The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

Something fun for the weekend!

If you haven’t noticed by now, I enjoy drinking wine.  So when my friend asked if I would try the wine tasting at Hi-Times, it was an easy yes.  Hi-Times used to be this place that I would drive “all the way out to” in order to get our cheap booze  in college (think Popov and Jose).  Well now its where us fancy pants can get craft beer, fancy liquor and the largest assortment of wines I have seen in a store in Orange County for decent prices.  Thank god times have changed…

Wine tasting at Hi-Times is an assortment of options – you can buy a card and select from the wines “on tap,” you can order the tasting of the day, or you can mix and match the tastings on a select list.  All of this, for a reasonable price.  We did the selection of the day as well as a mix and match.  The place is small so expect to be a little cramped, but on a week night it was surprisingly open. 

Best part about tasting here is that they allow you to buy cheese and meats from their upstairs selection and eat it in the tasting portion of the store.  We sat at the bar where they handed us unlimited french bread.  And voila – its a picnic!  The fact that I can go wine tasting and not have to think ahead of time or plan anything to eat is literally the coolest thing in the world.  I mean the cheese selection isn’t going to be Whole Foods, but you are bound to like something.

When you are done tasting, roam through the aisles of their wine cave, it’s just amazing to look at, and inspires me to start my own collection…one very very far day from now.  When you are ready to head out but still feel a little tipsy, head over to Cafe Rio for a large juicy meal that is sure to sober you up.  I recommend the barbacoa tacos or burrito, although it is a bit sweet so its not for everyone.

4.0/5.0 for a great selection at a great price…just wish I wasn’t tasting in a corner of a store.

A cheap(er) trip to Naples

I recently visited Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa for some good ol’ pizza and Italian food.  I grew up on this type of food so I would arguably say I have a pretty good palate when it comes to Italian.  Pizzeria Ortica pleasantly surprised my expectations, but the service did not.

My family was in town so we all got together for a meal, and I chose this spot.  It had gotten mixed reviews on yelp, but like I said – I love Italian.  The food was really good.  The pizzas are huge and very tasty.  They are Napoli style so they are thin crust and baked in an old oven.  The Marguerite was probably the best – plain old traditional style, but the sausage ones were quite good too. 

I got the mussels which were probably the worst thing that we ordered.  The sauce was unreal, but the mussels themselves were pretty chalky (luckily I didn’t get sick).  Dipping bread or pizza crust into my sauce was enough to fill me up.  The appetizers were really quite spectacular – meatballs, bruschetta unlike any I have ever had (cannellini beans on bread?), pork cheek, and my favorite – prosciutto, peaches and burrata.  For those who have never had burrata cheese, you are missing out.

The biggest complaints are that it is overpriced and the service is horrible.  $18 for a pizza is just ridiculous, come on guys you aren’t Mastro’s, you need to price yourself closer to CPK and you will be POPPIN’!  We had the worst server ever.  She was such a b*tch and wasn’t pleasant and there was some confusion about apps at first and then drinks and then she waited forever to take our order.  I know we were a large group so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I advise you to not stop here if you are in a hurry (just in case).  If this place dropped their prices by like $5 and got better servers, this restaurant would be bumpin’.  But I mean, what do I know? I only eat out A TON…..
3.0 for excellent food but terrible service and terrible pricing…I think I will try happy hour next time to see if it is worth putting this place into my eating routine.

Fresh and local – the new trend

Places all around OC have been popping up that sell local, organic, fresh, trendy stuff.  True Foods is one of those places, but its actually fairly decent.  Its location at Fashion Island means it is upscale and more expensive than it needs to be, but it is a great place to take clients, co-workers, or those people you want to impress.  I took my parents…
literally you can order a giant bowl of veggies…and you have to pay for it

I have been here for both lunch and dinner.  I love the fresh juices and the cocktails even though they are $3-5 too expensive.  The menu has something for any type of allergy, life choice or diet.  
thai panag curry with chicken
My favorite thing on the menu is the thai curry (I get tofu with it).  For those not into the “healthy” schtick, get the bison burger.  You won’t even realize its not beef.  The salads are a bit unimpressive, but the pizzas are supposed to be great.  If you only go to sit outside at the firepits you at least have to try the edamame dumplings – they will blow your mind!
 3.8 out of 5 salads because its a bit expensive and there is nothing that I ever crave from it.

So OC…

Fig & Olive just opened its doors a few months ago, and it is already popping with life.  It has locations throughout the nation and has gotten raves reviews in Los Angeles.  But its having a bit of trouble in OC…
 
tartlet

The food is pretty good.  It is a french/italian style that focuses, as you would expect, on figs and olives.  The fig and olive salad was great for lunch, but some of the entree portions were a bit small.  The crostinis are perfect bite sized apps – although hard to share, so get a few.  The desserts are NOT to be skipped.  I loved the chocolate souffle personally.
 
crostinis

The main issue with this restaurant is quite simply the service.  It was horrible.  I went here for a baby shower, and everyone got their food except for the expecting mother.  Who does that?!  Expect slow service when this place is busy, or even when it is empty to be honest. Decent food, but its definitely your typical “scene” in OC.  Will give it one more shot…gotta try the cocktails, right?
 

apple tartlet
3.5/5 figs for bad service, and decent food.

Boats, brunch, booze, baseball, bread…

Oh hey there weekend! Thank goodness you have arrived.  After a long week I like to usually unwind on my lovely couch with all the trashy tv I missed during the week, and sometimes sleep through the commercials or boring parts and then eventually make it off the couch to grab food, only to return again.  Well this weekend, we both should try something different.  I will be finding my way to LA but you should check out these sights…

Newport Beach Boat Show – Do you like yachts? Did I really just ask that…Anyway, Newport thinks you do and is having a event to show them off.  Fifteen bucks for adults, at the Marina Village.

excuse me…who can afford these?
Baseball Exhibit at The Nixon Library.  America’s Favorite pastime and your favorite president together at one location.  Just kidding, I like football.  But the Nixon library is supposed to be beautiful.  Wear your little league uniform and get in free.

photo cred: yelp
Wine lessons and tastings at Laguna Culinary Arts on Sunday.  For those wanting to learn about wine or just want to blow $200 on three classes, head to SoCo on Sunday April 8, 15, 22. $175 for all three classes.

National Grilled Cheese Month at Shuck.  I am sorry this is the most amazing thing I have ever heard.  Who doesn’t like grilled cheeses!!!  Enough said.

Margarita flights…that’s a thing apparently.

 Red O, the new swanky want to be Javier’s, is now hosting Sunday brunch.  And you KNOW it includes Endless Bloody Marys, Tequila Sunrises and mimosas for just $20. I’m in.

Cocktails anyone?

I’ve blogged A LOT this week.  Maybe too much for your liking.  But one last post and I will leave you with a wonderful (hopefully rainy) weekend.

This Sunday starts the beginning of OC Cocktail week.  Yeah I write a lot about booze.  Sorry…wait no I’m not.  I’m young, don’t have kids and like my booze.  The deal with OC Cocktail week is that for $20.14 you get cocktails paired with appetizers and small bites.  (See being safe with the munchies!)  For example: Wild Goose has a cocktail of your choice, a starter, and an entree for only $20!  To be honest, this might be even better than restaurant week! Whose up for happy hour???

Well look who made it to Restaurant Week…

…but then didn’t order from the prixe-fix menu.  Oops.  But I am lactose intolerant and I think I have a shrimp allergy, so the options were slim.  However, I did have a wonderful time at Charlie Palmer.


I recently met a group of girls in the area, and they kindly let me tag along to one of their dinners.  Obviously Charlie Palmer was a GREAT choice for Restaurant Week because who can actually afford it for a normal dinner out.  (Even though I ordered a full priced meal…again oops.)

Kobe Sliders during Happy Hour
The menu was only $40 for three courses, soup or salad, entree and then dessert.  Again, couldn’t eat a lot of it and wasn’t hungry enough, but one of the girls got it and it looked like the perfect meal.
bone marrow for fancy kids
We started with a bottle of wine (there were four of us drinking so it made sense), and then we all ordered our meals.  The tuna tartare looked yummy and a pretty big portion for a starter. I ordered the red snapper which was perfectly crisped and they even made sure there was no dairy in it just for me.
You come here for the service and ambiance, and you definitely are treated like a queen.  Even the way they harmonize the placing of your entree plates at the same time from the left.  For a city girl who eats at hole-in-the-wall spots, it was something odd yet exciting.  For a fancy spot, the food isn’t the best ever (go to Mastro’s if that’s what you are looking for), but for the experience it was well worth it and was a special treat.  Even though its in a mall, you would never know!
Charlie Palmer at South Coast Plaza on Urbanspoon