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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for June 2017

Where to Eat Healthy Around Irvine

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Friday, Jun 30, 2017

By Ashley Burnett

In Irvine, it's easy to eat healthy. Whether you're looking for a lighter dessert, a veggie-packed entree or a fresh smoothie, there are plenty of options to satisfy your cravings-and not pack in
too many calories or preservatives. Below, we've gathered some of the best healthy eating options around the city.

Urban Plates

Sustainable, seasonal and made from scratch-all three qualities describe the food at Urban Plates. At this healthy eatery, you'll find dishes such as grilled steak salads, "antioxidant" salads
full of baby kale, celery and mint; as well as options like free range chicken. Best of all, meals -choose to add sustainable proteins or mix and match sides to create the healthy meal of your dreams.

Tender Greens

With a similar vibe to Urban Plates, Tender Greens boasts two Irvine locations and a deliciously healthy menu that typically sources from local farmers, artisans and growers. Opt for one of
their big plates-options include herb-brushed albacore and falafel-or go for one of their salads, like the salami and kale, Chinese chicken or tuna nicoise varieties. 


Paradise Bowls

Whether you're having one for breakfast or dessert, acai bowls are the perfect healthy, sweet treat and Paradise Bowls has a whole menu full of different selections. The Coconut Breeze with banana, mango and pineapple topped with granola and honey is a favorite, as is the Guava Sunrise with guava juice, mango, peaches and plenty of sweet toppings.


This Mediterranean eatery provides endless ways to eat healthy. Choose the salad or grain bowl paired with delicious protein options like grilled chicken or braised lamb. Top it off with
extra greens like cucumber or cabbage slaw and a heaping dollop of yogurt dill and you're good to go. Seasonal fare is also on the menu in the form of rotating soups (the carrot ginger is a personal favorite) and veggies. 

Avocado Café

If you're craving a smoothie or salad, this cafe off of Jamboree has you covered-especially if you're a huge fan of their namesake. Smoothies include tasty options like pineapple avocado,
strawberry avocado, banana protein and many more. Meanwhile, the avocado Caesar salad is a must, as is the albacore-stuffed avocado option. 

The Wheel of Life

For vegetarians and vegans, this spot is a natural choice. Favorites at this eatery include the Thai papaya salad (som-tom), Thai chicken salad (served with a delicious house sauce) and even the fried rice can be made healthy by choosing to eat the multi-grain brown rice version.

Vitality Bowls

While many acai bowl places try to load their offerings with extra sugar, Vitality Bowls has a strict no added sugar and no artificial preservatives policy. Trans fats are also banned, are as any other fillers used in food. So when you're munching on your Tropical Bowl (with organic acai, pineapple and flax seed) or Dragon Bowl (with pitaya, raspberries and kiwi), you can rest easy knowing you're only getting the good stuff.

Ashley Burnett is a writer and editor living in southern California. Her work has previously appeared in Locale, LA Travel Magazine, TravelAge West and various other publications.  

Filed In: Meetings

AC Hotel: Home of OC Entrepreneurs

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

Orange County is an economic powerhouse. What began as a small agricultural region with a population of less than 100,000 has transformed into one of the nation’s leading economies with a still rapidly-growing population of 3.2 million people today. All along the way, entrepreneurial spirit has fueled the engine of Orange County’s success. Irvine’s own Broadcom, Blizzard Entertainment and Allergan are just a few notable examples.

Start Up Grind Orange County understands the importance of the individual in business and is dedicated to help today’s entrepreneurs develop and thrive in the local market. It’s a volunteer organization that hosts events to help educate, inspire and connect local startup founders with  the service providers and entrepreneurs who love them. 

“Many people think that starting a business is easy,” says OC Start Up Grind leader Scott Fox.

“They think that all you need is a great idea and a garage and it all happens magically. The reality is that entrepreneurship is much harder than that.” 

Marriott AC Hotel Irvine understands the unique needs of the local entrepreneur and offers a hotel environment that makes the grind a little easier to take. Designed with creative, well-traveled, entrepreneurial spirits in mind, AC Hotel Irvine offers amenities that speak to the individual business traveler who seeks comfort and convenience. 


Distinctive meeting spaces, complimentary Wi-Fi, Hydration Stations on each guest floor are just a few of the amenities that make working away from home a little easier. Locally-inspired art and modern guest rooms activate creativity and foster collaboration. 

“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. 




So it’s only natural that Startup Grind, a global organization with groups in over 200 cities, would partner with AC hotels worldwide by offering members special incentives such as discounted preferential meeting space and complimentary beverages after a long day of networking. 



They also join together together to host local networking events like the recent Fireside Chat with OC’s leading young foodie entrepreneur, Andy Nguyen who co-created Afters Ice Cream, the hottest ice cream chain on social media. Local startup founders packed the room to hear Nguyen share his secrets of success and meet other like-minded business creatives.



His amazing story of growth and innovation is just part of the new wave of entrepreneurial spirit that will continue to propel Orange County forward as the leading launching pad for new business.  






6 Places to Grab a Slice in Irvine

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Friday, Jun 23, 2017

By Ashley Burnett

Irvine is a city full of amazing pizza places, offering everything from gourmet slices packed full of ingredients like artichokes, garlic and exotic cheeses to more casual eateries boasting pies loaded with classic toppings like pepperoni or sausage. Below we've rounded up five of the
best places to grab a slice in Irvine.

Ray's Pizza

This spot, located across from University of California, Irvine, at University Town Center is an obvious student favorite. Featuring classics like pepperoni, ham and pineapple and more, this casual eatery is the perfect place to grab a slice between classes or during a lunch break. Prices
are extremely affordable and the atmosphere is incredibly friendly and welcoming-it's not uncommon to hear regulars chatting with the cashier or for them to quickly remember your name.

Pizza 949

This spot has build-your-own options and classic flavors like pepperoni and Hawaiian. But the main standout and highlight of the menu is the special Persian-style pizzas topped with hot dogs, mortadella, mushrooms and green and red peppers. For a taste you really can't get anywhere else in Irvine, head to this cozy local favorite.

First Class Pizza

For thick crust, head to this pizza place in Woodbury. Build your own or opt for selections like the "Sweet Pig" with Canadian bacon and pineapple, buffalo chicken or "Popeye's Favorite" with broccoli and spinach. They even have a dessert pizza-the "cinni-za"-covered in cinnamon butter and loaded with icing for a truly special pizza experience.

Square One Pizza Café

Square One Pizza Cafe is the perfect spot for those looking for gourmet pies. Options include exotic choices like prosciutto and goat cheese, fresh basil chicken pesto, charred steak and even carnitas cuadradas with corn and chipotle puree. This eatery should be your go-to for unique
flavor profiles.

MOD Pizza

Create your own pizza at this fun restaurant. The combinations here are truly endless, with meat ranging from anchovies to salami and veggies from cilantro to green bell peppers. There are even gluten-free options on the menu for those who are trying to cut out gluten or otherwise

Angelina's Pizzeria Napoletana

This chic, modern restaurant sells both white and red pizzas. If you're looking for white pizza, the vegetarian and burrata versions are the way to go. You might also opt for boscaiola with Napoletana sausage and mozzarella. For red, try the margherita, caprese or even the calzone.

Ashley Burnett is a writer and editor living in southern California. Her work has previously appeared in Locale, LA Travel Magazine, TravelAge West and various other publications.  

Filed In: Dining

Find Your Favorite Drink at Irvine's Very Own Speakeasy

Posted by: Katie Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017

It’s Friday night and I make my way to the bar. The bartender looks more like a chemist as he swirls and stirs, carefully pouring and mixing to create perfection. He is surrounded by jars of colorful garnishes and house-made syrups. Behind him, vanilla-infused orange slices, are dehydrating in a small oven, soon to be part of the house sangria.  The bartender doesn’t stay in his lab for long – soon he’s out among his guests, sharing the story of each creation and suggesting the perfect cocktail to match the individual drinker.




I haven’t wandered into some swanky, West Hollywood bar. I’m at YNK, Irvine’s very own speakeasy, tucked away inside the Irvine Marriott hotel.



YNK, an acronym for You Never Know, was created in 2016 by Chris Adams of the Ellis Adams Group. YNK's mixologist, Ravin Buzzell, had been with the Ellis Adams Group for 17 years when he was asked to spearhead the project. YNK was not intended to be a secret spot, but after a marketing plan that focused on word of mouth promotion, they embraced their role as Irvine’s very own speakeasy.  The result was a hit and, what started as a well-kept secret, now sees a packed room any given day of the week.



YNK switches up its menu every three to four months with globally inspired cocktails. Currently, Buzzell is pouring an Italian-infused menu, which includes both twists on classics and experimental sips concocted by the mixologists themselves.









The Drinks


Lavender Bellini: A twist on the classic, Ravin topped the rosé and lavender peach puree with Himalayan sea salt encrusted limes and a lavender sprig.

The Scroppino: Mixed to perfection with lemon sorbet and a healthy pour of prosecco. It’s the perfect summer refreshment.


Espresso Martini: coffee lovers rejoice with the creamy combination of Vanilla bean flavors and espresso.


Aperol Spritz: At least five different people had this in hand when I arrived. Ravin decks out the drink with freshly shaved cucumber and describes it accurately as “a watermelon Jolly Rancher”.


Ravin’s Applewood Smoked Bacon Old Fashioned: This one surprised me. I’m not one for the sting of an old fashioned, but Ravin’s process of infusing applewood smoke into the drink curbed the bourbon’s bite.




These are just a selection of specialties from the diverse handwritten menu that are available until August.


Explore the whole menu here. 


YNK is open Tuesday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to “you never know”. The bar attracts a crowd of all ages and backgrounds with one common desire – to enjoy craft cocktails with good company.


Drinks range from $11-$14, with no reservations needed. If you want to bring in a pack of pals, Ravin suggests that you give him a call in advance. 



Where to Get Dessert in Irvine

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Friday, Jun 16, 2017

By Ashley Burnett

From ice cream to waffles to boba, Irvine has a ton of dessert options for anyone with a sweet tooth. If you're interested in exploring all of the city's desserts, we've put together a selection of some of the best. Read on for where to find some sweet treats in the city of Irvine.

85°C Bakery Cafe

One of the most popular spots for pastries and sweets in Irvine is 85°C Bakery Cafe thanks
to its ever-rotating selection, inexpensive prices and fresh quality. Every day brings something new to this bakery, whether it's a croissant, cake or roll. There's a reason lines often go out the door-and trust us, it's completely worth it.


Honeymee's ice cream is made with 100 percent natural honey and fresh California milk,
which is why their special sundaes taste so good. Each version is just as rich and decadent as the last, whether you order the Dear Caramel, Dear Chocolate or one of the ice cream shop's other delectable flavors.

Sweet Origin

Try some Hong Kong-style desserts at Sweet Origin, which opened its doors very recently.
Offerings on the menu include Hong Kong-style egg puffs, mango sticky rice and sago with fruits, as well as souffles and French toasts. 

Sweet Combforts

Waffle desserts are extremely trendy, so beat all your friends to the punch by heading over to Sweet Combforts (which itself is less than a month old). Ingredients include everything from circus animal cookie butter to Cinnamon Toast Crunch to cream cheese frosting. Best of all, these desserts are extremely portable so you can munch on one as you explore the rest of the city.

Courtesy of Sweet Combforts

Honey & Butter Macarons

If you've ever passed by this Irvine Spectrum shop, you know it's a popular draw. Everything in the shop is made from scratch, from the shells and fillings of the macarons to their gelato, and each cookie is hand-piped and the details on each macaron hand-crafted. Flavors include dark chocolate and sea salt, matcha, vanilla bean and daily flavors-the latter is in limited supply, so remember to arrive early.

Stax Cookie Bar

The cookie ice cream sandwiches at Stax are super decadent, but don't let that fool you-the ice cream shop actually uses tons of natural ingredients, including non-GMO, certified organic flour, hormone-free ice cream and gluten-free vegan cookies are even on hand for those with an intolerance. Beyond cookies, the eatery also offers waffles, floats, sundaes, "creamritos" and more.

Afters Ice Cream

Afters Ice Cream is a sweet sensation that's been featured by the likes of Yahoo, Hypebeast, Zagat, Buzzfeed and more and has been so successful that it has opened multiple locations throughout California. The handcrafted ice cream sandwiches on the menu come in all sorts of fun, unique flavors, including churro, mint and jasmine milk tea, so you're sure to find something that satisfies your craving.

Credit Doug Stremel


BAMBU is all about che-home-made beverages, puddings and dessert drinks. Made to order with
fresh coconut water or coconut milk, BAMBU's che is a must-try. Along with fresh coconut, try exotic ingredients like pandan jelly, longan, lychee and taro-you can't go wrong with their myriad combinations and mixes.

Ashley Burnett is a writer and editor living in southern California. Her work has previously appeared in Locale, LA Travel Magazine, TravelAge West and various other publications.  

Circus Vargas Comes to the OC Great Park

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Monday, Jun 12, 2017

Come one, come all and take wonder in the marvel that is Circus Vargas at the OC Great Park until this weekend, June 18th. Guests will get the full big top circus experience with sugary sweets, popcorn, snow cones and face painting as well as classic and new circus acts. 

This year, Circus Vargas embarks on a new adventure, Steam Cirque, under their blue and yellow big top. Jump into the world of steam punk, science fiction and exciting and suspenseful circus performances. While waiting for the show to start, kids can partake in pre-show activities in the circus ring, then join their families up in the stands or seats. The non-animal show is great for all ages with a robust mix of a traditional circus atmosphere including concessions and novelty items being sold throughout the stands, and a fun, action-packed show including acts such as trapeze, trampoline, aerial rope and a motorocycle cage; along with a journey through humour, mystery magic and more. The performers also include audience participants in comedic acts throughout the show, but it is fun and lighthearted; they know how to get everyone involved and have a good time. 

My fianceé Scott and I attended a Circus Vargas show last Thursday not knowing what to expect and we truly had a great time. We were blown away by the array and diversity of acts performed, and also in awe of how many roles each performer plays. You'll see all hands on deck to help run the show smoothly; a performer will be selling tickets at the ticket booth, to flying through the air in a death-defying act, then helping to move the sets around. You can really see how much hard work goes into this production. 

Get to Circus Vargas this week before the big top is gone! For more ticket information, click here.  

Photos taken by Feast.Fashion.Faves 

Where to Get Coffee in Irvine

Posted by: Guest
Posted on: Friday, Jun 02, 2017

By Ashley Burnett

Irvine is home to a plethora of coffee shops boasting unique drinks and great roasts, so if you're looking for some of the best cups of coffee in Orange County, look no further-Irvine has a way to get your caffeine fix. 

To that end, we've rounded up some of the tastiest coffee shops in the city below-read on
for where to get your next cup of joe.

BLK Coffee

Located on Jamboree Road, BLK Coffee offers all of the usuals-flat whites, Americanos and
lattes-as well as strong and sweet Vietnamese-style brews. Other standouts on the drink menu? Try the iced Thai tea and sea salt coffee, both popular options. Vietnamese influences extend to the menu, which offers selections like banh mi sandwiches as well as classic café fare like croissants and artisan bagels. 

Coffee Tomo

"Tomo" is the Japanese word for friend, and you'll definitely find a friendly, cozy atmosphere upon stepping into Coffee Tomo, which has a location in Culver Plaza. This café offers staples like cold brew coffee alongside unique selections like a sweet potato latte and red bean latte, as well as an array of teas. Their pretzels are also a must-try and come in fun flavors like red bean
and cheese, jalapeño and cheese, and more.

Cielo Coffee

If you're a fan of ice blended coffee drinks, head over to Cielo Coffee. Housed in Parkview
Center, its menu is full of tasty flavor options such as cookies and creme, double chocolate chip and chocolate mint chip. If you're more of a traditionalist, the café also boasts classic espresso drinks as well as options like an almond milk latte and even a sugar-free version.

85°C Bakery Cafe

You need only take a look at the lines that sometimes form at 85°C to know that this Diamond Jamboree bakery is a popular draw. While part of that is all of the delicious pastries, plenty of guests show up just to try their coffee and tea drinks. Their most popular is the iced sea salt coffee, but you can also find iced sea salt coffee smoothies, macchiatos and a wide variety of lattes on the menu. Of course, they all pair perfectly with the myriad desserts on hand.

 Photo credit Doug Stremel

Sootha Coffee

For 100 percent organic coffee, Sootha Coffee should be your choice. Enjoy a variety of
flavored lattes and ice blended drinks alongside mochas, macchiatos and more at this Irvine Boulevard café. What makes this space truly unique is the fact that is also boasts a conference room for those looking to study or work in peace while also sipping on some tasty brews.  

Station Café

Serving Stumptown Coffee, Station Cafe is a must for coffee aficionados. Try Stumptown's brew by itself or opt for one of their tasty blended drinks. The drinks are the perfect complement for café's other menu offerings, like the Denver panini with black forest ham or the turkey and cheese sandwich. All in all, this Barranca Parkway cafe is a great place to spend a couple of hours.

KRISP Fresh Living

Alongside Illy coffee, you'll find cool creations at KRISP like the Nutella madeleine latte, blueberry matcha latte, pistachio rose latte and more. A relatively new addition to Irvine's cafe scene (it's located on Michelson Drive), KRISP is a must not just for its unique selections but also its healthy fare like acai bowls and wraps.

Ashley Burnett is a writer and editor living in southern California. Her work has previously appeared in Locale, LA Travel Magazine, TravelAge West and various other publications.  

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