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The Scoop on Where Kids Eat Free in OC

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!

Islands New Gremmie Menu (+ $100 Giveaway!)

Islands Kids Menu

This post is on the recently updated Islands Kid Menu offering healthier options for your little gremmies and I have two, yes, two, $100 gift cards to give away so you can take your family to check out the menu for yourself. Enter below!

I have a soft spot in my heart for Islands Restaurant.  I worked at the Islands Restaurant in Fountain Valley in high school as a hostess. It was “the” place to work in high school and I felt like hot stuff in my Hawaiian shirt, let me tell you!

Back in those days (22 years ago – gulp) a hostess asked, “How many in your party? Smoking or non?” Yes, it was so long ago, there were actually still smoking sections!

Well, a lot has changed since those days, good-bye smoking sections (thank goodness) and the uniforms are updated (no more Hawaiian shirts, short shorts and white tennies!) but Islands amazing menu offering the BEST burgers, fries and drinks remains the same, just better.

Islands fries are my favorite fries in the entire world.

Islands New Kids Menu 

Now that I am all growns up with kids of my own, I can fully appreciate Islands for not only the best french fries, but also as one of the best kid-friendly restaurants in Orange County.

Islands recently updated their Gremmie Menu for kids with new items for Little Surfers 6 & Under ($3.95) and those Older Surfers 7-12 ($5.09).


kids-menu

First off, how AWESOME is it to have less expensive options with smaller portions for little ones? So smart!

The updated menu also gives parents and their kids a chance to mix and match options while having fun dining out with the family.

Islands Kids Menu highlights include:

~ Grilled chicken sandwich

~ Fresh fruit with organic greek yogurt

~ Noodles with marinara or parmesan and butter

~ Veggie sides with ranch dip

Susanne and I were recently invited to check out the new menu, so we took our little gremmies for a weeknight Islands dinner. We love the Islands paper kids menus and activities to keep them entertained.

We ordered four different kids’ meals and asked for extra plates so we could give each gremmie a bite of the different entrees and sides.

Islands-Collage

I love that the Islands Kids Menu offers variety and more options rather than the same ‘ole same ‘ole kids menu standards.  With veggies, fruit, yogurt, salads and frozen fruit bars now on the menus for kids, there are lots more healthy picks for your little ones. Just make sure someone at your table orders the fries!

Islands Restaurants can be found all over Southern California. Click here to find the Islands locations nearest you.

Islands-Giveaway

Two lucky readers will win a $100 gift card to take your family! Winner must live in an area close to an Islands. Enter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Disclosure: We received a complimentary dinner to facilitate this Islands review. Mahalo Islands!]

Sidecar Doughnuts

Sidecar Doughnuts, a specialty doughnut store in Costa Mesa, opened its doors this month to the delight of Orange County doughnut aficionados everywhere.

First off, I love that they use the spelling of doughnut vs. donut, which after a quick Google search, is in fact the grammatically correct spelling. Who knew? I guess they did, and the spelling was only the first of many things they got right with their new business!

Dare I say, they really did score a hole in one. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

I was invited to a media sneak peek before it opened to the public and was able to meet the owners and find out more about their offerings.

We were also given this sampler plate of doughnuts along with a freshly brewed Stumptown latte. By the way, Sidecar is the only location in Orange County where you will find Stumptown coffee. AAAAMMMAAZING!

Now I am going to be honest: typically I eat a donut about once a year at a garage sale ~ a decision I usually end up regretting after when I get that “blah” feeling.

Not so with these yummy confections!

Sidecar Doughnuts is revolutionizing the doughnut world with doughnuts made from real ingredients.  We are talking doughnuts made fresh from scratch on the hour, using the finest ingredients and no preservatives.

Their speciality doughnuts include real yeast-raised, cake, and buttermilk varieties dressed up with fun extras to make unique flavors like Maple Bacon or Birthday Cake. Think your kiddo might like that one? You guessed right.

It was love at first taste for me. You can really taste the difference. My favorite? Maple Bacon hands down. It was an entire breakfast experience in one bite.

 Gluten-free Fridays! Avoiding gluten these days? Every Friday you will find gluten-free doughnuts; and even vegan options from time to time. Follow Sidecar Doughnuts on Facebook to find out when.

They are pricer than your typical donut, but worth the upgrade for the fresh ingredients and hip location. Plus, where else would you find a fresh, hot doughnut topped with crispy bacon?

www.SidecarDoughnuts.com

[Disclosure: I was provided scrumptious bites and a latte complimentary; along with a doughnut box filled with some goodies. Glad they spotted me on the corner with my sign, "Will work for doughnuts.']

£10 and Scarpetta at Montage Beverly Hills

In June my husband and I had the rare pleasure of visiting the Montage Beverly Hills property for an absolutely stellar overnight stay. After a deliriously great day at the rooftop pool, treatment at Spa Montage and blowout at Kim Vo Salon, we had reservations for a pre-dinner drink at £10 followed by dinner at their world renowned Italian restaurant, Scarpetta.

Feeling relaxed and happier than I had been in forever, we headed off hand in hand to £10. I had no idea what was in store and just the name intrigued me.

Hidden above Scarpetta in a private lounge area, this unique bar requires a host to let you in using a private key card ~ 007 style. Oozing with style, £10 invites true spirit connoisseurs to enjoy specialty cocktails and their selection of the world’s most precious whisky, The Macallan Single Malt.

[Photo credit: Montage]

This sort of place is right up my husband’s alley.

Once seated by our gracious and jovial bartender, we were educated on the history of the whisky, and told that every handcrafted cocktail is composed only of the freshest ingredients.

Not only do you get to select your drink of choice, but the drinks came with a choice of specialty ice spheres (translation ~ ice cubes.) But these are not your typical ice cubes that can melt and water down your drink, but ice spheres made from a special ice machine using imported Scottish water so that your sphere is made to fit perfectly in the glass and melt slowly. Pretty cool, right?

My husband opted for a glass of whisky, of course. He would typically not drink whisky on the rocks, but this was not any whisky, or any rocks, and it went down so smoothly he had to order a second.

[Photo credit: Montage]

Our drinks were hand poured table side by our bartender. I am not much of a hard alcohol drinker, but I do enjoy a good martini every now and then, so our  bartender asked me what kind of drinks I like, and custom made a specialty cocktail just for me.

I am not even sure of exactly what was in it, but I do know that there was a top shelf vodka, hint of pomegranate and rose, and other delicious yumminess served in a fabulous crystal glass.  The perfect start to an evening of fine dining.

If you have any spirit connoisseurs in your family, £10 would be their mecca. The perfect spot for a special ocassion or celebration.

Shhh….this is a hidden gem of a find, and has limited availability to those in the know. Open Tuesday – Saturday 5:00pm – 1:00am. Call 310.860.5808 for more info. Private events and Scotch tastings also available.

And then we were off to dinner at Scarpetta.

Selected as one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine, Chef Scott Conant’s Italian cuisine is modern and made with fresh seasonal ingredients for a culinary experience to be remembered.

Located adjacent to the Beverly Canon Gardens, Scarpetta’s beautiful Mediterranean style patio is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer (or really year round with good heat lamps in So Cal!) is to be able to dine al fresco.

Our server promptly greeted us and when presented with menus, my first thought was, how am I going to pick what to get? Everything sounded so amazing. Then he told me about their special Chef’s tasting menu, where Chef Conant will guide us through our experience.

Sold.

Their tasting menus come with the choice of a 4 course or 5 course tasting, and additional wine pairing can be added on as well, which he highly suggested.

Sold.

Our experience started with a presentation of fluke crudo, artichokes, preserved lemon & osetra caviar and  tuna ‘susci’ marinated vegetables & preserved truffles.

The fluke was light and luscious and the caviar added a nutty, rich flavor to cap off each delicious bite.

And I have to be honest, I am not a raw tuna fan, probably the only one in Southern California who isn’t.  However, of course I had to try a bite of the Chef’s creation (my husband was proud of me since he is an avid sushi fan), and it was a-mazing. Never thought I would say that!

The crunch of the greens and flavor of the marinated vegetables were light and refreshing. Have I been converted? It was my husband’s favorite dish of the night. He was in heaven.

Next we were on to the second course, fiori di zucca fritti, ricotta stuffed zucchini flower & baby stewed tomatoes and creamy polenta, fricassee of truffled mushrooms.

The fiori di zucca fritti was rich and had a little hint of a sweet surprise at the bottom.

And the polenta. Oh, the polenta. Every bite just melted in your mouth. I thought, “I should stop now,” there are more courses coming, but I couldn’t help myself, it was so delicious.

Here’s the polenta.  I miss you sweet polenta.  When can we get together again?

Just when I thought my experience couldn’t get better I was introduced to Scarpetta’s famous tomato & basil spaghetti.

I was told by our bartender upstairs we had to get their signature dish, the spaghetti. I somewhat expected it to be some kind of fancy-schmancy spaghetti, but when it arrived for our third course, I was a little taken aback by its simplicity ~ tomato & basil.

I have had tomato & basil spaghetti a thousand times, so I wondered what made this spaghetti so special?  And then I tasted it.

In a word: perfection.

Flavorful and delicious, the texture of the impeccably cooked pasta combined with the garlicky tomato sauce and sweet basil was just, well, the best I have ever had.

I asked our server ~ what makes it THIS good?

Homemade fresh pasta made daily using Sicilian flour, amongst other things, and a little secret somethin’ ~ somethin’ Chef Conant must use to sprinkle it with sheer brilliance.

Please hear me on this: if you dine at Scarpetta ~ you MUST order the spaghetti. It is not negotiable. This dish is something every person should experience in their lifetime.

I ate the entire bowl, I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t help it.

And we still had another course on the way, the jidori roasted chicken, english peas, peanut potatoes & morel ragu.

I wish I would have had more room to enjoy this dish to the fullest, but after devouring the spaghetti, I was only able to manage a few bites.  But again, a masterpiece of flavors. Moist, delicate and divine, our server also raved about this dish, and he was right.

I also highly recommend going with the wine pairings for the tasting menu. Every selection was a perfect complement to each dish, making the flavors stand out just that much more. The wine really rounded out each course by tying a pretty little bow on it.

Scarpetta is the perfect location to celebrate a special occasion, romantic date night or fun dinner out with friends. The sort of special place to experience with the special people in your life. Beautiful location, impeccable service and succulent cuisine. Salud!

Dinner is served Monday – Thursday ~ 6:00 – 10:00pm, Sunday 6:00 – 9:00pm, Friday/Saturday 6:00 – 10:30pm.

Sunday Brunch (I heard their brunch is off the charts!!) is served Sunday from 11:00am – 3:00pm with bottomless Mimosas & Bloody Marys for + $22.

The Scarpetta Bar is open from 4:00 – 11:30pm featuring a Giro D’ombra Happy Hour Celebration featuring $4 beers & $8 cocktails, wines and apps every Monday – Friday from 4:00 – 7:00pm. Happy hour menu.

Gnudi Gnite ~ Every Tuesday night Chef Conant brings his famous fluffy ‘gnudi’ dish. For $36pp, guests can share family-sized portions of salad, porchetta, gnudi parmigiano & a seasonal vegetable. See menu here.

Reservations advised, call 866.743.7559 to reserve your table. And please promise me you will order the spaghetti?

[Disclosure: Our spirits & culinary experience was provided complimentary by Montage Beverly Hills to facilitate a review. Thank you for an evening to remember!] 

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes ~ Your Food Will LOVE You!

Have you ever had a bite of sea salt that nearly broke your tooth?  Or too fine of a grain you could hardly taste it?  You’ve got to try Maldon Sea Salt Flakes ~ your food will LOVE you!

Recently my husband (Mike) & I went on a date night to Pizzeria Mozza which was a HEAVENLY culinary experience.  One of the appetizers we ordered was the bone marrow which they brought to the table with toasts, slow cooked garlic in olive oil, celery micro greens & a little dish of this amazingly light but large flakes of sea salt that dissolve quickly as they hit your tongue.  The combination of all the flavors was divine!

When the server came to clear the course Mike grabbed the little dish of salt & kept enjoying little pinches of it all throughout our meal.

We found out it’s called Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and a few days later a little package arrived on our doorstep and we’ve been enjoying it in our kitchen ever since!   (Mike found it here for just $6.49 + free shipping!)

We’ve been cooking with it, putting a little pinch on a salad, heck we’ve been putting a little pinch on ANYTHING & EVERYTHING!

It’s the PERFECT Sea Salt!

Enjoy!

XO,

Your Sus Chef