OC Dining

Best Mother’s Day Brunches in Orange County

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Today I’d like to talk about where to go for the best Mother’s Day brunches in Orange County.  With our special day coming up on Sunday, May 10th, it’s time to start dropping hints and get those reservations made. So bookmark this post, send your husband the link, and let your family know that you’re ready to celebrate with mimosas, omelet bars, and fresh fruit!

Best Mother’s Day Brunches in Orange County 

And speaking of bookmarking a link, check out my Mother’s Day blog from last year – all about what mamas really want for Mom’s Day!

Here are some of my favorite brunch places:

El Torito Dana Point – This is a delicious, causal buffet in a kid-friendly environment, and sports a beautiful view of the Dana Point Harbor.
Reservations – (949) 496-6311

Laguna Beach Driftwood Kitchen – You will feel like you are eating on.the.beach here – the views here are incredible. And the food is amazing.  This is one of my favorite spots.
Reservations – (949) 715-7700

Rusty Pelican – I actually had my bridesmaids’ luncheon here many moons ago, and have always come back for special occasions.  This restaurant sits on the Newport Harbor (right off of PCH), and is so beautiful and relaxing. Love it.
Reservations – (949) 642-3431

Salt Creek Grille (Dana Point) – This is a great spot to bring the family – yummy food, relaxed dining room, and right off of PCH (on the east side).
Reservations – (949) 661-7799

Tustin Ranch Golf Club – I’m a little biased because this is where I had my wedding reception (again, many moons ago!), but we love the brunch here – absolutely delicious with a gorgeous golf course view.
Reservations – (714) 734-2111

Here are some places I’ve heard wonderful things about:

Back Bay Bistro (at Newport Dunes) – People tell me that their waterfront patio is beautiful, and the food is wonderful. Check and check!
Reservations – (949) 729-1144

Brio Tuscan Grille (at the Irvine Spectrum) – I’ve heard this is a great place to brunch and relax – looking forward to trying it soon.
Reservations – (949) 341-0380

Duke’s Huntington Beach (right on Huntington Beach) – Anything right on the beach gets an “A” in my book.  Plus, I hear the food is amazing.
Reservations – (714) 374-6446

Paul Martin’s American Grill (at the Irvine Spectrum)- My friends tell me this is a great casual place with good food and reasonable brunch prices.  Sounds good to me.
Reservations – (949) 453-1144

Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort (in Laguna Beach)- I’ve heard this is just a fabulous restaurant with an amazing ocean view and delicious food.  Can’t wait to try it!
Reservations – (877) 741-5908

Here are some of the top picks from web searches:

Still looking for some inspiration? Take a peek at these websites that have compiled some great brunch spots in Orange County.

– From Gayot:  2015 Top 10 Mother’s Day Brunch Restaurants in Orange County (CA) Area

– From www.orangecounty.net:  Mother’s Day Weekend – Things to Do/Brunch

– From Opentable – Mother’s Day Brunch, Lunch and Dinner Specials

– From localemagazine.com – Orange County Brunch Guide

– From wherela.com –  Find The Best Places To Brunch In Orange County

Don’t forget to call to make reservations asap…and also ask if there is a set menu or special available brunch times (since it is a holiday).  I wish you all a fabulous early Mother’s Day, and hope you get to enjoy your families and do what you love!

Please comment below with your choice for the best brunch places in OC!

Photo credit: FlickrCopyright All rights reserved by emilygang

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Local Love: OC Restaurant Week

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OC Restaurant Week 2015

 The 2015 Orange County Restaurant Week is happening all week through Saturday, March 7th with more than 100 restaurants participating in the countywide event.

During the weeklong event, participating restaurants will offer special three-course menus, many with a cocktail or signature item at no additional charge.

Each restaurant will have the freedom and flexibility to showcase its best offerings by talented chefs who will, no doubt, personalize each menu to reflect their individual culinary style. Participating restaurants will offer prix-fixe menus within the following price categories: lunch for $10, $15 or $20, and dinner for $20, $30, $40 or $50.

Following is a list of the restaurants participating in this year’s OC Restaurant Week 2015 (each name is linked to its menu!)


118 Degrees

230 Forest

320 Main

370 Common


Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails


Bacchus Bar and Bistro

Bambu Restaurant at the Fairmont Newport Beach

Blue C Sushi

Bluefin Fine Japanese Cuisine

Bluewater Grill – Tustin

Bluewater Grill – Newport Beach

Bosscat Kitchen

Brio Tuscan Grille

Brunos Italian Kitchen

C4 Deli

Café Jardin

Canaletto Ristorante ​Veneto


Cedar Creek Inn – Brea

Cedar Creek Inn – San Juan Capistrano

Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen

Chaper One: the modern local

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales

Cucina Enoteca – Irvine and Newport

Del Frisco’s Grille

Dory Deli

El Torito Grill

Eureka – Huntington Beach and Irvine

Farrell’s – Mission Viejo, Brea and Buena Park

Fig & Olive

Fire+Ice Grill & Bar

Five Crowns

Fly-N-Fish Oyster Bar & Grill

Golden Truffle


Harborside Restaurant and Grand Ballroom


Il Dolce

Il Fornaio

Issara Thai Cuisine

JT Schmid’s Restaurants


K’ya Bistro Bar

Lark Creek

Las Brisas



Maro Wood Grill


McCormick & Schmick’s Irvine

Medieval Times

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar

Mick’s Karma Bar

Morton’s the Steakhouse




Newport Landing Restaurant

Newport Rib Company

Nirvana Grille


Orange Hill Restaurant

PASCAL  –  San Juan Capistrano

Paul Martin’s American Grill

Pinot Provence

Pizzeria Ortica

Prime Cut Café & Wine Bar


Quinn’s Old Town Grill

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen

Red O Restaurant

Riptide Sushi

Rockin Baja

Royal Khyber

Royal Thai – Laguna Beach

Royal Thai – Newport Beach

Rusty Pelican

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Irvine

Scott’s Restaurant and Bar

Sealegs Wine Bar

Seasons 52

Shades Restaurant and Bar

Slapfish – Huntington Bch & Laguna Bch

Slaters 50/50 – Lake Forest, Anaheim & Huntington Bch

SOL Cocina


Splashes Restaurant


Steakhouse 55

Sundried Tomato Cafe

SWSH Shabu Shabu

Tabu Grill


TAPS Fish House & Brewery

Tempo Urban Kitchen

Ten Asian Bistro

The Capital Grille

The Cellar

the crow bar & kitchen

The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach

The Matador

The Melting Pot – Irvine

The North Left

The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon

The Rooftop Lounge

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar – Newport Beach

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar – Tustin

Tommy Bahama’s Bar and Grill – Laguna Beach

Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille – Newport Beach

Tortilla Jo’s

Tortilla Republic

True Food Kitchen

Twenty Eight Restaurant & Lounge

Villa Roma






Who Song and Larry’s

Wild Goose Tavern

Wildfish Seafood Grille




This year, the OC Restaurant Association is offering one lucky diner the opportunity to win dinner and a movie for a year. The public is encouraged to post photos from their dining experiences during OC Restaurant Week and use the hashtags #OCRestaurantWeek2015 or #OCRW2015.

The photos will be entered to win a grand prize of twelve (12) $100 gift cards and 24 movie passes to enjoy dinner and a movie for two once a month for a year! Diners must post photos between March 1st and March 7th, 2015 to qualify.


This year, OC Restaurant Week 2015 joins forces with Girl Scouts of Orange County to celebrate the world’s largest girl-led business, Girl Scout Cookies sales, during Orange County’s favorite culinary event! During OC Restaurant Week – which happens to be the last week that Girl Scout Cookies will be available on sale in Orange County until 2016 – select restaurants will offer delicious desserts inspired by and featuring Girl Scout Cookies! Some of the OC Restaurant Week participating restaurants are even hosting local Girl Scouts for a Preview Tasting, where girls will get the chance to taste the sweet treats and meet with the restaurant’s chef – all important as many of them strive to earn culinary and business badges.

Featured desserts include:
Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants – Lemonades Cookie Cream Soda
Maro Wood Grill  – Girl Scout Cookie Crunch Sundae with Gluten-Free Trios Crumble
Pascal  – Thin Mints Mousse Cake
Paul Martin’s American Grill – Homemade Ice Cream with Assorted Girl Scout Cookies
Provenance  – “Girl Scouts Rock” – Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Torte with Gluten-Free Trios Cookie Crust (in 2015, new Gluten-Free Trios were added to the cookie line-up)
Slapfish  – Caramel deLites Chipwich with Thin Mints-studded Ice Cream
Slater’s 50/50 – Peanut Butter Patties Push Pops and Caramel deLites Push Pops
Sundried Tomato American Bistros and Catering – Lemonades Cookie Sandwich

For general information, or to learn about participation or sponsorship opportunities during Orange County Restaurant Week 2015, please visit www.OrangeCountyRestaurantWeek.com. To learn about or join the Orange County Restaurant Association, visit www.OCRestaurantAssociation.or.

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Tamarind of London…best date night ever!

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Disclosure: Complimentary media dinner provided. Tamarind of London Review

I was THRILLED to be able to be chosen for a Tamarind of London review assignment for Tiny Oranges.  Not only do I love food, but I love, love, LOVE INDIAN food!  In fact, 11 years ago, my husband and I went on our first date to Indian food and it holds a special place in our hearts.  Then a few years later, we traveled to London (before kids, of course!) and had about the best Indian food ever.

We have tried a few Indian restaurants in Orange County, and while the food was great, the ambiance was less than mediocre.  If we are going to pay a babysitter and get ourselves out to dinner…it better be great food AND great ambiance.  Situated in the lovely Crystal Cove Shopping Center, Tamarind of London was the perfect marriage of those two ingredients.

Tamarind of London Fountain Beautiful water features usher you into the contemporary dining room, which although large, was still very inviting.

We were seated on the side of the restaurant with a large wrap-around bar and fantastic patio with a beautiful fire pit.  Uber dark and uber romantic.  Perfection for a date with the hubs that has been a long time coming!

I ordered the Narangi Crush (Premium Vodka, Chase Elderflower, freshly muddled blood oranges in simple syrup, splash of Grapefruit) and the hubs got Pimm’s PM (Muddled Molrello Cherries, Lemon, Pimm’s No.1, Premium Gin, housemade sour mix and topped with soda).  Both were DELICIOUS.  I only wish I could have had one more…but it was a Monday night!


Before I get into my Tamarind of London review, let me give you a little background on the restaurant.

Tamarind of London is the sister to Tamarind restaurant in Great Britain, which has received the Michelin star for each of the past 13 years. The restaurant is guided by a philosophy that seeks to blend cultural authenticity with mainstream accessibility.

Tamarind of London pays homage to India’s flavorful traditional favorites while artfully integrating California’s robust selection of seasonal, fresh and sustainable ingredients in every dish.

We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Imran Ali and he showed us the 3 specialized tandoori ovens that each cook at different temperatures.  He has been at the restaurant for about one year, and is an absolute treasure.  He really takes pride in the food served here in that it is authentic.  No fusion here!  It’s also important to note that the 5 staff in his kitchen are from all parts of the continent, which is how he likes to showcase the different flavors and techniques used in different regions.


As for the dishes we sampled, everything was absolutely delicious.  Indian food is traditionally served family-style.  So come hungry.  Very hungry.

For the appetizers, we tasted spiced masala-potato croquette, the spinach and potato dumpling, the tandoori swordfish and the caramelized tandoori tikki chicken morsels.  Each were served with amazing sauces that really brought out the rich and unique flavor of each one.

The chicken morsels may have been my favorite.  Wait, I can’t pick a favorite!  All were amazing.  And the Goat Cheese stuffed Naan??  What?? Imagine a pillowy, flavorful pita-like bread stuffed with goat cheese.  Unreal.

tamarind of london apps

The dishes were served with traditional Indian basmati rice and a lentil dish that went nicely with everything.  All entrees are reasonably priced at $26-$29 each and we had seriously enough food for 4 meals.  Do you even know how good Indian leftovers are?!  Let’s just say it’s as good as Thai or Asian food, for sure.

We had the Coconut Prawn Curry in a rich creamy curry sauce with notes of ginger and coconut.  It was warm and spicy and simply delicious.  The Chicken Tikka Masala, even though I’ve had this dish many times, was extraordinary.  The chicken was tender and the sauce was spicy, but not overwhelming.  Just perfect.

The Lamb Roganjosh ((even though I am not usually a lamb fan!) was amazing too.  The lamb was so tender and mild and was in a traditional sauce that is dark and rich with browned onions, tomatoes and Kashmiri red chilies.  It truly was the perfect blend of spices.

But…the best dish of ALL…was the Tandoori Sea Bass.  I must say, I have never had Chilean Sea Bass prepared this way, and it was to die for.  It was marinated in saffron, ginger and green chilies and served with an apricot curry sauce and an Indian risotto.  The tandoori oven makes the outside of the fish crisp and the inside is SO moist and flavorful.  It was for sure my favorite and I will get it when we go back!

tamarind food

Our attentive server Frankie suggested a nice syrah to pair with the food and it was the perfect pairing.  It was strong enough to stand up to the bold and spicy flavors and was even great with the sea bass.

Dessert??  Yes, please!  I had to unsnap my skinny jeans, but I did it.  We were served a sampler of Cardamom Ice Cream, Tandoori Pineapple and a traditional Rice Kheer.  They were rich, but surprisingly light after the ridiculous amounts of food we had already consumed.  The sweet flavors cut the spiciness of the curry sauces and left us feeling VERY satisfied.

So, this was a date night we will not forget!  We will for SURE be back to this little gem of a restaurant.  We did see they have a happy hour with great food and beverage specials and also a kids menu ($5 entrees!).  We love our boys to try all types of cuisines and this is for sure next on our list to take them.

Thank YOU to Frankie, Chef Imran Ali and the wonderful staff at Tamarind of London.  We are SURE to be back.

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