O.C.’s Best: Power Lunches

When it’s time to impress important clients, it helps to have the right atmosphere. Our advice? Do it over a lunch that shows you mean business. Break bread at any of these five restaurants in Orange County—don’t forget to wear your best-looking suit and, of course, bring the company plastic.

O.C.’s Best: Elixir Soups

There’s nothing like the warmth of soup to soothe the misery of a cold or flu. Whether it’s a light broth or hearty porridge, it’s a universally nurturing remedy. If mom’s not around to prepare her famous homemade chicken soup, these five Orange County options are the next-best thing.

O.C.’s Best: Vintage Cocktails

The revival continues for cocktails inspired by the golden, boozy pre-Prohibition era, along with variations on established classics, such as the Manhattan and the Boston sour. Here are six great bars in Orange County where old meets new in handcrafted cocktails.

O.C.’s Best: Brunch O’Clock

For many of us, weekends are for sleeping in and enjoying sumptuous breakfasts that can last until late afternoon—and perhaps a mimosa or two to round out the affair. Here are six restaurants where you can stroll in for a great not-quite-breakfast, not-quite-lunch experience.

O.C.’s Best: Hot Pot Hot Spots

Chose your ingredients, swish them in a roiling pot of broth, then dip them in flavorful sauces for a communal dining experience that’s perfect for the season. From fiery and flavorful Taiwanese hot pot to simple and pristine Japanese shabu-shabu, these six Asian-style restaurants let you be the chef.

O.C.’s Best: Inspired Salads

Fresh, hearty salads get serious love in health-conscious Orange County, whether complementing a main dish or prepared as stand-alone meals. Here are seven restaurants where the humble salad reaches its full potential—packing a delicious mix of flavors and textures to a light-but-satisfying end.

O.C.’s Best: Summer Sippers

The weather may be blessedly mild most of the year, but Orange County can really sizzle in the summer. When the sun’s blazing, you’re not limited to the ocean or a swimming pool to cool down. Try deliciously ice-cold libations from these seven places to slake that summertime thirst.

Best of 2013: Portable Snack

O.C.’s only Aussie meat pie joint, PIE‑NOT, offers some of the county’s best on-the-go food. Who knew you could slip these delectable pies out of their tins and eat them in hand without dropping a morsel?

O.C.’s Best: Fried Chicken To Go

It’s a quintessential summertime favorite, a staple at picnics and family get-togethers. What better to serve everyone than a heap of golden fried chicken bursting with flavor and crunch? Make sure one of these versions makes it into the basket for your next sunny outing.

Best of 2013: Local Candies

C SALT, the handmade-with-love confections by self-taught Courtney Dudman Donley, has long been O.C.’s candy company to beat. But Donley may have outdone herself with her latest creation—luscious, soft butter caramels with sea salt. We can’t describe them without drooling on our keyboards, but you can pick up your own at any Mother’s Market location. $11 for six pieces; $18 for a dozen. csaltgourmet.com