Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sugar n' Spice - Things to Do in Orange County 87

If you were a fan of The OC a while back, this is one place you can't miss.

Sugar n' Spice in Newport Beach is the famous frozen banana joint that you need to check out at least once when you are in OC.

It is located in a lovely little street on Balboa Island.  The place has been open since 1945, so you can feel a history when you're here.

Though they do have all kinds of ice cream, when you're at Sugar n' Spice, I suggest you try out their frozen banana.  That's what they are famous for.  And that's probably what at least one of you should try out.  When we went, it was $2.50 for a regular, and prices change with the size of the banana.

They'll cover up the frozen banana with chocolate, and all kinds of other goodies as you see fit.  You can choose from Oreo, almonds, chocolate sprinkles, peants, pecan crunch, and many more.

They also had regular ice cream bars and a cheese cake sundae.  The Balboa Bar featured in The OC is a regular vanilla ice cream bar with chocolate topping with peanuts.  It's pretty normal, but they told us it is one of their best sellers.

Well, if you're in Orange County, I suggest you go out for a little taste of history at Balboa Island's Sugar n' Spice.

Sugar n' Spice
(949) 673-8907

Monday, July 4, 2011

Native Foods Cafe - Things to Do in Orange County 86

If you're feeling like a good healthy meal today, well, there's one place that I recommend in Orange County. The Native Foods Cafe inside The Camp in Costa Mesa serves up one of the best vegetarian meals around. They got a real hip atmosphere, but the best part about the entire restaurant is that their service is top notch. I'm in no means a hip kind of person, but they treated me really well at Native Foods Cafe.

Obviously, since this place is known for their vegetarian food, they do not serve up any meat. But you'd be in for a surprise when you taste how juicy their burgers and sandwiches are. If they didn't tell me that this place was vegetarian, I would have definitely been fooled.

I got the Portobello and Sausage Burger pictured right above. Got to tell you, this was one of the best burgers I've had in a while. The Portobello mushroom was extremely juicy, and their sausage (?) was extremely satisfying. Just writing about it and seeing its picture makes me crave one. Maybe I go back again tomorrow and get one. :)

We also got the popular Chicken Sandwich as well. Of course, it's not real chicken. We were told that the chicken was made out of imitation chicken. I'm no expert in imitation chicken, but it tasted better than chicken.

For both meals, if you decide, you can add some fries or soup with it for an additional charge. But when we went, since the Chicken Sandwich was it's daily special, they added the awesome sweet potato fries for free. Good deal!

And another cool thing here at the Native Foods Cafe is their drinks. They have cool drinks. I tried out the Watermelon juice, lavender lemonade, and the plumeria ice tea. All were awesome. They let you get free refills, so you can go on and try out their variety of drinks that they offer.

Native Foods Cafe also has an awesome dessert section as well as other foods like salads and pizzas. Unfortunately, we didn't get to try it out when we visited them last time. Give me a reason to go back.

Even if you're not a vegetarian, you will most likely enjoy their food, and then some. I really loved it, and I hope to go back soon!

Native Foods Cafe
2937 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 751-2151
Mon - Fri: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Saturday: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am - 6:30 pm

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Visit the Santa Ana Zoo - Things to Do in Orange County 85

Living in Orange County, it's almost a daily thing to drive on the 405, 55, and 5 Freeway. But did you know right behind that freeway, there's a whole zoo that you can check out?

Where the 55 Freeway and 5 Freeway cross in Irvine/Santa Ana, there's actually a zoo where us OC residents can visit.

The zoo is actually pretty large considering its in the middle of the city. It's a bit hidden, but shouldn't be too difficult to find. It was fun to imagine that there's a bunch of animals behind that freeway wall off of the 5 freeway.

The Santa Ana Zoo is famous for their monkeys. They have a ton of monkeys here for you to see. And they're real cute.

The rumor is that the land owner here at the zoo is a big monkey lover, and the person lets the zoo operate as long as there are so many monkeys kept here. It's an interesting rumor, and maybe it's really true.

The zoo is a great place for families to visit. You can enjoy by checking out the variety of animals here. If you get bored, you can try to ride an elephant. That's a lot of fun.

After you ride the elephant, you can also ride the miniature train which runs around the zoo. That's also a big hit with the kids.

After checking out the zoo, I just couldn't get over the fact that there are so many animals living behind that freeway. It was a shocking experience for me since I've lived in OC for over 20 years, never knowing about the Santa Ana Zoo.

So next time you have time with the kids, I recommend you visiting the Santa Ana Zoo if you haven't already done so. It's going to be a fun experience for the entire family.

Santa Ana Zoo

1801 E Chestnut Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 835-7484

Mon-Sun 10 am - 4 pm

Adults (age 13+): $8.00
Seniors (age 60+): $5.00
Children (age 3-12): $5.00

(excluding holidays)
Adults (age 13+): $4.00
Seniors (age 60+): $2.50
Children (age 3-12): $2.50

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Portola Coffee Lab inside the OC Mart Mix - Things to Do in Orange County 84

So, there's a new cool place to hang out in Orange County. It's called the OC Mart Mix. Located by the 405 freeway off of the Harbor exit. It's inside the huge furniture collection mall called the SOCO or South Coast Collection.

What I'm featuring today is the new hip coffee shop inside the OC Mart Mix. I'll be covering the entire OC Mart Mix at a later post pretty soon.

As explained a few times already, Portola Coffee Lab is a very cool coffee joint inside the OC Mart Mix. :) They are new and hip, and I say that because they have an awesome way of brewing their own coffee.

They use these cool siphon type of device to slowly brew their iced coffee each day. But keep in mind, there's only very limited supply, and the demand is high. So you'll be lucky to get a cup. When we went, they were still in the process of brewing it, so we weren't able to get a cup. They said, it takes 4 hours (?) or so to brew a batch.

Instead, the guys at Portola Coffee was nice enough to show off their latte art skills and make us a cup of cappuccino. Great cup of coffee!

They did also have an iced mocha using a house made ganache, so the mocha was extremely rich and chocolaty. I don't think I've ever had a mocha so chocolaty.

In addition to the awesome espresso drinks that they make, they also roast their own beans. So these guys are pretty serious about their coffee.

Overall, this place is pretty awesome.

So hope you can go check out the new hip hangout of OC Mart Mix, and have a cup of coffee at Portola Coffee Lab!

Portola Coffee Lab

The OC Mart Mix
3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ride the Great Balloon for Free at the Irvine Great Park - Things to Do in Orange County 83

Time always flies so fast, and though I always promise myself to post an article at least once a week, a month or two usually flies in between my Things to Do in Orange County, CA blog.

Well, this post is a really cool one.

Do you ever feel like riding on a hot air balloon? And what if I told you that the flight up is free? Hey, well in Orange County, this is possible to do.

At the Great Park in Irvine, you are able to ride on a hot air balloon Thursday through Sunday for FREE!!

Though this hot air balloon is free, there is also a catch. One is that it's popular, so if you go during the weekend, it can get difficult to secure a ticket. Two is that since it goes up to 400 feet, any kind of strong wind condition will stop the balloon from flying.

It actually took me three chances to finally get on the Great Balloon. First time it was the wind, second time it was packed, and third time was a charm. Your best bet is to call them before you go to see if they're flying, and if there is a lot of people waiting or not.

Upon arrival to the Great Balloon, you will enter the office to fill out a liability form. After you fill it out, you will get the ticket to the Great Balloon for free!

We went during the day on Thursday, and it was great. Perfect weather, and there were only 7 of us that flew on the balloon. So we got to walk around and talk to the other people on the balloon.

As I mentioned, this balloon goes up 400 feet, so it's pretty high. The view is wonderful from up there, so don't forget your camera. They also do a night flight, and the view up there at night must be very nice too.

All in all, this balloon is an awesome deal. It takes you up 400 feet above Orange County, and all expenses are paid for. The ride is about 10 minutes long, but that should be enough for you to enjoy the ride, and appreciate the beauty of the OC.

The Great Park Balloon


Perimeter Rd
Irvine, CA 92614
(866) 829-3829

Thu-Fri 10 am - 3 pm
Thu-Sun 7 pm - 10 pm
Sat-Sun 9 am - 3 pm

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orange County Restaurant Week - Things to Do in Orange County 82

It's that time of year again. OC Restaurant Week is up and running, and that means going out and eating for me. :)

I always enjoy OC Restaurant Week since we get to try out new restaurants for a great deal. It's always fun to go out and try out new places, get fed, and not have to pay a fortune.

One advice with the OC Restaurant Week, or the Newport Beach Restaurant Week is to go for lunch. Often times, many restaurants offer similar plates for lunch as they do dinner, but it'll cost you twice as much. We started out the OC Restaurant Week on Sunday, at Splashes inside Surf and Sand Resort, but they had almost identical menus for lunch and dinner. The only difference: $20 lunch vs. $40 dinner.

So go for lunch. You'll usually enjoy it more since you're not going to pay as much. And the sun is out to enjoy it too.

The OC Restaurant Week goes from February 27th to March 5th. So we just have a few more days to go. Be sure to check out their website for some cool places to dine at.

Here are my recommendations:

Well, hope you enjoy and discover some restaurants for yourselves!

Orange County Restaurant Week

List of Restaurants

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eat a Gourmet Burger at 25 Degrees - Things to Do in Orange County 81

Ever since last year or so, the gourmet burger craze has been around in Los Angeles. Now, we can enjoy a gourmet burger here in Orange County as well. The 25 Degrees is a gourmet burger joint located in Hollywood, as well as downtown Huntington Beach.

We were impressed when we walked into 25 Degrees with its very cool interior. We went after 1PM, so there wasn't much people around, and we got to enjoy the entire restaurant to ourselves. The Gothic design looked very trendy and cool.

Here, you are able to customize your own burgers. But we weren't so decisive with what we wanted on our burgers that we decided to go with the #1 and #2 recommendations on the menu.

#1 consisted of onions, Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, arugula, and thousand island dressing. The burger was juicy, and it was really good.

#2 consisted of roasted tomatoes, prosciutto, and pesto sauce. The prosciutto was a huge chuck, and it felt like eating a gourmet double burger. It was a big delicious burger.

And of course, we can't forget the onion rings and the sweet potato fries here. Good stuff.

Now that you can enjoy a gourmet burger in Orange County, this place should be a must try on your list. Get a nice big burger and a nice cold beer on a Sunday afternoon. Should be a lot of fun.

25 Degrees (Twenty five degrees)
412 Walnut Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 960-2525

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Walk around Mile Square Park - Things to do in Orange County 80

If you're ever feeling like going on a little exercise, one popular destination is the Mile Square Park. As the name indicates, this park is a big square, and laid out in one mile sides. So if you walk all the way around the park, you walk a total of 4 miles.

Mile Square Park is a popular destination for people who want to exercise because they have a whole lot of things you can do. As I mentioned, you can walk or run the 4 miles. You can bike it. Riding a bike will allow you to cross inside the park which can be fun too. They have lakes and ponds.

Mile Square Park also has a tennis court, racquetball court, basketball court, and a little recreation center. It also has a full 18 hole golf course, and a driving range. Inside the park, you should be able to find casual volleyball courts and a archery area.

So all in all, this is a pretty nice place for fitness.

It's also a great place for a picnic, as you can invite your friends and family to a little BBQ. There's a bunch of sitting areas with grills available for a nice family enjoyment.

You can rent bikes, and also rent water bikes in the pond. It should be a lot of fun.

So the next time you want to do some outdoor fitness, or need a place to hang out with your family, you might want to consider Mile Square Park.

Mile Square Park
16801 Euclid
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rent a Bike and Ride by the Beach - Things to Do in Orange County 79

I've been living in Huntington Beach for over 25 years now. And last Sunday, I did something I've never done before - rented a bike at the beach.

This sort of spontaneous thing turned out to be a very nice time.

We went to Zack's Pier Plaza right next to the Huntington Beach Pier. They got all kinds of things you can rent. Like a beach cruiser and the quadricycle (car bikes). They also rent surf boards too.

For some reason, when we went, they had a special going on and we got the car bike for $20 an hour. I think it's usually $25/hour.

A one hour rental may seem short, but we rode all the way to the dog beach by the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, and actually had the time to come back to ride half way to Newport Beach.

It was a nice sunny day, and riding on one of these car bikes turned out to be a very pleasant cruise.

Riding on the car bike is also perfect for a date. You ride right next to your date, and get to talk while you cruise on down the pleasant rode. It's a lot of fun, and feels great as the ocean breeze hits you.

And if you have a family, you can rent a 4 seater car bike, and seat them in the rear. That should be a nice family fun since everybody gets to pedal.

Nice recommendation will be to bring a little picnic so that you can find a spot by the beach to enjoy a great lunch.

Since the car bikes tend to be a bit slower than regular bikes, if you feel like going the distance, it maybe wise to rent a beach cruiser and maybe ride down to Newport Beach or Balboa Island.

So next time the sun is out, and you feel like enjoying a beautiful day, go and rent a bike at Zack's Pier Plaza. You'll definitely have a lot of fun!

Zack Pier Plaza
405 Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 536-0215

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Punjab Cuisine of India - Things to Do in Orange County 78

Do you ever get that craving for Indian food? Just want to chow down on some Tandoori chicken and curry? Well, here is an awesome place to dine in Orange County. One of my personal favorites.

Punjab Cuisine of India is one of the best places to go for lunch, if you're craving for Indian food.

At just $7.95 for lunch, you can enjoy an all you can eat buffet of curry, salad, samosa, and naan. It's a pretty awesome deal in this day in age. The lunch buffet is on everyday of the week, and on Sundays, you get a champagne brunch for $10.95. Not bad.

I probably go here once every couple months when I get this craving for Indian curries. Their curries are pretty awesome. I have no complaint. The Tandoori chicken is super tender, and their spinach curry is pretty killer too. I also enjoy their vegetable curry too. Very good.

With regards to their naan, you have a choice between regular or garlic. If you go with a friend, you can order both and share it amongst yourselves since they give you three pieces each.

Another nice thing about this place is that it's never crowded when I go. I never had to wait for a table, and there's usually only about one or two other guests with us. The food is awesome, so I take it this place is a well kept secret amongst the people in Orange County.

Well, next time you're craving for some curry, maybe you can check out Punjab Cuisine of India.

Punjab Cuisine of India

18687 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 963-6777

Lunch Buffet: $7.95
Sunday Brunch: $10.95Publish Post

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mastro's Steakhouse - Things to Do in Orange County 77

So you have a special night to plan? Or are you in the mood for a formal night out? Maybe you're craving for a quality steak and an awesome cocktail...

Well, here is one of Orange County's most popular and trendiest steakhouses - Mastro's Steakhouse. Located across the street from South Coast Plaza and right by the Orange County Performing Arts Center this is definitely a place where you can plan to impress your date.

Steaks here are world class. The cocktails are too. One of my favorite part of the night was enjoying their famous Lemon Drop cocktail. They serve it to you with dry ice, which makes the cocktail smoke. It's pretty cool.

The cocktails have a pretty heavy price tag though. My Lemon Drop was $18. Hey, but you're there to enjoy the night, and impress your date. $18 isn't that expensive then. And given that they actually give you an entire cocktail shaker worth Lemon Drop, you actually get seconds, and maybe thirds. All worth it!

A few of the things Mastro's Steakhouse is known for is their seafood and steak. We didn't go for their signature seafood tower, but went for the crab cake instead. Pretty good stuff.

And of course their lobster mashed potato. How luxurious can mashed potato be?

What I truly enjoyed is their signature bone-in ribeye. I think it was one of the best steaks I've ever had. Nice and juicy, and cooked perfectly. Delicious!

So, next time you need to impress someone on a special occasion, you know where to hit up. Mastro's Steakhouse should be on the top of your list!

Mastro's Steakhouse
633 Anton Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 546-7405

Monday, January 3, 2011

Food Truck Round Up - Things to Do in Orange County 76

Lately, there is a big craze with food trucks. As an OC Foodie, I had to go check one out. My only experience in the past has been with Kogi BBQ. I heard that there are even better ones here in Orange County.

So every Wednesday, in the middle of Irvine, where there's really nothing but office buildings, there is a place where food trucks gather...

They call it the Food Truck Round Up in Irvine, and you'll find anywhere from eight to twelve food trucks here.

It's a pretty cool scene since I've never experienced anything like it before. You go there, and there is free parking. You walk around to figure out what to get. And order from the truck of your choice. It's a fun atmosphere since there are so many food trucks to choose from.

What makes the experience even more fun is that most of these food trucks serve fusion meals. Meals that you're not used to seeing. Like Kalbi Kimchee Quesadilla. Or the Carnitas Fries. And that's exactly what we got.

One of the most popular food trucks these days in OC is the Lime Truck. And after I ate their food, I knew why. It's really good. I mean really, really good. I regretted later that I didn't buy more. Pictured above are the Carnitas Fries and the Ultimate Taco. Awesome~~

There are other food trucks that we tried. The Asian Latin food truck. They had some good food here too.

We wanted to go for desserts too - they had ice cream cookie sandwiches and cupcakes - but unfortunately too full to do so at that point. So maybe next time.

Or, maybe you can go out and check it out for us instead. Here's the address!

Food Truck Round Up
18678 Teller
Irvine, CA 92612
Corner of Michaelson and Teller

P.S. Be sure to bring a lot of cash because not all trucks accept credit cards.


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