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From Toasty Bagels to Bottles of Wine, Ben Carpenter Marks His Favorite OC Food Spots

Photographed By: Akin Odebunmi Hotspots in Orange County

Expert: Ben Carpenter
Credentials: Beverage Director of Balboa Bay Resort

Balboa Bay Resort
1221 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663



The Snug Bar

You can find me at The Snug Bar, they offer the best industry night in OC with half off all food menu items and half off their 50 rotating bottles of wine.



Layer Cake Bakery

I’ll stop by my favorite local scratch bakery, Layer Cake Bakery. They boast some of the best cakes, macarons and pastries around with light brunch and lunch options to boot.


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Native Foods Cafe

My wife is a lifelong vegetarian and through our relationship I have gained an affinity for fun, well-made vegetarian and vegan food, especially at Native Foods Cafe. I’ve become such a fan that I find myself ordering from them even when dining alone.


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Hi-Time Wine Cellars

Whether I’m looking for a great bottle of wine, killer local beer or hard-to-find spirits at the lowest price possible, Hi-Time Wine Cellars never fails. Their staff is always knowledgeable and helpful.


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El Mercado Modern

You can find me at El Mercado Modern, which offers a fresh, modern take on Mexican food. Their bar program boasts some of the most innovative cocktails in Orange County with the talented Cesar Cerrudo at the helm.




Being raised by a New Yorker really makes you aware of the fact that it’s hard to find a great bagel on the West Coast. Shirley’s checks off every box for me. They use the traditional boil and bake method and it shows.


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Farmers Market at Great Park

I’m at the Farmers Market at Great Park, which is held every Sunday with food trucks and some of my favorite vendors in Orange County. My daughters enjoy riding the carousel and playing at the Kids Rock Playground.