Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day around the corner, so lets add a little sexy vibe in our step. What do you get when you put together a kickass local bar with a kitchen that puts out really good food? Well you get the best coupling ever: American Grub and The Swinging Door Saloon in Old Town Tustin. One of our all time favorite bars was a former bikini/dive bar, Swinging Door in the heart of Old Town Tustin. MaryAnne has been coming to this local favorite for years with her husband.
A little background to this love story. Kim Conway was a former bartender at The Swinging Door years ago until she took over and became the current badass owner. (Fun fact: She is also the owner of the Salty Dog Tavern in Anaheim!) When a retail space became available four years ago, she and her boyfriend, Gerard Montes, transformed the space into a hip, cozy burger joint. The vibe is definitely hip casual but in no way pretentious.
Looking for a great restaurant in San Juan Capistrano? Have you explored the quaint Los Rios Historic District? If you live in central or north Orange County, it is such a quick jaunt down the 5 freeway, or for a real treat, take the train a few stops from the Tustin or Irvine station, since it will drop you right in the heart of this town.
So here is our favorite weekend itinerary: take the kids to Zoomars in the morning, Zoomars is the sweet little petting zoo filled with furry guinea pigs for them to pet and feed, goats to groom, and horses/ponies and a mini train to ride. We have been taking them to Zoomars for years, and we even threw a birthday party for my son there, but it is still one of their favorite outings, even for my eleven-year-old! For a successful family outing, we always try to have something for the kids, then also something for the adults. Specifically, I like to end a kid’s activity with a good meal and a glass of wine. Everyone is happy!
Looking for Mexican food in Anaheim? You’ll love Tortilla Jo’s at Downtown Disney. If you like tequila, sit near the tequila wall and enjoy some cocktails.
MaryAnne and I love all things Disney! After checking out all the new purple merchandise that Disney just recently released – ahhhhh! – we went in search of food and drink! Parched and hungry, we looked around at the many options in Downtown Disney. Have you all been out to Downtown Disney lately? There are some cool new restaurant options that we are definitely excited to try – I’m eyeing you, Ballist Point Brewery! But for this outing, we decided on our tried and true spot, Tortilla Jo’s, one of my kids’ favorite restaurants in this area. It’s a great family and friends stop after a few hours at the park or a fun day wandering and shopping in the downtown area – so much to do in this reinvigorated area.
Sometimes I get a mean craving for Thai food. When that happens, my go-to place is Wheel of Life in Irvine. The best part for me is that it’s vegan. This is one of the few restaurants that I’ve come across that offers meat substitutes of surprisingly good texture and flavor.
Whether you are a vegan/vegetarian or meat eater, Wheel of Life is sure to please all types of palates. My family’s favorite dishes are the Pad Thai, Orange Chicken, and Beef Brocolli. For a special treat on nights when no one feels like cooking, I’ll order takeout and enjoy dinner at home. You might have to double order the Orange Chicken. At my home, that dish is the first to go! If I plan ahead, I make rice at home. On spur of the moment nights, I’ll order rice with my takeout. If you have a large family, I recommend ordering extra everything as their portions are on the small side.
Looking for a vegan restaurant in OC? I recommend Freesoul Caffe. Located in the heart of Old Town Tustin, this cozy restaurant offers an array of foods, using only 100% natural, plant-based ingredients. This includes no eggs, honey, or dairy products of any kind. You’ll discover all kinds of healthy entrees, soups, organic salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, pizzas and tasty desserts. Bring your hungry tummy and prepare to be happy!
I enjoy the relaxed vibe of this place so much. Next time I’m bringing my laptop and getting some writing done at Freesoul Caffe! It’s the perfect place to enjoy an almond milk latte and chia pudding with berries (my absolute favorite dish!) for breakfast or their colorful plate of roasted cauliflower (not pictured, sorry I ate it too fast) and miso ramen for lunch or dinner. They also have an almond milk matcha latte which is so delightful. Another delicious veggie plate is their charred brussels sprouts with Medjool dates, garlic, chili flakes, vinaigrette. Those are my favorite things to eat when I have to opportunity to go. On a cool evening, ask for their chili. You will be surprised how good all of their dishes taste and it’s all plant-based. Whether you are a new or seasoned vegan or vegetarian or one who likes to enjoy a healthy meal, this place is for you. It’s great for some quality time with a girlfriend or a date night. (Side note: if you have any nut allergies, please consult with your server. Lots of vegan foods have nut ingredients.)
My favorite!!! The chia pudding with fresh berries.