Photo by Cheyenne Knowles on Unsplash
Photo by Cheyenne Knowles on Unsplash

10 Places in OC to Take Your Cool Friend From LA

Skip Abbot Kinney and Head to These Trendy OC Hot Spots

Yeah, yeah we know—Los Angeles is the land of glitz and glamour, showbiz and sushi, pipe dreams and Pink’s hot dogs. But 40 miles south lies a place where boardshorts and burritos thrive; a land so great that they’ve made shows about it and spinoffs of those shows and spinoffs of those spinoffs—a land called Orange County. If you can convince an LA resident to brave the traffic on the 405 or take the scenic route cruising the coast, they’ll be impressed to find what our little towns have to offer. From cutesy coffee shops to cutting-edge culinary experiences, here are 10 places to take your cool friend from LA that are sure to leave a great impression. Trendy Places Orange County

Trendy Places Orange County

Teamwork Makes the Daydream Work

Daydream Surf Shop

Daydream Surf Shop is the quintessential cool coffee shop located in a trendy industrial part of Newport Beach. Off the beaten path in both location and goods offered, Daydream is a place where you can have your lavender latte and drink it too. At this locally loved locale, visitors can find things old and new, vintage and blue. Everything has a coastal, organic vibe and has been meticulously curated to fit the overall earth-loving aesthetic of this surfers’ oasis.

Location: Newport Beach

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe 

Continue your tour de OC with a visit to Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe. This whimsical restaurant is as elegant as Audrey Hepburn herself, offering delicate and delicious small bites that are almost too pretty to eat. Think of it like a breakfast bento box filled with fruit and feuilles and everything in between. They also offer a tea for two option, which includes miniature scones, sandwiches and sweets. Located in South Coast Plaza, The Blue Box Cafe is the perfect place to pit stop after working up an appetite window shopping.

Location: Costa Mesa 

 

Just Brew It

Randolph Avenue

From a morning brew to a happy hour refresher, this street is a one-stop shop for the quaint and quirky. With outdoor anti-malls The Camp and The Lab close by, wanderers can pick up a new plant friend at the Mellowist or picnic essentials at the newly opened WIP Goods, Randolph’s friendly neighborhood bodega. The Inconvenience Store offers the curious passerby anything from dried plants to funky pottery. And if you’re looking to catch a buzz, swing by one of the super-rad local breweries on the street like Green Cheek Beer Company, Salty Bear Brewing or Gunwhale Ales.

Location: Costa Mesa

Not Our First Rodeo

Rodeo 39 Public Market

If there’s anything that excites LA people, it’s an open-air shopping center. Except this is more like an adult amusement park—complete with Instagram-worthy eats, chic shops and old-school arcade games. It’s a playground with everything from scoops to slurps and sips. Every inch of Rodeo 39 Public Market is picture-perfect. Pizza, pasta, primal cuts—oh my! Donut miss out on the treats from Dot & Dough either. This OC spot will make you feel like a kid in a candy store (but the cocktails from Rodeo Bar will definitely remind you that it’s good to be an adult!)

Location: Stanton

Trendy Places Orange County

Veg Out 

VEG’D

Health is wealth, and VEG’D is giving your fast-food favorites a farm-fresh makeover. LA folks love a famous chef, so your friend will be bragging about binging on Matthew Kenney’s magic plant-based menu. Enjoy a bowl or something between two buns; really, anything you get will sustainably scratch that animal itch. We recommend the Good Morning Sammie, the Hot Chick or their take on an all-plant poke bowl.

Local Insight: For each VEG’D green Forest Smoothie customers purchase, 50% of the net profit goes to plant trees and protect forests.

Location: Costa Mesa 

Trendy Places Orange County

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Lido Marina Village

Lido Marina Village is the OC hot spot for your hot-shot LA resident. It has all the familiar faces like Elyse Walker, Clare V., Lido Bottle Works, Saturday’s, The Real Real and Amber Interiors. In fact, most of the shops in this quaint little seaside shopping center have an LA presence, so your bestie should feel right at home. One newcomer, though, is only native to OC, and that is Rye Goods, a bakery using heirloom grains and a special milling technique that is transforming the pastry world with their unique flavors, fermentations and flair. Everything is incredible (seriously, that’s the problem), but their morning buns, chocolate chip cookies and sweet and salty cinnamon twists will be your go-to craving for the rest of 2021. You’ve been warned!

Location: Newport Beach
Lido Marina Village

 

Naut Your Average Bar

Strong Water

This place feels like a Disneyland ride without the crowds, characters or quirks. Basically, it’s awesome. You’ll feel like a stowaway aboard an extra salty ship where there is no telling what time it is or how many drinks you’ve had. It’s the perfect place to channel your inner sailor and drink like one too. Their tiki-inspired cocktail menu has all the fan-favorites like the mai tai and painkiller to go with some fun new twists, such as their Zombie King and the Cannon Fire. Order one of their delicious meals, like the Loco Moco Burger, for when you need something to soak up all the rum.

Local Insite: Reservations are required, so don’t forget to secure your spot before heading down.

Location: Anaheim

Trendy Places Orange County

Nice To Meat You

Heritage BBQ

Just one look at their Instagram and you’ll be salivating. This is the meat mecca where hungry patrons will reach the pinnacle of pulled pork and beg for more brisket. This is modern Texas barbecue gone rogue, y’all, and it’s right in the heart of OC’s very own cowboy country, San Juan Capistrano. Invite a friend or two because there’ll be plenty of food to go around. Wet wipes required.

Location: San Juan Capistrano

Trendy Places Orange County

Savor the South

Porch & Swing

The story behind this Irvine institution is just as charming as the place itself. Chef Justin Werner and Bar Manager Andrew Parish have created a culinary oasis that celebrates Southern cuisine by sourcing the best ingredients possible for a high-brow menu inspired by the lowcountry. All of the comfort classics (buttermilk biscuits and skillet cornbread) are included along with some daring, off-the-beaten-path dishes like roasted pork jowl and Wagyu flank steak. As for cocktails, try anything…literally anything; there is no bad choice. This place is sure to impress even the most skeptical LA food snob.

Location: Irvine 

All That Jazz

The Drake 

Fancy dinner and a show? Get dressed up and take your talents to The Drake. This spot feels like you’re being transported back to the ‘50s, complete with the brick-wall backdrop and center stage. This joint is wining and dining done right. Start with some smoked salmon or one of their delicious salads, followed by a delicately seared steak and finish up with a couple sinful spoonfuls of their salted caramel budino. With live music seven nights a week, you’ll never miss a beat at this bar. We love The Drake

Location: Laguna Beach

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