Barclay Theatre in Irvine--Dinner Suggestions?
Not sure whether or not it would qualify as "mid-range priced", but there is Tradition by Pascal on the border of Newport Beach/Irvine which is only 5 minutes away from the theater, and it's some of the better French food in the area. Although it's located in a strip-mall just off of the 73 freeway.
I also throw out Taco Rosa, as one of my favorites for upscale mexican. The newport beach location is a little closer to UCI
There's actually not a whole lot withing walking distance of the Barclay. Are you willing to expand your range a little bit, or do you want to park once and call it a night?
There might also be some great food you're driving past on your way down here. Are you taking the 605 to the 5 to the 55 freeways?
Getting back to the local neighborhood: across Campus Drive is a large-ish strip mall. Within that, there's Britta's Cafe, which I've never had the inclination to try (just no good juju coming from there), but perhaps you can search the archives for feedback on Britta's. If you're ok with casual pub food the Steelhead Brewery makes a good bacon buger, but everything else is meh.
Down the street a bit is another shopping center (on the corner of Campus and California). Aomatsu is a sushi place that's ok. Not great, just ok, very much a gringo sushi place owned and staffed by Taiwanese,. They make pretty good non-traditional rolls rather than old school Japanese style sushi, NTTAWT. I had live spot prawns the one time I ate here, so I suppose they're putting some attention into the more expensive ingredients, too. It's probably a mile from the Barclay, so I wouldn't call it walking distance in theater attire.
re: Professor Salt
I'll give you a couple of outstanding choices on your drive down. These are all mid priced, and nice looking enough to qualify for a night out.
Renu Nakorn is Thai restaurant specializing in the rustic, funky cuisine of the northeastern region of Isaan. Right near the 605/5 intersection. Stick to the Northern specialties for the best items, as they don't put a lot of effort into the more common gringofied dishes.
You'll be right near Little India if you take the 605 further south to the 91. Any interest in Indo-Pak food?
Further down the 5 in the City of Orange is Gabby's, which is a high endish Mexican place, one of Orange County's best. They do authentic regional Mexican, but they don't spice their food unless you specifically tell them to scorch up the heat. Spice lovers will be disappointed unless you tell them that, but the heat wusses will probably love the dishes as-is. Save room for their home made churros with caramel and chocolate sauces. The storefront has no signage, so look for the Army Navy store next door. It's just south of the traffic circle on the east side of Glassell.
Tropika does Malaysian / Thai / Chinese fusion, in Tustin. It's right near the 5 / 55 intersection. Don't miss the Seabass Pangan, if you like Chilean seabass. A little spendy, but it's a huge portion that will easily feed two.
Renu Nakorn Restaurant
13019 Rosecrans Ave, Norwalk, CA 90650
17460 E 17th St, Tustin, CA
Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
141 S Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866
re: Professor Salt
We ended up going to Renu Nakorn and had a great meal there. I've been there once before it got renovated. Now it looks pretty sleek and the food is as tasty as ever. We enjoyed the roast duck curry very much, and got some angel wings and crispy stir fried veggies along with brown rice. I'll have to go back to try some of their more exotic dishes. Thanks for the suggestion!