Date Spots in Mission Viejo
What are some goods spots in and around Mission (alicia exit) for a causal date (i.e. jeans and a nice shirt)? I'm looking for something that is reasonably priced with good food and ambiance (prefer something dark but not too quite, something like Habanna in Costa Mesa). I really dont care about the type of food so long as its good. Bonus points for places that are in areas that would be fun walk around after dinner, or are close to entertainment.
I would assume my best bet is to drive to Laguna?
Laguna is always a good bet for a date, because you can walk around afterwards. Bandera's would be fun for a date. If you stay in Mission Viejo, at Alicia, there is a lovely italian restaurant called Antonucci's
24190 Alicia Pky , Mission Viejo 92691-3905
The food is great, the service is good, and the pizza's not so bad. Our family always has great dinners at this restaurant. If really casual and you're not so concerned about the food, there are lots of chain restaurants by the movie theater on Aliso. I've had fun dates at the Macaroni Grill prior to taking in a movie, but YMMV.
Tortilla Flats by the MV lake is super casual. However I suggest driving up to the Rancho Sta.Margarita lake area (TUrn right on Marguerite from Alicia) There's a restaurant called Gentiles by the Lake that has a violinist at nihgt during dinner. YOu can walk around the lake after that.
Romantic points = 8.5
Mission Viejo is very close to San Juan Capistrano, which is good for walking around afterwards. I like Cedar Creek Inn-great outdoor seating with a fireplace. Food is solidly good. There is also a new fondue restaurant down there (La Fondue). Don't know how good it is, but would be fun for a date.
In Ladera Ranch, there's Infusion, a shockingly good indie joint hiding in the glossy world of corp chains. Great martinis (of course) and super solid creative new American fare-- all with a friendly, neighborhood vibe.
For reliably good Italian, try Capriccio on Marguerite. Not fussy, just good, not tons of little ones scampering about (always a factor in MV.
Just south and right off the 5, there's Stillwater Bistro adjacent to Marbella golf course. Low key room, contemporary American bistro menu.
In the same neighborhood is Tannins, which I would avoid at all costs, though it might *appear* suitable.
Of course Laguna is packed with appealing options...
Duh, I live in Ladera Ranch and didn't even think of Infusion. Infusion is small, so if you go, make sure to get reservations. The food reminds me of Opah, and the crowd reminds me of the RSM Opah crowd. The food is good, but I prefer Opah's food. The best dish is the hanging thing w/steak and shrimp-I don't remember what it is called, but it is Infusion's speciality.
In the same center is Picante (Spanish), which has a nice outdoor fire pit. The food is on the more expensive side (similar to Infusion), and people tend to dress up to go there. I do like the food, but I've only been once and had the seafood paella. I thought it was a small dish for the price (around $30-I'm a fairly small woman and don't eat a ton, but I finished off the entire plate of paella). It does have a nice, romantic atmosphere and is a lot more quiet than Infusion, which turns into a South OC "scene" on most Friday and Saturday nights.
Beachfire is also in the same center and is probably my favorite of the the 3. Good drinks and good food, and live music on some nights. The patio is a fun and more intimate place to sit.
As for Tannins, I've not been, but have heard from many people that the food is average and the wine bar is really the reason to go. There's nowhere to walk around there-it's on the opposite side of the 5 freeway from downtown San Juan.
My husband and I tend to drive to Laguna on our date nights. We've recently been to Mozambique, which has a great atmosphere and really different (and good) food. We tried Rendezvous in San Juan, which got good reviews in OC Weekly, but weren't impressed. Food was ok, not great, and expensive. Service was also average, at best. The only thing we liked about the place was the atmosphere, as we sat in the train car section of the restaurant.
What about Ti Amo in South Laguna? It's not the far up PCH off of Crown Valley and a good date restaurant (and Italian, like Tannins).
For details see infusionladera.com -- as was mentioned by others here the place is loud-busy during peak periods (it's not a huge room), so rezzies are essential on weekends. Best seats are at the chef's counter or at the wall banquette. Opah is a pretty good comparison, as was noted. Prices about the same as well.
My take on Tannins is that the food is mostly bleh Italian, so that makes the wines look even better than they are. I'm an unrepentant wine geek and find little exciting on their list-- but they do offer flights, which is a plus. Clearly, they are not chef driven in the least. But there is lttle to compete in that zone, so they do manage to stay afloat, even busy, at times.