Five Places to Try for OC Restaurant Week

Categories: Five Great...
With OC Restaurant Week this week, and just more than 100 options to choose from, it's to separate the wheat from the chaff. I've dined at half of them, but like most people, I want to take advantage of the special pricing to check out some places I wouldn't otherwise go to. These five places are establishments I have NOT been to before but entice me enough with their Restaurant Week specials to succumb to their potential. You can love or despise them, laugh at them, or question them. After the jump is my to-do list.

1. 118 Degrees, Costa Mesa
Raw food is good food
Flickr user jhritz
118 Degrees embodies the diet I wish I could commit to with the ambiance that soothes me. Chef Jenny's menu reads divinely, but it costs more than if I walked around the corner to Native Foods Cafe. With a Restaurant Week menu on the affordable end of the spectrum, I look forward to tasting the lemon alfredo pizza with basil zucchini, spinach, marinated mushrooms and basil cheese on organic buckwheat bread.

118 Degrees, 2981 Bristol St., Ste. B5, Costa Mesa, (714) 754-0718;

2. Marrakesh, Costa Mesa
Flickr user Mait Jüriado

Belly dancers with my dinner? Yes, genie. With a built-in prix fixe menu already in place, Marrakesh might be the best deal of the five. For $20, you'll receiving some $30 options such as the tagine of lamb, roasted in honey sauce and topped with prunes. The four-course party even includes soothing mint tea plus homemade baklava. And washing your hands with rosewater before eating? A memorable meal should delight all senses, so I'm ready for this one.

Marrakesh, 1976 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-8384;

3. Medieval Times, Buena Park

Sooner or later, someone from out of town will inquire about Medieval Times or Pirates Dinner Adventure, so I'm choosing this one. It's pure kitsch and dinner theater, so make it a guy's milestone birthday or something. Go have that baby dragon chicken, and cheer for your team's knight. The only expectation I have is to be entertained like an Ugly Betty episode--and to eat with my hands. Which reminds me: bring handiwipes or smuggle in that plasticware. Or get sloshed up at the bar beforehand so you won't care about your greasy fingers. At least you're not paying full price like the couple beside you. Did I mention you probably shouldn't come here for the food?

Medieval Times, 7662 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (866) 543-9637;

4. Quatro Caffe, Costa Mesa
Gastrocast #30
Flickr user podchef

For a shopping-mall location, I walk by Quattro Caffe all the time and think about how convenient it would be to stop for a bite. If the weather got freakishly warm again, I may even contemplate its outdoor-patio dining. I just want to sink my teeth into the ravioli di zucca (pumpkin ravioli in brown butter and sage sauce topped with amaretto-cookie crumbles) because it reminds me of Pasta Pomodoro's version. Alas, they are no longer participating.

Quattro Caffe, 3333 Bristol St., Ste. 1201, Costa Mesa, (714) 754-0300;

5. The Next Door, San Clemente
Next Door.jpg

Associated with the adjacent Melting Pot, the owners opened this new concept late last summer. A selection of tapas-style offerings, lighter fare and heartier entrées offer the alternative from self-service cooking in boiling oil, you know, next door. I'm inclined to chew on the dinner menu, once I can figure out if its dragon is related to Medieval Times' version.

The Next Door, 647 Camino De Los Mares, San Clemente, (949) 940-8845;

And some basic advice for Restaurant Week: If you have a place in mind already, call ahead for a reservation. Prices like these will bring out the frugality in droves and may result in less-than-stellar wait times for your food (cough, Ecco, cough). However, be sure to tip your waitstaff generously if service met or exceeded expectations. They gotta make a living, too.

Oh, and dine with caution. It might be hit-or-miss for some places, since the OC Restaurant Week offerings might not necessarily be reflective of their normal menus. I'm not saying cut them some slack, but know this going in. If it's a pleasurable dining experience, great. If not, now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

For a full list of participating restaurants, just visit

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My Voice Nation Help

I thought your article was nice. Some people just have too much time on their hands.


I'm just happy you didn't list Taco Asylum. A nicely designed place should not have such crappy food.


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I am regretfully very disappointed with this post. You are supposed to be a food critic/blogger (aren't you?), so you should be promoting restaurants you have TRIED. The purpose of restaurant week is to discover restaurants you have always wanted to try or considered trying. Readers (such as myself) read your reviews/posts/blogs because we want to hear what you have to say about the restaurants you have eaten and decide for ourselves if the restaurant(s) you recommend would be worth to try. If you're just going to give us a list of places you have not yet tried, I don't understand the point of this article.

In addition, I can't believe out of the hundreds of restaurants listed, you selected Medieval Times as a "restaurant" (I use that term loosely) on your list...further adding that you wouldn't go there for the food. Again, you are a FOOD blogger. Any credibility you are trying to establish to your readers about your taste in food just flew out the door by suggesting Medieval Times as a Top 5 restaurant.

Finally, if you're trying to encourage our readers to eat at one of your Top 5 restaurants, perhaps select a more appetizing picture for The Next Door in San Clemente. The picture is so horrible looking, I don't even want to try the place because of it. I feel very sorry for the owners who might be excited to see their restaurant on this list only to discover a picture that looked like it was taken from inside of a trash can. If you couldn't find a decent picture, then at least apologize for the look (as Edwin has done tastefully in the past when his camera couldn't focus)

I normally let a lot of blogs slide, but this one (I'm sorry) contained too many "errors" and really crossed the line for me. I'll be sticking to reading Gus, Edwin and Dave's reviews (who are consistently on point with what I am looking for when I read OC Weekly Restaurant articles) if you continue on this path.

Anne Marie
Anne Marie

The photo actually comes straight off The Next Door's website:

I actually never called this a Top 5 list. It was a list of five places I'm curious about. I'm glad that you questioned my choices. I thought responders would give examples of places they would rather try, or places they think I should try.


Gus: I did apologize (twice) for being so harsh! I think what really set me off was seeing Medieval Times on the list. It probably brought on the same feelings you have when readers tried to defend Javier’s as the best Mexican restaurant because of the ambience, location and people watching. Though I agree that ambience and service is part of the restaurant experience, I believe most readers are reading your articles because we want to eat the best FOOD. I have enjoyed eaten at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant you’ve raved about knowing that the food makes up for the service and ambience.

Listing Medieval Times on a Top 5 restaurant list is simply a disgrace. Let me also point out that it is also taking a giant step back to the countless articles you, Dave and Edwin have been writing throughout the years to try and banish the stigma that OC is nothing but chain restaurants and whitewashed cuisine (both things Medieval Times clearly falls into...if you consider it a "restaurant"). There are SO MANY other restaurants on the OC Restaurant list that are much more worthy to mention than (insert obscene word here) Medieval Times.

Now do you understand what I’m feeling?


Anne Marie was pretty explicit in her reasoning for Medieval Times—the discount. Hate it as we may, I would agree it's a part of Orange County all of us should visit at least once, if only to witness the madness of it all.

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