Serving up a fresh feast for OC Restaurant Week

Avocado toast with boiled egg and crunchy garlic sauce at Verdant.
More than 165 Orange County restaurants will participate in OC Restaurant Week, which is in its 15th year. New restaurants like Verdant, the cafe at Orange County Museum of Art, will participate, offering items like their avocado toast with boiled egg and crunchy garlic sauce, shown above.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

OC Restaurant Week returns for its 15th year this month, with over 150 restaurants cooking up special menus for the occasion. Beginning March 5 and running until March 11, participating dining destinations will offer a variety of prix fixe menus.

“It’s hard to believe that OC Restaurant Week has been celebrating our dynamic culinary landscape and shining a light on the many talented, passionate chefs and restaurateurs in our communities for 15 years,” said Pamela Waitt, founder of OC Restaurant Week and president of OC Restaurant Assn., Inc.

Participating restaurants offer menus that range from $15 to $60 for brunch, $15 to $25 for lunch and $25 to $60 for dinner. Luxe menus with more premium items, like filet mignon or a bottle of wine range from $60 to $120 from restaurants like Morton’s Steak House and Great Maple. Family meals that can feed up to four are available from Scratch Bakery Cafe for $40 and Three Roots Mexican Cocina for $140.


Last year was the first year OC Restaurant Week returned to in-person dining after two years of takeout due to the pandemic. Many restaurants are still digging themselves out of the hole the COVID-19 pandemic sunk them in.

Verdant's roasted sweet potato with lemongrass coconut milk and watermelon radish.
Verdant at the O.C. Museum of Art will participate in OC Restaurant Week, offering items like this roasted sweet potato with lemongrass coconut milk and watermelon radish.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“Restaurants have been through so much over the past few years, and we are more committed than ever to help connect diners who are hungry to explore our diverse dining options,” said Waitt.

In honor of the milestone anniversary, special cocktails are also being offered for the week. Anaheim White House is offering $14 cilantro margaritas, with Patron Silver, fresh lime, cucumber and cilantro. El Mercado Modern Cuisine in Santa Ana’s special $15 Pink Lady cocktail with Grey Goose vodka, orange liquor, lime and hibiscus shrub is also part of the celebration.

There are dessert deals too. Newport Beach’s Atomic Creamery, for example, is offering buy one get one free on frozen treats of $10.50.

OC Restaurant Week not only gives diners the opportunity to visit their favorite eatery for a special drink or deal but also an incentive to check out a new restaurant for a fresh feast.

“My experience with restaurant week has always been really good,” said chef Ross Pangilinan of Terrace by Mix Mix and Populaire Modern Bistro at South Coast Plaza and the recently opened Verdant, at the Orange County Museum of Art. “It brings a lot of new customers to your restaurant, which is always good.”

Pangilinan’s restaurants are offering special prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner during restaurant week, and he is looking forward to introducing diners to the vegetarian-friendly Verdant.

“The vibe here is a plant forward menu with seasonal ingredients,” said Pangilinan. “We are not serving impossible meats or anything like that, we are serving fresh vegetables that we cook with a variety of techniques. We also have a charcuterie board and you can add salmon or chicken to each dish, so there is a little something for everyone.”

Chefs Philip Tangonan and Ross Pangilinan, from left, at their new restaurant Verdant in Costa Mesa.
Chefs Philip Tangonan and Ross Pangilinan, from left, are participating in OC Restaurant Week with their new restaurant Verdant, at the café at O.C. Museum of Art in Costa Mesa.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

For OC Restaurant Week, Verdant is offering a prix fixe lunch menu for $25 and a prix fixe dinner menu for $35.

“We are offering some of our most popular dishes because we want our guests to come and have our heavy-hitters,” said Pangilinan.

Choice of starters includes baby gem salad with toasted farro, avocado, tomato, cucumber, black radish and preserved lemon vinaigrette, avocado toast with heirloom tomato, medium boiled egg and crunchy chili garlic or seasonal soup.

“We always have a soup,” said Pangilinan. “A lot of time it is a vegetable puree or a vegetable stew, but it‘s always vegan.”

Entree choices include roasted sweet potato and heirloom carrots in lemongrass coconut milk topped with watermelon radish, pea tendrils and sesame seeds.

“We roast our sweet potato low and slow, so it gets nice and caramelized on the outside and really tender in the middle,” Pangilinan said. “We make a lemongrass coconut milk that is like a coconut curry; it eats really well together.”

Baby gem salad at Verdant, one of the participating restaurants during OC Restaurant Week.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The other entree choice is farmers market vegetable tagine with dates, apricot, almonds, and cilantro emulsion over basmati rice.

“We cook it for about 3½ hours,” said chef Philip Tangonan, who also helped open Pangilinan’s Populaire. “We are slow roasting the vegetables. We like to use whatever is in season, so right now we are using butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, zucchini and yellow squash.”

Dessert is a choice of olive oil cake or vegan ice cream.

The Orange County Museum of Art has free admission too, so Tangonan hopes people will make a day of a visit to Verdant.

“It is exciting because it is a new restaurant and we get to introduce ourselves to the community,” said Tangonan.

A full list of participating OC Restaurant Week restaurants and their menus can be found at

Olive oil cake with blackberries at Verdant inside OCMA.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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