Best New Restaurants 2022: Value Plays We Can’t Resist

As prices rise, fast-casual dining looks more intriguing than ever. These players elevate the category with their diligent sourcing and consistent artistry in the kitchen.
Fork and Knife

Fork and Knife

Costa Mesa
With A Restaurant in his rearview mirror, chef Jonathan Blackford is soaring solo with lavish sandwiches, creative salads, and ravishing take-home meals out of this handy storefront.

Ramen Shack

San Juan Capistrano
From Tokyo to Manhattan and now in the shadow of the mission, Keizo Shimamoto’s epic ramen quest is a thrill to behold in eight signature bowls of revelatory broths and noodles.

Mario’s Butcher Shop

Newport Beach
Top-shelf butchery meets superior sandwichery at Mario Llamas’ welcoming spot for site-crafted pastrami, corned beef, and burgers on artisan breads. Fresh sides and an appealing patio add to the allure.

Nosh House

A rare, newish kosher cafe has noteworthy sandwiches on rye and pretzel breads, shawarma, and falafel platters, even burgers. Closed Saturdays.  

O Sea

It’s the standout Old Towne choice for creative fare with a wild seafood bent in a lovely setting. Think customizable salads, bowls, and burritos plus inventive shareables with worldly twists. Hip local beers and clever wine selection.


This family-operated Packing House gem is determined to feed us like family, delighting folks with O.C.’s best soul food—authentic cornbread, signature jambalaya, smothered pork chops, and sweet potato pie.

Burnt Crumbs

Irvine and Huntington Beach
First celebrated for spaghetti grilled cheese, then soufflé pancakes, these trendsetting cafes know we’ll fall for gargantuan breakfast burritos and avocado toasts with their own cult following.


Packing House staple by chef-owner Shachi Mehra serves elevated Indian street foods such as pana puri, keema naan, and mango lassi. Vegans adore the vegetable curry.

Saigon Beach

Newport Beach and Laguna Beach
It’s beloved for the “legally addictive” 420 Chicken Green Rice served under grilled pork, jackfruit, or solo. Crazy Rich Bao sliders go down easy; house limeades are sunshine on ice.

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