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Dining Solo in OC

Hi all,

I'm new to town and looking for nice restaurants in Orange County that would be good for dining alone. Preferably someplace quiet enough to chat with a decent bar space and friendly staff, but above all *good food*.

I have already found The Crow Bar and SideDoor in Corona del Mar, and Pascal's is on my list. I would like to find similar restaurants anywhere within a 20min drive of Costa Mesa. A place with outdoor seating would also be welcome. I can always bring a book to keep myself amused, but am generally open to chatting if I'm at a place with friendly people.

Thanks for the advice and suggestions.

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  1. I have not been to the Side Door, but the Crow Bar is not quite.

    When I go solo, I prefer counters/bars, so sushi is always an easy choice. Blue Fin and San Shi Go are my favorites. Tabu in South Laguna has a counter around the open kitchen, and it has great food, so that is a bonus.

    The food is OK but not great, but the Lazy Dog cafe at the Irvine Marketplace has nice outdoor seating, and (if you have a dog) you can sit on the patio and have a cocktail with your dog by your side.

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    Tabu Grill
    2892 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    San Shi Go Sushi and Asian Cuisine
    205 Main St, Newport Beach, CA 92661

    Blue Fin Crystal Cove
    7952 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92651

    1. Depending upon what you are looking for...any of the Hillstone Restaurants should work...and four are available nearby. Houston's in Irvine, and Gulfstream, Bandera, and R & D Kitchen in Newport Beach. Gulfstream and R & D have outdoor seating.

      On a very different level, with a very friendly bar, and superb French food would be Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza. Whenever we decide to go there and it's too late to snag a res, we sit at the bar and always wind up chatting with other foodies.

      Another possibility is Sage in Newport...Eastbluff Shopping Center. A small neighborhood restaurant with friendly bar, outdoor patio and very good food.

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      Bandera
      11704 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

      Marche Moderne
      3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      Bandera Restaurant
      3201 E Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

      Sage Restaurant
      2531 Eastbluff Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

      Marche Moderne
      3333 Bristol Street, Suite 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      Gulfstream
      850 Avocado Ave, Newport Beach, CA 92660

      3 Replies
      1. re: josephnl

        Zov's Bistro is another option. Good modern mediterranean cusine.
        Three locations available. Tustin, Irvine and Newport.
        I know the Irvine location has an outdoor patio that's quite inviting.
        http://www.zovs.com/

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        Zov's Bistro
        17440 E. 17th Street, Tustin, CA 92780

        1. re: CynAmyn

          2nd that emotion for Zov's! Great place, interesting menu choices, gotta remember them the next time I am in town.

        2. re: josephnl

          I second Marche Moderne. Relaxed atmosphere, very good food, annoying website, and a great lunchtime prix fixe.

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          Marche Moderne
          3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        3. My favorite place in Costa Mesa on food alone is Pizzeria Ortica. Bar is good. They really are one of the few places that knows what an espresso is (even many coffee places don't know.)

          I used to like Mesa quite a lot, but my last visit a few months ago the food had slipped a bit (ok, actually, the salad dressings had too much oil) and I haven't been back since.

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          Pizzeria Ortica
          650 Anton Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

          3 Replies
          1. re: jaykayen

            Reviews of Ortica are very mixed. I don't like it at all, but others do...so, perhaps op will have to decide for him/herself. Also, Zov's used to be quite good, but I think it's slipped a lot.

            nother spot in Costa Mesa worth trying is ECCO at the Camp...good drinks, good salads and pastas, excellent pizzas, and good happy hour menu.

            1. re: josephnl

              ECCO is good, but my preference runs toward Old Vine @ the Camp.

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

              1. re: OCAnn

                I second Pizzeria Ortica as having a great bar for dining solo. The pizza gets mixed reviews because it's Neapolitan style pizza with a more wet and chewy crust than what people are used to. If you know that going in, you'll probably even love the pizza. The staff is super friendly and professional. The pasta and appetizers are also excellent and well prepared. The pasta at Ortica is housemade from local eggs and 00 flour and the pizza dough they took the trouble of starting with 300 year old biga from outside Naples. I recommend the lamb sausage bruschetta and any of the fresh pastas with ragu or bolognese. For pizza I recommend the sausage and caramalized fennel or the spicy salami and mushroom pizza. The wines by the glass are reasonable and the list very well put together.

                The pizza and pasta at Ecco are a few notches down from Ortica IMO. There's certainly no mention of 00 flour or anything about the pasta being housemade. No mention about taking the time to use biga from Italy in their pizza. Wine list at ECCO is just boring. It's not the same class of restaurant Ortica is.

                Marche Moderne is also a great place for solo dining. The staff is friendly and the food can be great. They have a great selection of french cheese. Wine selection is very well priced and filled with many interesting choices.

                Basically, if you want Italian, go to Ortica. If you want French, go to Marche.

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                Marche Moderne
                3333 Bristol St 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

          2. "Nice" can cover quite a range, but you must go to Pasta Connection at least once... I'd recommend breakfast as they have the most fabulous breakfast potatoes in the known universe. Way good food, way reasonable pricing, plus an Argentine deli on site. You'll go back...

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            Pasta Connection
            2145 W Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92868

            1. I went to Charlie Palmer's at South Coast Plaza on a whim (while alone & wearing tennis shoes!), had a great time (in the bar area) talking to the Sommalier. Great place. I need to go back.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Funwithfood

                The dining room is good for dining solo too...esp with the bench seats along the wall.