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

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 between the sea birds and the fisherman.  At the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel floor to ceiling windows and an outdoor patio take in the sunset over Catalina Island.  Or try one of the restaurants on the local piers for a close up look at the surfers and marine life. 

And only in Orange County at South Coast Plaza does the dining scene rival the shopping scene.  Seasonal ingredients at Seasons 52, date night worthy dinners at Marché Moderne  and a monthly fashion show at Anqi are just a few of the dining highlights at the mega upscale shopping center.  




The Beachcomber Cafe has a coveted location on the sand in Crystal Cove State on the Newport Coast. There is not a more beautiful spot for a sunset dinner and reservations are made far in advance for that hour. With the sound of the waves...  Read More



Javier's is Mexican food for everyone; kids, adults, couples and singles mingle at the restaurant. It's a Newport Coast hot spot and a place to be seen but it's the authentic Mexican decor and food that keep the masses coming back. It's a...  Read More



Set in a charming, wood-clad cottage, this much-favored restaurant enjoys a creative bent in both food and decor. Inside, local art and pottery, handmade light fixtures, reclaimed wood flooring, and other decorative accents illustrate the...  Read More



A far cry from the standard Mexican eateries that pepper every city, Gabbi's delivers personalized service and fantastic, well-considered dishes that have the place packed daily. Amid moody lighting, aged brick and beams, and large canvases,...  Read More



A lovely, light-filled interior boasts accents of wood and stone within its Craftsman-inspired space and invites diners to enjoy window-scooping views of the ocean as they dine on revered French-Californian cuisine. The kitchen, led by chef...  Read More

San Clemente
9 Style Sushi
Photo courtesy of Kristi Marcelle


Unless you are specifically looking for 9 Style Sushi you won't find it. It's tucked away on a side street near downtown San Clemente in a nondescript shopping center with a convenience store on one side and a Mexican restaurant on the other. ...  Read More



There is nothing common about Three Seventy Common. It's an eclectic mix of small plates, big plates and everything in between. The restaurant has a beguiling personality and each visit is a new experience; themed dining nights like Sunday...  Read More

Costa Mesa


Located in The Camp, a hipster anti-mall in Costa Mesa, Old Vine Cafe is a cozy cafe that serves fresh, seasonal food in a casual ambiance. The quality of the ingredients shines through in traditional and inventive dishes which is why there is...  Read More



A gathering place for local power brokers and celebrating couples, this husband-and-wife-owned restaurant benefits from personalized attention and Florent and Amelia Marneau's love of food. The classy space, including a seductive patio, hews to...  Read More


Meet Kristi Marcelle

Originally from Wisconsin, Kristi Marcelle found her passion for travel after studying and volunteering in Quito, Ecuador for two years.  She’s lived in Southern California for over ten years...  More About Kristi