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Great OC Gastropubs to Try?

I need help on one more memorable OC meal for me and my dad before he shuttles me off to the airport next week. And this time, since I've been hearing plenty on the gastropub scene here, I want to try one. But which one?

I've heard good things about Haven in Orange, so that was the frontrunner for me at first. But then a friend reminded me of SideBar (at Five Crowns) and Crow Bar & Kitchen in CDM, and now I'm wondering if I should do another lunch by the beach.

What should I do? And do you have other suggestions for me?

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Crow Bar & Kitchen
2325 E Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Five Crowns
3801 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Haven Gastropub
190 S Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

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  1. Where've you been this time around and what are your favourite spots?

    The reason I ask is if you're thinking lunch and haven't yet tried Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills, it's really worth a visit.

    And I will steer you elsewhere for pub food. If you like Japanese food, you might try the Honda-ya in Tustin.

    And not a gastropub, but if you want beach, then I'd recommend Brussels Bistro in Laguna Beach for awesome mussles.

    1 Reply
    1. re: OCAnn

      My dad's house is near South Coast Plaza, so this area is my "home base". I was able to hit Laguna on Monday to try Watermarc, and I'll see if I can swing down south again to try Break of Dawn before Ieave next week. And if I can't make it this time, I'll certainly put Break of Dawn at the top of my "To Eat List" when I'm back here around late July!

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      Break of Dawn
      24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

      Watermarc
      448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    2. Haven and Side Door are are completely different. Side Bar is at Cut.

      Haven is a little bit sexy, and the crowd is mixed, with some serious beer cred.

      Side Door is cozy, with older clientele, and less inspired cooking, but very good service.

      I think if you order right at Haven, they have the edge on food.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jaykayen

        Oh no, I was talking about SideBar at Five Crowns in CDM (Newport).

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        Five Crowns
        3801 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

        1. re: atdleft

          To help clear up any confusion............ the place at Five Crowns is called Side DOOR.

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          Five Crowns
          3801 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

          1. re: Midlife

            Sorry about that. I double-checked, and it is SideDoor. I saw SideBar earlier, and I was thrown off.

        2. re: jaykayen

          I think he means Side DOOR, which IS at 5 Crowns

        3. Sidebar recently came out on top in Orange Coast Magazine for what that's worth.

          1. I've been to Haven Gastropub quite a few times - food is the best. I just had the chicken n' waffles dish and LOVED it. I already read in Draft mag that it's one of the best in the country, so the beer being great is a given. I'm a cocktail & wine kind of gal, so I love that they have so many options of wine by the glass and a full bar. When I order a martini, they brought me a Ketel martini... that's their well... I would recommend this place. So much energy, unlike other places that are a real snooze.

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            Haven Gastropub
            190 S Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

            1 Reply
            1. re: Food_Coma

              I would agree that Haven is the best of the three OC Gastropubs mentioned. And you gotta love a joint that offers a Zweigelt (Austrian red wine) as the recommended pairing for their burger!

            2. I have not been to Side Door, so I can't comment on that, but the other two are fairly different. Crow bar is more about small plates and bottled beer. A friend looked over the menu and he tried a Belgian Ale that was voted top beer in tough the world. Haven is more about entrees (there are plates to share), and they have beers on tap and a full bar.

              The crowd is a little more upscale at the Crow Bar, it is on PCH in CDM, while Haven has a pretty mixed crowd. I really like Haven, when I can get seated, but Crow Bar is worth a try as well.