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New to Orange County

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Puesto
{Los Olivos Marketplace, 8577 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine; 949.608.9990}
Bringing its beloved brand of Mexican street food to Irvine’s new Los Olivos Marketplace, family-run, San Diego-based chain Puesto offers a modern setting inspired by the vibrant art, culture, and bustle of Mexico City. Anchored by housemade tortillas and scratch-made salsas made from local ingredients, Puesto also offers signature tacos with a twist: crispy melted cheese. Specialties include crisp, tamarindo-chile Shrimp Tacos and Filet Mignon Tacos finished with pistachio-serrano salsa. Other options range from Crab Guacamole and ceviche to shareable plates, such as Carnitas with nopales salad. Upping the ante, the bar features upwards of 50 tequilas and mezcals, plus a dozen Mexican beers and cocktails bolstered by freshly squeezed juices and housemade liqueurs and sodas. eatpuesto.com/locations/los-olivos-irvine

Zinqué
{Lido Village, 3446 Via Oporto, Newport Beach; 949.612.7259}
European-inspired dishes and small plates set the tone at Zinque, a haunt from Abbot Kinney set within the newly revitalized Lido Village. Perched on the Marina at Via Oporto with outdoor dining on the water, the fireplace-outfitted space takes cues from its Venice-originated sibling, complete with a sweeping wine bar, wrought-iron windows, and rustic wood tables. Whether you come when DJs are spinning chill grooves or linger over a pre-dinner glass of vino, you’ll relish the likes of charcuterie and cheese, tartines, and ratatouille. Themed paella and moules-frites nights add to the convivial feel. Check out the streetside takeout counter for tasty fare and La Colombe coffee when dining on the fly. lezinque.com

Backhouse
{Pacific City, 21058 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; 714.374.1010}
This sleek Pacific City sushi and robata bar with high ceilings, a loft-like vibe, and an open kitchen serves a lineup of comfort-driven eats, including yakitori, sushi, and sashimi, framed by ocean vistas. With siblings in Burbank, West Los Angeles, and Koreatown, the Huntington Beach outpost ushers in a sake bomb-doused happy hour. Anytime-appeals include a selection of skewers (from Chicken Meatball to Beef Tongue), Tonkotsu Ramen, Carpaccio, bowls, and classic and inventive rolls, like the Baked Lobster number with crispy garlic and micro-greens. For dessert, score the Green Tea Crème Brûlée. backhouserestaurant.com

Wokcano
{The Market Place, 3015 El Camino Real, Tustin; 714.508.4411}
Joining predecessors in Burbank, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Valencia, and Long Beach, this Japanese-leaning restau-lounge with sleek, minimalist environs dishes up freshly plucked seafood towers and plump oysters, along with sashimi, Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), Pot Stickers, and assorted dim sum. From its large appetizer selection to its communal dining-worthy rolls and pan-Asian entrées, there’s something for everyone on the uncommonly large, catch-all menu. Whatever you decide, sidle up to the sushi bar for a glimpse of the action, or snag a modern wood table in the bustling, earth-toned dining room. wokcanorestaurant.com/locations/tustin

Royal Hen
{311 Marine Avenue, Balboa Island, Newport Beach; 949.873.5603}
Come for the savory bar snacks and stay for the curated wine, beer, and vermouth list at this welcoming Newport Beach eatery from a restaurant vet. Situated on scenic Balboa Island with a pillow-strewn patio up front, the American-bent gastropub features two cozy dining rooms where diners sit elbow-to-elbow at pin-tucked banquettes lined with stools. Jovial banter emanates throughout its quarters, filled with the scent of fried caper-topped, shaved Brussels sprouts Caesar, Lobster Toast, and espelette-spiced Pork Rinds. There are more substantial plates, too, including Lamb Osso Buco with gigante beans and Porchetta that’s redolent of fennel. theroyalhen.com

Kitchen in the Canyon
{845 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; 949.715.5388}
Frequented by neighborhood types, this grey-hued, counter-service café sports a rustic-casual feel thanks to touches like an exposed wood-beam ceiling, grainy wood accents, and a visible kitchen. Settle in at a table before diving into selections from its hand-written chalkboard menu, which tempts with A.M. options like Avocado Toast with jalapeño-cilantro aïoli and the hangover-abating “Spicy Pig” sandwich loaded with bacon, toasted tomato, a fried egg, and tomatillo sauce. As the day wears on, turn to gooey Brie and Tomato Grilled Cheese slathered with pesto. An ongoing lineup of cooking classes rounds out the experience. kitcheninthecanyon.com

The American Dream
{21058 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; 714.374.1330}
Outfitted with 60 craft drafts, this burger-centric, open-air concept with a no-fuss mix of communal and table seating affords stellar ocean and sunset views along PCH. Whether you favor the prosciutto, Burrata, bacon, and onion-topped BBQ Stout or Chorizo-Chili burger, they’re served on pillow-y brioche buns. Mind you, you’ll find yourself swayed by other offerings, like Short Rib Grilled Cheese, housemade Mac and Cheese, and a mile-high Buffalo Fried Chicken sandwich that’s loaded with crunchy slaw. theamericandreamhb.com

Hopdoddy
{The Market Place, 3030 El Camino Real, Tustin; 714.505.2337 and Fashion Island, 311 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach; 949.640.2337}
Craft brews, creative cocktails, and gourmet hand-helds are the name of the game at this Texas-based burger chain with house-ground patties and locations in Playa Vista and El Segundo. The open, airy, and laid-back setting is punctuated by booths and communal tables with spring-green seating, ensuring there are plenty of comfy perches to wolf down creative burgers, like the chipotle mayo-slathered El Diablo topped with habaneros, serranos, caramelized onions, and pepper Jack cheese. Inventive shakes—think Nutella-Chocolate Pretzel, Red Velvet Cake, and Caramel Sea Salt—prove a dessert-worthy indulgence. hopdoddy.com

Mr. G’s
{305 Marine Avenue, Balboa Island, Newport Beach; 949.675.6193}
Playing upon the notion of Sunday suppers, this modern, black and white-toned bistro with intimate, Restoration Hardware-like environs is the sort of spot where diners gather over familiar-but-tweaked comfort-driven fare like Celery Root Soup; handmade Cappelletti topped with meltingly tender, thyme and mushroom-stippled duck confit; and Fried Chicken served with arugula salad. Meanwhile, snacks like a Giant Meatball; Burrata with tangerine, prosciutto, mint, and honey; and Mussels spiked with Calabrian chile, garlic, and white wine beg for pitch-perfect pairings from the thoughtful wine and Prosecco list. mrgsbistro.com

Trevors at the Tracks
{26701 Verdugo Street, San Juan Capistrano; 949.493.9593}
Local sourcing and global inspiration is the mindset at this casual, all-day affair with luxe pastries, smoothies, and all-SoCal wine and beer lists and cocktails built from house-harvested fruit. Snag a table in front of the roaring fireplace, on the courtyard patio, or in the glass-wrapped sunroom—all are idyllic ways to soak up the historic, architecturally stunning train depot setting. Warm touches like exposed brick walls and a trickling fountain give way to a menu of chargrilled flatbreads, soups, sandwiches, and more substantial plates, such as pasture-raised Beer Can Chicken, Chimichurri Skirt Steak, and Vegan Lasagna. trevorsatthetracks.com

Grasslands Meat Market
{Anaheim GardenWalk, 400 West Disney Way, Anaheim; 657.208.1133}
Set within a lively entertainment district below the House of Blues, this meat-minded churrasco and barbecue grill—open in April 2017—lures carnivores with its pitmaster-meets-butcher approach to curing, ‘cue-ing, and roasting. The resulting menu is globally focused, with dishes that are sure to entice. Not surprisingly, the casual, boisterous setting caters to all types with a modern, unpretentious vibe. grasslandsusa.com