Don't you just love discovering a new restaurant? A place that you may have never considered in the past but quickly becomes joins your list of go-to eateries? In honor of restaurant week, I set out do discover the unexpected; a contemporary restaurant that locals don't know about (but should), a brewery you will actually enjoy bringing the kids to, and a restaurant at a golf course that even us non-golfers should be eating at.

90 Pacifica
DoubleTree by Hilton Irvine Spectrum
90 Pacifica
Irvine, CA
(949) 471-8888

90 PacificaAnyone who has been to the Irvine Spectrum Center on a Saturday night will tell you that restaurant seating is at a premium.  Reservations at the most popular establishments book up early and 1 hour waits are the norm.  Little do most Irvine visitors (or locals) know, 90 Pacifica is just down the street and offering a nice variety of fresh American cuisine without the crazy wait times.

90 Pacifica, formerly known as Meritage, is tucked inside the DoubleTree Irvine Spectrum, just a few blocks from the busy Irvine Spectrum Center. Unless you were staying at the Doubletree, you probably wouldn't know it existed but this unexpected dining spot has plenty to offer.  An extensive remodel was just completed in November to give the restaurant an open and contemporary look, complete with a spacious bar, and new menu items with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and classic California flavors is on its way. Favorites such as pistachio crusted sea bass and filet mignon topped with fresh gorgonzola and caramelized onions will still be on the menu as well as fresh ahi tuna and the classic Brown Derby style California Cobb.

90 Pacifica food

Restaurant Week Special:  90 Pacifica is offering a 3 course New York Steak meal complete with a famous DoubleTree cookie ice cream sandwich. See the Irvine Restaurant Week website for details.

Steelhead Brewing Co.
4175 Campus Drive
Irvine, CA
(949) 856-222

Steelhead Brewery logoMy least favorite part of a family vacation is trying to find a restaurant where we can eat without having to worry about my kids being kids. I don't want to eat at a pizza place run by a mouse or the same chains I can find at home. I want great food, a local vibe, and a casual enough atmosphere that my children can go unnoticed.  Steelhead Brewery near UC Irvine offers all of these.

My children loved Steelhead Brewery for four reasons: 1. The house-brewed rootbeer flavored with hints of vanilla and honey 2. The large, comfy dining chairs 3. The huge kid's pizzas which ensure they will get pizza leftovers at home and 4. The peanut butter pie.  Oh, that sinfully rich peanut butter pie.  And while my kids have already requested we eat at Steelhead Brewery for their next birthday, I am quite certain I will be heading back on date night for an adult evening revolving around microbrews such as the University Hills Hefeweizen, Anteater Pale Ale, and U.C.I.P.A.  Portions are huge so my husband and I will have to decide whether we will be splitting a wood fired pizza, the beer battered halibut fish and chips, or the classic 100% Angus Steelhead burger. And of course, there will be peanut butter pie.

Steelhead Brewery food

Restaurant Week Special: Steelhead Brewery will be featuring a 3 course lunch menu with a choice of club or cheesesteak sandwiches and a dinner menu with a choice of gourmet mac and cheese or meatloaf. Both special menus include the coveted peanut butter pie. Check the Irvine Restaurant Week website for more details.

Oak Creek Café
Oak Creek Golf Club
1 Golf Club Drive
 Irvine, CA(
949) 653-5300

Oak Creek logoDon't you just love when you can enjoy a good meal and a good view at the same time? It is, after all, the reason why picnics were invented. The problem with picnics is that you have to prepare the food, deal with any critters trying to catch a snack, and there is nobody around to refill your iced tea.  Golf courses may not be the first place you think of when you think about dining but Oak Creek Café at the Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine offers one of the loveliest views in Irvine.

Most people come to Oak Creek to enjoy 18 holes of golf in a beautiful setting, but those of us who have no business being on a fairway can still enjoy a welcoming atmosphere and delicious meal. Doesn't enjoying a peppered ahi salad with chipotle dressing or a spicy chicken breast on a honey wheat baguette with the 9th green as your backdrop sound delightful? Don't worry, there are plenty of "manly" options as well, including the Oak Creek Bacon Burger which features a beef and bacon blended patty, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, cheddar, provolone, and a special spread on a brioche bun.

Oak Creek Cafe

Restaurant Week Special: Oak Creek Café is offering a Par 3 in One which includes the soup of the day, a small chopped salad, and a turkey melt for only $14. See the Irvine Restaurant Week website for details.

Irvine Restaurant Week is January 11-17, 2013.