Sushi is a Cali staple, and Orange County’s Sushi Noguchi happens to be the best of the best. Set in sleek, minimalist digs, this Golden Foodie Award winner serves up incredible fresh sushi, particularly known for its killer omakase (chef’s pick!). When looking to see and be seen, A Restaurant is the A-list spot, classically hip since 1926. It is the county’s modern classic, serving up stellar cuisine with highlights like black truffle and caper infused steak tartare. Wine pairings are also available from a top sommelier, so you can sip from the same vine as the celebs at the table next to yours. The world's most recognized Japanese cuisine, has opened its first Orange County location in Lido Marina Village. Nobu Newport Beach will take your breathaway with its Harbor views, dramatic and unique atmosphere, and divine food! At Playground located in Santa Ana, creative chef Jason Quinn's modern gastrohub offers unique, changing New American fare where rotating craft beers and top-shelf drinks are paired with gourmet burgers. Got a sweet tooth? Blackmarket Bakery is the county’s finest bake shop, serving up delicacies as sinful as the name implies (they also have delicious sandwiches, if seeking a spot to lunch). If you must visit In-n-Out, we won’t stop you, but we’re willing to bet you’ll soon join in the chorus that it’s overrated and realize that Shake Shack is in fact king. However, burger lovers would be remiss not to stop at Hopdoddy, a favorite burger bar among locals who frequent Fashion Island in Newport. The interior is chic and modern, a refreshing change from most burger joints, while the menu offers succulent grass-fed (somewhat guilt-free) beef, as well as craft beers and wines. You’ll find casual, homey vibes at Pizzeria Sapori an Italian restaurant known for its cozy interior and menu of wood fired pies and simple sides, earning it rave reviews including OC’s Restaurant of the Year. At the open & airy upscale eatery Nick’s Laguna Beach, you’ll find classic American comfort food, crave-able bar snacks, unique cocktails & an extensive wine list. You must stop at Irenia to change the way you look at Filipino cuisine. Chef Ryan Garlitos presents a reconstructed Filipino cuisine in a modern, unique way at this award-winning joint. A dinner at Andrea feels like you’re under the Tuscan sun thanks to the ambiance and northern Italian fare, but the unparalleled views of the ocean and golf greens is a gentle reminder to don in a stylish coastal-Cali sundress for this rustic-chic stunner. Stop at The Oyster Bar for the ocean's finest delicacies. This lively joint offers the freshest seafood, traditional Lousiana comfort food, and hot dishes served in steamed kettles, complemented with specialty cocktails and craft beers of course. If you're looking for the ideal snack, Burritos La Palma is Cali's new sensation. Offering legendary burritos and the best flour tortilla in California, this poppin' food truck is a 'CAN'T-MISS'. Don't forget to stop at Hopper & Burr for the perfect cup of coffee!
Resort casual is your calling at Raya in The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, where there’s some prime people watching in its refined setting with yet another stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. The ever-evolving Latin-based menu has a twist of influences from all over the world: expect the unexpected like a Peruvian dish with a Japanese twist, or a Mexican plate infused with Korean flavors. For another coastal California eatery, stop at Bluegold showcasing the pristine Golden Coast beach and celebrating traditional farm-house culture. If you’re a sucker for romantic restaurants or a sinful Sunday brunch, pay a visit to Orange Hill Restaurant. Arrive early to relax on the patio with a glass of wine or hand-crafted cocktail before indulging in high-quality prime steaks for your entree. The sleek Stonehill Tavern at the Monarch Beach Resort by the famed San Francisco chef-turned-restaurateur Michael Mina focuses on seasonal ingredients and elegant tavern fair with twists on home-style favorites: go for the black cod or the whole-friend chicken and a black velvet soufflé for dessert. CUCINA enoteca, a California-inspired Italian kitchen and wine shop concept resto is host to a few restos evoking a modern kitchen coupled with the history and comfort of an old rustic country farmouse. The menus feature flavors of Italy with the organic freshness of California, allowing local bounty to take culinary lead. CUCINA enoteca Newport Beach lends a high-energy, urban-chic setting and solid service, while CUCINA enoteca Irvine takes the ‘all-in-one’ concept a little further by offering nearly everything in the restaurant – including the tables and chairs made by local artists – for sale. Finally, aspiring connoisseurs should not miss one of Carmel’s most unique offerings—the Carmel Wine Walk by the Sea. How it works: purchase a “wine passport” (yes please) at the beginning of your trip for access to any 9 of the 14 tasting rooms along Ocean Avenue ($65 for $90 value). What better way to treat yourself after your “cardio” of boutique hopping? Added bonus: any tasting room on the walk will offer recommendations for dinner or call to make reservations.
The Rooftop Lounge is a swanky establishment atop the roof of La Casa del Camino hotel, known for great people watching and #views (a silk mini dress with strappy sandals speaks to us for this spot). You’ll have a front row seat of the spectacular Laguna Beach sunset as you sip happy hour creations and sample fresh eats, like crab and shrimp ceviche. A lively nightlife scene can be found at Aqua Lounge within the Island Hotel at Fashion Island. Given its location, save your best ensemble for your appearance here (or purchase a new outfit by day). Attire aside, Aqua Lounge offers the best in vibrant entertainment, from live DJ mixes, to tableside mixology (each drink crafted with fresh ingredients and premium liquor), and a delicious menu of shareable eats. As the crowd begins to grow, the party expands onto a chic wooden deck with views of a fireside terrace and lit pool.