The Local List

Hungry girl looking for the next adventure.

Reverse Happy Hour is the ISH!

As we know, I have a big thing for sushi – HUGE.  So when my friends mentioned reverse happy hour and on a weekend nonetheless, I ran to Tomikawa as fast as my feet could get me there.
crunchy salmon roll with spicy tuna

 The fish here is very fresh, and they have fun rolls that fit every one’s choices.  Downside is that there is no sake/beer special, but this is a family place.  Don’t expect to do sake bombs here – it’s a classy joint.  And reverse happy hour doesn’t start until 8:30.

Alaskan Roll – skip this
The best rolls we had were the Rose Roll, the Lion King Roll, the Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll, and definitely get the garlic chili edamame to start.  Add a large Kirin, a great group of friends and possibly an uber (in case there’s more than one Kirin in your night), and you could possibly have the best night that Irvine allows.
Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll

4/5 for great sushi with a little bit of an uptight atmosphere.  But let’s remember its still reverse happy hour 8:30-close!

A great lunch spot, dinner, and even drinks.

3-Thirty-3 was always a place I avoided in college because it is where the “old people” went to hang out on a Friday night.  Well apparently now I am that “old” person and I am definitely hanging out there on a Friday.
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build your own burger and sweet potato fries

 Not only is it a fun place to people watch, grab drinks or a late night bite, it is also great for lunch or dinner.  As we all know, it’s my birth-month this month, so when co-workers offered to treat me to lunch we easily chose 3-Thirty-3.  With large booths for big parties, high tables for a group of 2 or 4, or the bar, 3-Thirty-3 can fit any group size.  It definitely gets crowded on a weekend, so call ahead. 

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view from our booth…yup on the water.
There is valet parking or you can park on the other side of Sol and walk over here.  The food is great and is a large enough menu to please all diet constraints.  At lunch you have the option of making your own burger (yup, just like The Counter), the salads are HUGE, and the chicken tenders and calamari are some of the best I have had. (especially when drunk)  And for dessert you cannot miss out on ordering the apple pie, it was crazy good.  The drinks might be on the pricier side, but just split a bottle before you cab over here…makes for a happier night anyway!
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sweet thai spiced calamari
I also have heard they have a build your own breakfast burrito and bloody mary bar that sounds really enticing, anyone tried it out before?
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breakfast burritos AND bloodys?! (pc: yelp)
3.5 for great food, lots of space (if you have a table), great drink selection but higher prices.

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.

Happy Hour at Scott’s

Once a location I never thought I would enter, I found myself at Scott’s for happy hour before Book of Mormon.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Although my friend refuses to go here (there was a health code violation issue, and lets just not go into it right now), my Aunt and Uncle wanted to grab drinks and then head to the show.

salmon spring rolls

The happy hour is decent – it is from 3-6PM.  It is a typical OC place where happy hour means drinks are only a dollar or two off (why can’t it be like the Midwest and have penny pitchers?)  and the small bites are 50% off (but they do have a $6 burger).  I got a mule which was fine, but wasn’t in the copper mug – that really irks me.  The bar area is huge and can fit many people, and has tables and chairs all over so you aren’t standing up like 3Thirty3.  The highlight of the happy hour was the salmon spring rolls though.  They were delish and not badly priced.  I would go back purely for that.

tuna skewers

3.5/5 for decent prices and really good salmon rolls

BEER! UNLIMITED! (do not disturb me)

This Saturday, Newport Beach will be hosting its very own Craft Beer Festival.  Yes, you read that correctly. 

Tickets are $35 for GA.  (VIP sold out)  All tickets receive unlimited beer samples from all the breweries as well as access to the 3 major bands performing.  There will be around 25 breweries with favorites including Stone, The Bruery, Smog City, Eagle Rock, Pizza Port, among others.  There will also be live music including Joshua Tree (Southern California’s Premier U2 Cover Band), Y Luv (melodic indie rockers hailing from Los Angeles), and False Puppet (young energetic rockers from Santa Barbara).  I don’t blog music so you can’t judge me on those bands.  Party starts at 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM, which is more than enough time to get your significantly hammered.  Make sure to take a Lyft or Uber home.

Taco Tuesday at Sol

Or should I say Slow.  Granted we had a party of 14, BUT STILL!!!! We had reservations and it still took 30 minutes to sit down.  I mean, if you can’t seat us for that long at least offer us a drink.  It was an hour before we even got our orders in.

The margs were…eh.  The service I can look past this one time, but its essentially a Javier’s menu (and pricing) without the fun that Javier’s provides (aka coug watching).  Pluses: you get beans and salsa with chips; Cons: the chips are horrible.  They put some sort of seasoning on it but it doesn’t taste like anything and is just messy.

fish taco (that they got wrong)
Tacos were pretty cheap for taco Tuesday, but they aren’t anything special.  I ordered two chicken tacos and a fish taco.  However, as we know I am lactose intolerant and so I asked for no dairy.  Oh it took them FOUR tacos to finally figure out how to not put the cream sauce on the fish.  I’m not kidding you.  I know I am a B for having dietary needs but what if it was as bad as a peanut allergy – I mean I could have sued!  Anyway, once the fish taco was done correctly it was actually really good!  Too bad it took them 45 EXTRA minutes to get it to me so I was already full on the bad chips and my two other tacos. 
if its your birthday you get churro chips…I’m serious

 I think I will wait until someone else is footing the bill before I go here again…

2 out of 5 tacos for horrible service and just mediocre food – skip for something better

An adventure in wine tasting.

I was born to drink wine.  Okay not really, but I did study abroad in Paris and then moved to SF, so I have had some good quality time learning to drink wine.  While I may have started off on the $2 buck stuff, I know how an annoyingly picky palate.  (What a snob, right?)  The one thing I will say that SoCal cannot do is produce great wines.  Fight me if you want.
 I have been trying to include more events on this page for you to try out, and for myself to attend.  One such event I attended was a Paso Robles wine tasting at the OC Wine Mart.  I was hesitant about a Paso Robles wine tasting, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The OC Wine Mart is a cute little market/tasting room with all kinds of wines, champagnes, and craft beer. 

feels just like a party at home
The owner holds tasting events every few weeks for about $25/person.  On our tasting day, it included 7 tastings and some small appetizers.  This place can also be really fun on your own.  OC Wine Mart gives you the option to buy a card for a certain amount of money (think Dave & Busters) and then choose the wine pours yourself.  You just need to insert your card, and the wines (on tap) will pour themselves.  The only downfall is a machine is MUCH more accurate than a human hand, so you can’t flirt your way into a bigger pour.  Sorry ladies…
wines on “tap”

4/5 great wine selection and fun tastings, but I really really like to talk my way into a bigger taste