Healthy-chic restaurant chain brings its casual, nutritious cooking to Newport Beach.
Mix-and-match fast-casual gets wholesome at Flower Child, the third SoCal location from the restaurant group behind Irvine favorite North Italia. Think bowls of sweet potato “noodles” with a little richness from coconut milk and sunflower butter, plus salads dotted with organic strawberries and dressed with a chia-seed vinaigrette. The cheery restaurant can accommodate almost any diet. 1302 Bison Ave., Newport Beach, 949-200-8141
La Palma’s California Creole restaurant lightens up some of Louisiana’s most famous flavors.
It’s no surprise that O.C.’s strip malls are often home to the county’s best cooking. Such is the case with Gram’s Kitchen, a jazzy, modern Creole restaurant with wonderful shrimp and grits, crisp fried okra, and sizable crawfish cakes studded with hunks of the shellfish. Weekends are the liveliest, but any day can seem like a party here. 12 Centerpointe Drive, La Palma, 657-255-4036
Korean shaved ice and colorful soft serve star at this Buena Park dessert shop.
There’s no need for culinary gimmicks here; this Korean dessert cafe is as simple as it gets. The purple sweet potato soft serve is already drawing fans, lightly sweet and colored a vivid violet. Bingsoo (Korean shaved ice) is another winner, topped perhaps with persimmon puree or fresh strawberries. You’ll want a cup of loose-leaf tea, too. 5444 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 951-235-3459
An upscale Peruvian restaurant opens in the shadow of South Coast Plaza.
Short-lived but thoroughly delicious Santa Ana restaurant Eqeko served some of the area’s best Peruvian food. Eqeko’s owners have brought back those bracing flavors at Costa. The restaurant is more refined, but expect the same terrifically tart ceviches, pesto-laden tallarin verde, and stomach-stuffing tacu tacu (a homey fried bean and rice patty topped with steak and fries). 650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, 714-852-3299
DRINK OF THE MONTH
Snozzberry at Ironwood
This isn’t quite as kooky as an actual Wonka creation, but it’s no less fun. Snozzberry at Ironwood in Laguna Hills is a twist on the venerable and refreshing Moscow Mule. There’s vodka, ginger beer, and lime, but there’s also crème de mure (a blackberry liqueur) and a touch of basil. It’s sweet, tart, a little herbaceous, and plenty colorful.