This Week’s O.C. Food News

From Mercado Modern’s 5-year anniversary to the return of Tastemakers of Orange County, here is your Monday briefing on the latest in O.C.’s dining scene.

Photograph courtesy of Outshine PR

Mercado Modern, which was recognized by the Michelin Guide, is introducing new cocktails and dishes in time for its five-year anniversary. Libations such as La Flaquis feature unique spirits like Chulavista Reposado tequila while drawing inspiration from cofounder Jose Cerrudo’s Peruvian heritage with a chicha morada shrub. Don’t miss chef Fernando Franco’s comforting, crave-worthy autumnal dishes such as the Tlapena soup with potatoes, zucchini, tortilla strips, chicken, epazote, and Oaxaca cheese or his current color-changing riff on the pulpo a la plancha, a menu mainstay.

SteelCraft Garden Grove is welcoming Tea Otter to its lineup. From the owners of Barrio, this boba tea purveyor is now officially open.

VEG’D, a drive-thru restaurant that offers plant-based food, opened this spring in Costa Mesa. Dine-in and delivery are also available.

Solstice is set to open at The Boardwalk in Irvine this fall. Chef Demetrio Zavala is the culinary director and will work with executive chef Brittany Valles to deliver a menu that changes with the seasons. The seasonal theme extends to the 5,030 square-foot dining space with four dining zones representing each season. The open kitchen is another focal point along with a 24-seat private dining room surrounded by wine cellars.

O SEA is now offering some special additions to its menu of modern coastal cuisine and sustainable seafood to welcome fall. Highlights include a wild Fijian albacore tuna poke in gochujang dressing with Asian pear, pickled carrots, and sesame and grilled Spanish octopus in carrot mole, ninja radish, pickled onions, and salsa macha. Take home a jar of executive chef’s housemade salsa macha, a finishing touch on many of the dishes.

Mark your calendars! Tastemakers of Orange County is back and being held at the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts October 13. The annual fundraising event brings together local chefs in support of the Asian and Pacific Islander community. Expect dishes celebrating AAPI cuisine by chefs such as Brian Huskey of Tackle Box and Ross Pangilinan of Mix Mix Kitchen Bar and Terrace by Mix Mix.

Stay tuned for a flurry of new eateries coming to The District at Tustin Legacy this fall. The lineup includes Casa Del Sol Cocina Mexicana, which will have regular performances from Mariachi Sol de Mexico led by Grammy-nominated conductor Jose Hernandez. The shopping center will also welcome a Filipino bakery (Baked Dessert Bar), Sal’s Pizzeria, Isla Dominicana restaurant, and Fast Hot Pot.

Chef Keizo Shimamoto opened an outpost of his longtime NYC-based restaurant Ramen Shack in downtown San Juan Capistrano this month. The Huntington Beach native brings his mastery of ramen and Japanese American heritage to slurp-worthy bowls of complex broths and fresh noodles developed by Shimamoto himself. The inventor of the ramen burger is no stranger to delivering fresh takes on this beloved comfort food, including a 13-ingredient broth for The Quiet Storm, one of the signature bowls on the menu.

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