Bay Area favorite slinging modern Mediterranean heads south.
After building a fleet of food trucks and fast-casual restaurants up north, Sajj opens its first SoCal restaurant in Rancho Santa Margarita. It offers chicken marinated in pomegranate molasses, fluffy house-baked pita, turmeric-stained rice bowls, and a rainbow of vegetables with which to create. 22245 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, 949-709-7779, sajjstreeteats.com
FLEENOR’S ON 4TH
Restaurateur expands with global comfort foods.
A more refined option than its sister, Crave, Fleenor’s on 4th is a food-focused neighborhood joint that can appeal to anyone. There are billowy Neapolitan pizzas, entrees with international flair (Peruvian-style roasted chicken with aji amarillo sauce), and pub favorites, all paired with a roster of craft cocktails. 400 W. 4th St., Santa Ana, 714-316-5421
Fullerton’s new public house revels in refined food and craft beverages.
This is a contemporary reimagining of the neighborhood pub, with chef-driven cooking that tweaks comfort classics. Take the Italian burger with oven-roasted tomato, basil pesto, and fried mozzarella, or the Mexican kale salad with cilantro-Caesar dressing.136 W. Wilshire Ave., Fullerton, 714-525-7468, pourcompany.com
Sleek dumpling chain opens first U.S. outpost in Irvine.
JA Jiaozi is a handsome place, all warm woods, soft light, and clean lines. The Chinese import specializes in dumplings called jiaozi, which are often colloquially referred to as potstickers. The steamed jiaozi combo is a surprisingly colorful favorite, but don’t stop there; the rest of the menu is well worth exploring. 13776 Jamboree Road, Irvine, 714-786-8999, jajiaozi.com