It’s no secret that I love southern California. Orange County in particular just speaks my love language. As soon as you get off the plane, you’re bombarded with Mickey Mouse, palm trees and salty air— three of my most favorite things ever. If I could, I would move to Orange County in a heartbeat. But, since that’s not exactly in the cards for me in the foreseeable future, I rely on frequent visits to feed my hunger.
Every time I visit, I am blown away by the level of activity in these small little beach towns. There is always something to do, regardless of what floats your boat.
So, after a handful of trips to the holy grail of Disney, beaches, boutiques and brunch, I thought I’d round up a few of my most favorite spots to eat and drink.
Ola Mexican Kitchen — I obviously like my Mexican food, and Ola is no exception. Located in Pacific City in Huntington Beach, Ola has some of the best tacos ever, their watermelon jalapeño margarita packs a mean punch, and their chips are to die for. Sit outside and look out on to the water, it’ll almost feel like you’re in Cabo (almost).
Nick’s Laguna Beach — Oh. my. god. I don’t even know where to start, you just have to go here for brunch. It’s a must. Their breakfast food is so dang good and their bloodies are even better topped with deep-fried olives (yep). I’m drooling just thinking about it. Pro tip: make a reservation (you can thank me later).
Mendocino Farms — If you’re craving healthy, this is your place. I seriously die for their Avocado & Quinoa Superfood Salad. Mendo Farms is in Costa Mesa, and they just renovated the place with hanging chair swings, corn-hole and the cutest patio area in all the land. Here’s the best part: they’re opening locations in Campbell, San Jose and San Francisco. Northern Californians, rejoice!
Sidecar Doughnuts — If you follow along on my Instagram, there’s a chance you’ve seen these doughnuts a time or two. I go to their Costa Mesa location every single time I’m in southern California— and I take lots of pictures. Their doughnuts are made fresh, daily, from scratch, and you can totally tell. The Huckleberry is my all-time fave, with an iced latte. Yum.
Sol Cocina — Shocker, another Mexican restaurant made the list. Sol is right on the Newport Harbor, so you can sip your margs with a salty view. It’s a tad bit more upscale, but they serve a black bean dip with their chips and salsa, so you should definitely go.
The Deck on Laguna Beach — This place is a hidden gem (literally). If you’re not a local, it’s hard to find, but it’s so worth it. The deck overlooks the beach, so you can drink your rosé in your very own little ocean oasis. It gets packed, so if you’re going for cocktails I’d make a reservation, or try to get there early.
Gulfstream — This place is totally worth every penny. I am obsessed with their cashew kale salad, and the rosé ain’t bad either. Gulfstream’s back patio has yellow umbrellas, a fire pit and plenty of seating— if you’re looking for a nicer place to go grab a drink, go there.
Lido Marina Village — If you’re still conflicted on what to do, head to Lido in Newport Beach. It’s brand spankin’ new, on the water, and they have everything from coffee and wine bars to Planet Blue boutique (yes, please).
Wild Taco — I haven’t been, but it’s on my list. This is that total insta-worthy taco joint, with the pretty blue and white tabletops, you see from time-to-time on your feed. Go, and let me know how it is.
Cucina Enoteca — This is another place I haven’t actually been to, but if the food is anything like the pictures, I’m sure it’s fantastic. Located in Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Cucina Enoteca is the cutest little Italian restaurant and wine bar. It literally looks like an Anthropologie store, that serves food. Swoon.
And of course, anything and everything at Disneyland makes my list by default— but you can read more about that here.