The Best New Restaurants in Orange County in 2023 So Far

The OC restaurant scene is getting better and better.

JOEY at Newport Beach
Photo by Christina Gandolfo/CGandolfo Pictures, Inc., Courtesy of Joey
Photo by Christina Gandolfo/CGandolfo Pictures, Inc., Courtesy of Joey

Over the last few years, Orange County restaurants have helped the region climb towards culinary recognition, despite being so often overlooked in favor of metropolitan neighbors Los Angeles and San Diego. Its clean-cut reputation has split into something more eclectic, finally reaping the benefits of its pristine coastline and diverse population of locals and visitors.

In 2023, a crop of exciting new restaurants has already emerged, each bringing unique flair to the region. From stunningly good new breweries to creative cocktail lounges, and from killer barbecue to outstanding mariscos, Orange County has grown into an excellent dining region. These are the best new restaurants in Orange County.

Photo by Christina Gandolfo/CGandolfo Pictures, Inc., Courtesy of Joey

Newport Beach
Perhaps the buzziest restaurant opening of 2023 so far has been JOEY Newport Beach. The Canadian restaurant chain’s newest addition to its growing US collection is at glitzy Fashion Island, which joins locations in LA, Seattle, and Houston. Guests are met with a glass of champagne upon arrival, then offered seats in the lovely dining room or on the expansive outdoor patio. The space is both chic and casual, with design elements including cozy fire pits and a plethora of large-scale artwork from local talent. The menu is equally eclectic, featuring dishes that range from sushi to chicken parmesan. Unlike many Orange County restaurants, JOEY stays open late, serving until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 1 am on the weekends.
How to book: Reservations available through their website.

Beachwood Pizza & Beer
Photo courtesy of Beachwood Pizza & Beer

Huntington Beach
Local craft beer lovers already know just how special it is when a brewery steps up their food game. Award-winning Southern California craft brewery Beachwood Brewing is taking things even further, giving people even more of their company to love with a new pizza and beer restaurant in Huntington Beach. Located just inland from Bolsa Chica State Beach, you can pair your hazy IPA with a 16-inch sourdough pie, a killer Meatball Sando, or apps including Fried Pickles and Smoked Wings.
How to book: Walk in or order online through Toast.

Drink wine at Postino WineCafe
Photo courtesy of Postino WineCafe

If you want shareable plates that go the distance, Postino hits the spot. The new restaurant at Irvine Place is the chain’s first expansion into California, joining locations in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas. The bruschetta boards are massive and offer a wide variety, with classics like brie, apple, and fig spread; sweet and spicy pepper jam and goat cheese; and mushroom and mascarpone. The best seats may be at the bar, so you can get a quick education from the bartenders about Postino’s expansive wine list. The eclectic ‘70s decor features colorful chandeliers, low curved velvet sofas, and burnt orange galore.
How to book: Walk in or order online through Toast.

eat oysters at Laguna Fish Company
Photo courtesy of Laguna Fish Company

Laguna Beach
Restaurateur Ivan Spiers, known for Mozambique and Skyloft, has opened his newest concept in the artsy beach city. For this new fast-casual seafood restaurant, Spiers and his team elevated and refined the former Tommy Bahama Restaurant space, with glossy concrete floors and slatted wood ceilings and walls coming together to evoke an old-school fish house gone modern. Grab a bar seat and order up a dozen oysters, some Spanish Octopus Ceviche, Seafood Nachos, or maybe a Seared Tuna Sandwich. Don’t miss the house made Sangria, served by the carafe to wash it all down.
How to book: Walk-ins only.

Get lunch at the Goldfinch
Photo courtesy of The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is the place to go for power lunches and romantic dinners on the Irvine Concourse. Located at Eighteen Main—a 17,000-square-foot space on the former site of McCormick & Schmick’s—the restaurant is a fusion of food, decor, and energy. Absurdly high ceilings offer a modern, stark setting, while gold fixtures and velvet booths warm things up. The bar takes center stage, keeping things casual despite the elegant ambiance. The ever-evolving seasonal menu currently features creative dishes like a Shrimp Pho Burger, and also plenty of classics—there’s an Iceberg Wedge, a Maple-Glazed Double Pork Chop, and Lobster Mac and Cheese.
How to book: Reservations available through their website.

Bloom Restaurant & Bar
Photo courtesy of Bloom Restaurant & Bar

San Juan Capistrano
Bloom Restaurant & Bar is ideally situated across from the Mission San Juan Capistrano and within walking distance of the train station. The stunning 2,400-square-foot space is built to withstand heavy foot traffic from all those visitors—but that doesn’t mean they’ve sacrificed food, drink, or style. The restaurant is set in a 1930s-era brick building, and the new concept infuses beautiful modern touches into the historic space. There are beamed ceilings, a retractable glass exhibition kitchen, and a 10-seat bar with moody lighting. The massive arched windows allow plenty of natural light to filter in, and give diners a glimpse of the hustle and bustle of the heart of San Juan Capistrano. The menu leans into comfort, with dishes like Crispy Pork Belly and Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi, Country-Fried Prime Hanger Steak, and a Wagyu Beef Burger.
How to book: Reservations available through OpenTable.

Get an ocean view while dining at the Beach House
Photo courtesy of The Beach House

Seal Beach
This restaurant is exactly what it sounds like: an approachable, energetic new spot situated smack dab on the sand. As window shopping goes, it’s hard to imagine walking by without stopping in for a bite of modern California comfort food. The entirety of the restaurant, from its spacious patio to its cozy interior, feels like the perfect place to slurp back oysters on the half shell and sip on a Bloody Mary for Sunday brunch. But the best time to visit may be sunset, when you can watch the sun dip below the Pacific while you snack on Cauliflower Ceviche, Fish & Chips, and Grilled Jumbo Shrimp.
How to book: Walk-ins only.

Get sushi at Kai Lounge
Photo courtesy of Kai Lounge

Huntington Beach
Pacific City Mall has no shortage of restaurants, but the indoor-outdoor shopping center has gone through its fair share of turnover. The latest dining concept from the Wild Thyme Restaurant Group (known for local hit Shorebird), has found a home on the second floor of the retail destination alongside successful mainstays including Tanner’s and Bluegold. The Japanese-inspired menu has so many exciting offerings, it may be hard to narrow down your order. Do you decorate your table with a platter of colorful sashimi and sushi rolls? Or do you fill up on robata skewers and wok entrees like the Black Angus Shaking Beef? Or, best of all, can you gather a group to run the whole thing? The cocktails trend colorful and inventive, like the Green Tea Old Fashioned. And if you’re feeling extra, book a spot inside the Whiskey Room for an intimate 18-course omakase experience.
How to book: Reservations available over the phone at (657) 259-0010.

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Alexa Erickson is a contributor to Thrillist.