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Apr 19, 2009 02:24 PM

Special Occasion Dinner in Orange or Tustin or surrounding area.

I need to find a restaurant that 10 people can go to on graduation night. We want it to be a fun place with excellent food and drink, but we also want to be able to have conversations. Last year, we went to Wilhelm's in the Tustin Marketplace which has now closed. The year before, we went to Opah's but it gets to loud in there. Any suggestions?

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  1. The Hobbit; Da Bianca; Black Sheep Bistro.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      I haven't been to the Hobbit in quite a while, but it was very memorable because for a large party you can have dinner in the wine cellar. I was a great experience.

      1. re: cdmedici

        The Hobbit sounds interesting but I couldn't find a hint of the pricing on their website. Do you remember? Anyone else have any other suggestions?

        1. re: profberta

          Buried at the bottom of the page (seriously, took me time to find it) on

          "One seating nightly, prix-fixe menu: $74.00 per person (plus tax, tip and beverage) Dress code: Elegant casual; jackets recommended for men; ties optional. Please no denim or tennis shoes."

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            das, what was the name of that mariscos joint on tustin again? I'll actually be in the area in a couple, and was it in the same mini-mall as polka deli?


            1. re: kevin

              Mariscos Puerto Esperanza. It's on Tustin @ Meats.

              1. re: OCAnn

                While I like the food at MPE, the decor's a little too Mexican beach shack casual for a "special occasion." They also don't have a liquor license, so beer & wine only.

                If you want Mexican, I'll add another vote for Gabbi's.

                A few doors down from Opah is Wasa. They specialize in fusion sushi (creative sauces with otherwise traditional nigiri sushi, as opposed to gringo iterations on California rolls). However, it can get loud like Opah does.

                Maybe Tropika in Tustin? It's Malaysian - Chinese - Thai. Excellent food, white linen tablecloth type of place. There's two separate rooms, so you might be able to ask if you can get an area apart from other diners?

                Tropika Restaurant
                17460 E 17th St, Tustin, CA

                1. re: Professor Salt

                  Wasa is pretty darn good, especially the Treasures, such as seared toro with jalapeno and ponzu, sourcream wasabi and flying fish roe laced hamachi, etc. it's good stuff, fusiony, but if you sit in james (the owner's section) he'll serve you up some great traditonal sushi such as crab innards. you just have to make it known that you're not the average garden variety huntington beach bum who's there to scarf down spicey tuna philadelphia cheesesteaks rolls and sake bombs.

                2. re: OCAnn

                  Small correction (because it's hard enough to find): it's on Tustin @ Taft, in the same plaza as a gas station, a scuba shop, a sushi-ya and Polka Delicatessen.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Yes on Tustin @ Taft.

                      I went back again last week and ordered the langostinos zarandeados . They were 5 for $15 on the day I went; maybe they ran out of the sixth or it's the effects of the economy? In any case, they were good. The greatest pull for me here is their pescado zarandeado...and their salsa!

                      1. re: OCAnn

                        What is a langostino exaxtly is it just basically a cross between or hybrid of a shrimp and lobster? and is there an english translation for langostino?


                          1. re: kevin

                            I normally see it in English as "Baja lobster" (fine) or "spiny lobster" (not even close). They're unrelated to true lobsters like langoustines and Maine lobsters -- they're actually closer to crabs.

            2. Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen on Glassel in Old Town Orange . . . .Amazing!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Warmsandz

                Would certainly second Das Ubergeek's recommendation of The Hobbit. There is probably no more special, special occasion restaurant in OC. It is not cheap, but is actually a pretty good value when you consider that you will get everything from a champagne reception with terrific hors d'oeuvres through dessert. It's a terrific spot.

                Although I love Da Bianca for what it is...a very casual Italian restaurant (very, very different from The Hobbit), they do not serve cocktails. So, if by drinks you mean cocktails, this would not fill the bill.

                Although I do enjoy Gabbi's, it can get quite noisy, so I guess I wouldn't recommend it.

                If you want something less expensive than The Hobbit, and would consider driving a bit further to Brea, Taps Fishhouse is really very nice, and is usually not too loud.

                The Hobbit is by far the most special of these places. You will have a memorable evening there. If you want to go there, you would be well advised to reserve early.

              2. I think Zov's would be a great place to visit in Tustin as well. I haven't been to The Hobbit, but I know Zov's is less expensive. My wife and I went there for a special occasion and had an amazing rack of lamb dish.

                You can check out their menu at their web site:

                Good luck!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steven_M_Johnson

                  Although Zov's was wonderful years ago, I have recently had two very mediocre meals there and would personally not recommend it for a special occasion. The cafe is fine for a casual breakfast or lunch, or perhaps a coffee and dessert...but I'm not real keen on the restaurant. Any other opinions?

                2. Citrus City Grille in Old Town Orange is lovely.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                    I'll second this, though I'm not sure if they have a full bar (I think they do).

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Yes, they do have a full bar at Citrus City Grille. I recall various shots being passed around at a wedding rehearsal dinner I attended there.