After more than 15 months of openings, closings, and general pandemic uncertainty, there’s absolutely no denying that Orange County’s dining scene is back. If anything, the area’s massive dining ecosystem never fully went away, owing in part to more lax public health guidelines and, currently, no indoor mask mandate or other restrictions in place. These days dining out in cities like Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Santa Ana, and San Juan Capistrano can give diners a sense of pre-pandemic times, with packed bars and booked-out weekend restaurants throughout the county.
The renewed dining energy in Orange County has been palpable for months, as new restaurants open constantly and press for their own place within the restaurant community. As a result, this hottest new restaurant list for Orange County is entirely new — the last time this map was updated was in 2019 — and is meant to be reflective of some of the biggest and most consequential openings of the past two years. Here now, are some of the hottest restaurants in Orange County right now, presented geographically.
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.Read More