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Anyplace new or interesting in OC?

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Looking for a nicer place for a birthday dinner in central OC. Any ideas? I am open to just about anything besides sushi. My favorites in town are: Pina's Bistro, Rumari, Sol Cocina, Kimera, Thai Bamboo, Panini Cafe. I'm open to any ideas. Thanks in advance.

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Kimera Restaurant
19530 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92612

Pina's Bistro
640 W 1st St, Tustin, CA 92780

Rumari Restaurant
1826 S. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Sol Cocina
251 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663

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  1. How about Black Sheep Bistro? It isn't new by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it gets overlooked.

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    Black Sheep Bistro
    303 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

    1. I've gone to Old Vine Cafe & Charlie Palmer @ Bloomingdale's twice (each) for lunch this past month. While OVC offers a comfy, rustic, romantic feel, CP is upscalish; both offer a three-course lunch for $20...and both have burrata mozz dishes that I adore. Neither are new, however, they both do really nice dinners.

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      Old Vine Cafe
      2937 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      1. OVC is a teensy, but nice indie with a welcoming vibe... a few doors down is the new Ecco, which is getting positive buzz. Also nearby is Mesa-- a modern gastropub (though cocktails and wine feature big in the picture); it gets pretty club-like after 10 or so. The roof opens if the weather allows.

        In Old Town Orange, Gabbi's Kitchen is nice for accomplished Mexican fare and a vast range of tequilas. Locals love Haven, an above average gastropub, but it's very noisy when full (which is often). Black Sheep in Tustin is good and not loud-- it's in escrow-- so get there before year's end if you want to try them.

        Near SCPlaza, Charlie Palmer is excellent and there's also the new Seasons 52 for casual woodfired fare and a nightly piano bar. Some folks really like sexy AnQi for stylish and pricey Viet-fusion food and drinks-- but I think Nello (in the same building) is underrated for quite-good Italian (they have a nice patio too).