Foodies and deal lovers unite! Irvine's annual Restaurant Week is January 10-16 and the dining options are better than ever. Irvine is a family-focused community so it is no wonder that there are some great family-friendly dining options to enjoy around town. Once a year, I have the difficult challenge of sampling food around town to bring you some of the best family-friendly dining that Irvine Restaurant Week has to offer. Whether you are looking to grab and go something great, chomp down on an indulgent burger, or enjoy a chic yet casual night out with kids in tow, I have you covered!
3966 Barranca Pkwy
Stonefire Grill is one of those places made for busy families. Diners order at the counter and then have the option of either enjoying their meal inside the restaurant, while enjoying the beautiful Irvine weather out on the patio, or taking it to go. The cuisine is American style with a focus on grilled meats, fresh salads, and pizzas. The focus on simple food and fresh ingredients is definitely a winning combination. Especially of interest to families are the family meals which serve four or more people and include a meat (chicken, tri tip, ribs, or combo of two), salad (four to choose from), and twelve breadsticks starting at $24.99. There is also a large kids menu available with varied options such as PB&J pizza, pasta, and a kid-sized order of ribs. All come with a choice of side, including the Stonefire Grill's famous breadsticks.
I had the opportunity to sample a couple of the lunch specials being featured during Irvine Restaurant Week and have no doubt that my family will be coming back for more. One of the available specials is the 4oz tri tip and petite chicken breast combo which includes a breadstick and side for just $7.99. I was impressed with the portion size as well as the mesquite bbq sauce which flavored the meat without overpowering it.
Another option on the Irvine Restaurant Week menu is the petite salad which is served with a breadstick for $6.79. There are five salad options: BBQ chopped, Cobb, Spinach, Chicken Caesar, and Asian. There is nothing petite about the serving size, this is definitely an entree-sized salad. I sampled the BBQ chopped salad which feature the same mesquite bbq chicken that I loved from the grill along with black beans, roasted corn, tortilla strips, cilantro, jack cheese, and fresh greens and a creamy buttermilk ranch dressing. Delish!
31 Fortune Dr
Irvine, CA 92618
Who says you can't enjoy a date night worthy meal as a family? Cucina Enoteca, located inside the Irvine Spectrum, is casual yet chic, sophisticated yet eclectic, and a divine merge of Italian food with Californian influences. The vast wine selection and house-infused liquors make it a great spot to enjoy a drink before heading to the movie theater just steps away but when I am dining with my family and friends it is the inviting patio and delicious dishes which always lure me to linger longer. The childrens menu has both pizza and pasta options, served with a beverage and ever important scoop of ice cream for dessert.
I was able to sample all sorts of incredible offerings from the Restaurant Week dinner menu. This three course menu features either pizza ($30) or pasta/entree ($35) alongside your choice of soup or salad as well as dessert.
Start your meal off with one of Cucina Enoteca's appetizers or salads. I love the vasis which are mini mason jars filled with spreads such as olive tapenade and citrus artichoke hearts and served alongside Tuscan toast as well as the delicate crunch of the stuffed squash blossoms which are filled with a herb ricotta and served with a purple basil pesto and cured lemon aoli.
The pizza has a blistered Neopolitan crust and can be topped with everything from pear and gorgonzola to the classic margherita ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and house made mozzarella.
I sampled two of the pastas and fell in love with both. I am a big fan of two things, seafood and spicy, so it is no wonder that I love the spicy shrimp puttanesca angel hair pasta. The light yet spicy tomato-based sauce is dotted with green olives and capers and topped with jumbo shrimp. Yes, it is as good as it looks.
The short rib pappardelle is comforting yet sophisticated and has now my become my new favorite dish at Cucina Enoteca. The rich cremini mushrooms alongside diced carrots complimented the short rib perfectly.
For dessert, I indulged in the zeppole; Italian style donut holes filled with a heavenly nutella creme and served with a chocolate banana sauce for dipping. The crisp, sugary yet light exterior perfectly complimented the warm, gooey and oh so sweet interior. Trust me, you aren't going to want to share.
Cucina Enoteca also has special two-course lunch menu offerings available for restaurant week.
24356 Swartz Dr
Lake Forest, CA
Slater's 50/50 takes the classic hamburger and elevates it to a whole new level in the most indulgent ways imaginable. The atmosphere is 100% casual and the menu is mostly made up with burgers, appetizers, gourmet mac and cheeses, salads, and a few specialties thrown in for good measure. The kids menu allows kids to build their own sliders or opt for chicken fingers. Both choices come with a drink and a side.
Their signature patty is made up of 50% ground beef and 50% ground bacon (yes, you read that right and yes, it is as good as it sounds), serving as the basis for their signature burger which includes a sunny side up egg, avocado mash, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle adobo mayo on a white brioche bun. But that is just the beginning of the burger fun. You can design your own burger using a menu which could result in dozens of winning combinations, choose one of the extravagant burgers (peanut butter and jellousy burger anyone?) from the menu or go with one of the monthly specials. During my visit I opted to go with the monthly special, a Sriracha burger with a 50/50 patty, pepper jack cheese, grill onions, Sriracha sautéed mushrooms, Sriracha glazed bacon, Sriracha garlic cole slaw, Sriracha garlic cole slaw, and yes, a Sriracha mayo. It was one of the best (and messiest) burgers I have ever had in my life.
In celebration of Irvine Restaurant Week, the chef at Slater's has come up with an over the top menu with new burger creations never seen at Slater's before such as the turducken burger- a 50% ground turkey and 50% ground chicken patty, bacon infused country gravy, dried cranberries, and sunny side up duck egg on a honey wheat bun- and the coffee rub burger topped with its bacon cheddar cheese, grilled kale, and fresh corn hush puppies. Appetizers are equally over the top and come in the form of chicken fried bacon, Philly cheese steak poutine, Dr. Pepper wings and more. Guest can select an appetizer, entree, milkshake, and beverage all for just $15! Expect to take a doggy bag home because portions are large and you will most definitely want to savor every bite.
Disclosure: I received complimentary meals at the above restaurants in order to taste the food and write about the Restaurant Week offerings. All opinions are my own.