Orange Coast Staff Picks For Their Best Of O.C. Favorites

Best Vegetarian Burrito:  Albert’s Mexican Food

Deputy art director Victoria Alvarez has been eating meat-free in O.C. since her days at La Habra High. Albert’s Mexican Food’s chile relleno burrito has almost an entire egg-battered chile relleno inside. Every bite is full of flavor and cheesy goodness. 701 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra

Most Unexpectedly Photo-worthy Dish:  Burnt Crumbs’ Spaghetti Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Staff photographer Priscilla Iezzi has photographed and sampled dishes by nearly every chef in the county. The second I saw Burnt Crumbs’
spaghetti grilled cheese sandwich on Instagram, I knew I had to have it. It’s generously packed with warm, homestyle spaghetti and oozy mozzarella between two buttery, toasted slices of sourdough bread. Uh, yum! At Pacific City in Huntington Beach and Los Olivos Marketplace in Irvine,

Lemonade Chocolate chip cookies. Photo by Priscilla Iezzi.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie:  Lemonade

Design director Mindy Benham has baked hundreds of batches of cookies and has a blue ribbon from the O.C. Fair to show for it. I evaluated 20 local cookies for taste, texture, and consistency. The winner is a no-nut version that’s fully baked, chewy, buttery, salty, and stuffed full of Guittard chocolate wafers. You’ll find it at Lemonade, where $3.25 buys you nearly a quarter pound of cookie goodness. Three
locations in O.C.,

Best Indoor Playground:  We Play Loud

Associate editor Astgik Khatchatryan is mom to a toddler. We Play Loud is the kind of place I only dreamed of when I was young. Kids play (and bounce and climb) on bright, padded equipment and rides such as a giant, twirling octopus. The 12,000-squarefoot space is surprisingly clean and civilized, and there’s a separate toddler area. Fun! 24350 Swartz Drive, Lake Forest, 949-328-9616,

Best Unique Art Experience for Disney Enthusiasts:  WonderGround Gallery

Editorial and art assistant Michelle Pagaran was a Disneyland photographer. WonderGround Gallery collaborates with artists who re-imagine Disney motifs for today’s audience. Artist-inresidence Victoria Ying, who has worked on films such as “Tangled,” will give painting demonstrations through July. Downtown Disney District, 1580 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, 714-781-4565

Best Lap Pool:  San Clemente Aquatic Center

Senior editor Laura Bleiberg swims three days a week. The stupendous San Clemente Aquatic Center (built in 2012) can make anyone feel like an Olympian. There’s lap swimming in two pools, including a 50-meter competition pool: 16 roomy lanes for short course (25 yards); overflow gutters that keep the surface smooth; and water temperature at a perfect 78 degrees. 987 Vista Hermosa, San Clemente, 949-429-8797,

SALT Houston SSG oversized sunnies in Sandy Sea Green, $460, A’maree’s, Newport Beach, 949-642-4423; or

Best O.C. Optical Company:  Salt Optics

Style editor Chris Christensen has spent the past decade shopping for the county’s best. Costa Mesa’s Salt Optics is all about timeless design, optimum fit, and polarized lenses—and really, what more do you need from a pair of sunglasses? They’re on trend, without a whisper of  trying too hard. Shop the styles at A’maree’s, or

Best Throwback Home Goods:  Driving Miz Daizy vintage market

Home editor Ada Madigan is an antiques enthusiast. Even with its fair share of kitsch, the monthly Driving Miz Daizy vintage market is a manageable endeavor, and a must if rummaging through antiques is your idea of a perfect Sunday. 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, 949-422-0432,


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