Any Favorites in or near Irvine?
Lucca Cafe http://luccacafe.net/index.html
Chef Kathy has skills and ideas in the kitchen that really work. Pretence is down and food is king. Don't forget to buy salumi and cheeses to go, the selection is great.
Pina's Bistro in Tustin (no website - none needed
)Yorba and First St.
Good homemade food by Pina herself. Italian served with love and charm by family members of Pina. This is the real deal; reservations recommended as there are only 10 tables.
Black Sheep Bistro http://www.blacksheepbistro.com/
This husband and wife team put out one of the best menus in OC and are largely overlooked. Again, pretence is gone, food is king.
Those are the more "high brow" in the area, there are however, many more low brow places that are just as great most espcially in ethnic catagories.
Sneak over to Tustin and find the land of great food.
When I used to live in Irvine years ago, I really liked Prego for their half moon pasta stuffed with lobster in saffron sauce. Bistango was also good. I like El Torito Grill too, for the freshly made tortillas and creamy cilantro pepita dressing on their salads. I'm sure lots has changed, but I think those are all still pretty reliable.
Not open for dinner, though I thought you'd enjoy at some time:
(1) Picnic s Fine Food (deli/cafe) in Costa Mesa. Open 11 am to 5 p.m.
Chef often on site to chat about cheese, wine, etc. (Closed Sundays and Mondays)
That small area around 17th Street south/west of Newport Blvd. has a few neat places to eat and/or shop.
(2) Laguna Culinary Arts Cheese and Wine Shop/Deli
(11:30 am to 7 pm Mon-Fri; and 11:30 am to 5 pm on Sat
And, have you done a "search" on Chowhound board for Irvine restaurants?
Oh, and Pascal's in Newport Beach
(intersection of Jamboree/Bristol Street/MacArthur Blvd.
There's many more good places!