It’s been over a year since our family has lasted dined at Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza. Since we all decided to go vegetarian last summer, we have narrowed down our eating out options to our favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants. We used to enjoy the soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung. Those soup dumplings are all the rage. You can watch the dumplings being made fresh by their staff though a viewing window. It looks like a clean room with laboratory technicians in their white coats making the dumplings. We used to get so excited when the servers were heading towards our table circular bamboo trays in hand, with the steam rising out. Those little morsels were our favorite… until we gave up meat. Needless to say, we haven’t eaten there since. Until…. we had show to attend recently at the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center across the street. Whenever we were in that area, Din Tai Fung was our stop. Hmmm. “What if we had dinner at Din Tai Fung before the show?” We hoped that there would be vegetarian options there, and we were so happy that Din Tai Fung did not disappoint!

Vegetarian Options at Din Tai Fung South Coast Plaza #MeatlessMonday

We started with the Fried Vegetarian Noodles – tasty!

Vegetarian Options at Din Tai Fung South Coast Plaza #MeatlessMonday

Vegetarian Dumplings – If you know the scrumptiously soft texture of Din Tai Fung’s fresh-made soup dumplings, then you will find the Vegetarian Dumplings to be just as satisfying! 

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BEST Watermelon Margarita at Cha-cha's Latin Kitchen

The BEST watermelon margarita EVER at Cha-cha’s Latin Kitchen!  Go get one now!  All of their signature cocktails look amazing made with fresh ingredients; but our server enthusiastically recommended the Watermelon Margarita as her absolute favorite drink.  Don’t you guys love servers with opinions and good knowledge of the menu?  I do!  And she did not steer us wrong!  This was hands down the most delicious watermelon margarita ever!  I am usually a straight forward margarita gal, Cadillac or skinny margarita, on rocks.  I hate the syrupy store bought sour mixes that give a margarita that artificial flavor, and the fruity ones are usually the worst offenders made with prepackaged fruit juice or nectar.  But a well made margarita is a thing of beauty!  You can try to avoid bad margaritas by asking just a few questions.  I usually ask if the sour mix is house made, and if the mix is freshly squeezed lime/lemon/orange juices.  If ordering a fruity mix, is it freshly blended real fruit?  

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Nothing says summer like seafood and beer!  Here is a Mexican twist to that great combo:  Mariscos Mocorito serves Sinaloa style seafood dishes just down the street in Orange.

Mexican Seafood and Micheladas in the OC

If you have never been to a Mexican seafood place, then here are a few pointers and recommendations; and if you have, then come try Mocorito and let me know if you agree or if you have any other favorites.  First, you get a basket of crunchy tostada chips and saltine crackers, with a side of salsa and lime when you sit down.   View Post

We love our neighbors to the south.  Our families love San Diego and visit often.  MaryAnne recently posted a fabulous overview of the Westin Hotel and nearby restaurants.  We will continue to add to this because San Diego is such an ideal getaway for us OC folks.  Also, I lived in San Diego for several years since I did my undergrad there, so I would love to share some of my favorite local hangouts!  

Best burger in San Diego:  Hodad’s.  Go there!  Seriously.  Although there are a couple of locations, including one in Pet Co Park (there are so many good food and drink options-and yes, we will definitely share a post of this fabulous ball park).  There is one in the East Village, an up and coming neighborhood just east of Gaslamp District and Horton Plaza.  However, my favorite spot for a Hodad’s burger experience is in Ocean Beach, or as the locals fondly call OB.  It is just south of Pacific Beach, which is the more popular beach frequented by lots of rowdy frat boys and tourists.  Don’t get me wrong, PB is a fun hangout and eating destination, but OB is my kind of beach town.  Many moons ago when I was a San Diego local, OB was the quieter, local beach community with that boho, hippy vibe.  Although it has gotten more populated with touristy bars and souvenir shops, it still retains a bit of that hippy charm. View Post

Did you know there is a great Hawaiian restaurant right here in Irvine? Da Luau in northeast Irvine is one of our favorite family owned local spots for a casual meal.  It’s conveniently located in the Cypress Village Center off of Jeffrey and Trabuco just off the 5 freeway, with plenty of parking.

Hawaiian Restaurant Irvine

Aloha!

Sweet Taste of the Island!

Da Luau is great for an early morning (ok, in my case, late morning) breakfast, after game get togethers, meeting spot for Dole Whip or shaved ice, or catering for your next birthday party.  The inside seating has a Hawaiian restaurant theme that is casual and comfortable and offers plenty of elbow room. View Post