Lil Places We Love: Lake Forest’s El Progreso, Carmel’s Revisited

In Lake Forest, if you look past the Denny’s, which sits close to El Toro Road, you’ll see El Progreso, a Mexican restaurant that serves authentic cuisine that’s easy on the wallet.

Go Green (Tea)!

I'm definitely more of a coffee than tea person, but the other day while I was on a photo shoot for our August issue, I had the pleasure of trying a Thai iced green tea from Frozen Cow Creamery, a chocolate and ice cream shop in Costa Mesa. It blew me away! Unlike some green teas that have more of an earthy flavor, chocolatier Christopher Michael's secret blend of green teas--sourced from Thailand--is naturally sweet and floral with a hint of rose essence, which I happen to love!

Finding Blueberry Heaven

Last week before shooting our October "Global Diner" feature, our photographer Priscilla Iezzi and I decided to take a detour--which ultimately made us late to the shoot--to admire the pastry counter at Tustin's Cream Pan bakery. As a food stylist for Orange Coast and lover of anything involving butter and pastries, I took it upon myself to try their blueberry croissant, and boy am I glad I did! Everyone knows you can’t beat owner Yoshinori Inada’s strawberry croissant, but this must-try, filled with sweet, juicy blueberries, is equally tantalizing. The perfect combination of buttery, flaky pastry, and melt-in-your-mouth custard, it’s simple and comforting, and every bite is blueberry heaven.

A Latte That Will Make Your Day

This morning, I had one of those lattes. You know, the kind that starts your day off just right, and makes you feel as...

It’s Fate: Falling in Love With an Iced Mocha

Never far from caffeine—you'll rarely find me without a cup—I've taken to scouting out the best coffee around, wherever I am. Though black iced coffee is my ultimate go-to, I love indulging in iced mochas. It's pretty easy to get your hands on a decent cup, but I've found it difficult uncovering places that offer just the right proportions of espresso and good quality chocolate. I'm not a fan of mochas overloaded with sugary syrup.

Portola On-the-Go

With the impending opening of Union Market at The District at Tustin Legacy this month, we took a moment to get acquainted with a...

Lil Places We Love: The Book Corral

In the age of digital reading, The Book Corral is a great place to find good reads that don’t require batteries. Nestled in a small, rustic Mission Viejo shopping complex, the second-hand store has wooed casual readers and hardcore bibliophiles alike since opening more than 30 years ago. Rich Lucas, the fourth owner since taking over in 2011, enthusiastically runs the homey bookstore with help from his wife and two sons. The 1,800-square-foot store offers more than 40,000 books that are fiction, nonfiction, and sometimes in-between. You’ll find vintage comic books (up to $40) from the 1970s, as well as a small collection of used textbooks ($5 to $100). Regular customers receive discounts, and those who donate books throughout the year get a voucher for a free book come their birthday. You also can rent a few new books for $3 a week, including picks such as “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King, and “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham. And, you can meet some Orange County authors at in-store promotions; past guests have included Deborah Radwan (“The Compass”) and M.J. Roe (“The Blue Amulet”).

O.C. Hip Hoods: Warehouse Alley

Head to these warehouses if you're looking to redecorate your home on a budget, pick up kitchen goodies, or try the latest electronic and remote-control gadgets.

Sometimes, You Just Need a Cupcake

I know the fad is long gone, but I don't care. On trend or not, sometimes you just want a cupcake to satisfy that sugar craving! (Pictured: Golden Butter Cupcakes with Madagascar Vanilla Buttercream) My new favorite bakery that does the job is Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente. Its cupcakes and other confections are made from scratch daily and with only the best ingredients—Valrhona and Callebaut chocolate, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, and organic dairy products.