O.C. FOOD TREK
SUNDAY FUNYDAY FROM IRVINE TO SANTA ANA
I love a good Sunday Funday, which of course always includes boozy brunch among its festivities. Recently I made the trek from L.A. to Orange County for a pleasurable afternoon behind the Orange Curtain.
Metrolink was my mode of transportation as driving wasn’t an option as there would be plenty of imbibing. Pro tip, on weekends, take advantage of Metrolink’s Weekend Day Pass for only $10, which includes unlimited rides system-wide.
We started from Union Station and rode to Irvine, which is only an hour ride on the train. From the Irvine Metrolink Station it’s two miles to Irvine Spectrum Center, which is where we planned to have brunch. You can walk or take a quick Uber or Lyft ride to your dining destination.
At Irvine Spectrum Center, we brunched at Habana, a lively space offering good Cuban-inspired cuisine and cocktails in an oversized, festive environment. Sunday Brunch at Habana is from 9am to 4pm and is the ideal place to feast on seafood, roasted chicken, slow roasted lechon, paella, made-to-order omelets, French toast, fresh fruits, salads, cheeses, cured meats and pastries. Early brunch from 9am to 9:45am is $39 for adults and $19 for kids under 10, and from 10am to 3pm it’s $49 for adults and $22 for kids under 10.
Although drinks are not included with the buffet, do start with the fab Fresh Coconut with Rum—choose from white or dark rum. The rum is poured straight into the fresh coconut and it’s a brilliant way to start the day.
Then go to town with the heavenly buffet. Build an omelet, have pancakes and/or French toast, feast on lechon, and relish the paella, or go to town on fresh fruits and pastries, etc. The choices are plenty and pleasing.
Other casual dining options at Irvine Spectrum Center include BLKdot Coffee, Chipotle, Corner Bakery Café, Curry Up Now, Luna Grill, The Melt, Panda Express, Pho Saigon Pearl, Pieology Pizzeria, and Tender Greens, among others.
After bunch, walking, window shopping and people watching are good ideas. Go catch a movie or just chill out, and if you’re still hungry, hit up Falasophy for some lively Lebanese food. Falasophy is a modern Lebanese street food kitchen, which started as a food truck in 2014. The menu is focused on falafel, hummus and Lebanese street favorites, influenced by Southern California flavors.
Feast on falafel sandwiches, shawarma sandwiches, pita, to bowls and salads. The options are numerous and just killer. The Loaded Shawarma Fries are an absolute treat as are the Spicy Falafel Tacos with pickled red cabbage, pickled-jalapeño avocado and tahini.
Here, the setting is cool and casual and juices and beverages are thirst quenching. This is a great spot if you’re looking for quick and easy.
A great way to keep the O.C. good times going is to make a quick sojourn to the 4th Street Market in nearby Santa Ana—a 10-minute train ride via Metrolink. FYI, if you’re driving, take advantage of two hours free parking in the Spurgeon Street parking structure as well as all other city-owned structures in Downtown Santa Ana.
The 4th Street Market is billed as “where visionary food meets adventurous people.”
The Santa Ana food hall is open seven days a week and offers third wave coffee, creative juice blends, baked goods and dedicated breakfast cafes, with lunch and dinner spots offering deliciously creative foods.
After a bonanza of a boozy brunch and even some tasty Lebanese eats afterwards, by the time we hit up the 4th Street Market, it was time for dessert and Chunk-N-Chip so hit the spot. A family-owned business that creates smiles and seasonal Craft Ice Cream Sammiches, along with oven-warmed ooey gooey cookies served with honest-to-good ice cream, Chunk-N-Chip is da bomb. Yum!
And then there’s Recess, the food court’s bar where you’ll find house-made sodas, six craft beers on tap, wines selected by Playground’s sommelier and six cocktails crafted by 2014 Bartender of the Year, Jarred Dooley. FYI, enjoy $8 margaritas for happy hour Monday through Friday from 3pm to 6pm.
After ice cream and cocktails, we took the train from Santa Ana back home to L.A. It was quite the perfect day. It made normal boozy brunch a little more adventurous as I thoroughly enjoyed riding the trains and trying out new places to indulge. Good times.
Story and Photos By: Jose Martinez