This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the 40 days of Lent.  If you're one of the millions planning on giving up eating meat on Fridays, you don't have to give up enjoying a delicious meal with your family.  Here are some of my favorite family-friendly Irvine restaurants for meat free Friday fasting with flair.

California Fish Grill

3988 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92606 - (949) 654-3838

 Delicious fresh fish at affordable prices and yes, you can order to go. This place is always very busy. 


California Fish Grill Salmon

  Charbroiled Fish: 

Salmon, Trout, Tilapia, Ahi Tuna, Cajun Seared Ahi Tuna, Grilled Mahi Mahi, Cajun Seared Mahi Mahi, Catfish, Swordfish, Skewered Shrimp, Barramundi, Giant Shrimp.

All charbroiled items topped with our garlic butter sauce or Cajun style, fries or rice, coleslaw & bread.


 Battered Pollock, Cajun Grilled White/Fish, Seared Salmon Cajun, Seared Cajun Ahi Tacos, Battered Shrimp Tacos, Grilled Shrimp Tacos (Plain or Cajun), Grilled Mahi Cajun Tacos


Buca di Beppo

13390 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92602 - (714) 665-0800

 Not just about meatballs, Buca is delicisoso!

 Buca di Beppo

Eggplant Parmigiana:  topped with homemade marinara sauce, roma tomatoes, basil and mozzarella

Shrimp Florentine:  garlic shrimp, roma tomatoes and spinach with linguine in garlic butter sauce

Shrimp Fra Diavolo:  garlic shrimp and crushed red pepper with penne in spicy rosa sauce

Linguine Frutti di Mare:  shrimp, baby clams, mussels and calamari in spicy red clam sauce

Penne alla Vodka:  garlic, roma tomatoes and crushed red pepper in creamy vodka rosa sauce


 Ruby's Diner

57 Fortune Drive, Suite 240. Irvine, CA 92618 - (949) 753-7829

 Seriously, Ruby's is more than just burgers and milkshakes.


Rubys Seafood Combo


SEAFOOD COMBO:  Batter-dipped, golden-fried, flaky Atlantic cod fillets along with jumbo shrimp. Served with "Refillable" Fries, coleslaw, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce.

FISH & CHIPS: Batter-dipped, golden-fried, flaky cod fillets. Served with "Refillable" Fries, coleslaw, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce.

SHRIMP & CHIPS: Crispy, golden-fried jumbo shrimp. Served with "Refillable" Fries, coleslaw, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce.

VEGGIE TACOS: Warm, low-carb whole wheat tortillas with fresh lettuce, cabbage, shredded carrots, our secret taco sauce, vegetarian black beans, house-made salsa and black olives.

FISH TACOS: Warm, flour tortillas with crispy, fried, flaky Atlantic cod fillets, cabbage, shredded carrots, shredded cheese, our secret taco sauce,house-made salsa and chopped green onions.

SHRIMP TACOS: Warm, flour tortillas with grilled shrimp, shredded cheese, our secret taco sauce, cabbage, shredded carrots, house-made salsa and chopped green onions.

MEDITERRANEAN SALAD: Fresh romaine tossed with grilled chicken, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives, Feta cheese and fresh oregano in a Chardonnay Vinaigrette dressing. Perfect for a Lenten dinner if you substitute grilled shrimp for a small charge.

 TEXAS GRILLED CHEESE: The ultimate grilled cheese sandwich! Slice after slice of melting American and Swiss cheese layered between slices of thick, golden-grilled egg bread.


 Champagne French Bakery Cafe

4628 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92604 - (949) 653-6828

Feeling a little fancier?  Oui!


Champagne Quiche


Smoked Salmon Quiche:  With Herbed Cream Cheese and Egg Custard in a Pastry Shell

Spinach & Goat Cheese Quiche:  With Swiss Cheese and Egg Custard in a Pastry Shell

Tomato Mozzarella:  With Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Basil on Puff Pastry

Goat Cheese Salad:  Mixed Greens topped with Goat Cheese, Toasted Almonds, Oranges and Croutons. Served with Sherry Vinaigrette

Salad Nicoise: Albacore Tuna, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Shallots, Green Beans, Hardboiled Eggs, Nicoise Olives. Served with Dijon Vinaigrette

Parisian Salad: Mixed Greens with Candied Pecans, Dried Cranberries, Blue Cheese, Apples, Shallots and Balsamic Vinaigrette

French Onion and Tomato Basil Soups


Daily Grill  

2636 Dupont Drive, Irvine, CA 92612- (949) 474-2223

 One of my favorite places (the Bloody Marys are exceptional).


Daily Grill Salmon



 Appetisers:  Fried Calamari, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Hummus, Seared Rare Ahi, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

Baja Style Fish and Chips:  Cod fillet dipped in beer batter, served on a bed of fries with remoulade sauce. Malt vinegar and peanut cole slaw

Blackened Tilapia: Cajun spices, topped with lemon butter caper sauce and coulee of red bell peppers, served on top of asparagus and herb brown rice.

Pan-Seared Idaho Trout Amandine: Topped with toasted almonds and lemon butter sauce, served with herb brown rice and vegetable.

Cedar Plank Salmon:  with a BBQ Citrus Glaze, served with herb brown rice and vegetable.

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes:  Seasoned with Old Bay, Served with shallot white wine reduction and French fries

Blackened Ahi Tuna:  Ahi tuna seared rare, mixed field greens, artichoke hearts, carrots, green beans, almonds and red bell peppers, tossed in an Asian style vinaigrette.

Pan-Seared Salmon Burger with arugula, sliced tomato and remoulade sauce, served with grilled asparagus.

Simply grilled Salmon served with grilled asparagus

Grilled Idaho Trout served with Peanut Cole Slaw

Crab Stuffed Salmon Baked salmon, filled with jumbo lump crab, served with a whole grain mustard sauce, arugula and grilled tomato.

Grilled Vegetable Plate a medley of grilled vegetables, fresh steamed spinach, broccoli, grilled asparagus, sliced tomato and herb brown rice.


And my childhood Lenten favorite...pancakes for dinner!

International House of Pancakes

18542 MacArthur Blvd, Irvine, CA 92612 - Phone: (949) 474-446

Need I say anything more than hot buttermilk pancakes topped with melting butter? Didn't think so.  Yum.


IHop Pancakes


Now go out and have a wonderful, spirit filled Lent. 40 days of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. If you're looking for some ideas on how to fulfill the ‘good works' portion of Lent, give this older post a read. 



Terry Winkler is the founder of OC entertainment blog Enter Stage Write.