Grand opening for Habana at The Irvine Spectrum is here! Monday, November 13th!  We love the Orange County staple for Cuban food in Costa Mesa.  But for those of us in south OC, the highly anticipated opening at The Spectrum has arrived.  We were treated to the soft opening in mid-October, and then returned to a hosted “Friends and Family” night; and wow, wow, people:  we have a feeling that we will be having many boozy “work meetings,” girls’ nights, and date nights at this location.  This is going to be one of our regular haunts for drinks and food.  It is tucked away in its own little oasis, away from the other expected chain restaurants in the mall.  Habana has transformed this mall space into a beautiful and romantic breath of fresh air by erecting a 1950’s style mansion.  This elegant cafe is reminiscent of old world Cuban glamour.  The interior feels airy with its high ceilings, and the cafe-styled tables are generously spaced apart, while the outdoor seating is romantic.  Habana is striving to provide a unique dining experience in Orange County – reasonable and delicious food with a fine dining flair.  Let us also sing the praises of the staff:  the service is friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. 

habana hostesses

Habana’s friendly hostesses

habana waiting lounge

Waiting lounge

habana main dining room

Main dining room

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On Wednesday, October 18th, artist Kelsey Montague unveiled her “Wings” mural in Orange County at the Village at La Floresta in Brea. Her #WhatLiftsYou project has been sighted all over the world. (Click here to see her Instagram.) Most of us have seen her wings in social media all over Los Angeles. This is most exciting for us OC locals because now we can access her beautiful creation in just a short drive!

Kelsey Montague’s #WhatLiftsYou campaign gives people the opportunity to become a “living work of art” as they pose in front of her wings and share with the world what inspires them most in life. You can see many of these photos on Instagram when you search the hashtag #WhatLiftsYou. What a wonderful uplifting phenomenon!

whole foods view

You can find the wings mural on the left side of Whole Foods Market.

kelsey montague wings oc

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Did you know that many Asian markets have awesome food courts? Take the kids and visit Mitsuwa Marketplace and eat at the Asian food court. There are two Mitsuwa Japanese markets in Orange County, the larger one is in Costa Mesa and the smaller one is in Irvine. We often go to the mini food court that is at the Irvine Mitsuwa location simply because it is closer to home, but the Costa Mesa location has a much wider variety. First, let’s start with the market.  So many options with snacks and already prepared items. This is one of our favorite places to stop to grab a quick picnic lunch; or you can grab something and bring it into the food court to eat. Asian Food Court Mitsuwa Marketplace View Post

Portillo’s Near Me: a Chicago Institution now in Buena Park

Portillo's Hot Dogs - marquee

There’s a heavy hitter in town!  Welcome to the OC neighborhood, Portillo’s!  Yes, there’s a Portillo’s near me. Portillo’s is a Chicago institution and it has recently opened in Buena Park.  We will travel anywhere for good food, but we love when our favorite places come home to our part of the neighborhood. Portillo’s is a much loved and mainstay in the windy city.  We are thrilled that OC folks can get a taste of Chicago without traveling.

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Looking for an Indian buffet? I’m always a little on the fence about all you can eat buffets; on the one hand, I’m not quite sure how long the food has been sitting out or of people serving themselves and digging through the heaps of rice or curry looking for the choice pieces of meat; but on the other hand, I love the variety and being able to make a sampler plate.  Always looking for great Indian food, I discovered Rasoi Curry Point in Tustin. I’m never looking back at another buffet!  They are located in a strip mall that looks like it has seen better days, and shares a parking lot with Cream Pan (and you have not been to Cream Pan, go now for the best strawberries and cream croissants!).  Rasoi offers an all-you-can-eat $9.99 AYCE thali, or lunch platter, that includes 5 entrees in mini bowls (yes, that’s right 5!), 2  chutneys:  a sweet tamarind chutney and a coriander chutney, raita (yogurt), rice, garlic or plain naan, appetizer, and dessert.

I go back and forth between choosing the vegetarian or a non-vegetarian meal.  They change the options so I never know what I’m getting, but that’s ok, because everything is so good.  We love spicy food and many of the dishes have quite a kick.  The service here is accommodating.  They come by often to refill anything on your platter, keeping your meal fresh and hot.  Let them know if you prefer mild and they will hook you up!  The chicken is moist and tasty in the chicken curry.  I will sometimes order the vegetarian option because I enjoy all the curry veggie options too, especially the spinach, which is rich and creamy.   The squash curry is another favorite.  Sometimes the dhal (lentils) can be a little more watery than I like, but still spicy and flavorful.

Indian Food Restaurant - Rasoi in Tustin View Post