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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for February 2014

Mardi Gras Bourbon Street Style

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014

mardi gras header

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of enjoying Bourbon Street's offerings with a friend and I dare say you will need to as well! Located in Fullerton, the restaurant features a unique California Cajun menu, and if you have not experienced Cajun cuisine, Bourbon Street is the perfect introduction. I've visited New Orleans before, and I was quite impressed by the restaurant's likeliness to the iconic Bourbon Street by the use of an 'outside/inside' feel through brick walls adorned with street signs and mural art, complete with windows and awnings, lamp posts, and strung lights for a festive touch. Creating the city's lively energy and celebratory lifestyle, but also and most importantly the overwhelmingly rich and authentic flavors of the south presented in a sophisticated way.

I got into the Mardi Gras mood by starting off with one of Bourbon Street's signature cocktails (carafe style), the Big Sexy; a phenomenal and fun twist on the sex on the beach cocktail and great for sharing with friends.

Bourbon Street Fullerton Big Sexy Caraf CocktailBourbon Street Fullerton Louisiana Fries

Moving on to the first appetizer, the Louisiana Fries ($12), which I must say, the word 'fries' is an understatement, was a mountain of fries topped and smothered with pulled pork, baked beans, ginger slaw, BBQ sauce, garlic aioli and pickled vegetables. This dish was perfection and is a great starter for 6 or so people; my friend and I just had to tackle the fries by digging in; per co-owner John Skehan's suggestion. As delicious as it was, we barely made a dent in the fries, but we also wanted to leave room for the other dishes.

Bourbon Street Fullerton Bruschetta
Bourbon Street Fullerton Bruschetta 2

Next, the second appetizer, Bruschetta ($8), was a slight twist on the classic dish with toasted crostinis topped with Gorgonzola Cheese, capers, garlic, and fresh basil. The tomatoes and fresh basil balanced the strong bleu cheese flavor of the Gorgonzola cheese and the crostinis gave a nice crunch; great for sharing for 2-4 people.

Bourbon Street Fullerton Shrimp & Grits
Bourbon Street Fullerton Shrimp & Grits 2

Onto the entrees, we first tasted the Shrimp & Grits, need I say more? White hominy cheddar grits with buttered Cajun shrimp, tomatillo pico de gallo and fresh cilantro were all bundled up into a savory bowl and served with 2 toasted crostinis. I had never had grits before, so these cheesy grits have me hooked! The shrimp was fresh and added great bite to the grits, and I also liked the use of Mexican flavors.

Bourbon Street Fullerton Salmon
Bourbon Street Fullerton Salmon 2

The second entree we tried was the Salmon ($18), blackened with a lemon caper sauce then served with dirty rice and seasonal veggies. The Salmon was perfectly blackened, providing enough crisp to complement the citrus and salty flavors; and the dirty rice and veggies were not overly seasoned, therefore serving as great sides for the salmon and lemon caper sauce.

Bourbon Street Fullerton Beignets
Bourbon Street Fullerton Beignets 2

Our meal was not complete without dessert! Of course we had to try the New Orleans staple, beignets!
Six beignets came out on a platter, smothered in powdered sugar (just how I like it) and served with blackberry jam and unsweetened caramel. The beignets were fried just right, and I liked the option to have the dipping sauces, but they were pretty great on their own!

Mardia Gras for Autism flyer

This weekend, Bourbon Street is hosting 'Mardi Gras for Autism', a fun (and food)-filled event celebrating 'Fat Tuesday' to create Autism awareness, with proceeds benefiting Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation. This event will be taking over the parking lot behind Bourbon Street, it is FREE, and for the entire family to enjoy. Aside from an exciting line up of live entertainment and activities, Bourbon Street will be offering their signature Hurricane drink ($1 per Hurricane goes towards the same Autism programs) as well as their full menu of New Orleans-style Cajun Cuisine including the staples; Louisiana chicken gumbo with dirty rice, rock shrimp jambalaya, Creole red beans and rice, BBQ glazed pork belly sloppy joe, and catfish po' boy on a baguette. Co-owners Larry Houser and John Skehan previously raised over $4,000 for autism initiatives during Fat Tuesday in 2013.
Don't miss out on this incredible event for an even more incredible cause!

5th Annual Mardi Gras for Autism
Saturday March 1st

110 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, CA 92832
Parking: 3 Hour Public Parking Lots and Structures around the restaurant

Join Bourbon Street for a more 'adult' celebration on Fat Tuesday, March 4th from 11am-2pm for an 'as close as you're going to get' to a full blown Mardi Gras celebration!

Follow Bourbon Street:
Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram
mardi gras beads

Other New Orleans style or Cajun to just good ol' seafood restaurants with a fun atmosphere in Orange County:

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen (Anaheim)

1590 South Disneyland Drive
Downtown Disney® District
Anaheim, California 92802
Parking: 3 Hours Free parking in the Downtown Disney® District parking lot, and 5 Hours Free when you receive validation from Jazz Kitchen (sit-down).

In a hurry or don't want to have a formal sit down experience? Try the Jazz Kitchen Express, which I had tried many a times for a beignet fix.

The Melting Pot's Mardi Gras Menu (Brea & Irvine)


375 W Birch St Ste 1
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 671-6000


2646 Dupont Dr
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 955-3242

The Kickin' Crab (Irvine, Santa Ana, & Westminster)


2740 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 851-8889
Parking: Free Lot or Structure at the Diamond Jamboree Center

Santa Ana

3611 S. Bristol St., Suite C,
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 754-8888
Parking: Free Lot

Westminster (2 Locations)

15496 Magnolia St., Suite 101, Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 892-9888
Parking: Free Parking Lot
6777-A4 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 799-7770
Parking: Free Parking Lot

The Boiling Crab (3 Garden Grove Locations)

14241 Euclid St. #C-116,
Garden Grove, CA 92843 
(714) 265-2722
3892 Brookhurst Street,
Garden Grove, CA 92843 
(714) 636-4885 
13908 #B Brookhurst Street,
Garden Grove, CA 92843 
(714) 636-4886 

P.S.- also check out OC Restaurant Week and Irvine Restaurants!

Mountains to Sea

Posted by: Wendy Haase
Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014

Recently, Destination Irvine hosted travel blogger, Elena Sonnino. Elena's interests were hiking and outdoor recreation so as the Director of Tourism Marketing, I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase biking in Orange County and Irvine's 300+ miles of on-road cycling lanes and its 50 miles of off-road bike trails.

I heard about the Mountains to Sea Trail, a 22-mile trail that runs from Weir Canyon (Irvine) to Upper Newport Bay (Newport Beach), which connects networks of urban parks, trails and preserved natural lands, however, while I am an avid runner and swimmer, I have not been on a bike in more than two years so the thought of a 22-mile ride as part of my "work" day seemed a bit daunting. Not to mention, where would I get bikes as the blogger was traveling from D.C. and my bike was in desperate need of a tune-up.

Mountains to Sea bikes

I did some searching on the Internet and discovered Trail's End Cycling Center; they offer a bike concierge - they deliver bikes and helmets to guests' hotels and provide either a guided ride or a pre-programmed GPS for visitors. I decided since this was all new to me that I would have Trail's End navigate.

Prior to, Trail's End asked me a number of questions to make certain the equipment they were providing best suited Elena's and my needs. What was our skill level? Did we want clipless or flat pedals? Water bottles with water or sports drink and what was our preference of bike, drop-bar racing or flat bar?

We met Dan in the hotel parking lot and began the process of adjusting our helmets and bike seats to best accommodate our individual proportions. And then we were off - we started our ride at approximately 9:15 a.m. on a Wednesday with minimal amount of traffic for the area and rode from the Hilton Irvine (MacArthur Boulevard) down Campus Drive to the corner of University Drive to pick up the Mountains to Sea Trail across from the UC Irvine.

My 22-mile fear was put to rest as we decided to ride from the corner to Upper Newport Bay, approximately 13 miles round trip.

Mountains to Sea w travel writer

The trail is largely asphalt with some sections of concrete and crushed rock. Much of the trail is accessible and nearly flat grades, although there were two or three inclines that made me aware of my gluts.

The Mountains to Sea Trail runs is part of the 50,000 acres of open space preserved on The Irvine Ranch. The trail runs through the Cities of Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Irvine, Newport Beach, and the County of Orange.

Mountains to Sea view of Irvine

And it's not just for cycling; we saw plenty of runners, moms pushing strollers and couples walking dogs during our ride.

It's a shame that I've lived in Southern California for more than six years and first now took advantage of this picturesque bike trail. I swear, with you as my witness, that I will bike the Orange County trails more often.

OC Blues Pro Soccer Comes to Irvine

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Monday, Feb 10, 2014

Hey Irvine, Are you ready for some soccer?

OC Blues Soccer

The Orange County Blues Football Club is bringing their professional soccer team to Irvine and the 2014 US  Pro League season is just around the corner.

On Wednesday, February 5th, the club unveiled its new team logo, uniforms and even its mascot, Super Blue, at the Wyndham Hotel in Irvine. Coaches and players met local dignitaries and members of the media as they showed their commitment to team success.  Sponsors were on hand, including Destination Irvine which was one of the first organizations to support the new team.

OC Blues Soccer

Owner Ali Mansouri relocated his team, previously known as the Los Angeles Blues, to Irvine in order to bring a new level of seriousness to his team and to the Orange County soccer community. 

Starting on April 5th, The OC Blues will play 14 home games at UCI's Anteater Stadium.

"Coming here is the result of forward momentum for our team," said General Manager Jon Spencer. "Irvine is at the center of one of the premiere locations for soccer in the U.S. We want Orange County's team to be recognized for developing players and local talent." 

OC Blues FC 

OC Blues Soccer

Team Captain Alan Russell has coached local kids and believes that a local professional team can have a positive impact on Irvine's youth. 

"We have the opportunity to be role models for the kids in Irvine," Russell said. "Of course we want to bring a championship home too."

In soccer, unified team effort results in a goal.

The goal of the 2014 OC Blues Football Club is to bring the USL Pro Championship home to Irvine.

 "We want to win," said Mansouri. "and we want to win right away."

Oc Blues Soccer 

Oc Blues Soccer

    Orange County Blues Football Club

      Season Schedule

      Ticket Availability

5 Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day Ideas

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014



Valentine's Day is only a few days away, and we have 5 budget-friendly activities to do with a special someone, with friends, or family in Irvine.

starplex cinemas logo1. Head over to the Starplex Cinema's Woodbridge Movies 5 for $2 Matinee before 6pm, $3 after 6pm, and $4 all-day 3D movies. 

4626 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, CA, 92604
Movieline: 949-733-0980  

2. If you have your own bikes, pack a picnic and head over to Irvine's North Lake in Woodbridge for a ride around the lake ending in a lovely picnic lunch! If you don't have bikes, you can rent an electric bike from Pedego for some extra pep. They are located right by a bike trail, perfect!  And if you're not really into bike riding at all, then you can still do a picnic by the lake or one of the many other parks in Irvine.

Pedego Irvine BikesAddress: 4624 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92604
Open daily 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Phone: (949) 274-7944

Comfort Cruiser
Hourly $14

Hourly $25

 3. Contact your favorite Irvine restaurant to see if they host a Happy Hour menu! And take advantage of discount drinks and small bites!


4. Head over to the Diamond Jamboree center for sweet treats and pastries, like the macarons from Bon Épi Patisserie & Café, Shaved Snow or Ice from Balcony California Grill and Bar, Guppy Tea House Café, and Sandwich Club, Boba from Lollicup, frozen yogurt from Yogurtland, baked goods from 85ºC Bakery Café, and more!

daisojapanlogo5. If you're hosting a small shindig or wanted to craft up a storm with handmade cards for Valentine's Day, the Daiso Japan store off Culver and the 5 freeway is perfect for party planning and craft items for an extremely affordable price. Many items are $1.50 unless otherwise marked!

Share with us what your plans are for this Valentine's Day!


Images via Pinterest, Starplex Cinemas, Destination Irvine, Diamond Jamboree, Daiso

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