1547 W. Katella Ave., Orange, 657-598-2450
Surrounded by utterly familiar chain eateries, indie newcomer PUBlic Legacy happily claims its outlier status in Orange’s Stadium Promenade. Chad Dickey and chef Gerry Kent leverage 15 years of success in Temecula to open this versatile canteen serving eclectic American fare with a comfort food edge. Daily brunch until 2 p.m. answers all the morning cravings, from a latte-plus-pastry jump-start to the juicy house-brined pork chop with maple drizzle and fried egg. In between, find a terrific frittata or classic Benedict. Post brunch, look for inventive starters such as soy-ginger broccoli with sesame brittle or hearty grub like the first-rate smash burger with two brisket patties. Thai basil curry proves the kitchen speaks fluent vegan. Stocked with a staggering inventory of brown spirits, the 30-stool bar has a flip side facing a dark, cozy den with a date-night vibe. Bypass those ace signature cocktails to order from a next-level well, or tap the new suds from North County breweries. Well-versed servers help navigate choices galore—food or drink. They’re clearly in sync with the bar and kitchen crews. The effect is a welcoming, sincere hospitality that converts visitors to regulars.