Presented by Irvine Company Retail Properties
Our customers ask for one-of-a-kind dining experiences and our team at Irvine Company Retail Properties works hard to deliver that. Irvine’s elevated outdoor environments and menus curated by independent restaurateurs make the city’s dining scene unique in SoCal. Discover your next culinary adventure below.
Start your day with innovative goodness! Consider shrimp and grits – shrimp cooked in Cluckin’ Good hot sauce and Gouda cheese-infused grits – or the Mr. Presley – peanut butter-stuffed French toast topped with bananas Foster and bacon. The “eggs” in the vegan Jammin’ Bennie, with blackberry-jalapeño jam, Italian vegan sausage and vegan hollandaise, are plant-based, of course. Even waiting for a table, in hard-boiled egg-shaped seats, is fun. Lazy mornings beg a prosecco or breakfast cocktail.
Cypress Village Shopping Center, University Center
The gleaming new location near UC Irvine presents “flippin’ awesome” egg sandwiches in versions as diverse as mozzarella and kimchi bulgogi, plus tea and coffee drinks featuring melty dalgona honeycomb, which also starred in the South Korean thriller “Squid Games.” Other options include spicy tteokbokki noodles or rice cake bowls. Immortalize yourself in photo booths, where text bubbles exclaim “Yes. I’m pretty!” and “Cheese!” Tape your photo panel up alongside hundreds of others.
Woodbury Town Center
Don’t let the name or casual setting fool you. This newbie griddle house with lines out the door serves an indulgent menu that reaches far beyond Hawaii – think French toast, Belgian waffles, chilaquiles, chicken katsu and, oh yes, a “da kine” loco moco plate, all with good portions at approachable prices. There’s overflow seating on the roomy patio and kid-friendly dishes, too – just know that the kitchen closes at 2 p.m. daily.
Harvard Place Shopping Center
Look for the egg yolk yellow umbrellas to find this sunny breakfast spot with a scratch kitchen that insists on local and organic ingredients. Of course, lavish Benedicts with trembly, just-poached eggs are a specialty, but the batter-fried chicken is popular, and the hefty burrito is an employee favorite. Fans swoon over “soft yet crunchy hash browns like no other,” declaring them a “must-get with any order.” Weekend lines are common, but early birds know crowds are lighter at 7 a.m., when doors open.
Irvine Spectrum Center
The beguiling rhythms, aromas and aesthetic of pre-Castro Cuba evoke a forgotten place and time for brunch at this sprawling compound with a tropical vibe. Start with a summery mango daiquiri or minty mojito. Follow with slow-roasted pork Lechon Benedict with passion fruit hollandaise or veer into the sweet lane with Caribbean pancakes under a drizzle of coconut syrup and a side pot of guava jam. Share a perfect flan or luscious Key lime pie for a dreamy island getaway – minus the TSA lines.
Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen
The Market Place
The three-course Sunday brunch at the stylish indoor-outdoor dining room starts with chile con queso, continues with options such as pozole verde or Mexican Caesar salad and culminates with choice of entrée: carne asada con huevos, huevos rancheros or brunch-only braised short rib chilaquiles, as well as nearly a dozen types of tacos (e.g., wild mushrooms, steak mojo) or enchiladas (e.g., crab & shrimp). You can upcharge for bottomless mimosas.
This chill locals’ hang may be renowned for bodacious burgers with a proprietary grass-fed beef blend, but regulars descend on weekends for exclusive brunch-only fare. Think delicate buttermilk biscuits under Italian sausage gravy, crispy tater tot poutine and tall, fluffy chocolate chip pancakes that cover the plate. And, of course, $20 bottomless mimosas (with food order) topped off by the gregarious crew who will happily serve you a cold craft beer and a patty melt if you’re not a brunch believer.
Orchard Hills Shopping Center
Weekend brunches are relaxed affairs on a stunning arcade patio graced with climbing vines and mature olive trees that amplify the Mediterranean mood at this Portola Parkway gem. Diners on Team Savory fancy Moroccan salmon salad with lentils while Team Sweet roots for the lavish bananas Foster French toast. Creative mimosas tempt daylight foodies to linger longer – yuzu lavender, prickly pear, ginger peach, fresh orange and pomegranate are also offered in flights of three.
Mag’s Donuts & Bakery
Quail Hill Shopping Center, University Center
This family-run bakery has been putting smiles on Irvine faces since 1980. Since then, its bacon maple cronuts, French crullers and classic glazed doughnuts (deliciously sweet and soft) have stirred generations of fans, often waiting for the doors to open at 5 a.m. In addition to 20 kinds of handcrafted doughnuts, the menu offers fresh muffins, croissants, breakfast burritos and design-your-own sandwiches. Good morning!
Everyday Eatery, Sand Canyon Plaza
A TOUCH OF NEW ZEALAND
New Zealander Nasim Clark brings a passion for her homeland’s cafe culture to Everyday Eatery – a charming little bistro with scratch-made brekkies and knowledgeable baristas. “We are a breakfast‑and-brunch cafe serving beautiful food with exceptional coffee, which makes us distinctly New Zealand,” Clark says. The Sand Canyon Plaza restaurant seats 25 inside and over 100 on the patio.
What’s the vibe?
We have a modern New Zealand decor that also connects with California. The espresso mascarpone is definitely a Kiwi influence, as well as the honeycomb butter on our hotcakes. The honeycomb is a classic candy that Kiwi kids call Hokey Pokey.
How important is coffee to your menu?
It’s close to my heart. We invest a lot in training and educating our baristas to ensure we serve a great product. And we’ve worked with Stumptown Coffee since Day 1 because of their focus on education, support and amazing coffee. We also make all our syrups in-house: vanilla, cardamom, rose, lavender and other seasonal flavors.
What are some popular dishes?
Our ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter. Our green brekkie bowl. And our breakfast burrito with everything made from scratch – people love the aioli and salsa that goes with it.
You also live in Irvine?
My husband, Brian, and I have been Irvine residents for 10 years and absolutely love it. We live close to the Jeffrey Open Space Trail and walk our dog there twice a day. I feel so fortunate to have this amazing green space in our city – and privileged to share what we love with our community.
Irvine Spectrum Center, University Center
Lunch bowls, sammies and plates here all start with sustainably raised local produce, such as the colorful carrots from Weiser Family Farms. You just might find them in the popular chicken katsu bowl with sushi rice, miso mayo, greens and sesame ginger dressing. Humanely raised meats star in build-your-own plates, though mashed potatoes and garlicky kale salad have their own cult followings. Awnings provide shade to the appealing patio accented by leafy green plantings. All menu items list calorie counts you can ignore or heed as you please.
Turkish street fries and Istanbowls top the menu, but patrons flock to the Turkish-Mediterranean grill for sandwiches on pillowy-soft grilled pita. Also available as tortilla wraps or on grilled soda bread, known as fladenbrot, they’re filled with falafel or seasoned rotisserie brisket or chicken and topped with a choice of two of 20 salads, veggies, spreads and sauces such as cucumber-yogurt jajik. The Original Fladenbrot overflows with brisket, fries and chile-garlic sauce.
Alton Retail Center
In an unlikely pairing that works beautifully, one of the city’s best Indian restaurants marries the cuisines of India and Mexico. On a recent visit, there was a burrito at every table – filled with butter chicken, spiced ground lamb or tandoori tofu – with a side of masala queso chips. Also popular at the family-owned and -operated spot: the parathadilla, an Indian flatbread quesadilla that patrons often top with “65” spicy sauce. More traditional curries include tikka masala and coconut korma. The OC Register has included Maast’s tandoori chicken sandwich among its top 10 sandwiches.
The decor features Vietnamese musical instruments, and the pho sings. Sous vide chicken-breast pho is one of 16 noodle-soup choices. The Nam family eatery departs from tradition with truffle banh mi empanadas – with Vietnamese sausage, char siu pork, truffle pate and jalapeno-cilantro aioli – and garlic-butter chicken wings enthusiastically described as “Namtastic wings from Colonel Namders!” Also new: shrimp-and-pork dim sum-style dumplings. Ever new: crispy egg rolls.
Irvine Spectrum Center
You could say Shake Shack is all about the beef – premium, whole-muscle Angus from famed meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda – except that it’s also about the crinkle fries, flavored caffeinated lemonades and hand-spun milkshakes. The smash-patty-and-cheese ShackBurger is the top seller, but the SmokeShack, which adds bacon and chopped cherry peppers, isn’t far behind. If you want to taste one of America’s favorite new burgers, you’ll have to come here, as it’s the first, and only, Shake Shack in the county.
Los Olivos Marketplace
Though renowned for its delectable soufflé pancakes and breakfast fried rice, this innovative canteen swaggers at lunch, offering hearty fusion sandos such as spaghetti grilled cheese, fried chicken with sriracha honey, and crispy pork with chicharrones on telera roll. Hand-carved fries are crispy spears made for dunking in fresh garlic aioli. Don’t delay on the hyper-fresh heirloom tomato salad that’s at its flavor peak right now. Shaded pergola seating is ideal throughout the year.
Sessions West Coast Deli
Woodbridge Village Center
Lakeside lunch on the patio here is a mini staycation within a humdrum workday or hectic weekend. Ingenious sandwiches, crafted with artisan breads and stellar ingredients, each have their super fans, but the famous vegetarian Summer Zephyr widens its appeal when bacon is added. Other highlights include the Big Tuna Melt, Wedge Legend Salad and tomato-basil soup. Half-portion combos are a good value. Too late for lunch? Happy hour starts at 3 p.m., Monday-Friday.
It’s not often said about chicken, but at Cluck, that bird can fly. The fried chicken breast on its county-best Nashville hot sandwich, for instance, has always delivered more topography than its namesake city. New in the coop: the Toma-Cluck, a tomahawk steak-inspired, semi-deboned chicken chop served country-fried or Nashville-hot; weekends bring Toma-Cluck and waffles. Also new: Nashville hot cheese curds and, for dessert, croissant beignets with salted caramel.
Grater Grilled Cheese
Sand Canyon Plaza
If cheese, as it’s been said, is milk’s leap toward immortality, then Grater’s languidly oozing sandwiches are here to stay. Decor includes surprisingly chic cheese-grater light fixtures and ornately gilt-framed photos of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley eating grilled cheese sandwiches. The grilled cheeses here – such as lobster or L.A. pastrami – each incorporate five cheeses. Loaded mac ’n’ cheese and loaded s’mores sweet potato fries make the world a Grater place.
HiroNori Craft Ramen
Sand Canyon Plaza
Making noodles, stock and sauces from scratch takes extra time, and though this acclaimed ramen house devotes precious hours to perfecting its craft tonkotsu and shoyu bowls, it happily serves it your way and speedily. What perfect timing when your lunch hour is only 30 minutes long. Vegans, there’s a rich broth for you, too. A choice of thick or thin hand-cut noodles is a luxury that never fails to please, so consider ordering the cold dipping noodles when the hot August days dare you to order ramen.
Falasophy, Irvine Spectrum Center
SCRATCH LEBANESE CUSINE
Although Falasophy now serves other Mediterranean foods, its motto remains “all roads lead to falafel.” That’s fitting, since owner Rashad Moumneh launched his Lebanese street-food kitchen nearly a decade ago with a food truck, the Falafel Chariot, that served only falafel.
Did you research other falafel spots before launching yours?
I’d been to a lot in Lebanon and in New York. I knew lots of places in Lebanon because I grew up there. In New York, I would just walk and eat in different falafel shops.
Does your falafel represent a particular style or region?
Ours is a mix – the best kind of mix! I took different things that I like from different cultures. Ours is not like Lebanese falafel – ours is green on the inside. It’s not completely like Israeli or Palestinian falafel, just parsley – ours also has cilantro and dill. We use a bit of the leeks that Egyptians use. That’s why I say ours is a mix.
Why do you think each style is so different?
The Egyptians used fava beans. Lebanese used garbanzo beans, because that’s what was available – a region uses the available ingredient, sticks with it, and fast forward 100 years, we call it their style. There’s no reason why the falafel at Falasophy needs to be reflective of a single region – everything’s available here. We use garbanzo, leeks, onions, garlic, dill, coriander and a lot of cumin. There is lots of flavor!
What else sets your falafel apart?
We grind our falafel on the premises. A lot of places don’t – you’d be surprised. A lot of falafel places use a mix, a dry chickpea powder. We do ours from scratch.
Oliver’s Trattoria, Quail Hill Shopping Center
ACCLAIMED CHEF’S NEW IRVINE TRATTORIA
Chef Erik De Marchi will open his second Orange County restaurant, Oliver’s Trattoria, in Quail Hill Shopping Center, this fall. The Italian-born-and-trained chef moved to L.A. in 2002 to work with award-winning chef Gino Angelini. In 2018, De Marchi opened Oliver’s Osteria, in Laguna Beach, which has earned a spot on the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list of eateries that offer exceptional value.
Tell us about your new restaurant.
Oliver’s Trattoria will be the sister of Oliver’s Osteria but a more modern take, with a focus on handmade pasta and pizza. It will be a larger space with patios, daily lunch, private-event spaces and a wood-fire pizza oven.
What is the cuisine?
Authentic cuisine from my hometown of Emilia-Romagna, Italy, focusing on handmade pasta and pizza in a more modern and fresh way.
Do you have a signature dish?
My signature has become my Tagliatelle alla Bolognese and my Rigatoni Cacio e Pepe, which is a traditional Roman dish. The Bolognese sauce cooks for hours and the Cacio e Pepe is a combination of high-end ingredients with a special technique to bring all the flavors together at the right time.
Why Quail Hill?
Many of my customers at Laguna Beach live in Irvine and Newport Beach, so I wanted a location close to those cities. Also, I own a home in Irvine and am raising my family here.
Del Frisco’s Grille
Irvine Spectrum Center
The stylish chophouse is as approachable as it is sophisticated, right from the start: Think shareable cheesesteak egg rolls or sticky garlic St. Louis ribs with gochujang-honey glaze. The on-point pan-roasted branzino and the impeccably charred, butter-optional USDA Prime bone-in rib-eye make lasting impressions; for an unforgettable side to either, go for the lobster-enhanced truffled mac & cheese. Liquid desserts – such as the crystal-clear chocolate martini – are a signature finish.
Irvine Spectrum Center
Stately olive trees and two outdoor patios lure diners to this summer hot spot that combines the flavors of Italy with the organic freshness of Southern California. Praiseworthy favorites include the fried squash blossoms and the short rib pappardelle with housemade pasta. Or come early for happy hour nibbles over cocktails and affordable wines.
Golden, crispy-skinned roast duck, half or whole, is a signature dish that’s fit for royalty at this treasured spot for upscale dinners of Szechuan cuisine. Precisely sliced for folding into delicate pancakes, the duck is also offered as a trio of duck soup, duck breast and crunchy chopped bones. Chilled bang bang chicken and potent dan dan pork noodles are fan favorites, too. Showy sweet-and-sour whole fish is a dramatic addition to celebratory feasts. There’s also an intimate private room for special occasions.
Irvine Spectrum Center
Owner Javier Sosa has been wowing Spectrum Center diners since 2004 with elevated Mexican fare in a setting that is like being transported to Latin America. Tequila worshippers populate the dramatic bar for sips of legendary bottles, while date-nighters and special-occasion celebrants dig into the juiciest Michoacán-style carnitas and plumpest white Mexican prawns in all of Irvine.
Walnut Village Center
Gurume means gourmet in Japanese – appropriate for this new spot. At the heart of its menu are sushi omakase and sashimi moriawase – chef’s-choice feasts focusing on pristine, meticulously presented raw fish – and elaborate live lobster or abalone “festivals.” The DIY Hand Roll Set provides a fun alternative experience; you build six hand rolls, progressing from spicy scallops to eel. The restaurant also offers Japanese tapas, multicourse meal sets and hot pots.
Irvine Spectrum Center
Classic Viet dishes such as Shaky Shaky Beef and Salt & Pepper Lobster get Chef Tin Vuong’s modernist treatment at his award-winning bistro. Favored for consistently gracious service and its sultry, midcentury Saigon setting, the high-ceilinged space suits date nights, post-shopping rendezvous or meeting for swanky drinks at the friendly bar. Don’t miss the vibrant green papaya salad – it’s one of OC’s best. Super-stylish desserts make any dinner a celebration.
Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana
Los Olivos Marketplace
One of only five pizzerias in Southern California to earn certification from Italy’s esteemed Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, this dashing destination offers more than sublime, bubbly thin-crust pies. Regulars rave about “unbelievably awesome” branzino, “incredible craft cocktails” and Calamari Fritti that’s “10 out of 10.” And if you like pie for dessert, the almond wood-fired Nutella pizza calls your name.
Paul Martin’s American Grill
Irvine Spectrum Center
The vibe at this spot from legendary restaurateur Paul Fleming is cosmopolitan and convivial, its design striking and service a step above. Go straight for the classics: the salt-and-pepper shrimp starter; pan-seared, herb-marinated “brick” chicken, or steelhead salmon cassoulet, or center-cut filet mignon; and sizzling St. Louis-style butter cake in a mini-skillet to finish. The bar alone is worth a visit; starring now is its contemporary classic Raspberry Mule.
Thai Bamboo Bistro
Quail Hill Shopping Center
The menu options are practically encyclopedic: nearly 30 entrees, such as Fire Tofu, Crispy Tamarind Shrimp, Crazy Cashew Chicken and Drunken Beef, and another 30 noodle, curry and rice-plate possibilities, all prepared to individual spice preference. Traditional starters and sides, such as papaya salad and coconut-milk seafood soup, enhance the experience. An appetizer sampler of five items, including satay skewers, feeds two.
Puesto, Los Olivos Marketplace
A MAGICAL MANGO MOMENT
In her native Ukraine, Maria Tulchevska performed audits for huge corporations. But when Tulchevska and her husband moved to Northern California in 2014, an online recipe for a multi-layered mousse cake triggered an obsession: She made hundreds of versions of that cake in her quest for perfection – then began selling it. Tulchevska was accepted into an elite course led by renowned French-Swiss pastry chef Amaury Guichon then launched her own pastry school and bakery – which she sold when her husband accepted a position in Southern California in 2021. Now Tulchevska is executive pastry chef for Puesto locations throughout California.
But wait, were you at Puesto yet?
I was waiting for a plane at the airport in Mexico when I was invited to apply. I did not yet know Mexican culture, but I understood this Mexican vibe. We did the interview … and I started to develop recipes. I remembered that mango, that emotion, that peace – and I wanted our guests to travel with me to that spot.
What inspired your signature mango cake at Puesto Los Olivos?
We had an escape to Mexico – everything had been so busy, with our twins, with the move. I was standing on the beach, on that warm sand, eating this mango, like a child … I remember taking a bite, the juice on my hands, the ocean breeze … I realized that, for me, this is the life – Mexico, this mango, this sand!
Can you describe the dessert that resulted?
Mango mousse, coconut cake, passion fruit cream, Mexican chocolate … Nature created a perfect flavor profile with mango. Passion fruit and coconut add to the tropical feel. Between thin layers of Mexican chocolate, I hide sea salt, the taste of the ocean. Lime zest brings freshness – limes are everywhere in Mexican cuisine!
I’m Ukrainian, taught by a Swiss-French pastry chef, in the United States, creating Mexican desserts. The challenge for me now is to dig deeper into Mexican culture.
From midweek lunch meetups to unhurried weekend brunching to date nights, A Crystal Cove creates bespoke meals that diners rave about all the way home.
This dapper offshoot of storied A Restaurant (est. 1926 in Newport Beach) claims a dazzling Newport Coast site (part of the original Irvine Ranch) for its next generation of movers, shakers and scene-makers. Legendary for surf-and-turf cuisine, this kitchen pays homage to old classics while boosting the menu with daytime fare. Also an upgrade, the dramatic setting with swanky-by-the-sea vibes.
Lunch is the sleeper find, an indulgent option for bypassing dinner crowds. Soaring doors open to the ocean breeze, adding a side of glamour to the terrific burger, a soulful Cubano sandwich or the famous Caesar salad with crispy capers. Add the short rib omelet or lobster Benedict for weekend brunch. Dinner is all about top-notch Wagyu steaks, exquisitely seared scallops and luscious New Zealand lamb rack over couscous. And throughout every meal – polished VIP service. After dark, a DJ drops the beat with tracks that reveal that indeed, you have the hottest table in town.
MORE COASTAL VENUES TO TRY
Take in one of OC’s most beloved ocean views at this landmark for sea-to-table specialties with a Mexican accent. Think crab omelet for breakfast, butter-poached lobster for lunch or a resort-worthy rib-eye for two at sunset. Midweek happy hour is divine for warm chips, fresh guacamole and just-shaken margaritas.
Joey Newport Beach
This new restaurant is the freshest concept in town. A peppy crew keeps the libations coming, so a wait on the breezy patio passes quickly. An all-day menu of eclectic dishes stars steak-and-sushi combos, an excellent chicken Parmesan and the snazziest hummus platter in this ZIP code. Look for both early and late happy hours.
Crystal Cove Promenade
Florent and Amelia Marneau are the heart and soul of Crystal Cove’s most adored dinner destination for next-level French cuisine. Regulars often bypass the generous menu of bistro classics like steak frites or duck confit in favor of Florent’s wildly creative daily specials and Amelia’s sublime weekly desserts – all with tip-top service.