Food & Drink

The 19 Best New Restaurants in Orange County

Published On 06/22/2015 Published On 06/22/2015
Courtesy of The North Left

So you FINALLY finished going to all 25 of Orange County’s best restaurants. Congrats. Thing is, while you were busy going to all of those, these 19 delicious NEW restaurants opened that you have to go to now, too.


Courtesy of ADYA


What you’re getting: Pav bhaji (Bombay-style spiced sloppy Joe) and aloo masala kaathi (potato, mustard seed, and ginger wrap)
ADYA hits OC’s more-explorative diners with some modern Indian fare, putting tandoori shrimp alongside oddball entrees like Indian Sloppy Joes. Pro-tip: make your meal a combo by requesting a thali -- essentially, a plate with a schload of sides.

Courtesy of Afters Ice Cream

Afters Ice Cream

Fountain Valley/Chino Hills/Tustin
What you’re getting: Milky buns!
Expect insane lines for Afters, but ones that’ll be worth standing in -- especially as they smush Cookie Monster ice cream and mochi toppings INTO A GLAZED DONUT. Yeah, you could just order a scoop in a cup, but why would you ever do that when you can have it INSIDE A DONUT??

Courtesy of 100eats

The Blind Rabbit

What you’re getting: Mini corn dogs and Duck Confit Mac + Cheese
This speakeasy-ish barstaurant is doing new takes on classic dishes, as well as a killer cocktail menu, all hidden through a secret entrance... behind a slew of sake barrels!!

Bosscat Kitchen and Libations

Newport Beach
What you’re getting: Rock shrimp & grits and pork belly poutine
Southern-inspired cuisine is just one of the reasons to frequent Bosscat. And its comprehensive collection of spirits is the other. It’s close to the John Wayne Airport if you’re getting out of town, and it has an over-the-top Sunday brunch with short rib chilaquiles and crawfish etouffee Benedict of you’re a person who likes those things.

Capital Noodle Bar

What you’re getting: Hainan Chicken
Communal benches at this new Asian eatery from the people behind LA’s Kim Tar Noodle House comfortably seat larger parties, but takeout is a popular alternative, especially for its house-made egg and rice noodles, slurped up in broth or in dishes like seafood chow fun and Thai basil spaghetti.

Photo Courtesy of Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung

Costa Mesa
What you’re getting: Xio Long Bao. Duh.
The opening of LA fave Din Tai Fung has unsurprisingly taken over the OC: with wait times exceeding most Disneyland queues, parties can leave their phone number and window shop at South Coast Plaza (or way more likely window shop at around-the-corner Karl Strauss Brewery) until a table is set, before gorging on the best dumplings... anywhere? Either way, definitely, 100% south of the Orange Curtain.

Anne Marie Panoringan/Thrillist

Dory Deli

Newport Beach
What you’re getting: Sweat Pants Burrito
WTF is a “Sweat Pants Burrito?” Uh, duh, it’s a breakfast burrito stuffed with so much great stuff you couldn’t possibly wear a belt. Also, it’s steps from the pier. Double score.

Courtesy of Driftwood Kitchen

Driftwood Kitchen

Laguna Beach
What you’re getting: Texas Redfish
Where both the “inside” and “outside” views overlook the water, the Pacific Edge Hotel’s fine-dining establishment is still somehow casual enough for most beach bums. And if it’s packed (as usual), you can opt for sister space The Deck, one level below, with live music... and that same amazing view.

Anne Marie Panoringan/Thrillist

4th St Market

Santa Ana
What you’re getting: Kinda anything, but the Chino Latino from Ink Waffles is amazing
This recently opened food hall is sort of OC’s equivalent to LA’s Grand Central Market, with artisan everything from amazing noodles at Noodle Tramp to incredible birds at Playground Fried Chicken; it's also got a space for book signings and events, as well as an “incubator kitchen” for up-and-coming chefs.

Courtesy of Mendocino Farms

Mendocino Farms

What you’re getting: The Peruvian Steak Sandwich
LA’s ultra-beloved sandwich-and-salad spot finally made its way South with its largest location to date -- on top of craft beers and killer ‘witches, it also has a kids corner and cornhole gaming area anchoring one end, making this more of a hang location than just a stop-by.

The North Left

Santa Ana
What you’re getting: The trout, plus anything from its pastry chef
Wood walls? Check. Leather banquettes? Double check. Amazing, farm-fresh New American food?? Triple-dipple check.

Courtesy of Oak Grill

Oak Grill

Newport Beach
What you’re getting: Tandoori-Spiced Ahi Tartare
Located within the remodeled Island Hotel, Chef Marc Johnson redefines the “hotel restaurant” stereotype with unexpected seasonal and refined dishes. Added bonus: outdoor patio. Yeah.

Pirozzi Corona Del Mar

Corona Del Mar
What you’re getting: Any seafood dish, a pizza, and Alessandro’s house-made gelato
Chef Alessandro Pirozzi has a decade-old reputation as one of the best Italian chefs in Orange County, and his most recent opening upholds that rep, with a wood-burning oven imported from Naples and meticulously handcrafted pasta.

Anne Marie Panoringan/Thrillist


What you’re getting: Half salad/half brown rice Poki Bowl -- with everything
The most popular customizable concept to emerge since Pieology’s assembly line, poki is (duh) the star of the show inside this Anaheim corner shop. Fresh products, plus efficient service equals a winning combination. Best bang for the buck, and it’s good for you!

Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles

What you’re getting: Uh. C’mon now.
Conveniently situated down the street from The Happiest Place on Earth, Roscoe’s finally hits Orange County. Its specialty chicken and waffles are sweet and salty with each forkful, the only problem is deciding on which combination to order.

Anne Marie Panoringan/Thrillist

SOCIAL Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa
What you’re getting: Drive Thru Burger, add bacon marmalade
SOCIAL’s got both that fresh-new-gastropub vibe, and also that serving-up-one-of-the-best-burgers-in-all-of-SoCal vibe thanks to a double-patty meat monster where they crisp the outside of each patty while leaving the inside insanely juicy. Best bonus ever: the whole thing is also dripping with cheese and bacon marmalade.

Anne Marie Panoringan/Thrillist

TAPS Fish House & Brewery

What you’re getting: Whole-Roasted Branzino
This just-opened location of the craft beer favorite is serving up an ocean-heavy menu and its own award-winning beers, including one aged in a Pappy Van Winkle barrel. Yeah, you’re gonna want to read that one time.

Courtesy of TWENTY EIGHT


What you’re getting: Twice Cooked Pork Belly Buns
Top Chef: New Orleans finalist Shirley Chung unveiled her first solo endeavor, a sleek dining room serving an inventive take on traditional Asian tastes, including steamed-then-fried pork buns (with condensed milk for dipping), and oxtail fried rice with mushrooms and watermelon radish.

The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar

Newport Beach
What you’re getting: YG’s Alsatian Pizza
It's got maybe the best spot to watch the annual Newport Boat Parade, as well as two bars and upped-ante classics like Chili Lime Rubbed Hawaiian Mahi-Mahi and Brandt Family Reserve Cajun Flatiron Steak.

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Anne Marie Panoringan has written for the OC Weekly, Where Orange County, and Westways. You can argue with her on Instagram at @BrekkieFan.

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1. ADYA 440 S Anaheim Blvd #201, Anaheim, CA 92805

This modern Indian restaurant pairs inventive options like "Indian Sloppy Joes" with craft beer and wine. Be sure to order the thali, or a plate with tons of sides, if you subscribe to the belief that variety is the spice of life.

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2. The Blind Rabbit 440 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805

Enter through the sake barrels and exit through the bookcase, but stop in between for a craft cocktail and inventive eats at this speakeasyish barstaurant. Be sure to try the mini corndogs and duck confit mac and cheese.

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3. Bosscat Kitchen and Libations 4647 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660

This place dishes up elevated Southern fare like collard green poppers and rock shrimp and grits in their industrial-chic dining room. Oh, and they also carry over 100 whiskeys and offer an elaborate weekend brunch with dishes like crawfish etouffee benedict.

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4. Capital Noodle Bar 3850 Barranca Pkwy Ste E, Irvine, CA 92606

This Asian eatery comes from the people behind Kim Tar Noodle House in LA. Saddle up to one of the communal tables with all your friends or order their house-made egg and rice noodles to go.

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5. Din Tai Fung 3333 Bristol St Ste 2071, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

This LA fave has arrived in Orange County, bringing with it an authentic taste of Taiwan. Expect a wait, but fortunately you can leave your number and browse the shops at South Coast Plaza until a table opens up.

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6. Dory Deli 2108 3/4 West Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Just steps from Newport Beach Pier, this place serves amazing food, some of which may not be fit for beach season. Take, for example, the "sweatpants burrito" which is crammed with so much good stuff that a belt isn't even an option.

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7. Driftwood kitchen, laguna beach 619 Sleepy Hollow Ln, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Located in the Pacific Edge Hotel, this waterfront establishment serves the freshest and finest seafood, steaks and hand-shucked oysters. They also serve up hand crafted cocktails that you can sip as you gaze out over the Pacific.

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8. Mendocino Farms 4175 Campus Drive, Suite B., Irvine, CA 92612

Mendocino Farms promotes eating seasonally and locally by serving up fresh sandwiches, salads, and soups made from local ingredients. This is its largest location to date, complete with a kids' corner and a gaming area for cornhole. It's a great place to hang and eat while sipping one of its craft brews.

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9. The North Left 400 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701

The North Left offers a new take on American food with fresh, quality ingredients and seasonal offerings. Wooden walls and leather banquettes really elevate the space. Make sure you order dessert because anything from their pastry chef is bound to be memorable.

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10. Oak Grill 690 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

Chef Mark Johnson turns the "hotel restaurant" stereotype on its head with this dining concept in the remodeled Island Hotel. The space has subtle and inviting elegance that extends from the interior to the extensive deck, complete with a fire pit.

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11. Pirozzi Corona del Mar 2929 East Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92660

The latest and greatest from renowned chef Alessandro Pirozzi, this new Italian spot features meticulously handcrafted pasta and a pizza oven imported from Naples. Be sure to end the meal on a sweet note with Pirozzi's homemade gelato.

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12. PokiNometry 184 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805

This customizable concept brings flavor and freshness to Anaheim, with poké as the star of the show. While the venue draws a consistent line any day of the week, efficient service, plus a spacious environment with tons of four-tops and a long counter bar means your eating experience is never crowded.

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13. Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n' Waffles 2110 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802

Roscoe's pairs sweet and salty perfectly with their heaping plates of fried chicken and waffles. Be sure to order their Southern sides like grits, greens and sweet potato pie.

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14. SOCIAL - Costa Mesa 512 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

SOCIAL prides itself in offering classic Southern dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Stop by for the cool-new-gastropub vibe and stay for the Drive Thru Burger, a double-patty monster of meat where the edges are crispy while the insides stay juicy. It comes dripping with cheese and bacon marmalade, making it a must-order item.

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15. TAPS Fish House & Brewery The Market Place, 13390 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92602

The closest OC gets to a Vegas-style upscale buffet is TAPS. The food quality is impeccable, and the choices will make your plate overflow more than your waistline. The cajun-creole menu offers fresh seafood like Drunken Mahi Mahi and Whole-Roasted Branzino. And if you prefer hot breakfast, it has all the traditional choices, like eggs Benedict, and hot, gooey cinnamon rolls.

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16. TWENTY EIGHT Restaurant and Lounge 19530 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92612

Shirley Chung, finalist in Top Chef: New Orleans, debuts her first solo endeavor with TWENTY EIGHT, offering an inventive take on classic Asian dishes like oxtail fried rice with mushrooms and watermelon radish.

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17. The Winery Restaurant 3131 W Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Enter this hip, vibrant and sophisticated setting for contemporary California regional cuisine, where you can choose from 650 wine selections to pair with entrees like Chili Lime Rubbed Hawaiian Mahi-Mahi and Brandt Family Reserve Cajun Flatiron Steak.



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