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TimesOC’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards highlights Orange County favorites

Orange County’s Best: TimesOC Readers’ Choice 2019
TimesOC readers voted in 85 categories to determine their favorite Orange County spots this year.
(TimesOC)

For the third year in a row, TimesOC readers have nominated and voted on “Orange County’s Best: TimesOC’s Readers’ Choice.”

Scroll through the pages to see the 2019 winners in over 85 categories, as well as the other nominees that garnered a substantial amount of votes.

We also polled our TimeOC staff and contributors to share perhaps lesser-known places in Orange County that we personally recommend. Enjoy, and congratulations to all the businesses and attractions mentioned in this year’s “Orange County’s Best.”

EDITORIAL PICKS

Benjamin Brazil (staff writer)

The Huddle: A great dive bar in Costa Mesa with pool, darts and a jukebox. Plus, you can buy hot pockets and microwave them yourself.

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Ruin Bar
The Pretty Pus (made with Plantation Overproof rum, tiki cordial, and lime juice) at the Ruin Bar, located in the Lab in Costa Mesa. The drink is served in their signature tiki cat mug.
(Courtesy of Ruin Bar)

Ruin Bar: A bar at the Lab in Costa Mesa with unique decorations like a ski lift carriage, piano and many cat-related knick-knacks.

Ada Tseng (editor)

PlayPie: With numerous creative areas to explore, this indoor playground once entertained my kids for five and a half hours straight. Plus, a day pass lets you go in and out, so you can visit the rest of Buena Park’s the Source OC, home to a 4DX theater, K-pop merchandise store and a plethora of boba options.

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L’uxweet Bakery Cafe
The house BBQ pork Taiwanese-style egg pancake at L’uxweet Bakery Cafe in Tustin.
(Ada Tseng)

L’uxweet Bakery Cafe: A cozy all-day Taiwanese breakfast place in Tustin with an outdoor patio, L’uxweet is known for their Taiwanese-style egg pancakes (the house barbecue pork is a favorite) and desserts (fluffy, fluffy cheesecake).

Catherine Pearlman (writer)

Break of Dawn: Hidden away in a Laguna Hills strip mall, this gem offers up the best cinnamon rolls with heaps of orange-scented whipped cream. They also have perfectly poached eggs and unique flavors that cannot be found at any other O.C. breakfast spot.

Active Culture: Organic bowls here are above and beyond with interesting dressings, high quality ingredients and a view of the Pacific. My go-to order is the Quinoa Lentil Bowl — with the chick peas, kale (of course), sunflower seeds and a zesty homemade lemon dressing — and the wickedly delicious Naked Coconut shake. Sip it listening to the waves break at Anita Street Beach in Laguna Beach to enjoy a moment of pure bliss. There’s another location in San Clemente.

Bradley Zint (food columnist)

Descanso: The easiest way to describe Descanso is that it’s the Benihana of Mexican restaurants, except less flair and far better food. This Costa Mesa eatery’s la plancha experience is something I always recommend to friends and family for a night out over excellent fare. Buen provecho!

Descanso Restaurant
Sergio Ortega, the chef at Descanso Restaurant, prepares Mahi Mahi tacos.
(File photo)
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Toast Kitchen + Bakery: Style, variety and flavor come together at Toast Kitchen + Bakery in Costa Mesa, which serves chicken and waffles that are second to none (and took 75 shots at a fried chicken recipe to get just right). You’re sure to settle into some great comfort food at Ed Lee and John Park’s culinary corner.

Daniel Langhorne (writer)

Orange Hill Restaurant: Arguably the best sunset view in North Orange County. It’s a wonderful choice for a special birthday or wedding anniversary dinner.

Contra Coffee & Tea in Orange: They have awesome iced coffee that’s perfect for hot days. Definitely try the Gold Rush and Dirty Horchata. They even do coffee/tea flights.

Contra Coffee & Tea
Contra Coffee & Tea in Orange sells a variety of nitrogen-infused drinks.
(File photo)

Reunion Kitchen + Drink: A fun place for a date night or dinner with family or friends. Their cream cheese stuffed jalapenos, wrapped with bacon, will make your eyes water, but they’re super good. Locations in Anaheim and Laguna Beach.

Matthew Wilkes (page designer/online editor)

La Petite Sourie: Great little French cafe in Santa Ana. All the food is fresh, organic and awesome — especially the French baguette sandwiches — and the desserts are to die for.

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dogs
Cadbury, left, and Erebus.
(Matthew Wilkes)

South Coast Pet Hospital: Excellent veterinarian in Santa Ana that provides superb care for animals. My girlfriend and me wouldn’t trust our doggos Cadbury and Erebus with anyone else.

Brookhurst Hobbies: The best gaming and model store in the county. A huge range of kits, paints, figures, role-playing games, rulebooks, accessories and tons more, with friendly and helpful staff. The fact it’s been in business for decades tells you how good this place is.

Paul Hodgins (adult beverages columnist)

Bayside Restaurant: This venerable restaurant in an out-of-the-way part of Newport is dominated by a central bar with a large whiskey inventory, the best part of its impressive selection of top-shelf spirits. The bar staff are friendly, knowledgeable, low key, and experienced, and they know the regulars well. With excellent live jazz on many evenings and a quiet location near the water, Bayside is one of O.C.’s most elegant watering holes.

Bayside Restaurant
Pianist Michael McKenna performs “The Girl from Ipanema” as diners eat at the Bayside Restaurant.
(File photo)

Recess Room: The appetizers are far better than they have to be at this bustling bar near the 405 that’s dominated most evenings by a lively under-30 party crowd. The bar menu offers an almost overwhelming panoply of classic drinks, sometimes zany signature cocktails, craft beer, wine, and surprisingly good mocktails.

Aliese Muhonen (writer)

The Lost Bean in Tustin: Featuring organic, fresh-roasted coffee, cozy nooks for work or conversation, and a relaxed, creative atmosphere, there’s nothing missing at the Lost Bean. Bonus: next door is the Lost Vine — the coffeeshop’s companion wine and tapas bar. It’s five o’clock somewhere...

Santiago Oaks Regional Park
Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange has many trails for hiking, biking & horseback riding.
(Aliese Muhonen)

Santiago Oaks Regional Park: Best hiking trail. It’s an outdoorsy “Choose Your Own Adventure” — multiple, hilly paths with varying degrees of incline, sweeping vistas of Orange County, and stunning wildflowers in spring. Perfect for running, mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Tom Titus (theater reviewer)

South Coast Repertory: I’ve reviewed all 55 years of SCR and continue to be impressed by the quality of its work.

Young Frankenstein at the Attic Community Theater
The Attic Theater’s production of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein,” currently running in Santa Ana through Nov. 24.
(Stephanie Garrison)

The Attic Community Theater: Professional quality from a community group in Santa Ana I’ve just recently begun to appreciate.

Vanguard University: Ambitious productions in a small Costa Mesa venue, plus a professional (American Coast) program each summer.

——

Note: Below is sponsored content. It does not involve the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times or Times Community News.

READERS’ CHOICE WINNERS AND FAVORITES

Orange County’s Best: TimesOC’s Readers’ Choice” was compiled by L.A. Times Custom Publishing. Click on the section titles for more information about the winners and favorites.

ENTERTAINMENT & LIVING:

BEST BEACH
Huntington Beach (winner)
Laguna Beach
Little Corona Del Mar Beach
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina

BEST CITY
Newport Beach (winner)
Irvine
Costa Mesa
Aliso Viejo

BEST COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
Cal State Fullerton (winner)
Chapman University
University of California Irvine
Orange Coast College

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort (winner)
City National Grove of Anaheim
The Coach House Concert Hall
The Observatory

BEST LIVE THEATER
Segerstrom Center for the Arts (winner)
Irvine Barclay Theatre
South Coast Repertory
ImprovCity

BEST MUSEUM
The Richard Nixon Library & Museum (winner)
Discovery Cube Orange County
Bowers Museum
Orange County Museum of Art

BEST ORANGE COUNTY ATTRACTION
The Richard Nixon Library & Museum (winner)
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina
Bowers Museum
Roger’s Gardens

BEST ORANGE COUNTY EVENT
OC Fair (winner)
Roger’s Garden Holiday
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort 4th of July
Newport Beach Wine & Food

BEST SPORTS TEAM
Los Angeles Angels (winner)
Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club
Los Angeles Dodgers

FOOD AND DRINK:

BEST 24-HOUR RESTAURANT
Harbor House Cafe (winner)
Norms Restaurants

BEST BAKERY
Pain Du Monde (winner)
Toast Kitchen & Bakery
Blackmarket Bakery
Paris Baguette

BEST BAR
The Rooftop Lounge (winner)
Golden Road Brewing
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens
Back Bay Bistro

BEST BBQ RESTAURANT
Newport Rib Company (winner)
Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

BEST BREAKFAST
The Broken Yolk Cafe (winner)
Cultivation Kitchen
Farmer Boys

BEST BRUNCH
Back Bay Bistro (winner)
Old Vine Kitchen & Bar
Cultivation Kitchen
Golden Road Brewing

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT
Din Tai Fung (winner)
Golden Dragon Restaurant
China Palace Restaurant

BEST COFFEEHOUSE
Kéan Coffee (winner)
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

BEST CRAFT BREWERY
Golden Road Brewing (winner)
Yard House
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

BEST DESSERTS
King’s Fish House (winner)
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens

BEST HAMBURGER
In-N-Out Burger (winner)
Farmer Boys
Back Bay Bistro
Golden Road Brewing

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT
Mayur Cuisine of India (winner)
Tandoori Fresh

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Mama D’s Italian Kitchen (winner)
Nick’s Pizza Ristorante Italiano

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Avila’s El Ranchito (winner)
Descanso Restaurant
Wahoo’s Fish Tacos

BEST PIZZA
Gina’s Pizza (winner)
Nick’s Pizza Ristorante Italiano
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens
Ray’s Pizza

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
King’s Fish House (winner)
Water Grill at South Coast Plaza
Santa Monica Seafood Market & Café
Ways & Means Oyster House

BEST STEAKHOUSE
Vaca (winner)
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Outback Steakhouse
555 East American Steakhouse

BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT
Buddha’s Favorite (winner)
Sushi Imari
Water Grill South Coast Plaza

BEST THAI RESTAURANT
Royal Thai Cuisine (winner)
Thai Del Mar Restaurant

BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT
Lotus Bistro (winner)
Pho Lantern Café

BEST WINE SELECTION
Hi-Time Wine Cellars (winner)
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
The Capital Grille
555 East American Steakhouse

HEALTH & WELLNESS:

BEST CHIROPRACTIC
Newport Center Family Chiropractic (winner)
Di Siena and Irvine Chiropractic, Nutrition and Brain Wellness

BEST COSMETIC SURGERY GROUP
Dr. Lavinia K. Chong (winner)
Facial Aesthetic Concepts
Orange County Plastic Surgery
The Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery & Aesthetic Lounge

BEST DENTAL IMPLANTS OFFICE
Mark Kramer, DDS (winner)
Dental2000

BEST GENERAL DENTISTRY
Ford Dental Group (winner)
Johnson & Genc Dentistry
Newport Beach Dental Associates: Dr. Liviu Gold
Laguna Hills Family Dentistry

BEST HEALTH & FITNESS CLUB
24 Hour Fitness (winner)
Core Reform Pilates - Westcliff Plaza
9Rounds Fitness Orange

BEST HEARING AIDS CLINIC
Ears to Hear (winner)
Costco Hearing Aid Centers

BEST HOSPITAL
Hoag Memorial Hospital (winner)
CHOC Children’s Hospital
St. Joseph Hospital
UC Irvine Medical Center

BEST MEDICAL GROUP
Lee Regenerative Medical Institute (winner)
Hoag Medical Group
St. Joseph Heritage Group
Monarch HealthCare

HOME & GARDEN:

BEST DOORS & WINDOW
California Replacement Windows (winner)
Pacific Kitchen Bath & Flooring

BEST FLOORING/CARPETS
Belmont Carpets and Wood Flooring (winner)
Pacific Kitchen Bath & Flooring
Flooring Kitchen and Bath Design

BEST FURNITURE STORE
Ashley Homestore (winner)
Terra Outdoor Living
The Find Consignments & The Find Consignments Etc.
Daniels Home Center

BEST HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING
Associated Heating & Air (winner)
Nexgen Air
Service Champions Heating & Air Conditioning

BEST KITCHEN AND BATH
Cabinet Factories Outlet (winner)
Reborn Cabinets Inc.
Builders Surplus Kitchen & Bath Cabinets
Pacific Kitchen Bath & Flooring

BEST MATTRESS STORE
Custom Comfort Mattress (winner)
Macy’s
Orange County Mattress
Newport Bedding Company

BEST NURSERY/GARDENING
Roger’s Gardens (winner)
Armstrong Garden Centers
Blue Hills Nursery & Gift Shop
Green Thumb Nursery, Lake Forest

BEST OUTDOOR LIVING
Roger’s Gardens (winner)
Terra Outdoor Living
Summerset Superstore

BEST PEST CONTROL
Rodents Stop (winner)
Orkin Pest & Termite Control

BEST PLUMBER
Mr. Rooter: Malcolm Plumbing (winner)
Nexgen Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing
Ritz Plumbing
C&R Drains Inc.

BEST SOLAR POWER
Solar City (winner)
Solatube Home
SunPower
SolarMax Technology, Inc.

LUXURY OC LIVING:

BEST CASINO DESTINATION
Pechanga Resort Casino (winner)
Pala Casino Resort Spa
Morongo Casino Resort and Spa
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa

BEST DAY SPA
Spa Montage Laguna Beach (winner)
Burke Williams
Bodycentre Suites & Wellness
Gregorie’s Day Spa & Salon Bodycentre Suites & Wellness

BEST GOLF COURES
Pelican Hill Golf Club (winner)
Anaheim Hills Golf Course
Mile Square Golf Course
Old Rance Country Club

BEST JEWELER
Fredric H. Rubel Jewelers (winner)
The Jewelry Exchange in Tustin
The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest
Hyde Park Jewelers

BEST LUXURY AUTO
Crevier BMW (winner)
Newport Lexus
Aston Martin Newport Beach

BEST OC RESORT HOTEL
Montage Laguna Beach (winner)
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort
The Resort at Pelican Hill
Lido House Hotel, Autograph Collection

BEST SHOPPING DESTINATION
Fashion Island (winner)
South Coast Plaza
Roger’s Gardens
OC Market Place

BEST PETS:
Baxter, Gidget, Lucy, Magic & Lucky, Miss Lucky, Oliver Winter Anderson, Roxy the Doxie, the Jumping Finn, Zoe & Elvira, Maggie, Indie and Chewby

`REAL ESTATE:

BEST REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE
Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices California Properties (winner)
Hanold Properties

BEST MORTGAGE/LOAN PROVIDER
USA Mortgage (winner)
Mortgage Team of America: James W. Gordon, Jr.

BEST NEW HOME BUILDER
Landsea Homes (winner)
The Olson Company
Shea Homes
Toll Brothers

BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT
Hanold Properties Regan Beegle and George Hanold (winner)
John Stanaland, Villa Real Estate
Tim Smith, Coldwell Banker
Hillary Caston, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

BEST COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties (winner)
Hanold Properties
The Irvine Company

SENIOR LIVING:

BEST ASSISTED LIVING
Crestavilla - An Atria Signature Residence (winner)
Atria Del Sol

BEST HEALTH INSURANCE
Blue Cross and Blue Shield (winner)
Monarch HealthCare

BEST HOME CARE REFERRALS
A Place For Mom St. (winner)
Visiting Angels

BEST MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
Medical Store (winner)
DMES Medical Supply Store

BEST RETIREMENT COMMUNITY
Crestavilla - An Atria Signature Residence (winner)
Atria
Heritage Pointe
Leisure World Seal Beach

BEST SENIOR LEISURE
Leisure World Seal Beach (winner)
Carnival Cruise Lines

BEST SENIOR TRANSPORTATION
Age Well Senior Services (winner)
OCTA Santa Ana Base Life Fleet

BEST APPLIANCE STORE
RSSA Home Improvement, Inc. (winner)
Howard’s Appliance
Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove Showroom

BEST AUTO DEALER, DOMESTIC
Theodore Robins Ford (winner)
David Wilson’s Ford of Orange
Courtesy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Orange County

BEST AUTO DEALER, IMPORT
Fletcher Jones Motorcars (winner)
Crevier BMW
South County Lexus

BEST BANK
Bank of America (winner)
Opus Bank
Poppy Bank

BEST CAMERA STORE
Fullerton Cameras (winner)
Samy’s Camera
Figge Photography
Best Buy

BEST CHARITY
CHOC Children’s Foundation (winner)
Goodwill of Orange County
Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire
Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center

BEST THRIFT STORE
Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center (winner)
Goodwill Of Orange County, Goodwill Boutique
Charity’s Closet

BEST GOLF SHOP
Roger Dunn Golf Shops (winner)
Steve Carfano’s Newport Beach Golf Shop
Anaheim Hills Golf Course

BEST INDEPENDENT GROCER
Sprouts Farmers Market (winner)
Mother’s Market & Kitchen
Northgate Market
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market Costa Mesa

BEST LAW FIRM
Easton & Easton, LLP (winner)
Robinson Calcagnie, Inc.
Accident Lawyers Firm
SMTD Law, LLP

BEST LOCAL CREDIT UNION
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union (winner)
American First Credit Union
Eagle Community Credit Union
SDCCU

BEST PET CLINIC
Anaheim Hills Pet Clinic (winner)
Huntington Pet Vet
Mariners Mile Pet Clinic
All Creatures Care Cottage

BEST PET STORE
PetSmart (winner)
Anaheim Hills Pet Clinic
Petco Zoom
Room Dog Training

BEST PET BOARDING
Anaheim Hills Pet Clinic (winner)
Julie’s Pet Grooming and Boarding

BEST PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE
Mercury Insurance (winner)
First American Property and Casualty
Fairbanks Insurance Brokers, Inc.
Jason Starkman - State Farm Agency

BEST RV SALES AND SERVICE
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort (winner)
Mike Thompson’s RV Super Store
El Monte RV
Dennis Dillon RV

BEST SURF SHOP
Jack’s Surfboards (winner)
Frog House

BEST TIRE STORE
America’s Tire (winner)
Morrison Tire Inc. Garden Grove Auto Repair

For more information on the Readers’ Choice winners, visit latimes.com/brandpublishing/best-of-times-oc

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