Explore Orange County's Best Restaurants One Bite at a Time

Kristi Marcelle

By , Local Expert, Orange County
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The restaurant scene in Orange County is an eclectic mix of small local restaurants beloved by surfers, casual dining with a view and upscale fine dining at area resorts.  Many offer nightly happy hour specials and entertainment on weekends.  The culinary scene continues to evolve as more restaurants source local produce and ingredients for their seasonal menus.

One thing you should not miss is a meal with a view. There are many restaurants with ocean and harbor views where you’ll often see a sea lion lazily swimming around or a pod of dolphins gliding by. In the Dana Point Harbor diners have front row seats for the show...  Read more »

  • 1

    Marché Moderne

    • Cuisine: European, French
    • Average Main Course Price: $30
    • Neighborhood: Costa Mesa

    Marché Moderne is an authentic taste of France in the OC.

    Local Expert Tip: "The prix fixe lunch menu is a great value and ends with something sweet."

     
  • 2

    Old Vine Cafe

    The food is consistently fresh and tasty and the prix fixe dinner themes are unique and fun to try especially when paired with wine.

    Local Expert Tip: "For the full experience, try a prix fixe meal with wine pairing."

     
  • 3

    Three Seventy Common

    The entertaining tone and mood are set before you ever step into the restaurant. The drink and food menus...  Read more »

    Local Expert Tip: "If you're curious about the chef, ask to see the kids menu which has a caricature of Chef Ryan on the back."

     
  • 4

    9 Style Sushi

    • Cuisine: Sushi
    • Average Main Course Price: $14
    • Neighborhood: San Clemente

    9 Style Sushi consistently has fresh fish and attentive service. Both hard core sushi lovers and people that only like rolls are regulars.

    Local Expert Tip: "Try one of the interesting sushi roll combinations listed on the wall."

     
  • 5

    Studio

    Studio is a special occasion restaurant with impeccable service and the freshest ingredients.

    Local Expert Tip: "Take time to stroll the Montage Laguna Beach grounds which are especially beautiful at sunset. "

     
  • 6

    Stonehill Tavern

    You almost never need to ask the servers for anything, they've already done it by the time you think of it.

    Local Expert Tip: "If you're not up for a full dinner, check out the bar area where lighter fare is served and the cocktails are inspired."

     
  • 7

    Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen

    • Cuisine: Latin, Mexican
    • Average Main Course Price: $18
    • Neighborhood: Old Towne Orange

    Gabbi's proves that there really is gourmet Mexican food. Try the ceviche for something different.

    Local Expert Tip: "There are so many creative dishes eat tapas-style so you can try a few things."

     
  • 8

    Sapphire Laguna

    Sapphire Laguna combines cozy cottage with good food and ocean views; it's a comfortable restaurant for lunch or dinner.

    Local Expert Tip: "On a nice day, the patio is the place to be. There's some traffic noise from the highway but the view is worth it."

     
  • 9

    Javier's Crystal Cove

    It's reasonably priced, authentic Mexican in an upscale location with great views and people watching.

    Local Expert Tip: "The portions are large and easily enough for two people or two meals."

     
  • 10

    Beachcomber Cafe - Crystal Cove

    No other restaurant in Orange County has the same location on the sand like The Beachcomber Cafe.

    Local Expert Tip: "The restaurant is extremely busy on weekends with two to three hour wait times; consider dining during the week for a more relaxing experience."

     

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