Orange Coast Magazine

Taste of O.C. | Priscilla Mayfield on food


Mick's Karma Bar in Irvine―and Soon, Beyond

One of O.C. best burgers seems to be spawning an empire

When it comes to Orange County burgers, Mick’s Karma Bar appears on every Top 5 or Top 10 list—and is more than a few people’s top pick. Somehow, I’d never made it to the Irvine office-park favorite, a situation rectified last week when I met a Mick’s-goer friend there for lunch.

I love it when the experience lives up to the reputation. Fresh sirloin ground fresh several times per day, hand-formed patties, buns custom-made by Solomon’s Bakery in Laguna Hills, and an array of house-made condiments and choice of cheeses all add up to one remarkable burger. Sirloin is among the leanest beef cuts, yet this was juicy, rich, tender—I have no idea how it remained so toothsome. The commitment to in-house grinding of quality meat  plays a big part, but it was also perfectly cooked. The part-whole-wheat bun, which Solomon’s makes to owner Mick Scheper’s specs, easily maintains complete integrity to the last bite, and isn’t the super puffy mushroom-top seen with so many gourmet-style burgers—a welcome change. Your choice of burger, thick, golden, crisp frites, and the justifiably famous strawberry basil lemonade (or another house-made drink—I had iced green tea) comprise the combo, at an ultra-reasonable $9.25. Something I find extra-refreshing: No commercial soda at Mick’s. Enjoy your burger among oversized, colorful sculptures that double as some of the outdoor seating overlooking luxurious fountains—your free parking (don’t forget to get validated at the restaurant) is good for 1 ½ hours.

I was there for the burger, but couldn’t help a bit of newsgathering. In addition to the Karma Bar, Mick and his wife Mojgan own Kitima, the Thai restaurant right next door. Now, they’re casting their net wider, building Pie Dog in Fullerton—with a projected spring 2014 opening, where sausages and grilled meats will turn on a circular, multi-level grill of Mick’s own design. Beyond O.C., a second burger concept is in the works, coming to Silver Lake, on Los Angeles’ east side. I think it’s fair to say we’ve got a mini-empire on the rise.

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
  1. Joan posted on 09/24/2013 09:31 PM
    Interesting. I've got to try this place! Pie Dog sounds like it will be a winner as well. Thanks again, Priscilla!
showing all comments

OC Guides


OC Guides
  • Neighborhoods: Rancho Santa Margarita

    Rancho Santa Margarita’s Plaza El Paseo is a South County suburban mall with a twist. It’s the unexpected finds—a little gem of a florist, cozy spots to sample tea and wine, and a top-notch steakhouse across the street—that put it in a league of its own. Read More
  • 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
  • Hot O.C. Neighborhood: East Side Costa Mesa

    This updated neighborhood doesn’t have to try hard to be interesting, original, surprising, and modern—it just is. Take the mile-long stretch of strip malls along 17th Street, between Newport Boulevard and Irvine Avenue, the heart of the renaissance. Foodies come for the Instagram-worthy Aussie-style meat pies at PieNot, coconut French toast at Plums Café, and braised pork panini at Pitfire Artisan Pizza. And that’s just the Ps. Other homegrown restaurants and shops tip toward lean-and-clean fare, such as the casual Jan’s Health Bar. Plus it’s the birthplace of Mother’s Market & Kitchen. Read More
  • Hot O.C. Neighborhood: Downtown Anaheim

    With a focus on food and community, downtown’s fresh look gets inspiration from the city’s rural roots. It takes resourcefulness to restore and imaginatively reuse old buildings, qualities the city’s founding farming families had, too. The new energy is centered on the Packing District, a two-block stretch of Anaheim Boulevard between Santa Ana Street and East Broadway: the restored 1920s-era Packard Building, now home to Anaheim Brewery and Umami Burger, and the 1919 Anaheim Citrus Packing House, with a food hall of locally based food-and-beverage artisans. Read More
  • Neighborhoods: Costa Mesa

    Chain restaurants and stores dominate most of the strip malls on Costa Mesa’s east side. But at Santa Ana Avenue and 17th Street, look a little closer and you’ll find indie boutiques and cafes tucked in among the usual suspects Read More
wine blog

stuff we love

Charitable Events Calendar