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Best of 2014: Nutty Brûlée

No one can resist breaking into the sugary crust of crème brûlée, and this one packs an extra surprise with its abundance of silky-smooth chocolate-hazelnut custard below—thanks to the addition of Nutella. This sinful dessert is incredibly rich and best shared with a friend. $8
704 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, 949‑673‑7173, theslidingdoorcafe.com

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Best of 2014: Honey Bee Chicken

You’ll fall in lust with the chicken pieces at BBQ Chicken at Diamond Jamboree in Irvine. Fried in olive oil for a crunchy exterior, they’re tossed in a sweet honey sauce making them all the more delicious. $11 to $21

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Best of 2014: New York Pizza

Seal Beach’s A Slice of New York makes pizza the way it’s supposed to be—with a thin, chewy crust that oozes cheese and can be enjoyed the New Yawker way: folded in half.
142 Main St., 562-493-4430, asliceofnewyorkpizza.net

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Best of 2014: Bird-Watching

When the throngs of beachgoers are too much, spend a day with the birds. Here, with the wind whipping off the ocean and herons, egrets, ducks, and more soaring above, you'll get a chance to be the amateur ornithologist you never knew you wanted to be. Free
3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-846-1114, bolsachica.org

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Best of 2014: Green Cleaners

Sold from her website and a refitted retro travel trailer, these earth-safe cleaning products are Marilyn Nowak of Coto de Caza's propriety formulas. Products for laundry, surfaces such as glass and wood - even an ecological drain cleaner - all have dispenser bottles and bulk refills $8 to $48
Resuming in September at Great Park Farmer's Market, Sand Canyon Avenue and Marine Way, Irvine, 949-292-1648, lilgreenwagon.com

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Best of 2014: Summer Cocktail

Vivid, fizzy, and a tad nectarous, Druid Divination is bar boss Drew Tripp's nod to summery quenching with its shaken mix of Irish whiskey, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil, plus thyme muddles with sweet strawberries from star producer Harry's Berries. Order two - one for you, and one for you. $10
227 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, 714-352-2225, chapteronetml.com

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Best of 2014: Key Lime Pie

Bonefish Grill makes one that’s refreshingly tart, just like Cousin Lois’ in Tampa. Whipped cream instead of meringue is a nice touch.
3040 El Camino Real, Tustin, 714‑368‑7613, bonefishgrill.com

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Best of 2014: Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Chicago-based Portillo's Hot Dogs offers its all-beef version with mustard, relish, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a pickle spear, hitting every note down to the authentic poppy-seed bun and shake of celery salt on top.
8390 La Palma Ave., Buena Park, 714-220-6400, portillos.com

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Best of 2014: Asian Soft-Serve

There’s no better way to end a meal at Mitsuwa Marketplace than with a swirl of Japanese soft-serve ice cream. Choose from matcha green tea, black sesame, and roasted tea. All are delectable, but the roasted tea—unique in O.C.—tastes like delicate coffee. $3 to $4.75
Mitsuwa Marketplace, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, 714‑957-2933, mitsuwa.com

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Best of 2014: Indoor Climbing

With 50-foot walls, and a bouldering area that's 18 feet high, this 25,000-square-foot facility is perfect for the adventure-seeker or anyone up for a workout challenge. It's a fun environment with a knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful staff. Great for beginners as well as advanced climbers, classes and rentals available. $20 adult day pass
1441 S. Village Way. Santa Ana, 714-881-3456, senderoneclimbing.com

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  • Best of 2014: Nutty Brûlée

    No one can resist breaking into the sugary crust of crème brûlée, and this one packs an extra surprise with its abundance of silky-smooth chocolate-hazelnut custard below—thanks to the addition of Nutella. This sinful dessert is incredibly rich and best shared with a friend. $8
    704 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, 949‑673‑7173, theslidingdoorcafe.com

    Read More
  • It's a Charmed Life!

    Fashion Island's go-to beauty lounge, Blushington, is teaming up with jeweler Kendra Scott to launch her new Charm Bar Collection featuring a variety of charms, letters, symbols, and stones, on Friday, August 8 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Read More
  • Neighborhood: Dana Point

    Perched above Pacific Coast Highway, Monarch Bay Plaza reflects the relaxed sophistication of its Dana Point neighborhood. In the Spanish-style mall with red tile roofs, ocean breezes blow through white stucco archways, and upscale-yet-casual boutiques and restaurants attract locals and tourists. Read More
  • O.C.’s Best: Tiki Drinks

    Though some regard them as overly cloying concoctions, tiki cocktails such as mai tais and zombies are enjoying a resurgence in Orange County. Craft bartenders layer the rum-based drinks with multiple spirits and spices to create beguiling and complex potions. Here are five great places to get your tiki on. Read More
  • O.C.’s Best: Vegan Breakfasts

    Veg-heads don’t just mow down bowls of granola and slam wheatgrass shots at the break of dawn. Most want to enjoy brunching on Sunday-Funday with everyone else. And because it can be hard to find tofu scrambles and dairy-free waffles, we’ve rounded up five local eateries that provide tasty vegan options to start the morning right. Read More
  • O.C.’s Best: Shaved Ice

    These light and downright lush desserts get tricked out with enticing toppings and mix-ins, many taking their cues from Asian favorites such as red beans, mochi balls, and lychee. But they also can be as traditional as orangesicle and strawberry shortcake. Here are six places in Orange County to get your brain-freeze on. Read More
  • O.C.’s Best: Roast Chicken

    Whether it’s cooked slowly over open flames on a spit-roast or stuffed with herbs and roasted in the oven to golden perfection, few dishes are as comforting as a simple roast chicken. While it’s hard to beat a home-cooked version, these seven diverse locales in Orange County do right by this ubiquitous classic. Read More
  • O.C.'s Best: Afternoon Tea

    The ritual dates back to the 1800s as a snacking fix and social gathering for the aristocratic ladies of Britain. Today, afternoon tea has become a fashionable alternative for birthday parties, and bridal and baby showers. Here are five teahouses in Orange County where you can practice traditional etiquette while noshing on dainty pastries and finger sandwiches. Read More
 
 
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