OC Restaurants

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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Yo Ho Ho [Giveaway!]

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pirate adventure dinner buena park

Recently we were approached by the folks at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure  with an opportunity to review their Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Christmas Show, “Pirates Take Christmas.” You can enter to win 4 tickets too! Enter below! I reached out to my sister to see if she would like to take her pirate-loving son for some holiday fun and here is what she wrote about her experience…

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park (across from Knott’s Berry Farm) is a dinner show experience like no other.

We took my pirate-obsessed son for his 3rd birthday and he was in awe the whole time.  So, when we got the opportunity to go again a year later, I jumped at the chance. Especially since we would get the chance to see the “Pirates Take Christmas” holiday extravaganza featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus and an elf, who are taken captive by the pirates. Well shiver me timbers!

The performance is so entertaining with impressive acting, singing and amazing acrobatics.  To get everyone in the Christmas spirit, the show includes some Christmas songs and the theater is decked out in holiday trimmings.

You might think a pirate show would be geared towards little boys, but I am telling you, even if you have girls, there are several ariel artists that are stunning to watch. The show definitely has universal appeal.

The Experience

Showtimes vary, but you can arrive up to 1 1/2 hours early to have a drink, enjoy complimentary passed appetizers or do some browsing in the gift shop.

The earlier you get there, the better your seating assignment will be. But I have to say there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The show takes place on the authentic replica of an 18th-century Spanish galleon measuring 46 feet long, 18 feet wide with 40-foot masts anchored in a 250,000-gallon indoor lagoon with night sky lighting.

Surrounding the lagoon is a six-sided showroom of six additional “ships” where the audience is seated. Each of the six ships has its own pirate mascot to cheer on.

Before the show begins, the pirates make a surprising grand entrance into the bar waiting area to escort their “team” into their ship by color section. I didn’t know to warn my son about this part, and he was a bit jumpy seeing these big, gruff pirates so up close and personal.  So, if you have a timid little one, make sure to warn them the pirates will be coming in to start the FUN.

The show involves the audience, so audience participation and cheering your team pirate on in a MUST!  I would say ages 3 and up would appreciate the action the most.

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Special Offer

The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Christmas show runs every day now through December 25th. Tickets include complimentary appetizers before the show and a special 4-course Holiday Feast.

Now through 12/30/13 if you call and book your tickets over the phone and mention “Jolly Web” you will receive a huge savings on tickets ~ adults $32pp and kids $28pp. Children 2 and under on laps are free. Call 714.690.1497 to reserve your dates.

Hooray! It’s a Tiny Giveaway! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Media tickets provided.

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The Scoop on Where Kids Eat Free in OC

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Where Kids Eat Free in the OC 1 Our family loves having meals together…and I especially love when I don’t have to always cook it for them!  Read here for my tips on where kids eat free in Orange County.

Yum!  Check Out these Kid-Friendly Restaurants…

Denny’s Restaurants (Mission Viejo location): Two days of fabulous kid meal deals!  Your kids can eat free every Tuesday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10p.m. at participating Denny’s..I know the location in Mission Viejo honors this promotion…so if there’s a Denny’s closer to you, just call ahead and check first. Up to two kids can eat free per one adult entree purchase – sweet!

Farrell’s (Mission Viejo Mall location)Ice cream sundaes for dessert, anyone?  Pop on over to Farrell’s on Wednesdays…because kids eat free all day off the kid menu (with the purchase of one adult meal and one adult beverage, counted per child). 

Fred’s Mexican Cafe (Laguna Niguel location): Every Sunday evening from 4-9 p.m. your kiddos can eat off the kid’s menu for half price (there are a variety of items).  Valid with one adult meal per child’s meal.

El Torito (Irvine  location, MacArthur Blvd.): Munch on chips, salsa, guacamole…and order some delicious kids meals for your kiddos!  Your children can eat free on Wednesdays, with every regular adult entree purchase. (ages 12 and under).

IHOP Restaurants (Orange location): Select IHOP locations have “Kids Eat Free” afternoons – this one in Orange honors this promotion everyday after 4 p.m., when you buy an adult entree and an adult beverage. Since this great deal is restaurant specific, always make sure to call ahead and confirm if you are visiting another location.

Pasta Pomodoro (Newport Coast location): Feel like some pasta?  Visit Pasta Pomodoro, and your kiddos (12 and under) will receive a free kid’s meal on Tuesdays (all day!) with the purchase of an adult meal.

Ruby’s Diner (most locations – call ahead):  What’s better than red vinyl booths, burgers, fries and shakes?  Kids 12 and under eat free from the kids menu every Tuesday evening after 4 p.m – one free kid’s meal per one adult entree purchased.

Stadium Brewing Company (Aliso Viejo location): Start your week off right…every Monday after 5 p.m., kids 12 and under eat free with each adult entree purchase.

TGI Friday’s (Costa Mesa location) – I’m excited to share that this location offers TWO days of kids eat free!  You kiddos will enjoy a free kid’s meal every Monday and Tuesday (all day!), per purchase of an adult meal.

Z’Tejas (South Coast Plaza location):  If you’re doing a little shopping at South Coast, keep in mind that kids eat free on Sundays from 4 p.m. to closing  (per one adult entrée off of their regular menu).

*Note – Different chain restaurant locations may vary their promotions, so please always call your closest location ahead of time to confirm!

Where do you take your kids to eat?  Any other places that you know of where kiddos eat free in Orange County?

If so, share in the comments below!

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10th Annual Newport Beach Wine Festival

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The Newport Beach Wine Festival 2013 will be held at the beautiful Balboa Bay Resort this Memorial Day weekend and I wanted to share the details of the extraordinary food and wine events to be celebrated over three days.

Raise your hand if you like wine [I do!]

Raise your hand if you love culinary delights [I do!]

For all my moms out there with hands raised in the air, this event is for you [high five sisters!]

Newport Beach Wine Festival 2013 

Schedule of Events

Friday May 24th

Master Sommeliers wine Dinner & Reception with Guest Chefs – The Commodore Room: 6:30pm

Six exquisite courses prepared by Executive Chef Ladeger and four guest Chefs with a parallel pairing of old and new world wines for each course.

Saturday May 25th

Whites wines from France – The Mariner Room: 2pm

Bordeaux From Around the World – The Quarterdeck Room: 4pm

The “Grand Tasting” Gala Event – The Grand Ballroom: 7-10:30pm

The reception will be held in the Grand Ballroom with over 50 vineyards and top-notch cuisine ranging from fine cheeses to scrumptious barbeque.

Sunday May 26th

Beer for Breakfast – Duke’s Place: 9:30am – 1:00pm

Rustic breakfast faire paired with delicious beers from Europe and other renowned parts of the world.

Australian Shiraz vs. French Rhone Syrah – The Quarterdeck Room: 2pm

Seafood on the Bay – The Lawn & Beach: 4 – 7pm

BBQ Seafood, Sushi Station, Paella Station will be accompanied by a variety of wonderful seafood pairing wines from over 20 wineries.

Cigars, Cognac, Spirits & Sweets – The Commodore Room Patio: 6-8pm

The Newport Beach Wine Festival is a proud sponsor of the 1221 Club Scholarship Fund, which raises funds throughout the year for exemplary local high school students who are college bound.

To book one or more of the Newport Beach Wine Festival events, please call 949-630-4146 or visit BalboaBayResort.com for more information.

This would be such a fun date activity to take your hubby to ~ click here to download a brochure with more information and pricing for each event!

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