Costa Mesa, CA, USA

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Fun and food for an active getaway in Costa Mesa

Posted on December 24, 2019 | 12:10pm

It’s the start of a new year, and a new decade. Whether you’re ready to tackle those resolutions, or just want to get healthy after the holidays, here is your curated list for an active getaway to Costa Mesa that’s still full of fun and food! Our holiday hotel deals are available until January 15.

Fun 

Fairview Park

There’s no shortage of hiking trails in Orange County, but we’re partial to Fairview Park. Costa Mesa’s largest park includes 7 miles of scenic trails for hiking, running, biking and even horseback riding. The 208-acre park also features a forested sanctuary, open fields and hills. You’ll find plenty to do, including the Goat Hill Junction Railroad, offering free model train rides on the third weekend of each month.

Photo courtesy of Rockreation

Rockreation

Orange County’s best indoor climbing facility, Rockreation, features 12,000 square feet of climbing terrain. It includes varying angles, top-rope climbing and bouldering. It’s a great environment for first timers to seasoned climbers. The only thing you need is workout clothes and Rockreation will provide the rest. You’ll also find exercise machines, cardio equipment and weights. 

Surf lessons

What could be more synonymous with California than surfing? Take a short drive from your hotel to the beach for surfing lessons. Surf schools offer group and private instruction, with wet suits and boards provided. Lessons are, typically, about 2 hours. You’ll be catching a wave in no time.

Photo courtesy of Pedego Electric Bike Tours

Pedego Electric Bike Tours

Head over to nearby Corona Del Mar where Pedego Electric Bike Tours offers a guided bike tour through Corona Del Mar, Balboa Island & Balboa Peninsula. You’ll see highlights of the area, including the quaint shops of Balboa Island to the stunning view of the ocean. You can also rent bikes in 2-hour, 3-hour or all day options, if you’d prefer taking your own path or want to follow our Costa Mesa Bike Route.

Costa Mesa Art Walk

Take in the City of the Arts by following our Costa Mesa Art Walk. The art walk showcases the free public art located around Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory and South Coast Plaza. Continue your art tour by walking to Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), across the street from South Coast Plaza. Stay within walking distance at Avenue of the Arts, The Westin South Coast Plaza or Costa Mesa Marriott.

Tavern + Bowl

End your trip with a fun night of bowling at Tavern + Bowl at Triangle Square. You can reserve one of their state-of-the-art bowling lanes for up to 6 people, starting at $35 per hour. Online reservations are available as early as 1 week in advance. Just make sure to book at least the day before, as same day reservations are not accepted. 

Food

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop

From organically grown produce to flame-grilled proteins, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop at SOCO & The OC Mix is the perfect stop for a healthy lunch. We recommend getting one of their delicious salads, like Zorra the Greek or antioxidant orchard. This fast-casual restaurant also has build-your-own salad and entree options.

The Den Café

Located in The LAB Anti-Mall, The Den Café offers healthy options for every meal (including brunch). Try the sunrise yogurt bowl for breakfast or the quinoa veggie burger for lunch. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options as well.

Birdie Bowl & Juicery 

Also in SOCO & The OC Mix is Birdie Bowl & Juicery. Split an acai bowl (they’re big enough to share), or try one of their cold-pressed juices. It’s a great spot to stop for a break during an active day.

Costa Mesa is full of things to do during a healthy getaway. Learn about all the activities available in and around the city for more options. For more dining choices, we have a list of health conscious dining and a full list of Costa Mesa restaurants. If you want a relaxing break, make an appointment at one of our spas. Don’t forget to also check out our holiday hotel deals before they end on January 15!

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Posted in Food, Misc, Play

5 Events for Festive Foodies in Costa Mesa

Posted on December 13, 2019 | 4:10pm

The holidays are in full swing and that means family, friends and food! Costa Mesa is the perfect place for a culinary celebration. Our restaurants continue to earn accolades, including Orange County’s only two Michelin stars. The Los Angeles Times recently named Taco Maria as #3 in their 101 Best Restaurants of 2019! We’ve put together a list of five events for the festive food lovers this holiday season. Stay for more foodie fun with one of our holiday hotel deals!

Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge

Buche de noel with coffee buttercream and cranberry sorbet
Photo courtesy of Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge

The American Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” comes to Segerstrom Center for the Arts December 14-23. If you’re planning to attend, why not make it a celebration?

Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, located within the center, is featuring an exclusive Nutcracker pre-fixe menu during the run of the show. Start with a roasted beet and apple salad with tarragon, Silton blue cheese, candied walnuts and a chardonnay vinaigrette. The entree is a pork loin with cranberry-orange chutney, baby fennel, shallots and horseradish potatoes. For dessert, enjoy their buche de noel with coffee buttercream and cranberry sorbet. Then, join Clara, toy soldiers, sugar plum fairies and more than 100 performers in this acclaimed production.

Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar

Table with steak, wine, and salad at Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar

Celebrate the holidays without the cooking. Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar invites you to join them for a 5-course holiday menu December 24-25 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dine on a first course of cauliflower soup with toasted hazelnuts and calabrian chili oil, your choice of crispy pork belly or cured jumbo lump crab for the second course, followed by a persimmon beet salad with a wildflower honey vinaigrette. There are five choices for the entree course, including lamb loin, filet of beef, half chicken, mahi mahi or beef ravioli.  The final course is raspberry mousse with basil gelée, raspberry ice cream and candied pistachio. Holiday Dinner on the Avenue is $75 per person (tax and gratuity are not included and their regular menu will not be served). Silver Trumpet is conveniently located in the Avenue of the Arts, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel.

Vaca

Paella at Vaca
Photo courtesy of Vaca

Between Segerstrom Center for the Arts and The Westin South Coast Plaza sits Vaca, Top Chef finalist Amar Santana’s Spanish-inspired restaurant. The menu changes seasonally, but they have a special menu for New Year’s Eve. Try the ensalada de langosta (poached lobster salad with avocado mousse), ostiones (oysters with a cava rose sorbet and caviar), paella de zetas con trufas (paella with truffles, bomba rice and a duck egg) and budino (coconut bodino with pineapple and rum caramel). Their regular menu is also available. We recommend sharing tapas like the canelon de pollo ahumado (smoked chicken cannelloni), vieiras a la plancha (seared scallops) and bikini sandwich. 

Water Grill 

Water Grill grand shellfish platter

Ring in the new decade at Water Grill, across the street from South Coast Plaza, in their private event room for New Year’s Eve from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. The event includes complimentary serving from their raw bar, hors d’oeuvres, dessert bites and two drink tickets. There will also be a DJ, dancing, photo booth and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight during the balloon drop. The event is standing room only, with guaranteed seats available with a VIP package. General admission tickets are $125 per person.

Mesa Lounge

Friends eating and drinking at Mesa Lounge

See Mesa Lounge transformed into a Bali getaway with their Escape to 2020 New Year’s Eve event. The evening includes passed and stationed hors d’oeuvres, entertainment, gifts, a champagne toast at midnight and more. Pre-sale tickets are $100 until December 25, general admission tickets are $150.

Want more ideas? Check out our calendar for all of the festive events happening in Costa Mesa. Our holiday hotel packages continue through the new year, so you still have time to make it an Eatcation™!

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Posted in Events, Food

One Weekend, Two Food Festivals

Posted on October 30, 2019 | 2:01pm

If Costa Mesa isn’t on your food destination list, we think it should be. It’s home to award-winning dining, including Orange County’s only two Michelin Star restaurants and was recently featured throughout OC Weekly “Best Of 2019” food and drink categories. It’s no surprise, then, that Costa Mesa hosted two events the same weekend to celebrate all things culinary.

The TASTE

October 18-19, Los Angeles Times and Travel Costa Mesa presented the 2nd annual The TASTE Costa Mesa, a 21-and-over food and drink festival that included unlimited tastings, chef demos and live music. The event was held over three sessions–Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Restaurants from Orange County and Long Beach served crowds of hungry foodies who couldn’t wait to get a taste of each dish. 

Group of friends sitting at a table laughing and drinking outdoors.
Photo by Devin Berko

Over a dozen Costa Mesa restaurants participated in The TASTE. Friday included dishes from Tackle Box, Verde Kitchen and Filomena’s Italian Kitchen. Vaca chef Amar Santana was on hand to dish out paella and chef Ross Pangilinan, of Terrace by Mix Mix, talked about his family inspiration during his cooking demo. 

Group of friends holding drinks at The Taste Costa Mesa.
Photo by Devin Berko

Among Saturday afternoon dishes were smoked salmon mousse from Shuck Oyster Bar, tomatillo gazpacho and pork two ways from 2145 Pizza and paella valenciana from Cafe Sevilla, opening at Triangle Square in December.

Smoked salmon mousse from Shuck Oyster Bar.
Photo by Devin Berko

Wahoo’s Fish Taco co-founder Wing Lam and Knife Pleat chef Tony Esnault closed out the event with cooking demonstrations, while guests dined on Costa Mesa’s Toast Kitchen & Bakery, Mesa, Descanso and Silver Trumpet Restaurant & Bar.

Two women holding cocktails at night.
Photo by Devin Berko

VIP ticket holders also enjoyed exclusive dishes from Mastro’s Steakhouse and The Crack Shack, as well as additional drink options and personalized wine tumblers.

The Crack Shack California Dip sandwich on checkered table cloth.
Photo by Devin Berko

SoCal VegFest

October 19-20, OC Fair & Events Center hosted the 5th annual SoCal VegFest. Although the goal of VegFest is to introduce and inspire health conscious living, food lovers had plenty of plant-based options to try. Orange County vegan restaurants such as Vegan by El Zamorano, plant-based fast food The Black Bean, The Donuttery and Cinnaholic served up delicious vegan treats outdoors. Indoor exhibitors included larger brands like Orgain, Forager, Follow Your Heart and Califia Farms. SoCal VegFest also included a cruelty free market, cooking demos, live music kid-friendly events and even a cupcake contest.

I'm on an Eatcation sign on desk.
Photo by Devin Berko

Whether you’re an omnivore or plant-based, Costa Mesa has plenty of delicious options for your next food getaway. From a DIY Top Chef Tour to our Costa Mesa Beer Trail, there’s something for everyone. So go ahead: take an Eatcation™.

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Posted in Events, Food

Celebrating National Taco Day, All Month Long

Posted on September 27, 2019 | 11:46am

October 4 is National Taco Day and, if you’re like us, you can’t wait to celebrate. We’ve put together a list of great places to get tacos in Orange County on National Taco Day, Taco Tuesday, or just because…tacos!

Taco Maria

3313 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Located in SOCO & The OC Mix, Chef Carlos Salgado has been receiving awards since opening Taco Maria in 2013, including a highly coveted Michelin star in June. You can find seasonal options on the a la carte menu. Summer 2019 includes tocino (pork check with piloncillo glaze, salsa de aguacate and peaches) and jardineros (shiitake mushroom chorizo with crispy potato and queso fundido).

Tacos from Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen in Orange, CA
Courtesy of Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen

Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen

141 South Glassell Street
Orange, CA 92866

You won’t see a sign if you’re walking by Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Old Towne Orange, but you will see diners lining up for this local favorite. The tacos are served on house-made corn or flour tortillas and come with a choice of black or borracho beans. We recommend the asada with red onion, grilled peppers, cheese and a chimichurri sauce, but you can’t go wrong with the newly named Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Margarita and tacos from Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, CA
Courtesy of Las Brisas

Las Brisas

361 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Las Brisas specializes in coastal California cuisine, infused with Mexican flavors. Their tacos are served on homemade corn tortillas with rice and beans. Try their sautéed shrimp tacos with pickled red onions, avocado and salsa roja or their grilled rockfish tacos with radish, cabbage and a chipotle mayo. If you want tacos at Las Brisas go early because they only serve them at lunch.

vegan tacos with purple potatoes

Taqueria El Zamorano

925 West Warner Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Stop by Monday-Saturday for their large selection of taco options. They specialize in al pastor and carnitas, as well as their homemade tortillas. What makes Taqueria El Zamorano unique, though, is their Sunday vegan pop-up, Vegan by El Zamorano. Try their hibiscus tacos with pineapple, guacamole and salsa verde.

Vegan tacos from La Vegana Mexicana in Santa Ana, CA
Courtesy of La Vegana Mexicana

La Vegana Mexicana

201 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701

La Vegana Mexicana serves traditional Mexican food that is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free. The tacos de cantina are stuffed with their house-made garbanzo bean-based chorizo, pickled chiles, carrots and shredded lettuce. They are located in the 4th Street Market.

Come see Taco Maria, Las Brisas and La Vegana Mexicana at TASTE Costa Mesa, presented by The Los Angeles Times and Travel Costa Mesa. Join us for Orange County’s ultimate 21+ culinary block party featuring unlimited food and spirit tastings, chef demos and live music! Learn how you can receive 2 free tickets to TASTE here.

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Posted in Food

7 Eatcation-worthy Happy Hours in Costa Mesa

Posted on September 23, 2019 | 10:54am

Whether you’re a local Orange County resident or traveling and staying in one of our hotels, knowing which happy hour to choose can be tough. How can you find great deals on drinks and delicious food? That’s why we’ve put together a list of happy hours worthy of an Eatcation™.

Playa Mesa margarita, quesito, and pork confit ribs

Playa Mesa Mexican Kitchen

Named “Best New Mexican Restaurant 2019,” Playa Mesa Mexican Kitchen offers up some tasty treats on their happy hour menu. Try the pork confit spare ribs with chives and a piloncillo glaze ($8) or the quesito with scallions and house-made chorizo ($6). Their drafts are $1 off, along with a wine, beer and margarita selection. Playa Mesa serves happy hour Monday-Friday from 3-6pm. They also have a “Tacos & Tequila Tuesday” with $6 margaritas and $3.50 tacos.

Old Vine cocktail and focaccia

Old Vine Kitchen & Bar

You can find half-off bar bites and $3 off classic cocktails at Old Vine Kitchen & Bar. The house-baked focaccia ($5) and the borlotti bean dip ($5) showcase Chef Mark McDonald’s Italian training. Old Vine’s happy hour is available Tuesday-Friday and Sunday from 3-6pm. There’s also a late night happy hour, also Tuesday-Friday and Sunday, from 10pm-midnight with $5 draft Hefeweizen Weihenstephaner and $9 Old Vine classic cocktails.

Wine Lab wine glass with logo and wine flight

Wine Lab

Wine and cheese lovers, rejoice! Not only does Wine Lab offer cheese and charcuterie plates ($13) on their happy hour menu, but they also serve an early-bird cheese plate ($9) until 4pm on weekdays and 3pm on weekends. All beer and selected wines are $2 off, or try the happy hour wine fight for $10.

Memphis Cafe cocktail and crab cakes

Memphis Cafe

A homestyle Southern restaurant may not be an obvious choice for happy hour, but Memphis Cafe’s extensive food selection makes it one of our Eatcation-worthy picks. Chef and co-founder Diego Velasco serves everything from gumbo cheese fries ($7) to steamed mussles and clams with andouille sausage in a tomato broth ($8). You can find $1 off drafts and $2 off wine by the glass. Crafted cocktails are $6 and specialty cocktails are $8. Stop by Memphis Cafe Monday-Friday from 3-6pm for their happy hour menu and specials.

Seasons 52 broccoli flatbread and white wine

Seasons 52

The Seasons 52 happy hour menu is not to be missed. Their small plates are just $5 and include dishes such as Kona-crusted lamb, caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon mosto and micro greens, and ginger-sesame chicken skewers. They offer a selection wines ($6), cocktails ($6), specialty cocktails ($7) and beers ($4) on the menu. They also have a glass of wine and flatbread special ($12). Seasons 52 serves happy hour Monday-Friday from 3-6pm and is located in South Coast Plaza.

Silver Trumpet cocktail close up

Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar

Conveniently in Avenue of the Arts hotel, Silver Trumpet offers a selection of their bar menu items during their happy hour. Try a chophouse slider with caper remoulade, brie and crispy onions ($3), charred Brussels sprouts with toasted cashews and cilantro ($8) or calamari with pickled vegetables and sweet cilantro glaze ($11). Beers are $1 off, well drinks and happy hour wines are $7. You can stop by Monday-Thursday from 2-6pm and 9:30-close, as well as Friday from 2-6pm and all day Sunday.

For even more great Costa Mesa happy hour ideas, check out the “Happiest of Happy Hours.” What’s your favorite happy hour in Costa Mesa?

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Posted in Food, Play