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Birthday Dinner in Orange County

I'm looking for a good place for dinner for my wife's birthday. There will be a group of us, so we'd like a place where we could maybe stay and have some drinks. Most of the group is in their early 30's. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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  1. How about narrowing things down... like type of food? Northern, central, or southern OC area?

    1. I'd suggest reserving the large table at Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley.

      1. What kind of food? What is your budget? Do you want a quiet formal traditional tablecloth restaurant, or a casual contemporary tapas/high energy restaurant? Need to know more before recommending.

        1. Is there really a restaurant called shinsengumi? Hahaha, cool . . . anyways, Green Parrot Cafe in Santa Ana, you will love it and you will be part of the elite Chowhound few who have eaten there . . .

          1 Reply
          1. re: apple7blue

            Yes there is and they have more than one location. Oh and the food is really good too, give it a go!

          2. If you want the ultimate birthday dinner take her to Maestros Ocean Club in Newport Coast, money.

            1. I think narrowing it down is important...

              For higher end Newport area recs, I would go with:

              The Bungalow on PCH and MacArthur

              Javiers at Crystal Cove (they do have a 2hr. max table time, but I called ahead and they allowed us to linger with drinks)

              Sage (Newport/Eastbluff location)

              Mastros (Steak in Costa Mesa by SCP or Ocean Club in Crystal Cove)

              Also, Habana's in Costa Mesa (nice outdoor setting with candles)

              7 Replies
              1. re: byeCalihelloBahamas

                Is that Sage or Sagebrush? I know what you are talking about I think. It's in the corner of the shopping complex where Ralph's is and there is Pizza place also

                1. re: apple7blue

                  It is called Sage. Not sure of the pizza place, but yes it is in a strip center.

                  1. re: justagthing

                    teehee strip center . . . I wanna go there!

                    1. re: apple7blue

                      OK, I knew I was taking a chance with that, but that is what those little outside shopping areas are called. Sorry, nothing else of the sort in that area.

                      1. re: justagthing

                        I think you meant strip mall, but if we are talking about the same place, I knew that all along, sigh . . . Imagine Sage with strippers hahaha, like out in the courtyard in the back or something . . .

                        Bistro Le Crillon is the pizza place I meant, which used to have 20" pizzas, now only 10" and 4 10" do not equal a 20" but cost way more . . . I guess they want to be known more of as a French fine dining place

                        1. re: apple7blue

                          Actually, it is acceptable to call it a strip center or mall. Hmmm...never saw anyone sitting in the back before...so that's the reason. LOL

                          1. re: justagthing

                            The range is pretty big, depending upon budget, kind of food preferred, formality of restaurant, etc.

                            Three places that immediately come to mind would be:

                            Crowbar and Kitchen, in Corona del Mar. A high energy place with a youngish crowd. Excellent tapas style menu, large selections of beers and wines by the glass, and full bar.

                            Mesa Restaurant, in Costa Mesa. Hard to find, but also an excellent, busy, high energy restaurant with very good tapas style foods (small plates) and large bar and lounge with retractable roof which creates really nice ambience.

                            Lastly, Bistango in Irvine. This is definitely more upscale than the other two. Has excellent food, in a modern environment with a large bar, and even dancing.

              2. If you are headed to South Coast Metro, Marche Moderne. If you are headed somewhere else, change direction and go to Marche Moderne. If your party is too big, disinvite a few people and go to Marche Moderne. Your wife should love it.

                We just went there for lunch yesterday after having gone a few times for dinner. The place just gets better and better. Plus, it has pretty high foodie cred.

                1. Has anyone ever been to 333 in Newport Beach Harbor? If so what's it like?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: eiglesias

                    Depends what you are looking for. 333 is certainly not one of the better places in Newport Beach. I have lived in this area for 30+ years and know the restaurant scene really well. If you look at my earlier post and respond to what you are looking for, I am sure that I can make some good recommendations. There are some excellent choices which run from the super casual, inexpensive and informal places, to rather high end, elegant and formal restaurants. If you can describe what you are looking for, I am sure I can help!

                    1. re: josephnl

                      If you know so much, he just wants to know what 333 is like . . .

                      1. re: apple7blue

                        I was at 333 for the one and only time about a year ago. It was primarily a busy happy hour scene and although the waterfront setting is nice, it did not have memorable food. Depending upon what one is looking for, I think that there are many other better choices for a celebration dinner.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          I went to 333 in August of 2007 and I have to say that I wasn't very impressed with the food at all. Decent prices and decent food. No one in my party of about 10 was wowed or that impressed by it. If you are looking for more of a scene restaurant over food then it isn't a bad choice.

                    2. re: eiglesias

                      333 is very average on the food front, the view is great though.

                      1. re: eiglesias

                        I tried every appetizer on the menu after 333 was open for a few months and I would rate the food a 6 on a scale from 1-10. I asked for an iced tea and they told me they don't brew tea and I had to buy a $4 bottled tea, I thougt they were very pretentious and have not gone back. There are many better choices in NB.

                        1. re: irishkevbo

                          Absolutely agree. If I were looking for somewhere to celebrate a birthday, 333 would be close to the bottom of the list. If the original poster would give us a clue as to what kind of place he's looking for, I am sure that there are several participants in this board who could advise him.

                          1. re: josephnl

                            he's looking for a GOOD place for dinner for his wife's birthday, for a group in their early 30s, where they can stay and have drinks, any suggestions fitting those parameters will do . . . What places would be at the top of your list?