Relocating from SF to OC, looking for cool hangouts.
March 24, 2014 11:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm relocating from San Francisco to Irvine, and I'm looking for places to hang out that will ease the culture shock for me.

I already know about the Lab and the Camp in Costa Mesa. I like the vibe in both but the 'counter-culture' feel of both is very contrived. Something outside of a strip mall is nice but not necessary.

I'm looking for independently owned coffee shops and restaurants that have neighborhoody vibes, the kind of place where being a regular actually means something. For those of you who are familiar with Trouble Coffee Co. in SF, that's the kind of place I mean. I emphatically want to avoid the kind of homogenous, over-fancy people Fashion Island is overrun with.
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Welcome to the OC! Parts of the county are very stereotypical "OC," but there are cool places to hangout if you go looking.

I live in Irvine as well. Irvine itself is very safe and family friendly, but there isn't that much to do. You'll find yourself leaving the city a lot to go do things elsewhere.

Within Irvine itself, there's Paradise Perks, which is a cool independent coffee shop. They host open mic nights, comedy nights, board game nights, etc. There's also a ton of delicious food in Irvine. Diamond Jamboree has a bunch of good asian places, Wholesome Choice is a delicious persian market. There's two Lamppost Pizza's with good pizza and nice beer.

Outside of Irvine, downtown Santa Ana has a real good scene going on these days. Chapter One and Playground are great places for food and cocktails.Gypsy Den is a nice local Alt-coffee house/cafe/wine bar.

Downtown Fullerton has some cool spots too, but I don't get up to North County that much so no specific recommendations.

I'm originally from Long Beach, so I tend to drive up to the LBC a lot as well. Long Beach has tons of cool things going on all the time and is only a 30 min drive up the 405.

Orange County has a bunch of cool small music venues as well if you're into that. There's the Observatory and Constellation Room. The Coachhouse is always fun. Mozambique has reggae night every Sunday and good live music the rest of the week as well.

And if you're into brunch, Newport and Costa Mesa are like brunch heaven! It's never going to feel like SF, but the weather is nice, the beach is close, and the traffic isn't terrible. We even have meetups sometimes!
posted by Arbac at 12:20 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

And after checking your profile, I'll just throw in that you absolutely need to take a trip to LA for the Flower Market.
posted by Arbac at 12:31 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend who lives in Irvine seconds Paradise Perks and Diamon Jamboree. He also suggests Quinn's in Tustin.
posted by kbuxton at 1:05 PM on March 24, 2014

If you like craft beer, the oc area is increasingly lousy with tasty options. Usually they are hidden in some cheap office park situation.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:11 PM on March 24, 2014

I've always been partial to the Circle in downtown Orange. Yeah, they've got two Starbuckses on the circle itself, but the area is pretty and there's other local options if you venture out a bit.
posted by hwyengr at 2:52 PM on March 24, 2014

There are lots of things to enjoy about Orange County, including generally easy parking, tons of ethnic food choices (and ethnic enclaves), great weather, proximity to LA and San Diego, and more.

You've already received some good suggestions. I would add that you might want to check out Old Town Tustin, which is very close to Irvine, and

Pick up the OC Weekly and you'll find lots of interesting information about eateries, events, clubs, bars, etc. You will not want for things to do. Orange County is big, diverse, and there is plenty of stuff going on. And since you are into flowers, check out Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach.
posted by Dansaman at 10:21 PM on March 24, 2014

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