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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for May 2017

AC Hotel Irvine Grand Debuts as First of Its Kind in Southern California

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Friday, May 26, 2017

Orange County's newest European-inspired hotel, AC Hotel Irvine grand debuted last week with a chic soiree of live music, tapas, signature cocktails and wine, spirits from Blinking Owl, craft berrs, Puesto tacos and sweet treats. Guests had the opportunity to enjoy the hotel's communal spaces as well as receive a tour of the rooms. 


AC Hotel Irvine, a Marriott property opened by the Pacific Hospitality Group, is the first of its kind in Southern California and located within 1 mile of John Wayne Airport, in the heart of Park Place, a thriving community of popular restaurants, shops, residential housing and corporate businesses. The hotel appealing to next-gen travelers has 176 guest rooms; beautiful open spaces to lounge or mingle in; a heated roof-top pool; complimentary WiFi, a state-of-the-art fitness room and hydration stations on every guest-room floor. For those looking for the perfect place to conduct business, AC Hotel Irvine provides three distinct meeting spaces including two intimate, audiovisual-equipped Media Salons (up to 8 people), and a 500-square-foot Meeting Room (up to 40 people). AC Hotel is a mix of innovative touches, modern design through the furnishings and artwork as well as aligning with the hotel's European heritage through their lifestyle offerings.


For seamless service, Kallpods, wireless service buttons, are provided in the public and meeting areas which allow guests to immediately request a staff member's attention. For a specialty cocktail or craft beer and tapas, take a seat at the AC Hotel Lounge bar. For a truly European inspired breakfast, dine at the AC Hotel Kitchen, I was told the croissants are flown in from France! There's also a Berkel slicer to serve up hand cut meats. For the individual needing a quick bite or beverage, the AC Store is open 24 hours and has a variety of drink and snack options. 


This new Orange County gem not only offers an elevated guest room experience to be able to wind down and get a good night sleep, but strives to provide an unparalled lifestyle experience for all guests and also catering to those that are on-the-go. 


"We've created an atmosphere that allows locals and visitors to comingle, share ideas and socialize in an environment that offers a sense of place," said Paul Maddison, general manager at AC Hotel Irvine.  

Visit the AC Hotel Irvine

Address: 3309 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
Phone: (949) 471-8710 
Filed In: History

Irvine History: It Takes A Village

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Wednesday, May 24, 2017

You may have heard the names from Irvine citizens

“I live in Woodbridge,” they say. Or University Park, or Oak Creek.

The truth is, the city of Irvine is made up a collection of smaller, sub-neighborhoods, each with its own identity and name.

Turtle Rock. College Park, Northwood, Quail Hill…

So what’s the story behind all of this “village-ness” anyway?

The New Town

Irvine was born in the early 1960’s when the master-planned community, or New Town, was a popular concept. Years of unplanned suburban growth had created an aversion to sprawling, unplanned bedroom communities with little civic identity or focus. New Towns like Columbia, Maryland and Reston, Virginia modeled this new concept, with residential, educational, industrial and recreational services that were balanced and easily available to residents. 

The sizable acreage of the Irvine Ranch provided a massive blank slate for its planners, and the new town of Irvine would be the largest in the nation. Early plans expected a future population of nearly 400,000 people.

A City of Villages

In order for new residents to feel the “sense of place” in such a populated area, the concept of villages was created. Smaller residential clusters were designed to pare down the massive size of the New Town into easily identifiable places. In his book, “The Irvine Ranch: A Time for People,” Martin Brower explained that each village would be “made up of several neighborhoods including its own commercial, recreational and educational facilities. This would give residents a feeling of identity, a place of “home” within the larger urban complex.” 
The villages would be connected by “environmental corridors” or passageways that would lead to shared, citywide services. This would eliminate intrusion from external traffic and maintain the zoning integrity of the neighborhoods. In other words, the Villages would be separated but not isolated because of the environmental corridor links. 

City planners used identifiable landscape design and a consistent circulation system of roadways. The goal was to help the individual connect with their neighborhood, rather that to feel lost in the immensity of their surroundings

A Sense of Place

Each Irvine Village was designed to have it’s own, unique residential experience.
Turtle Rock is out in the country, blending into the natural hillside. Woodbridge is a recreational village, built around two, man-made lakes. Rancho San Joaquin, a village designed to attract adults without children, has a golf course instead of a neighborhood school. 

What they have in common is their own local village shops, parks or services. These are the places where you can run into your neighbors, see kids from the local school, and make personal connections with the storekeeper down the street. 

As a result, Irvine has the benefit of both worlds: the established resources of a metropolitan city along with the familiar neighborhood comforts of a smaller town. 

For more Irvine history, visit the 

Irvine Ranch Historical Museum

5 San Joaquin in Irvine

Open Tuesday and Sunday afternoons from 1- 4pm 

Trade Food Hall Opens in Irvine This Saturday May 13, 2017

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Friday, May 12, 2017

A new food hall is grand opening in Irvine this Saturday May 13th! Trade Food Hall located in Irvine, is offering up a variety of innovative and unique savory to sweet food options in Orange County. Trade is an open-air patio space featuring a vertical garden display and crisp decor; a place for everyone to come together to enjoy good food and good company.

Taste an array of culinary dishes from pork sliders to veggie delights, fusion tacos to fresh seafood, grilled chicken sandwiches to gyros, and ramen and sushi to sweets and cocktails. You really won't know where to start (unless you're set on trying a certain type of food or vendor), but this is the place to step out of your food comfort zone if you're looking to try something new or if you're a seasoned foodie looking for the next mouthwatering instagrammable feast. 

Trade has been soft opened for the past few weeks with limited menus, but many in the community got to experience an exclusive taste on Wednesday May 10th during a preview. Some notable items to try include:

  • Butterleaf: The new vegetarian. Serving up the Signature Butterleaf Burger (sweet potato, kale, melted onions, kimchi sauce)
  • Two Birds: Cluckin’ good chicken. Serving up Bird In The Bush (Salad, salt and vinegar slaw, tomato, pickle, romaine lettuce, pickled onion, and cucumber)
  • Center Hub Bar: Your new favorite bar. Serving up The Stubborn Mule (Hangar One Vodka, Muddled Cucumbers and Mint Leaves, Lime Juice, Blueberry Syrup, Ginger Beer)
  • Dos Chinos: Latin Asian grub. Serving up Chorizo Fried Rice (chorizo, Chinese sausage, chimichurri, pineapple)
  • Megadon: Latin, Asian, and Mexican fare. Created by Hop Pham of Dos Chinos. 
  • Gyro King: Mediterranean fare. Serving up the Gyro (served with gyro meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce)
  • Pig Pen Delicacy: Pork-haven eatery. Serving up the Candied Bacon Egg & Cheese Sandwich (candied bacon, soft scrambled eggs, cheddar, banana ketchup)
  • Portside Fish Co.: Fresh seafood. Serving up the Fresh Calamari Bowl and Fresh Fish Taco
  • Sweet COMBforts: Home of the Waffle Pop. Serving up Fruity Pebbles n Cereal Belgium Liege waffle

Visit Trade Food Hall:
2222 Michelson Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612

Business Hours:
Monday - Thursday: 8am - 9pm
Friday - Sunday: 8am - 10pm 

Pig Pen Delicacy

Dos Chinos 

Center Hub 

Sweet Combforts

Gyro King


Two Birds



Happy Eating!


*All Images and information provided by 100eats, Trade Food Hall and/or their respective restaurant social media platforms.  

Filed In: Events

Show Off Your Savvy Landscaping in Roger's Gardens Contest

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Monday, May 08, 2017

The California drought is over. Yay!  But that doesn't mean we're gonna start wasting water willy nilly. We've embraced newly learned water saving skills and have started (or are considering) converting our yards to California sustainable landscaping. If you haven't jumped into the new So Cal landscaping trend, now's the time.


 Rogers Gardens in Corona del Mar is asking you to show off your wise water saving savviness by entering the Roger's Gardens 10th Annual "Orange County CALIFORNIA FRIENDLY® Gardening Contest."

 A California Friendly garden features smart and sustainable landscaping. It is designed in harmony with the surrounding environment using beautiful less-than-thirsty plants, state of the art irrigation control, and precision sprinkler heads. The CALIFORNIA FRIENDLY Garden Contest celebrates and rewards these outstanding gardens with cash prizes and other awards.

California yards have taken on a whole new look and it's gorgeous.  



California Friendly Garden Contest "2017 Best in Orange County": $1500 (1 winner)

California Friendly Garden Contest "2017 Winner": $350 (4 winners)


Contest is for residents of Orange County, CA only.

Entry & Voting: Now - June 2, 2017 at 12 PM.

 Enter here.

Top 10 Finalists Announced: Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

Judges Visit 10 Finalists: Friday, June 9, 2017.

Winner Announced: Friday, June 16, 2017.

Winners will be announced on Roger's Gardens Facebook page on June 16, 2017.

Good luck, gardeners!

Read the official rules here.     

Filed In: Dining

Unique Dining Experience at Mesa Lounge

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, May 04, 2017

Mesa Lounge in Costa Mesa is serving up a unique dining experience for guests. Every Tuesday, the restaurant hosts a Chef's Table dinner inspired by a singer or music group. The menu is specially created and curated by Mesa's chef, Niki Starr; last month, I had the pleasure of getting to attend a Chef's Table dinner highlighting Frank Sinatra. 

As Ol' Blue Eyes' music played throughout the restaurant, my friend and I enjoyed a pre-fixe four course dinner, with a cocktail pairing for each dish. My favorite part about the dinner was getting to taste chef Niki Starr's creations, as each dish has a unique and innovative twist on French culinary classics. I also liked how she kicked up the presentation aspect a bit by serving a couple of the dishes tableside. 

"For the Frank Sinatra dinner, I was inspired by the very first kitchen I worked in: French 75 in Laguna Beach. It seemed like every time I would walk through the dining room with red velvet booths, dim lighting, and an old school fine dining feel, Frank would be playing through the speakers, giving the restaurant even more of a classic and romantic feel.
This is a homage of sorts to my time at French 75 -- classic french dishes, paired with the timeless voice of Frank Sinatra." - Chef Niki Starr (source 100 Eats)

Frank Sinatra Menu

1st Course:
French Onion Soup, Short Rib, Puff Pastry
Cocktail Pairing: DO I WORRY - Bourbon, Lucano, Cio Ciaro, Sarsaparilla, Bitters


2nd Course:
Foie Tourchon, Pickled Cherry Compote, Måche, Onion Ring Maldon Salt served with Rustic Loaf
Cocktail Pairing: POOR YOU - Reposado, Aperitif, Heering, Citrus


3rd Course:
Coq Au Vin served with Cauliflower Puree (Prepared Tableside)
Cocktail Pairing: SOME OTHER TIME - Gin, Cava, Jasmine, Honey, Lemon

4th Course:
Chocolate Soufflé, Hot Chocolate Ganache, Chantilly Cream (Prepared Tableside)
Cocktail Pairing: GOODBYE LOVER, GOODBYE - Vermouth, Fernet, Irish whisky, Coffee, Egg


The month of April came to a close with the Frank Sinatra Dinner, for May, the Tuesday dinners are inspired by Talking Heads and the month of June will highlight Florence and The Machine. For the foodies out there or if you're looking for a unique dining experience, the Chef's Table dinner at Mesa is a must. Check out the Chef's Table dinners and other events here.


725 Baker St, Costa Mesa CA 92626
Phone: 714-557-6700

Chef's Table Dinner
$60/person +$25 drink pairings
Seatings at 6pm and 8pm

Mesa is located a few minutes from Irvine and is best known for it's nightlife offerings.

Happy Eating!


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Phone: 949-660-9112
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