Dining | Orange Coast Magazine

Author Gretchen Kurz

  • Gretchen Kurz

    Dining Critic

    Kurz has been an Orange Coast dining critic since 2004. The O.C. native has a wickedly good palate, and wears out the magnetic strip of her credit card reviewing restaurants and covering the local dining scene. Between meals, she’s the local editor of Orange County’s Zagat Survey.


Main Course Review: C4 Deli and Provisions Market

Is there anything less faddy than a delicatessen? The form might vary—chockablock ethnic, sandwich emporium, or comfort-food canteen—but all of O.C.’s models are cherished and long-lived. So when two new ones appear within four miles of each other, both in revitalized city centers, they warrant test drives. Read more...

Rediscovery: Bayside

Bayside may be a teenager, but thanks to a glamorous makeover, the harbor-side venue is skipping over those awkward years with élan to spare. Long-favored by the coastal set for jazzy brunches, exec lunching, and VIP feasts, the 246-seat scene radiates fresh energy that complements the classy update. Read more...

Rediscovery: Vine

Vine, always a nice-enough San Clemente spot for cozy eats, is a full-blown foodie find these days, reinvigorated by new ownership and the sweeping talents of chef Jared Cook. “This is the best lamb rack I’ve had in decades,” says my friend between bites of ravishing, tender lamb sauced with mint-rosemary yogurt atop sunchoke puree. Read more...

Rediscovery: The Crosby

Five years into its leading-edge run, the dark-but-welcoming Crosby feels as outré as ever. No amount of mainstream accolades can tame this tiny kitchen-cum-bar in vintage Santa Ana. When its Starving Artist sandwich catapulted to cult status, it was pulled off the menu in 2012 to help launch a sibling restaurant, The Grilled Cheese Spot, around the corner. This 60-seat indie resists repetition. Read more...

Rediscovery: Rosine’s Mediterranean Cafe

Back in the Clinton era, Rosine’s was the sole spot to chow down on authentic Mediterranean eats in the hinterlands of North County. Tiny but mighty, the modest storefront soothed frazzled commuters with golden rotisserie chickens, sold mostly to-go with the then-exotic sides of creamy hummus, vibrant tabbouleh, and savory bulgur pilaf. Read more...

Rediscovery: Raya

Pelicans glide by the picture window as we take our seats at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel’s Raya. This is the ocean view on which five-star resorts hang their crowns. Read more...

Rediscovery: Splashes Restaurant

An in-your-face ocean view, sea spray, and crashing waves are the main reasons Splashes Restaurant at Laguna Beach’s Surf & Sand resort earns raves. Just try to find a review that doesn’t mention the seascape. Read more...

Rediscovery: Cucina Alessá

I'm often asked about Cucina Alessá: “Is it still any good?” First in Newport Beach, then expanded to Huntington Beach, both spots are neighborhood darlings for Italian comfort fare. And both are now without founding chef-partner Alessandro Pirozzi, who pulled out last winter.  Read more...

Rediscovery: The Beachcomber

Iconic and heart-swelling, the sweeping Pacific view from a table at the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove never fails to astound. This is the surf’s edge vista we all covet, but can’t afford. But most diners can easily borrow this prime real estate for a couple hours, maybe a lazy breakfast or a tequila sunset dinner under the deck’s striped canvas awning. Read more...

Rediscovery: The Cannery

How did a 92-year-old Newport Beach legend become a sexy, luscious dazzler almost overnight? Book a waterside table at The Cannery and find out when you sample the transformative cooking of new executive chef Nick Weber, who navigates the landmark’s seafood-centric cuisine with confidence and imagination. Weber has been at the helm since fall, and the sweeping abalone-to-venison menu now is all his creation. Read more...

O.C.'s Best: Dining Guides

  • O.C.’s Best: Bloody Marys

    Get your vegetables and booze in one convenient—and delicious—serving with what’s been hailed as America’s murkiest and most complex cocktail. Traditionally made with tomato juice, vodka, celery salt, horseradish, Worcestershire, and Tabasco, its origins are widely debated. Here are five superb O.C. renditions of the world-famous drink.

    Read More

Recently Reviewed

We frequently review restaurants in the Main Course, Rediscovery, and Bites sections of our print magazine and website. Here's a list of the most recently-reviewed restaurants!

DINING | Reviews

Wine Program Review

  • Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Offers Impressive Wine List

    I recently dined at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill in South Coast Plaza, and found the wine program to be exceptional, both for the scope of its extensive wine list, and it’s attentive wine service. It’s gratifying to see that the restaurant, which promotes a healthy diet and prides itself in seasonally inspired cooking with every item on the menu less than 475 calories, considers wine an important part of a wholesome lifestyle. Read More
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