The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

Costa Mesa’s Corner Retreat: Plum’s Cafe

I don’t know how I did not visit this place before last weekend.  I have been sorely missing out in life.  Plum’s is probably the best brunch that Orange County has to offer.  It has pancakes, bread pudding french toast, breakfast burritos and my fave – eggs Benedict.

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Lemonade: a fun, healthy counter spot.


Lemonade has recently appeared at Fashion Island’s “food court.”  Started in Los Angeles, it is another one of those places that you order your pre-made food as you walk down the line to a counter at the end.  (Think “glorified Souplantation”.)  The great part is that the food is actually quite extraordinary: fresh ingredients in ways that other restaurants of this type are just not creating.
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Kobbideh Kebob

Two of the most magical words known to man kind.  And one of the best places in Orange County is Panini Cafe.  Although its a Southern California chain, they don’t skimp on the portions and don’t skimp on the taste.  Although you can spend $20 a person, you won’t go home hungry.
thelocallist, kelsey mills, hungrygirl mills
chicken kebabs
Panini Cafe is open for brunch, lunch and dinner and is located both in Newport Beach and Irvine.  There is always a crowd at both locations, but you usually don’t have to wait too long.  On a trip for lunch, we waltzed straight onto the patio and ordered the chicken kebob special and of course, the Kebob of my dreams.  The meals come with either basmati rice (my favorite) or wheat rice pilaf (not bad) and then a choice of three different types of salad.  Believe me when I say you cannot eat it all.
thelocallist, hungrygirlmills
The food is so tasty, and came out hot.  The price is steep [for lunch] (see update below), around $10-$15 for the complete meal, but it’s not an everyday lunch spot so I was willing to pay a bit more.  However, on this particular occasion they forgot about our food and didn’t really apologize or make up for the situation.  For a “quick” lunch it took them 25 minutes to bring out our food after asking about it twice.  I haven’t had issues here before though, so hopefully its just my curse of bad service not an everyday thing.
humus platter
Panini Cafe also has obviously paninis, soups, salads, and other types of kebobs.  I also need to try their brunch because it looks great (and huge).  They also have a to-go menu which I noticed has a family four pack of food.  Yeah I might not have a family of 4 but this is definitely going to be on my list of fast, healthy dinners.  Don’t judge me…
breakfast sandwiches
update: I was schooled in the expense part of this post.  It may seem expensive to me at lunch, but you can get out of there for about $15 for dinner and the food is really about two meals.  The chicken kebob special is definitely worth ordering for lunch as its the same amount of food but for only $10.

4.0/5 for great food, a good ambiance but so-so service.

Gulfstream…heaven in my mouth.

I am a huge fan of the Hillstone Restaurant Group and quite frequently eat at Houston’s, R+D Kitchen and Bandera.  So when I was asked to choose a place for my birthday dinner, it wasn’t hard to pick Gulfstream – their “fish restaurant.”  I am so glad I did because I now dream about this meal…

Halibut and slaw: seems minimal, but mashed potatoes are hiding under the fish

The service alone is why you should go to Gulfstream.  I love restaurants where every server is your waiter, and you can get your water filled the second you put it down.  We were never left waiting, all our questions were answered and the food didn’t sit in the back waiting for someone to bring it out.

the most amazing shrimp almost creole sauce that goes on the halibut

We started with the biscuits – only two because it’s a marathon not a race.  HOLY HELL they were good.  Now other restaurants in this group serve jalapeno cornbread which is awesome in and of itself, but these biscuits, wow.  Obviously they were warm and flaky and they have honey on the table or a huge side of butter for fattening up the meal, but they were also herby and not greasy at all.  I ordered the halibut because the waitress said it was her favorite dish at the restaurant, and I HAD to eat seafood here.  My boyfriend, Phil got the fall off the bone goodness that are the ribs.  Both of us stuffed our face.  Needless to say, I licked my plate clean and was so satisfied.  We didn’t have any of the desserts because honestly they didn’t sound that appealing or mind-blowing (and because Sprinkles is next door and I had eaten cupcakes all day – what it’s my birthday!)

ribs, fries, slaw: find ONE thing you don’t love about this meal
4.8/5 food was excellent, service was amazing, hard to not feel out of place with all the older Corona Del Mar people eating around you and for that I ding it slightly.

Great weather means outdoor seating…

This weekend is supposed to be fabulous, and there is nothing better than eating outdoors in Southern California. (Just wear sunscreen!)  As you already know, I am a HUGE breakfast burrito fan, and brunch is kinda a big deal in my life so I thought I would share one of my favorite spots – Rose Bakery Cafe.  I am a little scared to share this secret, but it already is packed so what the hell.

If you aren’t ordering the California Breakfast Burrito with Spinach tortilla, then I recommend any of the other wraps.  As I mentioned before, I tend to order tuna sandwiches to compare sandwich places, and this place knocks my socks off.  Any of the sandwiches or wraps are exceptional, but the best part about Rose is the baked goods.  Fresh made donuts and cakes and goodies galore.  Some might even say that the donuts here are the best in OC (thanks D for the introduction!)

If you are looking for a brunch, if you are hungover and need take out, or if you want to just sit and bask in the sun with some good food and great people watching, this is your spot.  Even John Elway comes here…

5/5 because I really can’t figure out anything negative about this place…

my wacky, windy weekend.

I need a weekend from my weekend sometimes.   I usually love planning events and get togethers. Lately, I have tried to NOT plan anything because I am so tired from working, but somehow I end up busy as ever.  This weekend was no different…

I started out my weekend with a girl’s night out at Crow’s Bar.  I’ve been before and cannot recommend the food more.  The burger and duck fat fries are a must have.  They also have a crazy variety of craft beer and wines.  And the happy hour there is such a deal.  I unfortunately decided to get the halibut sandwich and GREATLY regret that decision. But I devoured my fries so didn’t starve!
Saturday I tried something new and walked a 5k at Anaheim Stadium.  It was for the American Heart Association.  It was SO crowded, but it was fun because we got to walk on the field.  This is the fourth stadium I have walked on (Wrigley, Dodgers, Fenway).  The OC Marathon is coming up in May and I think I may sign up for the 10k…is anyone else running this?
After walking, we had to treat ourselves so we went to Anthill Pub.  If you haven’t been it is a great place to check out for beers.  Also the sweet potato fries are bomb.  It is located on UCI campus so you will have to deal with some weird grad students, and frat boys that have had one to many pints, but the beer selection is great and they even have some wine.  Tip: its cash only.
Our last spot for the weekend was Newport Peninsula.  My old stomping ground – when I was young and naive and cheap.  I met a big group of friends at Newport Beach Brewing Company for a birthday party.  I cannot tell you how much I despise this place.  The college kids like it because they have a special beer and a shot deal for about $7.  The beer, however, is disgusting.  Not only that, the shots are worse than well and are warm.  The place is so crowded you can’t move, and smokers sit on the patio and the smoke comes straight into the hot, sticky room.  Did I mention I hate this place?  
If you want a place to go out there are other options.  Rudy’s has dancing, Malarky’s has darts and pitchers, Mutt’s has scooners, and the District isn’t bad.  But if you are like me and are over the age of 25, its probably best you don’t come down here and just go to places like Costa Mesa or Santa Ana. 

What new place or activity did you try this weekend?  Any recommendations for others to check out?

What to do this weekend…

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  I just get so happy listening to KOST and my Christmas Pandora station, seriously people try Christmas music when you are in a bad mood.  Mind blown.

Anyway…this weekend there are a lot of fun activities to check out.

1.  Chill at Queen Mary opened up right before Thanksgiving, but its definitely something you have to see.  There is an ice skating rink, ice tubing, the Ice Kingdom and Santa.  The Ice Kingdom is the thing to go for.  They hand carve statutes from over two million pounds of ice to portray the story of The Nutcracker, this year.  You have to bundle up, which is nice for us SoCal kids who don’t get much cold weather (thank god).

2.  Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk is this Sunday.  A fun festival of crafts, beer tents, and music is sure to make for a great Sunday Funday.  The beer garden has an entry fee and then you get tickets for each beer you want.  After walking around the different tables full of fun gift ideas, take your friends and go out to dinner at Sidedoor or walk to the cliffs to see the sunset.

3.  OC Brew Ho Ho is on Saturday and is the largest Holiday Ale Celebration.  While I have never attended, this seems pretty freaking cool.  The 2nd annual Brew Ho Ho hosts 50 different craft beers and food vendors.  For $55 you get four hours of unlimited tastings while you walk around other vendors to do some holiday shopping.  Located at the Phoenix Club, make sure you have a designated driver.

4.  Dana Point Wharf is having their annual boat parade this weekend.  Private boats are decorated for your viewing pleasure and cruise around the harbor.  Go down to the wharf yourself or hop aboard one of the city’s chartered boats to get up close and personal.  Make sure you keep warm with some hot chocolate because its going to be a “cold” weekend out on the water!