Best Restaurants 2017!
No. 8 Chefs Who Are All In
Minding the House
Noah Blom and Marin Howarth actively oversee this wood-oven sensation (along with sister Restaurant Marin), molding great teams in the front and kitchen. Their frequent presence shows they care and empowers staff to do what it takes to ensure customers leave contented. 3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 949‑500‑5561, arcrestaurant.com
Dublin 4 Gastropub
Publicans Darren and Jean Coyle run this upscale pub with a mindful hospitality that befits the Irish tradition. Customers feel welcome, not lost, when they step inside. Clearly the many regulars here like more than the Guinness and dry‑aged beef cottage pie. 26342 Oso Parkway, Mission Viejo, 949-582-3547, dublin4gastropub.com
With a restaurant that’s ground zero for modern dining in downtown Santa Ana, iconoclast chef-owner Jason Quinn maintains a laser focus on how patrons react to his inventive small plates. No longer rookies, Quinn and team now dominate the scene with ease. Leave a snarky Yelp review and expect Quinn to call you out. 220 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, 714‑560-4444, playgrounddtsa.com
Midlevel hotels are not known for culinary invention or consistency, but this sleeper venue over-delivers both, thanks to longtime executive chef Manfred Lassahn, whose thoughtful cooking is best appreciated in his signature and very personal on-trend small-plates menu. Hyatt Regency, 21500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 714-845-4776, watertablehb.com