The food hall trend arrived in Irvine in April when Trade opened at 2222 Michelson Drive. Inside a renovated strip mall, the 12-stall emporium includes new outposts of Dos Chinos, Sandwich Society, and Krisp Fresh Living, along with Megadon (a Latin-Asian-Hawaiian fusion counter from the Dos Chinos owners), the Center Hub Bar, and these four new concepts. tradefoodhall.com
Focusing on seafood made to order, this spot was co-founded by Andy Nguyen, co-owner of Afters Ice Cream, and features chef Fernando Valladares’ healthy fresh-fish plates, fried calamari, and fish tacos.
Satisfying vegetable-centric goodies—sweet potato burgers piled high with kale and melted onions, build-your-own wraps, and fried avocados—dominate the menu at this “vegetarian for non-vegetarians” entry from Slapfish owner Andrew Gruel. butterleaf.co
Gruel’s second concept here offers Bird Buns (sandwiches) and Bird Beds (salads) with grilled or crispy Jidori chicken ($12). Add salt-and-vinegar slaw, pickled onions, and tomato for free; and avocado, bacon, or pepper jack cheese for $1 each. twobirdsrestaurant.com
Stop here for an unusual treat: a Belgian Liege waffle on a stick, dipped in chocolate and dusted with your choice of toppings (think cereal, almonds, or cookie crumbs). The waffle is made with Belgian pearl sugar, making it sweet and crisp.