There is nothing more exciting to me than having a friend or family member say, ‘I’m in the mood to try a new restaurant!’ They could just be saying it, but if they truly mean it, and you’re in Orange County, I have some ideas for taking people on a fun culinary adventure! Don’t worry, I’ll give you a breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10.
We’ll start out easy with this Instagram favorite: The Unicorn Bagel from Bagels and Brew. This baby is stuffed with birthday cake cream cheese (sprinkles included). The bagel tastes like a regular bagel, which is obvious, but tricks your taste buds a bit since it is SO colorful. You can get your cream cheese of choice, but why wouldn’t you go with the rainbow one to match? Due to social media popularity, we recommend you place an order to one of their locations in advance, but if you do choose to take your chances, their other options (including the ultimate pizza bagel) won’t leave you high and dry.
Adventure Level: 4
Because of the endless office parks, UC Irvine, and Irvine Spectrum, the city can get a little crowded around lunchtime, and this place is no exception: Fukada. They are known for their Udon and Spicy Tuna Rice (pictured), but everything on their menu is a win-win. The food itself can be a bit of an adventure for those not used to having a pile of pink goo on top of their rice, but half of the adventure is getting their BEFORE they open to put your name on the coveted wait list. I guarantee if you show up 20 minutes before they open, you still won’t be the first name on the dotted lines. It’s worth taking your chances!
Adventure Level: 5
I’ve never been a huge fan of soup or hot liquid in general (coffee, chili, etc.). However, when I discovered pho, my life was changed forever. When I found Pho 79, I felt silly for ever doubting this cold-weather comfort food. You’re probably thinking to yourself that pho isn’t very adventurous. It is when you order it with a side of Oxtail, and you MUST do that here. If you don’t, your trip doesn’t even count. Their broth is hearty and very flavorful and with the addition of all the table sauces and bean sprout, you are in for a treat. However, when you start breaking apart the side of Oxtail and adding it to your dish, you will know why this place is the best in OC.
Adventure Level: 7
This photo says it all. Yes, that is me ready to dig in to 4 lbs. of beautiful lobster on top of garlic noodles at Tan Cang Newport Seafood. This place is not for the faint of heart or the impatient. You will wait and wait and wait (unless you show up on a weekday at 4PM, which I’ve done). If you come here and don’t order this, they might ask you to leave before you’ve had a chance to sip your hot tea. Don’t get me wrong, you have to work for the meat, but it is oh, so delicious. All of the juices and flavors dripping on to the noodles made them just as much a star of the dish as the lobster. This is a great place to take a group of adventurous eaters too (many of the tables seat 8+). Other notable dishes include, Chinese Broccoli and garlic, Ginger and Onion Clams, and the Salt & Pepper Pork Chop.
Adventure Level: 9
There’s obviously too many foodventures to choose from in Orange County, but these are definitely my favorite. If you try any of these, be sure to comment and let me know what you think! For more adventures in fooding, follow me on Instagram: instagram.com/eatdrinklovejen
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If you like Tan Cang you will love Sea Food Gove in Westminster. The Salt and Pepper crab is the bomb.