The modest strip mall at 3033 Bristol St., the southwest corner of Bristol and Paularino Avenue in Costa Mesa, used to be known only to locals who flocked to Japanese restaurant Anjin and Hashigo Korean Kitchen there. But in the past year it has turned into a hub for buzz-worthy restaurant chains from across the county and the nation.
The popular chain landed in California last year and opened this location in early 2016. It’s known for its sweet and savory breads, displayed in self-serve bins. You can’t go wrong with a chocolate bun ($1) and a Lavazza iced coffee ($3). 714-427-5888, dukebakery.com
Capital Noodle Bar
Sister restaurant to Irvine’s upscale Capital Seafood, this sleek new spot specializes in noodle bowls such as the signature Capital Bowl with pork, fish cake, shrimp, and rice noodles in broth ($10). Don’t miss the crispy tofu ($6). 657-231-6120, capital-seafood.com
This Yorba Linda-based chain sells ice cream made-to-order using liquid nitrogen, which gives it a thicker, creamier texture. Flavors range from classic vanilla bean to Cap’n Crunch and Fruity Pebbles ($5.50 to $8.50). Add a topping ($1) or brownie bowl ($2). 714-852-3884, creamistry.com
The Halal Guys
Try the famous gyro, chicken, or falafel rice platters ($9), doused with the addictive white sauce, at this legendary New York food cart’s first location in Southern California. Lines can get long, but they move quickly, so don’t let the crowds scare you away. 714-850-1080, thehalalguys.com