B is for Bakery

I have found a new favorite OC place — the 85 Degrees Bakery Cafe in Irvine. This bakery is inexpensive and amazing. I have never been a fan of Asian baked goods, mostly because my exposure has been limited to sweet breads filled with red bean paste. This bakery has converted me–Asian pastries rock!

When we first walked in we weren’t exactly sure how it worked–it seemed kind of crazy. There are two separate lines: one line for cake and/or drinks and one line for pastries. If you want pastries (and we did) grab a tray and some tongs, head on over to the self-serve area and start grabbing. There are shelves full of every kind of pastry you could imagine, both sweet and savory. My favorites are the Blueberry Cream Cheese Bun, the Garlic Cheese Bread and the Brioche Bread. When you check out, they individually wrap each item for you. Everything is super cheap, too. We got five or six things for under $10. Don’t be intimidated by the long line, they move you through really fast. We stuck to pastries on our initial visit, we’ll have to come back for cake and drinks. The cakes look amazing and many people were ordering the Sea Salt Latte (which they are famous for). There are several more of the pastries we want to try, we will definitely be back.

There are also many, many Asian restaurants in the Diamond Jamboree complex that look tasty. I can’t wait to try them out!

85 Degrees Bakery Cafe
2700 Alton Parkway, Suite #123
Irvine, CA 92606

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M is for Movies

I love going to the movies but very few movies are worth the $13 ticket price. So I was thrilled to learn about Woodbridge Movies 5  dollar theaters. Movies are $2 on most days and $1 on Tuesdays. They show movies that have been out for a month or two. They always have  a couple kids movies showing so it’s a great family activity. It’s also a great cheap date**. They also have $1 hot dogs and the popcorn and other movie snacks are pretty cheap, too. They don’t have stadium seating or anything state-of-the-art but the theaters are clean and comfortable.

You can purchase tickets  online here.

Woodbridge Movies 5
4626 Barranca Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92604

**We’re in a recession so I’ll share my  friend Eric’s idea for the “cheapest date in the world” — go get free samples at Costco and then go to a dollar movie. He used to take his fiancee on these dates all the time and she married him anyway. Maybe it showed he was fiscally responsible?

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L is for La Sirena Grill

Please excuse that the posts are Laguna Beach-heavy this week. My parents were in town last week and since Laguna is our original home base in OC, we went back to many of our favorite haunts.

La Sirena Grill is a great Mexican restaurant in downtown Laguna Beach. Located in a charming old house it feels like a high-class version of a hole-in-the-wall, complete with a sidewalk dining. The inside is tiny, barely enough room for a couple of people to order and to grab utensils, salsa, etc. There are only a few tables outside so if you come at lunchtime you may want to have someone save a seat while you order.  Also, this location is the only one to offer breakfast.

I highly recommend their blackened salmon (if you like spicy stuff)–I’ve had it on the salad and the tacos and both are excellent. I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve had here.

One of the best things about La Sirena is their use of organic food and sustainable agricultural products. Here is a great article about Scott and Janet Cortellessa, the owners of the La Sirena restaurants, and their commitment to providing a fresh, healthy, sustainable and tasty dining experience.

La Sirena uses free-range beef and chicken that are fed a vegetarian diet without the use of antibiotics or hormones.  They only use wild salmon and shrimp and albacore have been removed from the menu and they are using only sustainable seafood as recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. They are also using natural pork, organic mixed greens and organic milk, cheese and sour cream.

There are also locations in El Segundo, South Laguna and Irvine.

(The Original) La Sirena Grill
347 Mermaid Street
Laguna Beach, CA  92651

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O is for Orange Inn

One of my favorite breakfast spots in the Orange County is the Orange Inn in Laguna Beach. I love to walk the Main Beach in Laguna in the morning and then head over to the Orange Inn for some fresh squeezed o.j. and a breakfast burrito. The Orange Inn is a fave of Laguna locals with their healthy fare and surf hut vibe. The bran muffins, sweet rolls and banana bread are tasty and they are known for their smoothies, shakes and coffee. Their claim to fame is that they are the “The Home of The Original Smoothie.” The famous O.I Smoothie is made with strawberries, banana, dates, fresh juice, protein powder, bee pollen and crushed ice–it’s really good. The Orange Inn isn’t just for breakfast, they have great soup and sandwiches, too.

Just a quick history of the Orange Inn. It was established in 1931 as a refreshment stop between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach for cowboys and field hands. Over the years it became popular as a roadside stop for workers, celebrities and tourists alike. In 1986, it moved down the coast to the center of Laguna Beach on the corner of Cleo and PCH.

Orange Inn
703 S Coast Hwy (at Cleo St)
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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S is for Sleeper Sofa

This post isn’t about something to do in Orange County, but I still have to share. I moved into a new place not too long ago. In a one-bedroom condo I knew I needed to either put in a Murphy bed or find a comfortable sleeper sofa for guests (I know what you’re thinking, a comfortable sleeper? She is nuts!). I didn’t really have the room for a Murphy bed since storage space is at a premium. I did a lot of research and found the Dublin Sleeper sofa from Room & Board. Many of the sleeper sofas I looked at were not only uncomfortable, but they were hideous. The Dublin is both attractive and really comfortable. The mattress features a combination of supportive coils topped with an inflatable air chamber for customizable comfort. It’s actually more comfortable than many mattresses I’ve slept on. Also, Room & Board has great customer service in case anything goes wrong with the sofa.

Room & Board- South Coast Plaza Village Store
1661 West Sunflower Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92704

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F is for Farmers’ Market

Have you been to the Irvine Farmers’ Market? It’s held Saturdays in the shopping center at Campus Drive and Bridge Street (near In-N-Out, across from UC-Irvine). Every Saturday,  8am – Noon (rain or shine).  Seriously, even if it’s pouring rain (like last week), the vendors are still out. The produce selection is phenomenal. You know how some farmers’ markets end up being filled with cutesy craft booths and only have a few food stands? The Irvine market is the real deal. Each booth of fruits and vegetables look better than the last. There are also stands with yummy baked goods, hummus in a variety of fun flavors, fresh pasta, beautiful plants and herbs, fresh seafood and even grass-fed beef.

There are free samples at about every stand, so many in fact, it puts Costco to shame (you could have a great Saturday morning breakfast on samples alone). We bought baby tomatoes, raspberries, grapes, cilantro and sweet corn tamales. Everything we bought was so good. And it was cheap. The prices are really reasonable, much better than the grocery store and the quality of product is much higher and almost entirely organic! For example, the big bunch of cilantro cost me 50 cents!

This market is a must-do for any Orange County resident. Even if you have to drive a little ways, it is totally worth it. I wish they held it twice a week so that I could get the fresh produce in the middle of the week, too.

Make sure to bring a basket or bag, it will make it much easier to carry all your purchases around. Also, the parking fills up fast so it’s best to get there early.

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A is for Apology

Hey readers! Sorry I’ve been such a slacker with my blog posts this week. My parents were visiting and we’ve been having a lot of fun, trying lots of new things and taking lots of photos. There will be many new posts shortly, I promise!

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