With its iconic sunny climate, Southern California offers a plethora of eateries, beaches and unexpectedly awesome things to do in Orange County. The affluent beach communities are known for being the ultimate place to shop, eat and relax. Whether you’re looking to escape the never ending cold winters, improve your surfing skills or tan in the sun. As Destination Wedding Photographers, it’s part of our job to know where all the cool spots are. Check out our must-list of local gems and tried-and-true favorites!
Anaheim Packing District
Built in 1919 at the edge of downtown, the Anaheim Packing District is now both a historic landmark and community gathering space. The restored packing house features two levels of dining surrounding an indoor central atrium, as well as outdoor picnic gardens and a building length dining porch.
Most days you can find live bands playing resulting in a lively, energetic space. We especially love the industrialized vibes the interior has with its carefully placed succulents, and swings hanging from the ceiling.
A lot of the restaurants have craft beer on tap and is a fun place to grab some drinks with friends. Even better, you can enjoy your beer anywhere on the premises because the liquor license extends throughout the entire building.
Be prepared to have difficulty finding parking. You can pay $3 for valet, or spend time driving around the neighborhood for curb parking. The packing house is open DAILY at 9am for breakfast! Individual restaurant hours will very. Bars open until midnight.
One of our personal favorites inside is :
Let’s start by saying, the garlic fries are bomb. If you’re going to go to The Kroft, then you have to try them! The poutines – crispy fries topped with cheese curds and gravy – also an essential menu item. Known as a Canadian junk food staple, Josh (being Canadian) is obsessed with them.
Pair either of those fries with any of their sandwiches – especially the prime rib melt, and some housemade craft beer, for the perfect meal.
Anaheim Packing District Address : 440 S. Anaheim Blvd
Located in the heart of Costa Mesa, The Camp offers a non-traditional hipster retail community. All of the brands are health conscious or strongly emphasize an active lifestyle. Throughout the year, several educational events, art shows and exhibits bring the community together.
Some of our personal favorite retailers include :
Seed People’s Market
The Seed People’s Market is one of favorite places to shop in Orange County, California. It is a curated collection of footwear, outdoor gear, home goods and accessories. They offer well known eco-friendly brands and highlight local artisans from third world countries. Their purpose is to educate, encourage and inspire sustainable living.
We fully support their products with a purpose and shop here first for any birthdays, or events that may require a gift. Their candle section alone is enough to stop in for a look. We love smelling the new scents that are released each month. Or, when we are heading out for a camping trip, it’s a great place to get sustainable clothing to wear.
Old Vine Cafe
The cozy, and inviting bistro is one of the best places for breakfast in Orange County. From the moment you walk in, you are greeting with warmth, and served the menus on easels. Inspired by the cafes of Europe, all of the menu options are made with fresh, locally sourced organic cuisine in a Southern Italy style. The Old Vine Cafe serves daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, but is most known for their Sunday brunch.
On our last visit, we ordered the Southern Brunch – two eggs, fresh baked biscuit & apple butter, house made scrapple (Ponhaus) and panko crusted fried green tomato. Mmm, mmmm, mm!
Native Foods Cafe
If you’ve never been in a yurt before (basically a giant round tent) then you need to eat at Native Foods Cafe. The menu is 100% plant based. They serve made-from-scratch gourmet vegetarian cuisine to thousands of food lovers everyday. Seasonally updated one of a kind dishes, delicious desserts and homemade beverages. Their homemade tempeh and seitan are the best we’ve had.
But, let’s be honest – the real hidden gem of this cafe is their gluten free, vegan cupcakes. The moist cupcake is topped with smooth, chocolate frosting and one of our favorites.
This cute little caffe serves some of the best gelato we’ve ever had! We love going in to sample their newest flavor and get a scoop to share. We also love coming here for lunch to have their unique flatbread sandwiches.
Ecco will make you start drooling from the moment you inhale it’s delicious scents wafting through the Anaheim Packing District. They serve fresh Italian cuisine using locally farmed ingredients. Their menu includes simple salads, fish, meat, and various other choices – but if you’re going to order – get the pizza. All pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven and are delicious.
When you’re done licking your plate, because their pizza is seriously that good, it’s time for dessert. The Zeppole (Italian Doughnuts) are devine. They are served with warm dark chocolate sauce and sweet cream for dipping. There are other options to choose from of course, but that those are our favorite.
The Camp Address : 2937 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
“Little American Business” – The Lab is a place to escape all the perfectly plotted palm trees amidst Orange County’s suburbia. An old night vision google factory was recycled into the homey, indoor/outdoor retail space.
The Gypsy Den was one of the first alternative cafes we found in Orange County, and soon became one of our favorites! Part coffee house, and part live indie music venue, the bohemian atmosphere drew us in. The interior features mismatching dining chairs, couches and eclectic artwork on the walls. It’s the perfect cozy spot to grab a bite to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Our personal favorite is the housemade tuna melt sandwich mixed with green apples, celery and mayo with tomatoes and melted cheddar cheese.
The Buffalo Exchange
If you love thrift store prices, but not the smell The Buffalo Exchange is the perfect place for you. It’s a funky, fun place to shop or bring unwanted trendy fits. Most people feel they’re picky what they buy from customers, but they purposefully look for vintage inspired pieces. We love to browse this location every so often to find some unique outfits for our wardrobe.
The Lab Address : 2930 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The OC Mix
With over 70 carefully curated retailers, the OC Mix offers a unique atmosphere.
Portola Coffee Lab
Located in the heart of the Oc Mix mart, Portola Coffee land can’t be missed. They have one mission, and they do it well – to make the best damn coffee you can find. You have to be a certain kind of coffee snob to enjoy the coffee here, the baristas take their job very seriously. But, fear not, they welcome everyone to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Each cup of coffee is laboriously brewed to perfection.
If you’re a furniture junkie like we are, then you have to check this place out! Defined by bold, and imaginative pieces from around the world, Hd Buttercup has become one of the places for can’t-find-anywhere-else collections. From eclectic rugs, to mid century modern couches, they have everything you need to make your home complete. Each time you shop here, they will have something new and different to look at.
“Eat well, live well” is the moto at Greenleaf Gourmet. They use the finest and freshest local ingredients combined with gourmet cooking techniques. We were super impressed with their entire menu selection and customer service.
For a healthy breakfast, head on over to the Bistro Papillote. Specializing in french cuisine, their menu will have your mouth watering. An open ceiling, red velvet banquettes, white linens and flowers on the tables make for a romantic setting. The service is quick, and the prices are very reasonable for the quality of ingredients.
We highly recommend the Salmon salad and the ham crepes. We polished our plates clean and can’t wait to go back and do it all over again!
The Oc Mix Address : 3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The mint coffee. Ohhh, the mint coffee. You need to try it at Philz Coffee. They brew every cup one at a time, crafting it to every individual customer’s taste. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by a barista that excitedly helps you find the perfect blend. As a full service coffee bar, they take care of everything from grinding the means, to mixing in your cream and sugar. But seriously, you need to try the mint coffee.
Ok, we’ll admit – Lemonade is really just a high end cafeteria. BUT, it is so freaking yummy! You grab a tray, the people behind the counter scoops a serving of food into a bowl. You start from cold sand dishes, to meats, to sandwiches then hot foods. Portions here are relatively small for the price point, but it’s worth trying at least once for lunch. Then, to top it all off, they have several lemonade options to order that are super refreshing. Best part is, they validate your parking so it is completely free for the day!
Pacific City Address : 21010 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92648