Orange County

Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival 2015

by Franklin on October 21, 2015

The Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival was honestly my first proper Orange County food festival. The inaugural event occurred last year, and the second event was even better. Held at the Newport Beach Civic Center, the space was perfect. All of the vendors did a great job in creating wonderful dishes. Some of my favorites are below.

Short ribs from @selannesteak #NBWFF #NEWBFEST

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The short ribs from Salenne Steak Tavern was wonderful. As a matter of fact, they pretty much stole the show with their different offerings.

The foie gras mousse #NBWFF #NEWBFEST

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Their foie gras mousse was stellar. Topped with a huckleberry compote, the cornets were bites of deliciousness.

A gang of Reese's Pieces #macarons #NBWFF #NEWBFEST

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And their Reese’s Pieces macarons were on point. It tasted just like Reece’s Pieces. It didn’t taste like peanut butter chocolate macarons, nor did it taste like Reese’s peanut butter cup macarons. They were just on point with the candy.

Best presentation of #NBWFF #NEWBFEST from Stonehill Tavern

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Another favorite was tuna tartare on nori chips from Stonehill Tavern. Their presentation stole the show.

First bite of #NBWFF #NEWBFEST

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My first bite was the perfectly braised octopus from Studio at Montage Laguna Beach.

The Clobster roll from @SlapfishSeafood

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Slapfish killed it with these “Clobster” rolls. The part crab, part lobster filling filled on a buttery bun was just delicious.

Rainbow cake bites ???? #NEWBFEST #NBWFF

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B Candy got the sweets covered for the event. This sprinkles covered cake with the rainbow goodness inside was ridiculous! They offered cookies, amazing cup cakes and mini ice cream cones. They could basically hold a sweets/dessert fest on their own altogether.

The

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Hula Dog – Stuffed Bun Hot Dog from Hawaii

by Franklin on March 26, 2015

Oh, I miss Hawaii. The soft ocean breeze, the relaxed attitude, and beautiful coastal scenery — I love it all. When I saw Hula Dog at Newport Beach, I was instantly intrigued. They sell Hawaiian style hot dogs, lemonade, and shaved ice. I came in for a quick snack and drink. They basically get their in house made bread rolls, and the cool part is, they stick it inside a hot rod which heats up the bun from within, and create a hole for the hot dog to be inserted. Their topping and sauces range from fruit relishes from the island.

I ordered the bacon taro bread with polish sausage, topped with their secret garlic sauce and guava relish. From what I expected and what I actually got was very different. I was expecting a warm, chewy, doughy bread with hints of bacon and taro. The bread was very stale and pretty much broke. It had little flavor, and definitely no bacon or taro flavor. The sauces didn’t really help moisten everything. The hot dog sausage itself was very good. It have a nice beefy flavor and a good snap. It was juicy, and no too salty.

The lemonade was quite refreshing. Freshly squeezing the lemons really made a difference. It wasn’t too sweet, it wasn’t too sour or tart. It was just a refreshing, cold cup of lemonade. Perfect, actually.

Hula Dog was somewhat of a letdown. If it were exactly what I had imagined, it would have been quite spectacular. Imagine that perfect hot dog sausage wrapped in a nice chewy bun, filled with a tropical fruit relish — now that would be awesome. It was a good thing to wash down everything with the lemonade. They seem to be a popular thing in Hawaii, but maybe lost something when it made its way over here. Nonetheless, you still have the beach to enjoy, and I guess a hot dog and a lemonade at the beach isn’t too bad.

Hula Dog on Urbanspoon

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Smashburger – A Classic is a Classic

by Franklin on March 7, 2015

The first time I had a Smashburger was in La Jolla at La Jolla Cove Beach. This was year back, before any locations made its way near Los Angeles and Orange County. It was delicious then, and it is delicious now. The fast casual experience from a burger joint was new and exciting. The fresh ingredients and

Everything about the Classic Smash burger was, for a lack of better words, classic. The tomato, lettuce, and pickles were so fresh. The beef was of great quality and every ingredient was tasty. Of course, I had to go classic and have American cheese on there. The best part was the potato bun — it was fluffy, chewy, dense and flavorful. It was so moist and conforming to every bite. The bread, cheese, and beef alone would have made a great burger. The addition of the tasty Smash sauce was great.

Every great burger needs french fries. Fortunately, Smashburger fries are legit. Their shoestring (my favorite kind) were perfectly salted and seasoned. The texture was so crispy and satisfyingly crunchy. It did have a slight taste of frozen potatoes, but the fries were still delicious. I think even a little more time in the fryer would have made for even crispier fries.

Smashburger was just as good as I remember, maybe even better than I remember. The fresh ingredients, the fast casual atmosphere, and good service is all I need in a burger joint. The patty was memorable, and the bun was even better. Smashburger is a smash hit in my book. They are huge in the East and Mid-West, and I’m glad their here in LA and OC.

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

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Slapfish – Chowder My Fries

by Franklin on January 23, 2015

In a fast casual setting, Slapfish is all about being fresh and fast. They are all about fine dining with the price of something along the lines of Rubio’s (think California Fish Grill). The environment was clean and reminded me of a beachside local spot. We didn’t necessarily get there really early, but the restaurant was empty. Is this usually a good indication of bad food?

The lobster toast was on the house — after check-in. The itty-bitty toast had lots of flavor. The lobster flavor was masked by the spices and may mixture, but still had a blast of flavor. It was a good teaser to our seafood filled lunch.

The chowder fries were a hit. The fries were nice and thick, though I would have liked them more crispy. The clam chowder and bacon was just an intense richness that I enjoyed with the fries. Sprinkling on some Old Bay, though salty was a nice seafood factor that I enjoyed. The creamy chowder and fries were nice, and the crispy bacon just put everything on a porky note. You can’t go wrong if you put bacon on top of it all.

I am not a fan of grilled fish tacos, but this really changed my palate. The grilled fish in it of itself was so pure. It was grilled perfectly and would have eaten it all on its own. Placed in a taco, with cabbage, micro greens and sauce was just perfect. The thing was basically a fresh fish salad with some dope ingredients inside a fresh tortilla. I prefer the fried fish tacos, but this really changed my thoughts on fish tacos.

SlapFish - A Modern Seafood Shack on Urbanspoon

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Bear Flag Fish Company – Poke All Day

by Franklin on December 15, 2014

It was sad to see Bear Flag Fish Company move locations. The original had a nice quality to it — it was small, hole in the wall like, and the food was perfectly simple. Now in their bigger and better location, the food is consistently delicious and the decor is spot on. It’s bigger, brighter and just nicer.

I really come here for one thing, and that is their poke. Their ahi and salmon poke is as good as it gets as the OC goes. I’ve had poke in Hawaii — let’s not compare the two. Bear Flag does a great job nonetheless — the fish is fresh and the flavors are just right. I like that they give a huge portion of tortilla chips. The tortilla chips alone are delicious. Extra crispy, to the point where your teeth start hurting, but so good. Eating it with the poke, it is a match made perfectly.

The new spot is nicely decked out and the ambiance is just fresh. Sadly, I havent tried anything else on their menu — its just so hard to order anything else. I love raw fish and their poke is a must order. I rather just fill myself up with more poke than try something else.

Bear Flag Fish Co. on Urbanspoon

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I have been wanting to go to Ritter’s for quite some time. Visiting Vegas throughout, I have been trying to make time to visit Oyster Bar in the Palace Station Casino — All for one dish, the Pan Roast. Chef Ritter, after being approached by some customers went to venture off to open Steam Kettle Cooking in Orange County. Vegas was a long ways away, so Orange County was the next best thing. I was excited to finally try their famous Pan Roast.

Complimentary bread started us off. I made sure I didn’t get too full off of the bread. I of course made sure to save some to scrape up the pan roast bowl.

We started things off with the bacon wrapped shrimp. Shrimp wrapped in bacon, and I’m not ordering it? Please. The shirmp were molasses marinated with mozzarella. Though the mozzarella was lost, wrapping it in bacon did the trick. The shrimp was a bit overcooked, but still had a nice taste to it. Served with molasses mustard on the side, this was a guilty and flavorful appetizer.

We ordered the red beans and rice, which in hind sight, we should have just let it pass. The traditional southern red beans, rice, and andouille pork sausage was good together. The beans were flavorful and the “sauce” was quite good. We ordered it mild, but stupid me asked for a little bit of chopped habeneros. The spiciness did wonders for this somewhat boring dish, but the hot temperature mixed with the spicy habaneros were just too much to bear.

They gave us a bowl of New England clam chowder, on the house. It was rich and creamy, but I felt it was missing something. The clams were plump and the soup was thick. I think a little bit of cracked black pepper would have done much for this bowl. My taste buds were probably singed off by the habaneros at this point.

Ritter’s famous pan roast was worth it. Pan roast is a tomato and cream based creole dish. The rich flavors was such a comfort to me. It was like eating a hearty bowl of curry rice, but not. The creamy tomato mixed with green peppers, onions and celery gave a nice balance. The shrimp, crab, clams, and lobster gave a nice roundabout seafood flavor. We kept the spice level to a mild, but adventurous eaters can choose from a spicy level 1 – 10. The jasmine rice mixed in the pan roast was just a perfect dish.

Ritter’s was an awesome spot to enjoy dinner. The Pan Roast is a must order as it is their signature dish. Nobody comes here for the beans and rice. Nobody comes here for the bacon wrapped shrimp. You come here for the pan roast. That rich comforting bowl of seafood essence and rice was just too nice. No more needing to drive all the way to Vegas for this bad boy. Slowly, they are setting up shop in Orange County.

Ritter's SKC on Urbanspoon

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The Kroft – Poutine and Porchetta is Done

by Franklin on September 28, 2014

The Anaheim Packing district is a one stope destination for foodies. They have it all. Dare I call it a food court? Far from it, the space offers some amazing food and craft beers. The Kroft is one such establishment that offers amazing hand crafted sandwiches and poutine. I was pleasantly surprised by their delicious food. Orange County doesn’t really have amazing food, but The Packing District is changing all of that.

We started off with the original poutine. We opted out of the extravagant short rib poutine because we ordered the sandwich anyways. We wanted to get the original to get the pure essence of the poutine — to eat it as it was intended to, The fries were fresh and good on their own. The gravy though, was something else. It was perfectly salty and hearty. The cheese curds were melted perfectly from the hot gravy. The cilantro on top gave it a nice contrast and helped cut the fat of the fries and gravy. These were quite delicious and possibly the best poutine I had in a while.

The short rib sandwich was beefy and delicious. The meat was perfectly sauced and pulled away nicely. The addition of arugula was key to keep the grease in check. I did feel like it was missing something though. I added some hot sauce in between bites to keep it exciting.

The fried chicken sandwich was exactly how I imagined it to be. The chicken was fresh and meaty. The batter was light and crispy, and gave the sandwich the extra flavor it needed. The best part of this sandwich was the slaw on top. It gave a nice rounded flavor and gave it even more crunch. Fried chicken and cole slaw go so well together.

The best sandwich they have here, and one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a while was their porchetta sandwich. These fly off the shelves quickly so make sure they have it in stock. The pork was so pure and flavorful, and the onion jam gave it a nice flavor profile. My favorite was the bits and pieces of chopped up skin inside the sandwich. I remember seeing them cut up the pork for the sandwich, and the chef peeled off the skin. Scared that they were going to discard it, I was almost going to request to keep that part. Little did I know that they were planing on chopping up the skin to add on top of the sandwich. This made every bite have that little crisp of fatty skin. Crisis averted.

The Kroft is really a nice spot and a gem inside the Anaheim Packing District. Located on the bottom floor, it’s not on the top floor with the good lighting. The restaurant pumps out some amazing craft sandwiches and their poutine is a must order. The ingredients are simple and of the highest quality. Each sandwich is created carefully and with flavor being the main focus. I really can’t wait to go here again — Poutine and Porchetta sandwich for me.

The Kroft on Urbanspoon

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The first time I tried Frostbites, it was an explosion of flavor. The combination was so subtlety perfect and the balance of fruit and cream was sublime. Sorbet chill and Italian ice is what Frostbites is all about. I would have liked to try their crepes, but their “frozen delights” was what I came for. In the bitter sweet end of the hot summer, these are perfect for the sticky air and warm nights.

The Pineapple passion fruit and cream was the perfect combo. The pineapple was tart and contrasted nicely with the creamy custard. On the other hand, the peanut butter chocolate was more of a sweet indulgence. Both were great in their own way, but the classic flavors of cream and fruit was too good. I liked Frostbites, and was a great dessert for a hot night. It kept me cool and refreshed with a nice mix of cream and fruitiness. Summer needs more of this!

Frostbites on Urbanspoon

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Popbar inside the Anaheim Packing District is a popular spot to visit. They offer gelato on a stick, and they dress it up with toppings and drizzles to your liking. It really isn’t anything special, but the fact that you can dress up your own “naked” ice cream pop makes it fun and specific to you. You can dip in chocolate half way, all the way, stick some nuts on there or other flavors. It’s all up to you, and it is all delicious. After getting your grub on inside the Anaheim Packing District, Popbar is a popular destination to get your dessert.

Hers was a pistachio pop with half dark chocolate and white chocolate drizzle. The dark chocolate had pistachio and the white chocolate had waffle cone crumbles. Mine was a chocolate bar with half dark chocolate with pistachios. The pistachio bits is a must. It’s rare to have pistachios at an ice cream joint, and I think more places need to offer it. The pistachio and ice cream/gelato was delicious. The chocolate mixed in with the gelato was good as well. The best was the waffle crumbles. It was like having a waffle come, but not.

Popbar is a delicious ice cream alternative to your average ice cream in a cup or cone. Their flavors are great together and it is fun to eat gelato on a stick. It does get a bit pricey though, and for the amount of actual ice cream you are getting, there are better places that offer more for your buck. This is the Packing District though. You come here for the fun hippie skippy atmosphere and good food — the high prices come with that. It’s fun to try it once, but it’s definitely not OMG “take all my money” good, but for sure, the best ice cream spot you can eat with one hand.

Popbar on Urbanspoon

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Urban Plates – Farm to Pate on a Budget

by Franklin on July 24, 2014

Urban Pates in Irvine is a game changer. Their “farm to plate, and won’t break the bank” concept is simple and appealing. You get fresh ingredients inside their fresh and delicious plates, and it’s all within your budget.

I really like the grilled wild ono Ni├žoise salad. It had green beans, organic egg, organic tomatoes, potatoes, capers, marinated olives, and a mustard/champagne vinaigrette. The grilled Ono was seared nicely and had a great flavor. It was clean, meaty and delicious. The mustard champagne vinaigrette was perfect in this salad. The capers gave a nice salty flavor and seasoned the fish nicely.

Once I saw steak, I had to order it. It looked so juicy and medium rare. The seasoned natural beef was precook end, and had a uniquely red hue to it, like almost too red. It was cooked perfectly! The red in the beef wasn’t raw, but a perfectly cooked medium rare. I ordered this with Mac and cheese and Brussels sprouts. The Mac and cheese was superb, your standard creamy and cheesy Mac and cheese. The Brussels sprouts were tasty too. Beef and Brussels sprouts sure a great combination. The Brussels sprouts was cooked with bacon, and gave the vegetables so much good flavor. The trio, beef, Mac, and Brussels sprouts was such a classic combination.

We ordered the quinoa and sweet peas salad on the side to just balance the beef and rich flavors out. I liked the crisp from the sweet peas and enjoyed the bite from the quinoa. It was fresh and brightened everything we ate. It made for a great palate cleanser.

We ended things with a chocolate chip cookie. It was just there sitting near the checkout station. It Was nothing special, but a pretty good chocolate chip cookie nonetheless. Eating healthy at times is overlooked because it either tastes “healthy” or it’s too expensive to eat healthy. UP really balances the two nicely. The interior is relaxing with earthy tones and architecture. The cafeteria style ordering is efficient and convenient. Orange County, you have done well.

Urban Plates on Urbanspoon

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Creamistry – Ice Cream in No Time

by Franklin on July 12, 2014

Have I found my favorite ice cream spot? Does it really have to be all the way in Irvine? And does it have to be nitrogen blasted? Pretty much, yes. Creamistry, as the name suggests uses cream and chemistry to make ice cream. They mix premium cream and flavors and blast freeze it with liquid nitrogen. It’s like how an impatient person would make ice cream, but the taste and texture is so unique and delicious.

The first time I had Creamistry, I had the cookie butter and Cap’n Crunch. You don’t want the Cap’n Crunch on top — you want it crushed up and mixed into the ice cream. The cookie butter was so rich and cinnamony. The best part about nitrogen blasted ice cream is that it is fresh. Ice cream in the freezer could have been made weeks or even months before. Ice cream shops could have made it days or hours before you are eating it. Nitrogen blasting ensures that the ice cream you are eating now wasn’t ice cream yet like just a minute ago. It kind of boggles the mind.

My all time favor flavor here is just the premium ice cream with crushed up Cap’n Crunch. The base milk flavor is such a nice smooth blank slate. The Cap’n Crunch is such a classic flavor. The sweet, corn and caramel flavors come through in a different way. It’s like eating the cereal with milk, but to a totally different level. Don’t look for any other flavors. I’ll be sticking to this basic recipe from now on. I’m even going to ditch the cookie butter. Shocking, I know.

Some may be a bit wary about eating something that has been heavily doused with liquid nitrogen. Who knows what it’s doing to my insides? I mean, if you drink even a little bit of liquid nitrogen, you can die (I’m pretty sure). Who is to say that just mixing it with some ingredients is ok for consumption? Who cares for now. It’s delicious and it makes ice cream like magic. Just don’t forget the Cap’n Crunch.

Creamistry on Urbanspoon

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Walking into Sancho’s Tacos, I was enveloped by their Mexican style and interior design. From the unique art on the walls and the various paintings, you can’t help but feel the culture of the beach and Mexico. We ordered our food, went to the beach and had ourselves a little beach front picnic. The views were good and the food was tasty. This was definitely different from the LA tacos and burritos I am used to.

The Breakfast burrito, also known as the sawed off burrito, had eggs, skillet potatoes, and melted cheddar jack cheese. Bacon and chorizo eggs were in the mix as well. The burrito was tasty. The chorizo helped flavor the while burrito nicely. The skillet potatoes was a nice starch to round out the burrito. Of course, melted cheese is always welcome, and there was plenty.

The taco for me was a miss. The OG taco which has tri tip, onions, cilantro tri tip and chubbie sauce. The tri tip was good as a steak, but not as taco meat. Not to say that it was too high quality or anything dumb like that. It just tasted too clean and flavorless. The tortilla was stale and brittle. This chubbie sauce that everyone talks about was alright, but a proper hot sauce is always a necessity on tacos. Writing this just makes we want to go to my taco guy and devouring a couple proper tacos.

When it comes to Mexican food, I am very particular and quite harsh. Maybe I just don’t have the OC tongue, but I trust my taste buds. The textures and flavors just didn’t do it for me. The burrito was alright, but the taco, their namesake, was just not where it needed to be. It’s possible I just went on a bad day or I was just unlucky. I will definitely give this another try when I am in Huntington Beach. Hopefully, I won’t need to bring my taco guy to HB.

Sancho's Tacos on Urbanspoon

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Oh the milky bun. Being one of the food trends of 2014, the milky bun is a hit that started in Orange County. AFTERS Ice Cream shop in Fountain Valley started it all. Started by two trend setting clothing designers, the milky bun is a simple recipe. A somewhat warm donut stuffed with cold ice cream. That is all. Honestly though, ice cream and donuts is the golden combination. It’s like brownies and ice cream, but better? Yeah, I would say so.

I had to get two milky buns. I waited in a somewhat short line for it, though still out the door, I had to get my wait’s worth. I got the jasmine milk tea milky bun and cookie monster milky bun. The cookie monster is cookie monster blue, and has chunks of Oreo and chocolate chip. The ice cream itself was very good. I especially liked the jasmine milk tea ice cream. It had that clean taste and wasn’t too sweet. I wasn’t a fan of the cookie monster. It had a very chemically taste to it that wasn’t pleasant.

The Milky Bun is a good concept, but I rather have good ice cream just by itself than it inside a doughnut. The doughnut itself is quite unimpressive. I would rather have really good ice cream and top it off with a regular donut from my local donut shop or a Krispy Kreme. I like the concept a lot, and it seems to be quite popular with the crowd. I’m telling you though, if someone figures out how to make really good donuts and ice cream, that will steal the show.

Afters Handcrafted Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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Coffee Code – The Sweet Life

by Franklin on June 16, 2014

Coffee Code, to me, was a stumble. Wanting some dessert after dinner, this seemed like the perfect spot. The fun atmosphere and unique atmosphere is what made this place attractive.


We had the white chocolate latte and cafe con leche. Both were velvety smooth and sweet. It was a perfect sweet dessert style coffee for our waffle. The little bits of toffee in the care con leche was a nice touch. These dessert coffees were a nice change from the super dark straight black coffee I have every morning.

The mochi waffle was quite nice. It had a chewy texture like mochie, but still had the added bready consistency of a waffle. Layered with ice cream and whipped toppings, this waffle was definitely meant to be a dessert. I absolutely loved the texture of this. Though a bit soggy from the toppings, the inside was where the magic was.

Coffee Code was a nice place to hang out and a have some coffee. It offers pretty much waffles and coffee. The simplicity of it all just makes it a specific destination. What’s a better trifecta combination that coffee, ice cream, and waffles? Can’t really think of it just yet.

Coffee Code on Urbanspoon

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Kentro Greek Kitchen – Another Reason to Eat Greek

May 16, 2014

Greek food is often times overlooked. Everyone goes for Italian, or the all time classic burger, but Greek is always not given a second chance. On a recent trip to Kentro Greek Kitchen, I was surprised by the look and feel of the restaurant. The ordering system is similar to that of Panera Bread. You […]

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Islands Restaurant – Chilling at the Beach with Burgers and Tacos

April 14, 2014

I remember going to Islands as a kid. When I say kid, I mean a high school kid. I had a driver’s licence, I had a car (more like half a car), and that is all I needed to hang out with my friends at Islands with some burgers and fries. On my recent visit […]

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SideDoor – Through the Backdoor for the Good Stuff

March 17, 2014

It had been quite hot these days. Spring is here, and it is making us forget all about the cold winter. Hot days means nice walks on the beach and sunsets. Corona del Mar is by far one of my favorite beaches in Orange County. You have nice homes to look at on one side, […]

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Santouka Ramen (Costa Mesa) – Mitsuwa Marketplace with some Japanese Ramen

February 18, 2014

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post on Orange County eats. Not that I don’t have love for the OC, its just not exciting to eat here anymore. All of the restaurants are too chain like. Except for a small few, all of the eateries are just average. To me, the […]

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

December 24, 2013

Greetings fans of Dine Delish! Thank you for all the support and for reading by blog, tweets, Instagrams, etc. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. I don’t know what 2014 has in store for me, but I am excited nonetheless. I pray for more delicious food, which will […]

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25 Degrees (Huntington Beach) – Good Burgers and an Even Better Bar

December 1, 2013

I was at Huntington Beach the other days, before it was cold cold. I had wanted to try 25 degrees in the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for a while now. On my stroll around Huntington Beach, I was pleasantly surprised to see it in Orange County! I orders the number three – it had mezzo […]

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