O.C.’s Best: Southern-Inspired BBQ

Blessed with great weather year round, O.C. always has been a hot spot for outdoor grilling. And barbecue defined by slow-and-low smoking has been brought to the culinary forefront, as evidenced by Franklin Barbeque of Austin, Texas, recently winning a James Beard Award. So this weekend, put down the burger flipper and head to one of these six local restaurants doing justice to the Southern tradition.

O.C.’s Best: Whiskey Cocktails

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.

O.C.’s Best: Fusion Cuisine

It was only a matter of time before the diverse mix of culinary tastes here in Orange County began blending—sometimes, all in one dish. Korean BBQ tacos? Yakisoba hot dogs? Yes, please! These restaurants offer dishes that represent a clever and delicious melding of cultures.

O.C.’s Best: Date-Night Restaurants

O.C. abounds with restaurants eager to pamper couples looking for a special night out. Katherine Nguyen offers seven suggestions for date-night destinations, from casual Kettlebar to sumptuous Studio at the Montage.

O.C.’s Best: Grilled Cheese

Gourmet grilled cheese now is a staple on menus from high to low, and Katherine Nguyen finds seven to recommend in Orange County, from her favorite at Costa Mesa’s Shuck to the Havarti-cheddar mix at Boudin SF to the mobile melts of Waff-N-Roll food truck.

O.C.’s Best: Neapolitan Pizza

Thin-crusted, lightly topped, and baked to a blistering finish in a wood-fired oven—Neapolitan-style pizza has become the county’s pizza of choice. Katherine Nguyen’s search for the best yields five favorites, from Dana Point to Fullerton.

O.C.’s Best: Happy Hour

Who doesn’t like happy hour? Tasty cocktails, cold beer, and good wine are nirvana after a long workday—especially accompanied by great snacks at special prices. Katherine Nguyen rounds up seven fabulous O.C. happy hours—some extending into late night.

O.C.’s Best: Meat on a Stick (Skewers)

Meat cooked and served on sticks is classic to many cuisines, and Katherine Nguyen finds six worthy Orange County examples to suggest, including Japanese yakitori, Turkish doner, Mediterranean shawarma, and the kebabs from countries such as Iraq.