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A wide shot of a busy restaurant with diners at every table.
Bustling dinner service at Kin Craft Ramen in Fountain Valley.
Wonho Frank Lee

Orange County's 14 Hottest Restaurants, Spring 2022

From rooftop lounges to strip mall ramen that draws a crowd

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Bustling dinner service at Kin Craft Ramen in Fountain Valley.
| Wonho Frank Lee

Orange County’s robust dining scene has been on a massive roll of late, adding big-name newcomers, very familiar chefs, and buzzy strip mall finds alike. The county, some 3.5 million people strong, was already known for its taquerias, Vietnamese food, and coastal dining enclaves, but these days the region is growing in seemingly a million new directions at once. From colorful dumpling chains looking to press Din Tai Fung for mall supremacy to food halls to rooftop Spanish food specialists and ramen shops galore, here are 14 of the hottest restaurants in Orange County right now, presented geographically.

Added: ROL Huntington Beach, Butcher’s House Brasserie, Kin Craft Ramen, BluSky, Comedor, Bottega Angelina, Ramen Shack, Pour Vida Newport Beach

Removed: Khan Saab, OC Smoke Queen, Blinking Owl, Nep Cafe, Knife Pleat, Tim Ho Wan, Sapphire, Heritage BBQ, Mayfield, CdM

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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BluSky Restaurant & Bar

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Anaheim’s 12th floor BluSky is a sunny rooftop stunner, perfect for after-work drinks, Disneyland fireworks, or a weekend hangout with friends. Add in the robust Spanish menu, and this is one of the hottest new destinations to hit Anaheim in a minute.

A rooftop cafe at daytime.
BluSky
BluSky

Rodeo 39 Public Market

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The Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton is a testament to pandemic perseverance. The do-it-all food hall features a rotating collection of existing and up-and-coming talent, making it a must-stop for Angelenos on the way through Orange County.

Kin Craft Ramen & Izakaya

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This new strip mall ramen and izakaya specialist from the Kei Concepts team is turning out some of Orange County’s most flavorful new food — especially the creamy, coconut milk-infused seafood laksa ramen.

A wide shot of an orange soup with noodles and a tan egg.
Laksa ramen from Kin.
Wonho Frank Lee

ROL Hand Roll Bar

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This reborn Huntington Beach restaurant on Warner is the new Orange County hotspot for hand rolls, done in a casual style. Takoyaki, unagi donburi, and other treats round out the steady menu.

Butcher’s House Brasserie

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While meat is obviously the focus of French chef Jeoffrey Offer’s newer Costa Mesa restaurant, it’s not the only thing on the menu. Swing through on weekends for steak at dinner, or in the daytime for a colorful, breezy brunch.

Paradise Dynasty

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Fans are still running to South Coast Plaza for a taste of Paradise Dynasty (and downstairs sister project Le Shrimp Ramen). The airy upstairs room is home to this Singaporean chain’s classic dumplings and bao creations, all made by hand from a glassed-in corner of the kitchen.

Paradise Dynasty’s multi-colored soup dumplings in a tray.
Paradise Dynasty dumplings
Paradise Dynasty [official]

Porch & Swing

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As the name implies, Irvine’s Porch & Swing is all about living the slow Southern life, with a focus on the lowcountry cuisine of the Carolinas.

Noted vegan chef Matthew Kenney hit Costa Mesa with Veg’d last year, converting a former Del Taco into a drive-thru destination for casual plant-based snacks like breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and bowls. 

The Veg’d plant bowl with grilled vegetables, avocado, toasted almonds, and dressing in Costa Mesa, California.
A bowl from Veg’d
Courtesy of Matthew Kenney Cuisine

Pour Vida Tortillas & Taps

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Chef Jimmy Martinez and crew have taken over an unassuming office park space in Newport Beach, playing the taco and craft beer its (as they have in Anaheim for years) to a whole new audience. Thankfully the roll-up doors and infectious energy in the new dining room keep the meals here feeling fun and light.

Rye Goods

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For morning buns, big loaves of crusty bread, and pastry of all sorts, get to Rye Goods at Lido Marina Village as soon as possible. This former underground bread operation has gone legit, and now fans are lining up on weekends for a taste.

A split loaf of dark brown bread on slate.
Bread from Rye Goods
Rye Goods

Fable & Spirit

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One of Newport Beach’s more recent hits is Fable & Spirit, an upscale dinner and brunch spot that leans into Irish, Italian, and California flavors. There’s Guinness brown bread to start, alongside fish and chips, wood-fired pizzettas, and lots of vegetables and salads — plus cocktails and wine, naturally.

Comedor

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Chef Marcel Vigneron launched Laguna Beach’s Comedor last year as a Spanish specialist that leans into tapas, paella, and plenty of cocktails and wine.

A tilted overhead shot of a deep red table filled with Spanish snacks and wine.
A full Spanish spread at Comedor.
Comedor

Ramen Shack

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Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack is the talk of San Juan Capistrano at the moment. The chef, famous for his Ramen Burger, is now offering lunch through dinner options that move from ramen to karaage, teas, and more.

Bottega Angelina

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This Laguna Niguel market and restaurant is the hottest thing to happen to South Orange County since Heritage Barbecue. Stop by for rich colors and a robust menu that includes pastas, pizzas, and plenty of wine.

A dark restaurant space with pasta on a marble table and red chair beyond.
Bottega Angelina
Andrea D’Agosto

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BluSky Restaurant & Bar

Anaheim’s 12th floor BluSky is a sunny rooftop stunner, perfect for after-work drinks, Disneyland fireworks, or a weekend hangout with friends. Add in the robust Spanish menu, and this is one of the hottest new destinations to hit Anaheim in a minute.

A rooftop cafe at daytime.
BluSky
BluSky

Rodeo 39 Public Market

The Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton is a testament to pandemic perseverance. The do-it-all food hall features a rotating collection of existing and up-and-coming talent, making it a must-stop for Angelenos on the way through Orange County.

Kin Craft Ramen & Izakaya

This new strip mall ramen and izakaya specialist from the Kei Concepts team is turning out some of Orange County’s most flavorful new food — especially the creamy, coconut milk-infused seafood laksa ramen.

A wide shot of an orange soup with noodles and a tan egg.
Laksa ramen from Kin.
Wonho Frank Lee

ROL Hand Roll Bar

This reborn Huntington Beach restaurant on Warner is the new Orange County hotspot for hand rolls, done in a casual style. Takoyaki, unagi donburi, and other treats round out the steady menu.

Butcher’s House Brasserie

While meat is obviously the focus of French chef Jeoffrey Offer’s newer Costa Mesa restaurant, it’s not the only thing on the menu. Swing through on weekends for steak at dinner, or in the daytime for a colorful, breezy brunch.

Paradise Dynasty

Fans are still running to South Coast Plaza for a taste of Paradise Dynasty (and downstairs sister project Le Shrimp Ramen). The airy upstairs room is home to this Singaporean chain’s classic dumplings and bao creations, all made by hand from a glassed-in corner of the kitchen.

Paradise Dynasty’s multi-colored soup dumplings in a tray.
Paradise Dynasty dumplings
Paradise Dynasty [official]

Porch & Swing

As the name implies, Irvine’s Porch & Swing is all about living the slow Southern life, with a focus on the lowcountry cuisine of the Carolinas.

Veg'D

Noted vegan chef Matthew Kenney hit Costa Mesa with Veg’d last year, converting a former Del Taco into a drive-thru destination for casual plant-based snacks like breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and bowls. 

The Veg’d plant bowl with grilled vegetables, avocado, toasted almonds, and dressing in Costa Mesa, California.
A bowl from Veg’d
Courtesy of Matthew Kenney Cuisine

Pour Vida Tortillas & Taps

Chef Jimmy Martinez and crew have taken over an unassuming office park space in Newport Beach, playing the taco and craft beer its (as they have in Anaheim for years) to a whole new audience. Thankfully the roll-up doors and infectious energy in the new dining room keep the meals here feeling fun and light.

Rye Goods

For morning buns, big loaves of crusty bread, and pastry of all sorts, get to Rye Goods at Lido Marina Village as soon as possible. This former underground bread operation has gone legit, and now fans are lining up on weekends for a taste.

A split loaf of dark brown bread on slate.
Bread from Rye Goods
Rye Goods

Fable & Spirit

One of Newport Beach’s more recent hits is Fable & Spirit, an upscale dinner and brunch spot that leans into Irish, Italian, and California flavors. There’s Guinness brown bread to start, alongside fish and chips, wood-fired pizzettas, and lots of vegetables and salads — plus cocktails and wine, naturally.

Comedor

Chef Marcel Vigneron launched Laguna Beach’s Comedor last year as a Spanish specialist that leans into tapas, paella, and plenty of cocktails and wine.

A tilted overhead shot of a deep red table filled with Spanish snacks and wine.
A full Spanish spread at Comedor.
Comedor

Ramen Shack

Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack is the talk of San Juan Capistrano at the moment. The chef, famous for his Ramen Burger, is now offering lunch through dinner options that move from ramen to karaage, teas, and more.

Bottega Angelina

This Laguna Niguel market and restaurant is the hottest thing to happen to South Orange County since Heritage Barbecue. Stop by for rich colors and a robust menu that includes pastas, pizzas, and plenty of wine.

A dark restaurant space with pasta on a marble table and red chair beyond.
Bottega Angelina
Andrea D’Agosto

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