Room service is room service, and I already know what the inside of a Marriott room looks like...
November 27, 2011 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Irvine for work this coming week and will have Tuesday and Wednesday evening to myself. Please help me not waste those two nights in my hotel room eating overpriced room service.

I'll be in Irvine for work this coming week, staying at the Irvine Marriott near the airport. Tuesday and Wednesday evening are free of mandatory socialization, and I'd like to do something other than spend the time in my hotel room eating overpriced room service for dinner.

Are there any good vegetarian- or vegan-friendly restaurants within a reasonable cab ride? (Or even, "Restaurant Blah is not really veg-friendly, but their WhateverWhatever dish is vegetarian and mindblowingly good.") I'm open to just about any cuisine.

Also, suggestions for how/where to get in a brisk walk or two will be most gratefully received. This trip is going to be one of those "three and a half days of back-to-back meetings, held in the hotel you're staying at" ones, where my usual routine includes several miles a day on the bike plus lots of walking and sometimes climbing trees. Being able to get some movement in will help me keep from getting restless and twitchy, I think (and will give me some introvert-recharge time). Plus if you never leave the hotel, Irvine looks like Newport Beach looks like Sacramento looks like...

Is the area around the Marriott walkable?
posted by Lexica to Travel & Transportation around Irvine, CA (8 answers total)
That's...not the world's most walkable location, at all--you're basically right on top of the San Diego Freeway. There are sidewalks in trudging distance, but pedestrian-friendly, that chunk of Irvine isn't. Things get much more walkable around the university.

Speaking of which, have you been to UCI? It's not the world's best architecture (OK, it's pretty horrifying architecture--when I was a student there, we used to joke that it came in two types: ugly and practical, and ugly and impractical), but thanks to being built in rings, it's great for walking. The park in the center is nice, especially if you're there on a weekend with relatively few students about. It's just a few minutes away by cab. The vegetarian options across the street in University Town Center leave something to be desired, except for the Vietnamese sandwich shop, Lee's. (Although I've heard reasonably decent things about the chain Veggie Grill.)
posted by thomas j wise at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2011

It is indeed not very walkable at all. The exact opposite of walkable, unfortunately.

You are cab-ride close to several malls -- South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island -- that are interesting for what they are. But if you're doing that, go to the beach -- Newport Beach, for example.

Mother's Market is kinda walkable, and you won't find a better vegan-friendly deli and market. Not really a restaurant, though.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:14 PM on November 27, 2011

Irvine, especially where you're staying, is super unwalkable. It's helpful to understand that as a completely planned community (Irvine Corporation!) it's the very definition of a suburb. Malls, like South Coast Plaza, are the height of things to do in Irvine (Ok, fine, there's a few other things as well, and you really shouldn't miss UCI but it's a pretty dull town).

I am happy to report that there are several vegan and veggie offerings in Irvine, mainly concentrated in the Asian food areas which you might expect given the population.

If you're actually vegan, you should definitely take the cab to the Native Foods in Tustin (it's only about a 3 mile ride each way). Native Foods is pretty awesome. You could also go to one of the many Asian vegan/veggie restaurants on the other night; try the Wheel of Life or the Veggie Grill (no personal recommendations there, sorry). I have a good friend who's vegan and went to school at UCI, so if you'd like more vegan friendly recommendations, MeMail me.
posted by librarylis at 5:19 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's about 3.5 miles away from your hotel, but if you can get yourself to Newport Back Bay, there are miles of walking trails along the water. Pretty I think, for being in the middle of a suburb.
posted by cecic at 6:09 PM on November 27, 2011

I can vouch that the Veggie Grill, mentioned above, is a good vegan place. It's also in the university town center, so if you end up there you can kill several hours wandering around the campus and then going to lunch/dinner. Google Maps tells me it's 2.9 miles from where you're staying.
posted by book 'em dano at 8:29 PM on November 27, 2011

Native Foods really is fantastic, but may not feel like much of a destination. It's a order at the front and take a number kind of place, and has kind of a chain feel. If that's what you going for, though, I keep going back for the Soul Bowl, which is vegan fried chicken with greens and beans and rice.

Tuesday, cab down to Fashion Island (~6mi) and eat at True Food Kitchen (Yelp). Shitake and tofu lettuce cups, caramelized onion tart, spaghetti squash casserole. I've seen it get crowded with a wait, but it has a nice spacious bar where you can likely take an immediate seat. Amuse yourself reading and poking holes in Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid™, which is advertised right on the table. Afterwards you can take a stroll around the outside of the mall and people watch. Yeah, it's a mall, but this is Orange County. When in Rome.

Wednesday, cab down to the Balboa peninsula (~9mi) to Mama D's (Yelp). You will be blown away by how friendly they are. I recommend the linguine primavera with pink sauce, and they make a solid eggplant parm. You'll be 2 blocks from the beach and 2 miles of beachfront boardwalk that is perfect for a evening stroll.

It's about 3.5 miles away from your hotel, but if you can get yourself to Newport Back Bay, there are miles of walking trails along the water. Pretty I think, for being in the middle of a suburb.

Looks like you can head east on Michelson and take a pedestrian path across the bridge to meet up with the paved trail than runs down into the back bay. Best to do this in the morning, it gets a little too quiet at night, and I've actually run into packs of coyotes.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:04 AM on November 28, 2011

I demand an update. Did you find a good place to eat?
posted by eddydamascene at 7:40 PM on December 1, 2011

Response by poster: I didn't manage to make use of any of the restaurant recommendations, unfortunately — by the time they finally cut us free in the evenings after spending 9 to 10 hours in a hotel ballroom watching PowerPoint presentations, I was so tired I almost considered room service. I resisted the urge to hibernate, though, and wound up walking over to an Italian restaurant in the same business park complex (Prego). Not much in the way of vegan food, but the butternut tortelloni in cream sauce were just what I was in the mood for, self-indulgent and delicious.

When I first got there on Monday I did walk over to Mother's Market — many thanks for that recommendation. Visiting a health-food store helped me feel right at home. *grin*

Irvine is the most pedestrian-hostile place I remember having visited, ever. Mother's Market was about three quarters of a mile from the hotel. Over the mile and a half round trip, I saw two bicyclists, a handful of people waiting for buses, four million motor vehicles, and literally (literally literally, not "my head literally exploded" literally) NOT ONE OTHER PEDESTRIAN. Yeesh.
posted by Lexica at 2:00 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

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