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Travel Costa Mesa Blog

Archives for Food

Celebrate Fall at these Orange County Events

Posted on September 27, 2017 | 12:24pm

 

A fall getaway, why not? Consider taking a trip to Costa Mesa, in the heart of Orange County, the ideal location for a few days away to relax and enjoy the changing of the seasons and all the Orange County events happening. Hotels in Costa Mesa are running great weekend deals that make it easy to find a reason for an escape.

family picnic in park

If you want to explore the festivities that fall brings, we’ve got a great lineup of activities from festivals, to pumpkin carving, holiday decorating, train rides and more. Just a short drive from San Diego or Los Angeles, or a one-hour flight from Arizona, Nevada or Northern California into John Wayne Airport, it’s easy to get to Costa Mesa so you can maximize your weekend fun and all the events happening in Orange County.

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Posted in Events, Food, Locals, Play, Shopping

5 Places for Cold Brew and Craft Coffee in Costa Mesa

Posted on September 12, 2017 | 3:43pm

Costa Mesa is used to being on the cutting edge for food and drink, and the latest trends in coffee are no exception. When it comes to cold brew or a variety of craft coffees, this city is on it. Here are 5 great places to get craft coffee in the city.

Thunderking Coffee Bar

Known as one of the originators of cold brew coffee, Thunderking won’t share its secret, but says the process is ‘long’ and ‘cold’ and what makes their flagship bottled brew so smooth and pure. Thunderking recently opened a Coffee Bar located inside SOCIAL, a trendy restaurant on the west side of Costa Mesa. Along with traditional hot coffee drinks, Thunderking serves its proprietary organic cold brew on tap. Guests can enjoy a variety of innovative caffeinated beverages that combine Thunderking’s nitro-brew with SOCIAL’s house made syrups, cordials and bitters, each available with or without alcohol. The lineup of nitro-brew drinks include:

  • White Girl Latte: nitro cold brew, salted vanilla, cream, cinnamon (vodka optional)
  • Mint Mojito: nitro cold brew, mint, lime simple syrup, cream (rum optional)
  • The Better Buzz: nitro cold brew, orgeat, coconut water, salted vanilla cream (coconut rum optional)

 

To pair with its coffee creations, Thunderking offers a selection of breakfast and lunch menu items curated by the culinary team at SOCIAL, such as:

  • Nooks and Crannies: almond butter, house strawberry jam, toasted sourdough
  • Avocado Toast: crème fraiche, confit cherry tomatoes, pea tendrils, radish, tarragon
  • SOCIAL Benedict: house-made buttermilk biscuits, pulled pork, slow egg, creole mustard hollandaise

Thunderking is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located inside SOCIAL at 512 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa.

 

coffee bar

                                                                                                                                Lavato Images

 

Portola Coffee Lab

Voted best coffee roaster in 2015, Portola Coffee Lab was the brainchild of husband and wife co-owners, Jeff and Christa Duggan. A scientist at heart, Jeff credits coffee for helping him further pursue his love of chemistry and science and allowing him to bring this love to fruition in the popular flagship location of Portola Coffee Lab inside The OC Mix at SOCO in Costa Mesa. Utilizing their on-site roasters with an all-organic line of coffee, Portola serves up many traditional coffee drinks, including a refreshing cold brew that locals crave. Fans of this craft coffee spot line up throughout the day to get their fix. On the weekends, Portola is a destination of its own as aficionados of espresso and cappuccino travel for miles to enjoy their favorite cup of coffee in the laid-back atmosphere at The OC Mix. Recently, on the six-year anniversary of Portola, the team renovated to expand the space and add more seating around the coffee bar making a more engaging customer experience. This quickly became a popular space for professionals and students to enjoy their coffee and get some work done with the background buzz of coffee grinders and visitors milling around the center. Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Located at 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa.

Cafecito Organico

Located in the funky and cool outdoor center called The LAB “anti-mall,” Cafecito is a true neighborhood coffee spot with a wholehearted attempt to support livelihood and biodiversity, bringing people together one cup at a time. Originating in Los Angeles, Cafecito Organico works with small growers and family farms that produce high-quality coffees sustainably. Their commitment to delivering a quality product carries over to the staff members they employ, who are trained to brew the best cup of coffee, and treat every customer as their guest. On any given day, students can be found plugged in, studying and enjoying an iced coffee to keep them going, or business folks stopping in for an afternoon pick-me-up. The menu consists of the traditional espresso, latte and Americano, and they definitely have a quality cold brew as well as a variety of teas. While there are a few tables inside and out, there is plenty of seating in this eclectic shopping and dining area. Take a coffee to go and relax in the ‘living room’ area or sit by a soothing water feature just outside the shop. Food and snacks are limited here, but the nearby Goodtown Doughnuts or PopBar offer yummy treats to pair with your cup o’ Joe. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Located at The LAB, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

Neat Coffee Shop

Dubbed by one customer as ‘the best cold brew in Orange County’ and known for their seasonal (fall) Golden Latte, Neat is a hidden gem located in a co-working office space in Costa Mesa. While living in Uganda, husband and wife owners, Ally and David, were inspired by the coffee roasting process. They also loved the idea that coffee brings people together, so when they moved to the U.S., they were committed to working in the business. Soon after settling in, Neat was born, carrying high-quality beans from some of the best West Coast roasters. House made seasonal syrups and locally-made almond milk make each cup extra special. Their website says “Costa Mesa’s friendly neighborhood coffee shop” and we agree; a good cup of coffee is made better by the people serving it. This small space with only has a few seats outside, and sometimes offers pastries but no permanent food menu. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located on the bottom floor of an office building at 270 Baker St., Suite 200, Costa Mesa.

Milk & Honey

This is a super cute spot to grab a drink and catch up with a friend while sitting on the rustic, enclosed patio off to the side. Known for their Lavender Latte and a variety of other menu items, Milk & Honey offers frozen yogurt, shaved ice, acai bowls and a peanut butter and fresh fruit sandwich, as well as many other items. The Milk and Honey Special is Strawberry ice with strawberries, bananas, kiwi and mocha, topped with red azuki bean. Not only is this treat refreshing, it’s a healthy start to the day and makes a great midday treat. Milk and Honey’s natural ambiance makes it a perfect fit at The Camp – a sustainably focused, open-air campus with a diverse offering of restaurants and locally-owned shops. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Located at The Camp at 2981 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

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Labor Day Weekend Events in Orange County

Posted on August 18, 2017 | 10:17am

 

Thinking summer is coming to an end too quickly? Not to worry, there’s still time to enjoy the warm Southern California weather. With Labor Day Weekend right around the corner, why not plan one last weekend getaway? You could sit by the pool and relax, or get out and explore Orange County to make the most of your time and enjoy Labor Day Weekend events. Be at the center of all the fun and stay in Orange County’s theater and arts district, Costa Mesa.

 

Costa Mesa has all the right elements for a perfect Labor Day weekend away – food, shopping, arts and entertainment. Many Costa Mesa hotels offer special weekend rates and packages so you can make the most of your time away. With Costa Mesa’s close proximity to the beaches in Huntington, Newport and Laguna, it’s hard to pass up a visit to Orange County’s beautiful coastline. Make a full day of it, enjoy water sports, cruise the harbor or take an evening stroll on the beach and enjoy a stunning Southern California sunset.

PC:Visit Newport Beach

 

Costa Mesa Events

Great Labor Day Cruise – September 1 – 3, 2017

Head over to the OC Fair & Event Center for the 35th Annual Great Labor Day Cruise where 1,200 muscle cars, street rods and classics will be on display and paraded along a 1.25-mile route. There will be food, music and fun for the whole family. The three-day event is $15 for adults and free for children under age 11.

 

Heroes Hall, also on site of the OC Fair & Event Center, is a free museum open year round, serving as a tribute to Orange County veterans and others who have served our nation.

 

The Capital Grille Generous Pour – through September 3, 2017

Wine lovers will toast to one of the largest wine events in the U.S.! Labor Day is the last weekend to experience The Capital Grille’s “Generous Pour,” where you can sit back, relax and savor seven varieties of wine when you purchase an entree. The best part is that you can enjoy the flight of these seven wines over and over again. Or, select your favorite and your server will generously refill your glass throughout the evening, all for one price. Located at South Coast Plaza, this popular summer event ends September 3, so be sure to reserve your spot soon.

 

Costa Mesa Activities

Spend a day at South Coast Plaza, where this international shopping destination continues to celebrate its golden anniversary with exclusive merchandise such as Gucci’s limited edition Large Sylvie Top handbag and Porsche Design sunglasses for men and women. Starbucks even has a special Carousel Blend coffee to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. Stop by the new boutique by ladies’ luxury Italian footwear Aquazzura, and when you’re ready for a break, enjoy a gourmet pizza or other Italian favorites and specialty cocktails at newly reopened Wolfgang Puck Kitchen. If you’re in need a few more things for back-to-school, South Coast Plaza is just the place for the hot, new trends.

If being a kid at heart is what inspires your weekend away, or merely keeping the kids entertained is the goal, add Disneyland to the weekend itinerary. Staying in Costa Mesa makes it even easier to create just the right itinerary for all family members. Most Costa Mesa hotels offer convenient shuttle transportation to and from your hotel direct to the Disneyland Resort. This is definitely a perk if you want to see Minnie and Mickey while also enjoying a relaxing weekend retreat.

 

Costa Mesa’s SOCO and The OC Mix is an inspirational and creative center where you can shop, dine or simply chill out. Grab a carefully crafted and freshly brewed latte at one of the best coffee roasters around, Portola Coffee Lab. Browse new retailers like women’s athletic clothing and Korean-inspired skincare products by Bono Spera (meaning ‘Good Hope’ in Latin), or home furnishings from luxury Italian brand Natuzzi Italia and stylish multimedia products by the iconic Bang & Olufsen.

PC: Anne Watson Photography

 

A Saturday visit to this indoor/outdoor area is a must in order to experience one of Orange County’s best Farmer’s Markets – Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Looney Tunes lovers and art collectors can appreciate not one, but two galleries by Chuck Jones’ Center for Creativity – ‘the’ gallery for pop culture collections; the second location recently opened in The OC Mix. View and purchase from the extensive fine arts collections and various Looney Tunes-inspired gifts to take home. Think Snoopy, the Peanuts Gang, Bugs Bunny, and more.

 

If you happen to stop at SOCO and The OC Mix on Monday of Labor Day, you’re in for a real treat. Grab a bite at a new popup breakfast spot open for a limited time. Eggslice, open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., creates perfectly crafted breakfast sandwiches, featuring unique locally made Chili Jam, combined with fresh, local ingredients from OC Baking Company, Billy’s Egg Farm, Francisco’s Meat Company, West Coast Prime Meats and Penjoyan Produce.

 

Don’t wait; start planning your weekend away now! Explore the Calendar of Events to see all the Labor Day weekend events in Costa Mesa and around Orange County.

 

 

 

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The OC Fair is Here! An Annual Costa Mesa Festival, With Concerts and Events Galore

Posted on July 14, 2017 | 1:18pm

With more than a million visitors to the OC Fair each year, visitors probably all have a slightly different take on how they approach this beloved Costa Mesa festival, the second largest in Southern California and one of the Top 10 in the United States. And it’s definitely one of the top Costa Mesa events for a month every summer!

 

“Farm Fresh Fun” is the theme for the OC Fair in 2017, and that about sums up how you might approach your experience. From tasting all the amazing fair food to exploring fresh produce and newborn animals in Centennial Farm, to the attractions and live Costa Mesa concerts, there is plenty of Farm, Fresh AND Fun to experience.

RIDES

Start your visit with a ride high above the OC Fair on the Sky Ride. An aerial tram that flies over the length of the Fairgrounds and back, the Sky Ride gives you a perfect overview of the OC Fair and a great way to see it all and navigate your fair strategy for the day. You’ll enjoy a nice breeze as you soar high above the visitors, you might even see an arena show underway, and you’ll definitely see the exhilarating rides in the midway area.

 

New this year to the OC Fair is La Grande Wheel XL, one of the largest observation wheels in the Western Hemisphere. See this beautiful Ferris wheel at night lit up with a glow that can be seen for miles. This is another great way to see the whole Orange County Fair from one vantage point. If you’ve already spent a few hours traversing the Fairgrounds, a ride on La Grande Wheel XL is a perfect way to give your feet a break without missing out on all the fun…and this year, your car will be air conditioned for a nice break from that hot SoCal summer sun. Fairgoers looking for a bit more of a rush can strap-in on Endeavor and experience 3G- acceleration.

COSTA MESA CONCERTS AND FREE ENTERTAINMENT

The opportunities to be amused and entertained at the Fair are endless! Pacific Amphitheatre, right on the OC Fairgrounds, is one of the best places to see an Orange County concert. This venue seats just 8,000 people, which means every seat in the outdoor amphitheater is a good one. This year’s lineup includes comedian Gabriel Iglesias, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the B-52s, Jake Owen, Michael McDonald and many others. An even more intimate space to see a local concert is The Hangar, with tribute bands performing nightly during the OC Fair.

 

All of the arenas and stages offer lively entertainment throughout the day and evening, from the jaw-dropping Peking Acrobats to the always-entertaining hypnotist (audience participation required) and Demolition Derby. An all-time favorite is the All Alaskan Racing Pigs, where eight pigs will race their little tails to the finish line. Grab a seat in the corral and watch the little piggies hustle!

 

Get your reality TV fix in person. On select days throughout the course of the Fair, chefs like Stéphane Tréand of Costa Mesa’s ST Patisserie Chocolat will showcase his talents creating delicate chocolate sculptures so beautiful, you almost won’t want to eat them. On July 27, the winner of Food Network’s “Chopped Jr.” in 2016, 14-year-old Mason Partak will once again put his skills to the test by competing live in a culinary competition with Chef Tréand. A full lineup of culinary demonstrations and intense competitions are planned and sure to make for great entertainment.

OC FAIR FOOD

Get a snack before a show, like a pie-sized soft pretzel, or wood-fired corn on the cob dressed with some mayo (or butter if you prefer), lemon juice and cayenne pepper for a kick.

 

Dinner or lunch options include burgers, tacos and a larger-than-usual handheld turkey leg, but there’s so much more. Having received accolades for creating the most unique fried items, it’s worth stopping by Chicken Charlie’s. Try the sample platter of mushrooms, artichokes and zucchini, deep-fried and served with ranch. Great way to get your daily serving of veggies! Or, go for the cheese curds – deep-fried and all. Plus each year, the OC Fair gives us something new try – like a hearty 5 lb. barbecued pig leg, or the Unicorn Pineapple Bomb that will have all the kids (and maybe adults) giddy about this tasty drink served in a pineapple garnished with rainbow candies!

 

The folks at the Fair know how good their food is, and they want you to try it all. So they created a sample size of many of the Fair foods – think fried, wrapped in bacon, or sprinkles of sugar on top. Every Thursday from noon to 4 p.m., samples of select Fair food are available for just $3.00.

 

Wine tasting with Orange County’s Wine Society gives you the opportunity to taste the best California wines from the 30,000 California wines entered into the OC Fair competition. Make this a stop on your journey through the Fair and enjoy a glass of wine with cheese and crackers. If you’re visiting on a weekend, check out the wine seminars. Sit back, sip and enjoy live music from the surrounding stages.

 

EXPLORE THE AWARD-WINNING FAIR EXHIBITS

DIY Inspiration can be found throughout the Fair, where Pinterest comes to life right in front of you. Find formal table settings, to award-winning jams and jellies and this year, some of the best brewers will have their craft beer blends on display.

 

And, if you’re a collector, or want to see someone else’s interesting collection, head over to the Centennial Farm area (inside adjacent to the award-winning produce display) and you’ll find collections of stamps, stuffed animals (think Ty Beanie Babies), Disney items, antique dolls and more.

PLAN YOUR VISIT AND MAKE A WEEKEND STAY OUT OF IT

With so much to do, there’s not enough time, but for 23 days this summer, you can return to the OC Fair to experience all it has to offer. You can always extend your stay in Costa Mesa to get the most out of the Fair, take a break at one of the nearby hotels, cool off and take a swim, or head to the beach for a day of relaxation.

 

OC Fair Admission is $12 during the week and $14 per person on the weekend. But there are also many ways to get discounts to the fair. A few of them are listed below.

Veterans and active-duty military personnel – Admission is always free with ID and their guests can purchase up to six half-price tickets.

We Care Wednesday – Get free admission and one free carnival ride when you donate items to select local nonprofits between noon and 3 p.m.

Kids Day – Each Thursday, children 12 and under get in free all day.

Best Deal Ever – On Saturdays and Sundays (from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Fairgoers can take advantage of half-price admission and carnival rides for half the usual number of tickets.

We hope to see you experience some good ‘ol “Farm, Fresh, Fun” this summer in Costa Mesa!

What ride, concert or event are you most excited to see?

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Posted in Events, Food, Locals, Misc, Music & Art, Play

Beef…it’s what’s for Father’s Day in Costa Mesa!

Posted on June 14, 2017 | 10:33am

If your dad enjoys a juicy cut of steak, grilled to perfection, give him a break this Father’s Day and treat him to one of the most decadent and flavorful steaks in Orange County. It’s hard to decide which is “best,” but we have a few recommendations to help you choose, and you won’t go wrong whether you’re looking for fine dining, family-style tapas, dinner or brunch – these restaurants are ready to welcome you on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, 2017.

 

Mastro’s Steakhouse is a sophisticated and classy steakhouse offering dry-aged, hand-cut prime selections of meat served on its signature 400-degree steak plate, for just the right preparation. Featuring an A5 grade Japanese Wagyu New York Strip and a decadent 33 oz. “Chef’s Cut” Tomahawk Chop, there’s no doubt your craving will be satisfied at this steakhouse, especially when accompanied by side of lobster mashed potatoes and a carefully selected wine pairing to complete the meal. Treat dad on Father’s Day; he’ll be in heaven, and the family will enjoy being treated to a very special dining experience, with live music nightly. Open for dinner beginning at 3 p.m. Book a table online.

 

 

AnQi by House of AN $1 Beers and 1 lb. Tomahawk Ribeye

From 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

AnQi’s architecturally designed contemporary space is a treat in itself when dining out on a special occasion like Father’s Day. AnQi’s menu of Asian-inspired dishes with an American flair delivers appetizers like filet mignon potstickers and their famous garlic noodles made with Mama An’s secret recipe. On Father’s Day, AnQi is offering an impressive 1 lb. tomahawk ribeye chop; Szechwan lamb raviolis; Korean fried chicken wings; a salt and pepper pork chop and mile-high chocolate mocha cake with cookies ’n cream ice cream for dessert. Dad will love the $1 dollar beer selection available as part of this special menu. AnQi’s full à la carte menu will also be available all day. Prices vary per selection; specialty menu $15-$88 (exclusive of tax and gratuity) For reservations, call 714.557.5679.

 

Pueblo

Brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

At Pueblo, the goal is to bring people together and by featuring a menu of shareable plates. A Father’s Day celebration is perfect to bring the family together and toast to dad. Pueblo offers a tapas-plate Sunday brunch, and is also open for dinner. Having been voted one of the ‘best charcuterie platters’ in Orange County, where guests can choose from 6 different cured Spanish meats or even jamon iberico, this is a perfect platter to share with the group. On Father’s Day, Pueblo will be presenting a special menu with selection of meat along with a new dessert for chocolate lovers – a warm chocolate brownie with house-made toasted coconut ice cream. Reservations are not required, but can be made by calling 714.340.5775.

 

Vaca

5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Chef Amar Santana is known for his aged steaks, carefully selected cheeses and cured meats from his charcuterie bar, and a variety of Spanish wines. A favorite starter is the Canelon de Pollo (smoked chicken cannelloni with foie gras and sherry reduction); it will melt in your mouth. To really indulge, take one look at the Carne section of the menu and you’ll see prime selections of beef like Japanese Kobe or the grass-fed NY Strip steak. If that’s not enough to tempt you, check out this preparation by Chef Amar himself. Reservations are highly recommended. Call 714.463.6060.

 

 

The Capital Grille at South Coast Plaza

11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Especially for Father’s Day, Capital Grille is serving an off-the-menu item; it’s a mouthwatering Tomahawk bone-in ribeye. Or if dad prefers a perfectly grilled burger, try Capital Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger – a juicy, flavorful blend of chopped sirloin, smoked bacon and onions. It’s one of the best burgers in town, so be sure to get a reservation to enjoy a delicious meal and a beautiful bottle of wine from their award-winning wine list on this special day with dad.

 

Nothing says “We love you, Dad!” quite like a prime steak! Where will you be dining for Father’s Day in Costa Mesa?

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