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Here’s Where Orange County’s Biggest Food Critic Says to Eat This Year

Plus, Tar & Roses reopens, a Chinatown nighttime grilling situation, and some of LA’s best chefs show up for Armenia

Diners sit at Selanne Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach in May 2020, when Orange County restaurants were initially allowed to reopen at reduced capacity for indoor dining.
A server wearing a mask at a restaurant in Orange County
Wonho Frank Lee

The Orange County Register has released its annual collection of best restaurant contenders for this year, though admittedly the OC publication’s listing looks a fair bit different during this COVID-stunted year. Instead of one or two big rankings, critic Brad A. Johnson has parsed out the entire county into different dining opportunities, like late night dining or great outdoor patios. Johnson does still offer up a definitive Restaurant of the Year, but in lieu of spoiling it here, the winner can be found over at the Register directly. Hint: It’s in Garden Grove.

And in other news:

  • Tar & Roses is reopening in Santa Monica on November 4. The restaurant, like many others, has been hit hard in recent years by fire, destruction, and pandemic uncertainty, but now the team will once again fire up the grill for distanced al fresco eating.
  • Chinatown restaurant Steep is running a new nighttime setup called Steep After Dark, complete with lots of grilled skewers and cocktails and simple, savory dishes like salt and pepper fried calamari and steamed clams. The collaboration event will see Steep join forces with Shawn Pham of Tsubaki/Ototo, chef Tim Wah, and Philip Ly, head bartender for General Lee’s. The evening event runs Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for al fresco distanced dining.
  • Los Angeles-based tech startup Order For Me, which specializes in touchless, QR-based ordering for restaurants, has opened its own pop-up restaurant called Order For Me Deli. Chef Greg Daniels (Golden Bull, Salt Air) is at the helm, turning out breakfast dishes and sandwiches like the little-seen Western NY staple beef on weck. The new restaurant opens formally tomorrow.
  • Burger Lounge in Larchmont is launching a new plant-based test kitchen today, called the Real Food Innovation Test Kitchen. The plan is to use the space to roll out more all-vegan menu options that could eventually land on Burger Lounge menus across the company. The restaurant group has a similar test kitchen in San Diego already.
  • Meanwhile down in El Segundo, it seems that Vietnamese hit Little Sister is taking over the former Superba space soon, per Toddrickallen.
  • Momed is pulling together some of LA’s best chefs, including Vartan Abgaryan, Jeremy Fox, Wes Avila, Susan Yoon, and more for a charity dinner benefitting the Hayastan All Armenia Fund. The five-course meal runs $250 per person.

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