Irvine, CA, has a plenty of reasons to be full of foodies: it’s smack in the middle of California’s rich food belt, with easy access to fresh foods, local wineries, and a growing season that keeps things like fresh pomegranates available nearly year round. Add the students at the University of California at Irvine’s Sustainable Agriculture program to the mix, and you have a city ripe for some incredible cuisine. If you are moving to Irvine, we’ll help you narrow your search: here is a list of some of Irvine’s best restaurants so you can start eating your way across town.
[Photo: Miyabi Shabu]
Locals agree: this is really the only place to go in Orange County for a good hot pot or shabu-style meal. Everything for your shabu is made traditionally on the spot, as you choose your broth, meat, and whatever add-ons you’d like — including unlimited green veggies. That means the food is fresh, and you can be assured the ingredients are simple but delicious because you assembled it yourself. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike can expect to leave Miyabi satiated and full without feeling heavy!
85°C Bakery Cafe
No foodie list is complete without a patisserie. The lines at 85 Degrees have been quite something since day one, but that ensures that the baked goods are always fresh and fortunately the lines move quickly. The assortment of options is always interesting and flavorful, and you can satisfy both your sweet and savory cravings as well as get your daily caffeine – we hear the Sea Salt Coffee is excellent. As many a local will tell you, this places is dangerous — your eyes just might be a lot bigger than your stomach.
You haven’t had Brazilian steak until you’ve had it served on swords by sash-wearing servers. Carnivores will find themselves wide-eyed at the never-ending procession of beef, served all-you-can-eat, that continues arriving at the table. You might even forget about the buffet of sides available, with mash potatoes so smooth we hear you can’t find a single lump. The atmosphere is firey as the sixteen cuts of meat are cooked over a wood charcoal grill and flavored with rock salt… It’s an experience not to be missed, and perhaps one of the most exciting restaurants in Irvine.
Le Diplomate Cafe
Le Diplomate serves up classic sandwiches with a mom and pop feel in the University district. Lunch time will draw in quite a crowd of students and other locals alike, digging into their chicken caesar sandwiches and bahn mis. Everything is served on fresh baguettes and the menu is reflective of the multicultural university population that frequents its sandwich counter, so you can always find something interesting for your taste buds. Other lunch restaurants in Irvine just can’t compete with “Le Dip” as the local students call it, so you might as well take part. In fact? It’s so hip it doesn’t even need a website, but any UCI student can tell you exactly where to go.
[Image by Elizabeth Lee]
It’s no wonder that this restaurant has sprouted new locations all around Orange County in the past few years: it’s a cafeteria-style take on fast but healthy food. The food is wholesome with plenty of vegetarian options as well as traditional comfort food, and diners sit together at communal-style tables — so you might even make a few new friends over a made-from-scratch meal. The vibe is casual, the portions plentiful, and it might just become one of your favorite healthy and quick bites in Irvine.
[Photo: The OC Weekly]
Mick’s Karma Bar
Mick’s Karma Bar was originally envisioned as a juice and smoothie spot in the office park, but a one-time endeavor in turning sirloin into burgers rocketed them to local legend status. Most locals would agree Mick’s has the best burgers in Irvine, and they have eliminated a majority of the other things that once took up space on the menu to focus on their burgers. You can top off your burger with a house-made cocktail and hang out for a while — the atmosphere has a bit of a grunge flavor, though, so it’s more of an adult hangout than a family restaurant. (Check out the only image on the website and you’ll know what we mean. That’s Mick.)
[Image: Il Fornaio]
This is Italian food done right. With a classy, family-friendly atmosphere, a separate gluten free menu, and children’s options, this restaurant will satisfy the whole extended family. Il Fornaio is a great option if you’re headed out with a group of picky eaters, for a family birthday celebration, or just looking to sip some wine and practice your Italian at an affordable price. Don’t forget to have a look at the dolce (dessert) menu for some authentic tiramisu or gelato.
If you’re relocating to Irvine, first thing’s first, right? Start with the food. Then have a look at this blog post to find out what other steps should be top on your list. And while you’re hauling all those boxes out to the moving truck, don’t forget to be a good neighbor — no matter how excited you are to move to Irvine. Have a look at our blog post for a few tips on keeping your old neighbors happy.
Be sure to check out the most recommended movers in Irvine for your move.