With Orange County’s seemingly countless sunny afternoons and spring time making its debut this month, it’s about time to start making your “outdoor seating” request. No matter what aesthetic you’re going for or what your taste buds are craving, Orange County has it all. Here are three of my personal picks to experience the best in al fresco dining during Orange County Restaurant Week March 4 – March 10, 2018.

  1. Heirloom at the Irvine Marriott


Tucked away inside the new Irvine Marriott is Heirloom, a produce-forward community restaurant with an open-air bar area serving comforts with a healthy spin. The restaurant’s OC Restaurant Week menu is available for lunch and dinner, starting at $20. Cocktails are included on the menu for Restaurant Week, such as the Master-Planned Perfection, a nod to Irvine’s master planned suburban history. The cocktail is comprised of weller special reserve, don ciccio ferro-kina amaro, grapefruit-vanilla oleo. See the Restaurant Week menu here.

My lunch suggestions:

First Course: Ember Toasted Beets

thyme ricotta, puffed quinoa, heirloom beans, sherry dressing

Second Course: Bahn Mi-Night

pecan smoked shoulder bacon, black forest ham,
peanut butter aioli, coleslaw, pickled heirloom carrots

Third Course: Brick Oven Cinnamon Bun

butterscotch, house-made cream cheese icing


  1. Cucina Enoteca Irvine Spectrum Center


Situated on the northwest side of the Irvine Spectrum Center, across from the Edwards theater sits CUCINA enoteca. The modern California-inspired Italian kitchen is complete with a 6,700-square-foot dining room and two oversized patios totaling 2,700 square feet for outdoor dining, a retail wine shop, bar, community seating and unmatched design and ambiance.

Chef de Cuisine Tony Trujillo mans the heart of this house, infusing fresh local and seasonal product into every exceptional dish.

CUCINA’s wine list is comprised over 250 familiar names and rare, small-batch gems from the Americas and Europe, with an emphasis on Italian varietals. The dedicated wine shop allows guests to hand select wines at a retail price, either to enjoy with their meal for a minimal corkage fee or to purchase to go. The two-course lunch starts at $20, see the Restaurant Week menu here.

My lunch suggestions:

First Course: Tuscan Kale Zuppa

Second Course: Arugula + Heirloom Tomato Salad

  1. Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens


Roger’s Gardens and Chef Rich Mead have partnered in establishing a unique and sustainable field-to-fork dining experience at Farmhouse Café located within Roger’s Garden. Located in the heart of Newport Beach, the restaurant is nestled on over 7 acres in a garden-like setting. The Farmhouse offers the freshest, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create a healthy based cuisine.

During his 35 years of culinary expertise, Chef Mead has cultivated relationships with the best local farms, which allow him to offer the freshest seasonally appropriate salads and specially grown vegetables. The Farmhouse features exclusive wines, craft beers, signature cocktails and artisan refreshments. This open-air café serves both lunch and dinner, and is also be available for special events.

Farmhouse is showcasing the best of its menu for dinner, which includes a four-course meal for only $50. See the menu here.

My dinner suggestions:

First Course:

Roast Bacon Wrapped Dates
parmesan and almonds, arugula, pomegranate glaze

Second Course:

Schaner Farms Citrus and Avocado Salad
mixed lettuces, sesame vinaigrette, toasted pine nuts

Third Course:

Panko Crusted Grouper
pea tendrils, cipollini onions, roast butternut squash, Tehachapi Grain Project red fife and sonora, purée of satsumaimo sweet potato and cauliflower, apple cider molasses glaze, granny smith apples

Fourth Course:

Blood Orange Tart
rhubarb sorbet