This Master-Planned City Isn’t So Boring After All
The city of Irvine has a reputation for being a sleepy town that shuts down completely by 9 p.m.—a pristine, well-manicured master-planned city without much nightlife. But that has all changed the past couple of years with eight unique and hip dining establishments featuring a wide variety of different cuisines. The majority of these spots stay open late and offer bottle service, live music and fun craft cocktails, so grab your crew and check out one (or all) of these trendy dining options in Irvine. Best Restaurants Irvine
The Goldfinch Restaurant is built for the seamless dinner date, two-martini lunch and double-breasted suit happy hour crowd. Situated on a corner street-facing lot inside the impressive Eighteen Main commercial development on Main Street in Irvine is a restaurant that would fit just as well in DTLA as it would in the tile-roofed mecca of Irvine. With fresh, Californian cuisine (featuring seasonal specials like a Spicy Tuna & Crispy Rice Stack and a Seared Duck Breast in a Demi Glaze with Creamy Parmesan Polenta for the summer months), a delightful cocktail program offering freshly squeezed juices and craft spirits (the Suppai Sour is a must try), along with an elegant and swanky ambiance, The Goldfinch never fails to impress. Owners Ciaran Gough and Todd Miller explain, “We are Southern California natives and designed our concept with the grace of Irvine in mind. Our overarching aim is to deliver an experience that locals have a sense of pride about, to be the place you are proud to bring your friends, family and colleagues.” Not to mention, there is always plenty of free parking (which is always a huge win in our book), but reservations are recommended through their website or Yelp.
Best Restaurants Irvine
@localemag @ronniesrituals loves dessert. Especially #treslechescake from #solcocina in #irvine ♬ original sound – Locale
Taco and Tequila Tuesday—do we have your attention? Weekday happy hour, live music and fresh, coastal Mexican food—what more could you want? SOL Mexican Cocina serves a selection of 25 types of tacos and prepares 24 different salsas fresh every day. Their weekend brunch menu features Sol Chilaquiles Verde and crab and shrimp cakes Benedicto. Try their mango con chile frozen margarita, horchata martini or Farmers Market Margarita, which changes monthly.
Best Restaurants Irvine
@localemag #hiveandhoney #irvine #ocrooftop #rooftopbar #orangecounty #ocdateidea #ocdatenight #localemagazine 🎥: @BeastlyAppetite ♬ A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay
Everyone is buzzing about Hive and Honey! Located on the rooftop of the Marriott Irvine Spectrum, Hive and Honey stuns with panoramic views of Orange County. Open until midnight Fridays and Saturdays with a live DJ spinning beats and optional bottle service, you’ll feel like you’re certainly in LA or Las Vegas. Try the Seeing is Bee-lieving (a gin cocktail) or a Wasp’s Nest, which is made with mezcal. Light bites, such as charcuterie and salmon poké, are also served. Hive and Honey is the place to bee!
Serving unique flavors of Southeast Asia with additional influences from France, Britain and the Netherlands, Little Sister brings modern, upscale Vietnamese cuisine to Irvine. Start with the Black Mamba (a tequila and mezcal cocktail that gets its black hue from activated charcoal) or a Thai basil sour. For a non-alcoholic option, the Glamonade, made with ginger, lemongrass and mint, will surely quench your thirst. Little Sister’s lunch and dinner menus feature red curry spiced pork rinds, butter-basted escargot poppers, salt-and-pepper lobster and grilled lemongrass chicken bánh mì.
Voted the No. 3 most-recommended restaurant in Orange County by Yelp, there’s a reason Habana has a huge fanbase. Its pink and tropical decor, Latin music, Cuban mojitos, pitchers of sangria and Cuban-style beers may just be a few of those reasons. Its exceptional Cuban cuisine is undoubtedly another reason. Plus, they stay open until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Start with Spanish chorizo sofrito steamers with clams and mussels, the rum pepper shrimp or filet con papas. Don’t sleep on their brunch menu on the weekends–Caribbean pancakes or ropa vieja and eggs? Tough choice!10.25
New to the Irvine dining scene is Solstice Seasonal Kitchen & Bar. Serving modern American cuisine, they rotate their dining and cocktail menus seasonally, taking advantage of ingredients at their peak. Grab a drink and some light bites at Solstice’s weekday social hour. If you prefer to take it easy, try their unique Zero Proof Un-cocktails—vodka, rum and tequila-style drinks without the alcohol. Sunday brunch is best when indulging with friends, so order a spiked coffee and share the buttermilk fried chicken and waffles, crab cake Benedict and ricotta donuts.
HiroNori opened another Irvine location to keep up with local demand. Using their own fresh-made ramen noodles, stock and sauces, plus ingredients imported from Japan, HiroNori serves up an authentic dining experience for ramen lovers. Menu items also include crispy rice with spicy tuna and a selection of rice bowls, but the real stars of the show are the tonkotsu, shoyu and vegan craft ramen. Slurp’s up!
Happy hour makes us…well, happy! And Angelina’s has happy hour Sunday through Thursday, featuring discounted drinks and appetizers like Italian meat and cheese plates, flatbreads and Napoletana-style meatballs. They also have quite the selection of Italian wines. Angelina’s makes their Neapolitan-style pizza in wood-burning ovens with ingredients imported from Italy, and they complement it with produce from local farms. For locals in the hospitality industry, Industry Night starts at 4 p.m. Mondays with great discounts on food. Angelina’s also offers 15% off the entire check for healthcare workers!
I just moved from the Palm Springs area to Orange County. I've been writing for a couple years and enjoy writing about culture, lifestyle, and beauty. I'm excited with the abundance of material for which Orange County will provide.