handsome restaurant crafted to attract disciples of steak, wine, and cigars.

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Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille

854 Avocado Ave., Corona del Mar, CA, 92660

949-760-8686

Ongoing nips and tucks keep this perennial favorite fresh. The fare remains reliably coastal and fresh: sole with yuzu-lilikoi butter…

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Vine

211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA, 92672

949-361-2079

Take a wine country detour at this top choice for poised California cuisine supported by an enlightened wine selection…

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