The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

The Secret to Din Tai Fung

So if you haven’t heard of the place yet, you should probably dig yourself out of the hole you have surrounded yourself in.  Din Tai Fung has been in America for a while, but it originated from Taiwan (ya know that non-Chinese Chinese place).  The specialty here is Shanghai dumplings (ironic right?), which are small, soup dumplings usually filled with pork.
dumplings
Xiao Long Bao

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Finally Found my Heaven!

Pad See Ew (my fave Thai dish)
Madee Thai is a VERY small hole in the wall Thai restaurant on 17th street, tucked between a beauty supply store and a brick wall (literally).  For those that are scared off by hole-in-the-wall places, please don’t come here.  Because then it won’t be crowded when I show up.  This is one of the best Thai restaurants I have had in Southern California (yes the entire location), and I am afraid of spreading the word.  However, it’s too good not to share.

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This weekend in Orange County

Okay guys, I know I have been MIA.  And I have a lot of places to tell you about, but ya know…billable hours?  Hopefully I can catch up this weekend.  But in the meantime you tell me how you like these top stories.

Apparently this weekend is BBQ weekend, and it is only fitting as it is the weekend before Labor Day, the end of summer, and a hot 85 degrees.  So grab a friend, starve yourself all morning and check out the fun below:

1.  Pig Out 3.0 will take place August 24 from 2-7 PM in Costa Mesa.  Eat all things pig including dishes from your favorite restaurants (and mine) such as A Restaurant, Little Sparrow, Fireside Tavern and more.  Other restaurants are sending their very best mixologists to help you all wash it down.  I promise you, you will smell like pig when you leave…Mind you, you have to pay $75 for that l’eau de toilette.

2.  This Saturday the Fullerton Arboretum is hosting its Brews, Blues and BBQ for an adult only crowd.  Enjoy some Blues music as you taste your way through California’s best breweries.  For $45 you receive 10 4 oz. tastings, a souvenir tasting glass and a potential DUI.  The BBQ is not included and is an additional cost, but at least you can choose what you want to eat?  Should be a gorgeous weekend for a concert.

3.  Long Beach is having its own BBQ Festival ALL WEEKEND LONG.  And for $80 you can become a VIP and have all you can eat access (I’m looking at you Wu).  There will be music and dancing, but really if you are eating all that food you probably just want a stretcher to take you from booth to booth.  I wonder how much that would cost….There is also a Photo Booth, but really no one wants to see a picture of you with BBQ sauce down your shirt…

Things to do This Weekend

Sorry I have been MIA again, a packed schedule at work plus a long weekend in San Francisco (post to come soon) means I have zero time for an outside life…and then I got sick.  However, this weekend is too packed with good stuff not to let you in on it.

1.  The Copper Door (one of my favorite bars in the OC) is FINALLY serving food.  If you love craft beer, this bar is a must.  Although dingy, dark and probably dirty, the vibe is a fun underground club with lots and lots and lots of beers on tap.  Their new menu is American- cuisine and currently all items are priced under $10.  Can you believe there is such a place??  Anyway, I am dying to go check it out.

2.  The new Irvine Improv opens with Umami Burger.  Irvine Improv has always been a little low brow, especially when you have to spend money on 2 items of either a horrible cocktail or really bad food.  However, fret no more.  Umami Burger will be served at all shows, beers are actually fairly decent, and if you fancy girl, they have bottle service (I mean really?).  The Improv also has opened up in a new location at the Spectrum, so hopefully it is bigger and better.  I am checking it out this weekend so I will let you know!

3.  Costa Mesa Restaurant Week!  Although restaurant week is not always my favorite, it is a great way to try places you normally cannot afford.  And Costa Mesa has some of the best restaurants in the OC.  Check out the selection here: http://www.travelcostamesa.com/costa-mesa-restaurant-week/.  It starts today and only lasts a week, so plan your meals accordingly!

4.  Orange County is hosting its own music festival this weekend.  The Pacific Festival is being held at the Dunes this Saturday.  If you didn’t catch Holy Ghost at Outside Lands this past weekend, they will be finishing up the night.  Tickets are $75.

Hope the weather is great this weekend, because we have a lot of things to do!

Brunch at Vitaly

It has been hard trying to keep up blogging, working, and eating out as much as I should, so when I had a free Saturday morning, I knew I had to skip Rooster Cafe and try a new spot.  Unfortunately, Vitaly was a bummer.
 

Vitaly is tucked in the back of the Camp in Costa Mesa.  It is an Italian (fairly authentic) restaurant that serves, breakfast, lunch and dinner, has a coffee bar, gelato and baked goods.  It really tries to offer everything you could want.  The dinner sounds really good – homemade pastas; the baked goods are tasty; and the coffee options are delicious.  However, the breakfast was unimpressive.
 

For $8.50, you get your choice of a three egg scramble or omelet. However, if you want anything in your eggs its at least another $1.00 for every item you add.  The eggs come with potatoes, but I was only given 4 potatoes…yes F-O-U-R.  It also comes with a side of some type of pita bread but the bread had zero taste.  So you pay $8.50 for three eggs.  It wasn’t that the omelet tasted bad, it just isn’t worth the effort of going to the Camp, dealing with parking and spending $9 to still be hungry.
 
I know it’s weird, but when I asked for ketchup for my breakfast, this was all I got.  BUGS ME SO MUCH!

 

3.0/5.0 because the coffee is great, but I will try the dinner just to round out the review.

Summer time and the living is…busy.

Summer time in Orange County can mean laid back beach weather, or crazy adventures attending all of the summer events going on in the area.  As a “porcelained skin” (read: pale as hell) person, I prefer to go to the events then lay on the beach.  So this past weekend, I packed in my adventures and had a great time at the OC Fair and Del Mar Horse Track.
 
fried cookie dough = heaven
The OC Fair is one of my favorites.  Large enough to give you tons of options, but small enough so you don’t get overwhelmed, the fair has live animals, tons of food and rides to keep you busy.  It’s open until August 10th everyday except Monday and Tuesday.  If you check out their website there are certain discount days if you donate goods or if you go early enough in the day.  Best food we had was the fried cookie dough – trust me.  (Quick tip: bring cash for the food vendors, not all of them take credit card – and you can monitor your eating if you need that kind of self control).



biggest corn dogs ever, and I don’t mean the girls…
Del Mar Horse Races has always been a fun day trip.  You can hop on the train and head down to the racetrack to avoid all of the horrendous traffic.  Once there, grab a (very overpriced) drink and take a seat while you bet on some horses.  If betting isn’t your thing, walking around and people watching is pretty awesome too.  When I went last weekend there was a beer fest going on from all local beers.  Pretty fun because you know San Diego has one of the best collections of craft breweries.  Skip the food here and instead bring in your own sandwiches or my favorite, California Burritos!

Other things to be excited for:
Taco Asylum’s brand new menu of tacos (including Bacon PB&J!).
C4 Deli’s Cupcake and Wine Pairing Nights on Thursday.
Blaze has opened in Mission Viejo.
The Robbins Nest Wine Bar is alive and kicking in Santa Ana.
Montreal Poutine has opened in Costa Mesa.

A hidden treasure.

I have been trying to follow as many blogs, websites, people, newspapers, etc. as I can lately to learn about the new restaurant openings, closings, and OC events so that I can 1) attend obviously, and 2) try to let you know about it!  So when Stick a Fork In It mentioned a new spot called Fireside Tavern I was so excited to try it.

fireside tavern, thelocallist
So the weird thing is, this spot is in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Bristol.  If you had convinced me to stop in without me seeing photos first I would never be caught dead.  However, I am so glad that I saw the cute photos of the place because it was the perfect spot to meet a couple girl friends for a well deserved happy hour.

fireside tavern, thelocallist

The best part about this place is that happy hour is everyday until 7PM.  That’s a long time, even for people like me that get off work at 6:30.  I can get my butt out the door and still have a glass of wine (or two) before I get cut off.  My girlfriends and I had a lot of catching up to do so we ended up staying for several hours and eventually trying some dinner menus.  The happy hour menu is great – they even have a burger on the menu!  I recommend the charcuterie board (its huge), as well as the loaded tater tots.  We tried the fish and chips (which I recommend sharing) and it was tasty but REALLY fried and greasy (to the point where all of our stomachs were hurting afterwards.)  My biggest complaint was that there were fruit flies EVERYWHERE.  I would recommend sitting in the cute patio outside to get rid of these annoying buggers.  So annoying and pretty gross to be honest…
 

If you are in the Costa Mesa/Newport/Santa Ana area, or need a break from shopping all day at South Coast, I would recommend happy hour here.  It’s not crowded, its friendly service (most of the time), and the price is just right.

3.8/5 because who has gnats in a restaurant?!  But check out the food and drinks, they are worth it.