Find a Place to Eat
Sleek, modern, and freshly rebooted, Waterman’s Harbor is a beacon of new, wedged into a prime waterfront site on Dana Point Harbor’s salt-worn embarcadero. Open since September, the glossy space draws the same crowd of locals, tourists, and Catalina Express passengers that kept the crusty Jolly Roger alive on this footprint for 40 years. This 300-seat whale offers scenic views of the harbor.
The better the view, the bigger the risk. Laguna Beach’s Driftwood Kitchen, with its yowza seaside panorama, is a beautiful illustration of this gamble. Open since June 2014, this laboriously retooled venue, which for years was the middling Beach House restaurant, now boasts new management under the Sentinel Restaurant and Hospitality Group and a new executive chef-partner, the Austrian-born Rainer Schwarz.
After years of development, public announcements, and panting media hype, downtown Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market is finally open for business. Allowing some grace time after its February debut, I dive into the 30,000-square-foot “progressive culinary hub” that will “impact and influence the way that food is enjoyed in the United States,” as its website […]
Born in East Hampton, this Pacific Coast sibling, open since October, is easily the most posh new girl on campus at Crystal Cove Promenade. I just wish the pricey, health-minded American cuisine by executive chef Michael B. Powell was executed more consistently.
This industrial stretch of Pomona Avenue is the shadowy backside of Costa Mesa’s bustling retail core. No slick signage lights the way to Boathouse Collective’s massive parking lot, pitted and bumpy, with paint lines faded to mere suggestions. Royer’s eclectic menu is supercompact and ever-changing. Dishes that hopscotch around multiple cuisines somehow taste in sync at this oddball operation.
Babette’s restaurant in Newport Coast has a French name and a French Riviera vibe, but its menu plays with inspirations from around the globe. The wine list also skips around, but without a coherent theme, concentrating on California while also touching down in Italy (3 wines), France (4 still wines, 2 Champagnes), Spain, New Zealand, and Oregon (1 token wine each). It would have been a joy to find an interesting list of value-priced wines from all regions of France—wines the French would order at a restaurant like this.
Bite-Sized News from O.C.
Whiskey is complex, sometimes medicinal, and often an acquired taste. That’s the very reason it does well in cocktail form: It can stand up to any sweetness. Here are five bars in Orange County where you can find your gateway whiskey drink.
We surveyed more than 100 dining insiders in Orange County to come up with this list. Where do our favorite O.C. chefs go on date night? What’s the dive bar of choice for the county’s star bartenders? Where do the hot chefs hang out after hours? Read on.