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Orange County Restaurant Week 2015 Top Picks

Orange County Restaurant Week 2015 Top Picks

Tom’s Foodie Blog’s Top Picks for Orange County Restaurant Week 2015

What: Orange County Restaurant Week  is when participating Orange County restaurants offer special prix fixe meals at a discount. Meals involve at least two courses, very often more. This is a great time to try new restaurants or lavish in a full hog meal at your favorites.

Price: Prixe Fixe meals fall into the following pricing categories: Lunch ($10, 15, 20) Dinner ($20, 30, 40, 5o)

When: March 1 -7 

Who: See a complete list of participating restaurants on the Orange County Restaurant Week Website

Recommendations? : See my picks below

I love over-indulging during Orange County Restaurant Week. Although,  Let’s face it, not all Orange County Restaurant Week meals are created equal. Tom’s Foodie Blog has done the hard work and went through every menu to find my picks for the top 3 restaurants in each lunch and dinner category

Orange County Restaurant Week March 1 -7

Orange County Restaurant Week March 1 -7

Selection Criteria for Orange County Restaurant Week Top Picks

I have five simple criteria for selecting my top picks

  1. Reputation of the restaurant – Having a good name is important. A restaurant must be known for making quality and creative food. 
  2. Variety – There is nothing worse than an Orange County Restaurant Week Menu that is only providing two options. I skip those right away, even if it is one of my favorite restaurants.
  3. Creativity of dishes -There is nothing worse than restaurants who only provide “wedding food” on restaurant week. Let me be specific, if a restaurant only serves chicken, salmon, and short ribs, I am out. 
  4. Putting forth “best” dishes –  I like restaurants that offer their best dishes.
  5. VALUE – Restaurants should make their menu a perceived deal to  the diners. I know I look for places where I can get an appetizer and/or dessert for nearly the same price as just the entree.  
Orange County Restaurant Week offers Lunch and Dinner Deals

Orange County Restaurant Week offers Lunch and Dinner Deals

Orange County Restaurant Week 2015 Lunch Picks

$10 Lunch

 #1 Mick’s Karma Bar

Micks

What’s Included:  Steak Hache (burger), fries and, homemade drink.  (See  Restaurant Week Menu)

Why I like it: Mick’s Karma bar makes one of my favorite burgers in Orange County. They will be featuring three of their rotating burgers specials that are rarely available. Mick’s “El Gaucho” burger is amazing and this is one of the only times you will get to try it. Plus you will get fries and one of their house made drinks to wash it down. Not a bad deal.

 

#2  Royal Thai Cuisine

Royal Thai

What’s Included: Choice of soup or salad; choice of entrée (over 12 options); plus rice or pad Thai;  dessert. (see restaurant Week menu)

Why I like it: I like the fact that Royal Thai is providing lots of options and includes quite a bit of delicious food for $10. I recommend the “Royal Thai Snapper.”

#3 Dory Deli

Dory Deli

  1. What’s Included: Main Dish (Choice of Burger, sandwich of Vegetarian Sub); side salad.  (see restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Although I found this menu to be a little light, I really like their Figgy Burger and Lifeguard Club included in this menu. Dory Deli is one of my new favorite spots to get lunch. 

 

Honorable mention: Wild Goose Tavern

WIld Goose

  1. What’s Included: Fancy Fries and Burger/Sausage/ or salad (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Your gut will be very full after this lunch, between the loaded fries and a heavy entree you might as well cancel that 1:00 meeting. 

 

$15 Lunch

 

#1 Gyu Kaku

Gyu Kaku

  1. What’s Included:  Select 4 meats to cook on the grill; includes salad, soup, edamame, Rice; Select  vegetable;  Desert  (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: I love eating at Gyu Kaku, this is a great deal for having 4 types of meat, appetizer, vegetables and rice. Be sure you drink lots of coffee after this lunch otherwise you will be falling asleep during your next meeting.

#2 Cha Cha’s

ChaChas

 

  1. What’s Included: chips and salsa; soup or salad; Entrée (5 choices); and receive $15 certificate towards Sunday champagne brunch) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Cha Cha’s has some really delicious Mexican food. I like the menu options and a wide variety of options. My favorite entrée is the crab and shrimp enchiladas. (Tom’s Foodie Blog Review of ChaCha’s)

#3 Tempo Urban Kitchen

Tempo Urban Grill

  1. What’s Included: Choice of soup or salad; appetizer; entree (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: I really like some of the menu options, including the “Fish on Chips” which is a whole fried fish, sitting on house made potato chips. Three items for $15 is a steal.

Honorable mention:Tortilla Republic

Tortilla Republic

 

  1. What’s Included: What is included Gazpacho; Appetizer ( 3 choices) ; Main Dish (4 choices);Dessert (4 choices) (See the restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: I have eaten at Tortilla Republic several times and I love their food. I like the variety of food they are offering and each of the dishes are delicious, I tried them all.  (Tom’s Foodie Blog review of Tortilla Republic)

 

$20 Lunch

 #1 Chapter One: the modern local

Chapter One

  • What’s Included: Beverage, Appetizer (4 choices), Main Course (9 choices) , Dessert (5 choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  • Why I like it: This is a very solid Restaurant Week menu for lunch. Some restaurants don’t even offer these choices or variety in their dinner menu. Chapter One is putting their best foot forward to WOW new customers. I love this restaurant. (Tom’s Foodie Blog Review of Chapter One)

 

 #2 Fig and Olive

F&O_logotype_2012

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (Choice of soups, croquettes, or carpacio ); Entrée (Risotto, chicken, salmon tartar, paella,  and lamb as an upgrade); Dessert (2 Choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: This is one classy lunch and a great time to get out of the office and eat like a boss. The Paella Del Mar looks really good and I tried the Dessert “Crostini” before and it is extremely delicious.

 

 #3 Eureka! 

Eureka

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (3 choices); Entrée (4 choices); Dessert (3 Choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Eureka makes one of my favorite burgers in Orange County, so this is a great time to try their burgers with an appetizer and a dessert for one low price. I recommend the Bruschetta and Eureka Burger. (Tom’s Foodie Blog’s Review of Eureka!)

 

Honorable Mention: Red 0

Red O

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (2 choices); Entrée (3 choices); Dessert (2 Choices)  (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: If you have ever been curious to try Rick Bayless’s Red O, but a little timid by their prices, then Orange County Restaurant Week is a great time. I highly recommend you try the Pumpkin seed hummus and Red Chile Carnitas.

 

Orange County Restaurant Week  2015 Dinner Picks

 

$20 Dinner

#1 Slapfish

Slapfish

  1. What’s Included: Entrée (4 choices); Dessert  (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Although the Slapfish menu is small, it includes some very high-end items for $20. For example you can get your choice of a foot-long lobster roll, Oyster tasting and an oyster poboy, New England lobster boil, or an all-you-can-eat mussels and frites.  All dinners include a girlscout cookie dessert. Caramel de Lite Chipwiches with Thin Mint Studded Ice Cream!  (Tom’s Foodie Blog Review of Slapfish)

 

 

#2 Blue C Sushi 

blue c sushi

  1. What’s Included:Soup and Salad,  2 small entrees, Choice of roll, Dessert (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: I tried some of their sushi dishes during the Orange County Restaurant Week preview party, and their Spicy Tuna on crispy rice was one of the stand out dishes of the night. I like the variety of sushi provided, this is a good deal. 

 

#3 Bacchus Wine Bistro

Bacchus

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (3 choices) Entrée (3 choices); Dessert (2 choices)  (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Bacchus makes some great food that would pair with their extensive wine menu. Although they do not include wine, I would come here to enjoy the Lobster and Chorizo fondue with a dark zinfandel.

$30 Dinner

#1 Chapter 1:The Modern Local

Chapter One

  1. What’s Included: A Moscow Mule, Wine or Beer; Appetizer (8 choices!) Entrée (6 choices) Dessert (4 choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Chapter One, in my opinion, has the most extensive and creative dishes on any of the price ranges. I highly recommend the Tangy Fried Calamari, Lamb Gnocchi,  and the Monkey Balls Dessert. (Tom’s Foodie Blog Review of Chapter One)

 

#2 Mozambique 

Mozambique

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (3 choices) ; Entrée (5 choices) and includes some of the best dishes; Dessert (2 choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Mozambique is putting their best foot forward and offering some of the best dishes on their menu including their Piri Piri Chicken and Prawns Piri Piri

 

#3 Lucca

Lucca

  1. What’s Included: Amuse, First Course (4 choices); Second (5 choices); Dessert (3 choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Lucca is also providing some of their best dishes and providing extras like an amuse buche. I suggest the pan roasted Brussels Sprouts and Snake River Farms Pork Chop

 

$40 Dinner

#1 K’Ya Bistro

Kya Bistro

  1. What’s Included: Glass of wine, First course (5 good choices ); Salads (4 choices) Entrée  (4 choices); Dessert (1 choice) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: K’Ya bistro is offering the best in class menu for the $40 range due to the generous menu and four courses including an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. I love most of their dishes, but I recommend their Poke, Kale Salad, and Lobster Mac and Cheese. (Tom’s Foodie Blog Review of K’Ya)

 

#2 Twenty –Eight

Twenty eight

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (4 choices); Entrée (3 choices); Dessert (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: – Although a small menu, I really like the dishes. Great time to try the dish that let Chef Shirley Chung win “Top Chef New Orleans, “Make your Mark.”

 

#3 TAPS Fish House and Brewery

TAPS

  1. What’s Included: Appetizers (3 choices) , Entrée (3 choices), Dessert (3 choices).  (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Although it is a small menu, I really like the creativity of the dishes offered . I really like the Foie Butter and Jelly Sandwich appetizer, Sea Bream Chorizo and clams.

 

 

$50 Dinner

#1 Fig and Olive

F&O_logotype_2012

  1. What’s Included: Appetizers (5 choices) Entrée (5 Choices); Dessert (2 Choices).    (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: Amazing dishes and a good selection. Exellent opportunity to try a variety of food without racking up your bill. I recommend the Grilled Main Lobster appetizer and Mediterranean Branzino entrée.

 

#2 The Northleft

The north left

  1. What’s Included: 1st Course (3 choices); 2nd Course (3 Choices); 3rd Course (3 Choices) ; 4th Course (3 Choices); 5th Course , dessert ( 2 Choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: – A very close tie for 1st place in the $50 category. The Northleft is providing a very generous and creative menu. They are not looking for an easy menu, but instead trying to attract new customers. Kudos on this menu.  I look forward to trying the beef tartare, calamari, sweat breads, and P, B &J.

 

 

#3 Capital Grille

The Capital Grille

 

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (3 Choices); Entrée(5 Choices) with choice of accompaniment; Dessert (2 choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: – Capital Grilled has great choices  and amazing steaks. This is one of the few restaurants where I suggest you upgrade.  Upcharge entrees for $10 include Filet and Shrimp and my favorite the Bone in Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin. This is one of my favorite steakhouses in Orange County.

 

Honorable Mention: Pascal

Pascal

  1. What’s Included: Appetizer (3 Choices); Entrée (3 Choices); Dessert (3 Choices) (See restaurant week menu)
  2. Why I like it: – although this is a small menu, it is a great opportunity to eat Pascal Oihoots French inspired menu. He has some truly artistic items.

 

Tips and Advice to Orange County Restaurant Week Diners

1)Make reservations! This advice is especially important on a Friday or Saturday night. In my experience Thursday can get a little dicey as well, so plan ahead.

2) Tip Well : Your servers are working hard during restaurant week, I suggest you at least 20% on the restaurant week total. Discounted menu does not mean that it is o.k. to treat the wait staff’s contributions as discounted. 

2) Looking for something specific? The Orange County Restaurant Week website has a great new section called Tips and Suggestions” to help folks who are looking for vegetarian, ocean views and participation in the Girl Scout Cookie Dessert program!

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

4 comments

  1. Can you suggest any place that has a gluten free and dairy free restaurant.

    • Danny,
      Your best best bet is SeaBirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa. They are a Vegan restaurant that clearly labels their gluten items. Good luck! Let me know if you find any good restaurants that match your criteria, I will share them here.

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