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Places close to OC/John Wayne Airport

I may have some time to kill before catching a flight out of OC/John Wayne airport. I will not have a car so I will be on foot. I was thinking late lunch/ early dinner. Maybe happy hour?? I like sushi, Chinese and American comfort food. I am pretty open to suggestions. I lived in OC in the 70's, I expect a lot has changed.

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  1. Are you open to taking a taxi to a restaurant? If so, you may enjoy hanging out at Diamond Jamboree. It is a shopping center with a mix of asian restaurants and shopping. I like Tokyo Table.


    Another suggestion is El Tortito's on Mac Arthur located across the street from the airport. Great happy hour too.


    Something more upscale would be Gulliver's Restaurant also located within walking distance of the airport. The bar menu includes Filet Mignon Mini-Burgers.


    2 Replies
    1. re: sickpuppygirl

      Taxi is fine, as long as I am not going too far. I like Diamond Jamboree suggestion. Thanks

      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

        It's about 2.5 miles from the airport. If you have time, check out the asian grocery store; it is very interesting.

        Besides restaurants, there is also a very popular bakery where there is usually lines out the door on the weekends. You can learn more reading the reviews on yelp:


        Make sure you have the number to call the taxi when you are ready to leave and call 15 minutes ahead of time.

    2. Don't slum it in/around JWA.

      There is a free shuttle from JWA to South Coast Plaza, where you can grab a bite at Marche Moderne, Anjin, Ortica or a plethora of other options


      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Good idea. There are lots of options at South Coast Plaza but you should know that this is a shuttle to the Westin hotel where you would then walk a short distance to South Coast Plaza.

        1. re: sickpuppygirl

          Thanks I was thinking SCP would be a good back up plan, I have fond memories of visiting there.

      2. Best deal right next to the airport

        Agora’s Happy Hour dishes:
        Three filet wrapped in bacon – $4
        Three chicken legs – $4
        Three Brazilian sausages – $4
        Agora Sampler – $6 (Two pieces each from all above)
        All you can eat cheese bread and cinnamon bananas

        1830 Main Street, Irvine, Ca 92614


        Gulliver's for prime rib
        18482 MacArthur Boulevard Irvine, CA 92612

        1. I'm in a similar boat and need to find a place for dinner tomorrow (Tuesday) night and Wednesday night. I am staying at a hotel near the airport but will not have a car because our conference is at the hotel.

          I'm not in the mood for loads of meat at the moment, so am not interested in Agora's or Gulliver's prime rib. El Torito is a chain that I don't love. I will try to make it out to Diamond Jamboree but I am also at the mercy of my co-workers (ditto for South Coast Plaza). Any other suggestions? Thanks!

          3 Replies
            1. re: kevin

              Ritter's is a great option if you can get your co-workers to take the shuttle to South Coast Plaza. It's a couple of blocks up, so take the shuttle there and walk up or...

              Bella Cuba is right across from SCP and has great Cuban food (some of my favorites are the roasted garlic chicken, the vaca frita and the oxtail stew).

              Houston's is also a short cab ride away and would be great for dinner.

              Nana San (sushi/Japanese) and Juliette Kitchen & Bar are other options close by that I have not made it to yet but are on my short list.

            2. re: felice

              Il Barone is a good, nice Italian restaurant not too far from airport and Bistango is fairly close as well if you want a more eclectic California menu.

            3. How about Ritter's steam kettle ??????

              1. For sushi you can go to Nana San by where MacArthur and Jamboree meet. Also nearby is Juliette that has great cocktails and late lunch small plates.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Searching4Dunny

                  We ended up at Il Barone the first night and Nana San tonight. Il Barone was pretty solid, nothing close to my favorites in SF but it certainly exceeded my expectations given the fact that I was only able to go to places within walking distance of the hotel. Had the octopus salad which had a nice char, and the seafood linguine which had plenty of fresh seafood. Tiramisu was quite enjoyable.

                  Nana San was outstanding, better than most of the SF/Bay Area sushi places I have been. We let the chef choose his favorites. The snapper flight was lovely and one of my favorite pieces was the ocean trout which has never really impressed me at most places. And while some people might not like the various toppings added to the fish, I thought they complemented the fish very well and shows the fish in a slightly different light. For example the acidity of the ponzu complemented the richness of the ocean trout. It has also been a while since I've had sushi that was slightly seared with a blowtorch. I love this technique because it gives you a hint of cooked fish flavors even though you are clearly eating raw fish. The most precious piece of the night was ankimo, which I hadn't eaten in roughly 5 years ever since my favorite sushi place in SF stopped carrying it. What a treat.

                  Thank you all again for your recommendations and I can't wait to come back for more sushi.

                  1. re: felice

                    Thank you for reporting back. I am glad to hear it worked out for you.

                2. Umami Burger is in The Camp right off the Bristol Exit - anyone who hasn't tried it this is a must. Thasos Greek Island Grille is very close on Bristol and Sunflower - very inexpensive fresh flavorful food and IMO the best Greek in the entire LA/OC area. Then there' s higher end choices like Marche' Moderne, and Charlie Palmer both in South Coast Plaza and both serving top notch cuisine. These are all within a 5 - 6 minute car ride from John Wayne Airport.

                  1. Thanks for all these great tips. I've narrowed it down to Bistango, Il Barone, and Nana San if we stay close (walking distance) to the hotel. If we venture farther I think Greek or Cuban would be great. I am coming from the SF area where there are fewer Greek and Cuban restaurants. I've been to the Umami Burger in Oakland and while it's very good, I prefer a more standard burger.