The Irvine Spectrum Center’s outdoor dining scene is one of the best in California. The food is exceptional and plentiful (there are more than 50 restaurants in the center). And the courtyards are inspired worldwide and breathtakingly beautiful. Here are some examples.
It’s a relapse feeling. Authentic Cuba. Not cheesy, just designed to look like the island nation from the 1950s.
Cuban jazz – maybe machito – choreographs the bananas and palm trees swaying across the restaurant’s three outdoor terraces. The deliberately aged mosaic floors, vintage umbrellas and pastel colors complete the visual experience.
Unsurprisingly, rum rules the drinks menu – Habana has around 60 to choose from, including the famous Don Q. 20 Year Reserva.
Be sure to try the chef’s specialties, such as the Chimichurri rock steak El Churrasco or Medianoche – braised pork shoulder, pressed in a sweet roll.
Javier’s has been a well-known restaurant on the Irvine Spectrum since opening in 2004. It just got better after a complete makeover with expanded outdoor dining.
The first thing you’ll notice is the new 2,700-square-foot indoor-outdoor terrace with a fully stocked bar. The natural wood thatched ceiling gives it the boutique charm of a Yucatan locale, perhaps Tulum. The new lounge and entrance give it a five-star luxury feeling.
Javier Sosa, owner and namesake of the restaurant, describes his menu as “the food we eat in our homes, but with the best ingredients you can get”.
His approach makes Javier’s one of the best in Orange County.
Seung Yang meets with San Diego fishermen before dawn, long before his Robata Wasa opens daily.
He is looking for the perfect sea urchin. This is the specialty of his restaurant, and the uni pasta is the most popular dish.
Yang relies on Chef Miki to guide the menu. He was a sushi chef for 30 years and began his training as a teenager in Japan. Outside, the palatial columns of the extended terrace give it elegance. The indoor and outdoor bar gives it sophistication. Try a flight on Japanese whiskeys – some of the best in the world.
Robata Wasa’s spicy tuna crispy rice: Fried rice patties with spicy tuna, jalapeno, black tobiko and sweet black pepper sauce.