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With Mother’s Day in under a week, she deserves more than a card after the past year. Reserve a table, order that present online or pick it up yourself. Go above and beyond this holiday weekend.
Anne Marie Panoringan
Voice of OC’s food columnist — reporting on industry news, current events and trends. Panoringan’s prior work includes writing about food for 8 years at the OC Weekly in which she interviewed more than 330 chefs, restauranteurs and industry professionals for her weekly “On the Line” column. She has been recognized by the Orange County Press Club and she also is a recurring guest on AM 830’s SoCal Restaurant Show.
The Ranch Restaurant, Anaheim
Many dining rooms reserve brunch for special occasions as it involves a great deal of preparation beforehand; The Ranch is one of those places. While guests can book a dinner reservation, seize the chance to offer Mom a quartet of courses ($95) earlier in the day. Available between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for indoor, outdoor or takeout, allow chefs/brothers Michael and David Rossi to orchestrate your meal from behind the exhibition kitchen glass.
From the get-go, selections are a treat: salmon tartine, duck confit ravioli, scallops and lobster or Di Stefano buratta (pictured). Your server will pour a complimentary glass of bubbles while you decide. Get your country-fried flat iron steak on, alongside sour cream whipped potatoes, or go for it and request the smoked gouda quiche with asparagus and black truffles. Chef David’s dessert skills make final courses memorable at The Ranch so save room – I’m eyeing the peach crostata with blueberry gelato. Reservations required.
Portillo’s, Buena Park
Perhaps your mom is like mine, and all she wants is your love. Send that in the form of a heart-shaped chocolate (or lemon) cake nestled in a matching tray. Simple, sweet and to the point, I’ve gifted them for birthdays that fell around Valentine’s.
This year, they’ve also teamed up with charity No Kid Hungry to donate $5 from each purchase. Dessert for a cause means twice the reason to take out your wallet. Purchase ($15.99) in-store between May 6-9, call 866-YUM-BEEF or order online. Pre-orders are recommended. A leveled-up version that includes DIY frosting and a spatula is also available.
Cafe Sevilla, Costa Mesa
Upping the ante on Mother’s Day, Spanish cuisine is an all-day musical affair at The Triangle’s Cafe Sevilla.
At 10 a.m., a DJ spins for those interested in brunching hard with 16-hour braised rioja short rib hash or a meaty breakfast paella. Bonus: A full dinner menu will also be available to order from during daytime service. If bottomless mimosas get you light-headed, opt for the celebratory glass provided with your meal.
In the evening, standard dinner service includes Latin sounds from Tian Musica from 6-8 p.m. An expansive patio and contactless mobile pay option enable physical distancing. If choosing from the a la carte dinner menu is your preference, this is Sevilla’s best option.
However for an authentic experience, book the separate 5:30 p.m. flamenco dinner show ($89.50 pre-tax, surcharge and gratuity per person) ahead of time. A pre-set menu of lemon tart with cherries, award-winning paella Valenciana, shaved jamón serrano salad and welcome glass of sangria await. It’s a lively, sensory experience for date or family night. The flamenco dinner show is ideal for an early evening and catching the sunset afterwards. Call for reservations.
Tuxton Home Giveaway: Sharing Memories of Mom
Do you have a memorable food moment with your mother? Between now and Mother’s Day, Tuxton Home is accepting submissions from folks ready to tell their story. Simply follow this link, share the memory and upload a photo. Those with the most votes will receive a vintage Bloom Collection porcelain fine china tea set edged in 24-karat gold trim, plus an 8-piece Duratux stainless steel Tri-Ply cookware set. And if you’re wondering how to share the prize with mom, they’ve got you both covered: the applicant receives a set of each for themselves as well, totaling $1,500. Now that’s a comprehensive prize.
Marche Moderne, Newport Coast
For socially distant and takeaway indulgence, head to the water. A year ago, Marche Moderne sold out of its decadent, to-go brunch boxes. This time around, Amelia and Florent Marneau are doubling down, providing in-person dinner service in addition to an ultimate take-home option. Whether you choose a daytime or evening fete, the kitchen has you covered. Those dining on property will be pleased to know its à la carte dinner menu will be in place.
Nicknamed “La Totale,” the ultimate Mother’s Day brunch satiates four for $410. Chef Amelia orchestrates a petite floral bouquet for each box, providing one less task for patrons to think about. Making this package pop is an included bottle of Taittinger champagne, plus a liter of housemade white sangria. A comprehensive spread of baked delights follow, including blueberry scones with pineapple butter, praline chocolate croissants and cannelés de Bordeaux.
For the savory component, it is simply too much to fully list. Highlights such as crab and celery deviled eggs, pork belly rillette, grilled Maine lobster, roasted filet with mint sauce and mini croque madames are only half the inclusions. If this meal doesn’t warrant a nap afterwards, you’re doing it wrong. Request your brunch box at (714) 434-7900.
City Cruises by Hornblower
Instead of just a view of the water, get out in the water with a trio of boating packages for your morning or evening dining needs. Setting sail out of Newport (with options in San Diego and Marina del Rey if mom is further away), each cruise is a total of two hours and guarantees a private table for your party. OC brunch time ($88) is a buffet, while dinners ($114.90) are a plated meal. Menus and further details for your cruising excursion can be found on the City Cruises website.
Cinco de Mayo Stops
A typical Cinco may involve drinking margaritas and tequila, but it doesn’t have to. Bring the family, make it a date night or order takeout — there are other ways to party. Save the hangover for another night.
Puesto’s, Newest Location in Huntington Beach
As of April 23, Puesto’s third Orange County outpost debuted in Huntington Beach’s freeway-accessible Bella Terra plaza. At 7,600 square feet, there’s plenty of room for dining indoors or out. An industrial vibe, color-changing light installation and motorized shelving units at the bar make it the most avant-garde of the bunch. In addition to the eye candy decor, catch the not-so-behind-the-scenes action in Puesto’s expansive exhibition kitchen. Watching the rhythm of cooks coordinating movements while maintaining a tortilla-making station is as synchronized as pairs ice skating.
The modern Mexico City cuisine is back with crispy, melty cheese layers in its tacos, robust flavors in the enchilada offerings and a shareable bread pudding thanks to executive chef and partner Luisteen Gonzalez. A curated bar program is overseen by Beau de Bois, formerly of The Restaurant at Meadowood. Check out Puesto’s agave spirits collection in the form of signature cocktails, or toast over one of a few house brews crafted in San Diego’s Mission Valley.
To promote Del Taco’s new Crunchtadas (think Mexican pizza from a similar fast food chain), they are offering a buy one, get one free deal by phoning 1-877-3-GHOSTED for a promotional code. I agreed to visit the Lake Forest headquarters and sit down with chief marketing officer Tim Hackbardt to try some for myself.
As a former Mexican pizza fan growing up, I was surprised by how good these tasted. A sturdy base maintained its integrity under hearty toppings in the original Crunchtada tostada for a dollar. The beefy queso version was almost like its fast food counterpart yet better. And for $3, a chicken guacamole was the best of the bunch, offering juicy grilled poultry and some of the house-made guacamole they create daily. When you’re done ordering, request a peach or blueberry lemonade popper to balance out the savoriness.
Descanso Restaurant, Costa Mesa
Descanso Restaurant in Costa Mesa reopened its plancha dining this month. If you haven’t reserved a seat for it before, then it’s new to you! In relatable terms, this is Benihana-style, cook at your table, hibachi meets street taco tastes. There’s less emphasis on theatrics, instead focusing on a higher-quality experience in terms of proteins and cooking technique at this modern taqueria.
To begin, I suggest a tomato-based fideo over its Caesar counterpart; the soup’s toasted noodles and queso fresco accents provide a nuanced mouthfeel. If you enjoy rice with your tacos, know that the fried Mexican grains are served earlier than the main course – try not to finish it early. Chile Morita aioli adds zest to our carne asada selection, although I should’ve added a queso frito layer to dinner because cheese makes everything better. Bonus: There are chile rellenos and rajas (mushroom) con queso options for vegetarian tastes.
NOW OPEN: Comedor Laguna Beach
Formerly K’ya Bistro, the main level restaurant at La Casa del Camino has been renovated in more ways than a fresh coat of paint. A pared down menu created by Top Chef alumni Marcel Vigneron combined with a revamped cocktail lineup has the new Comedor, open for dinner as of April 30.
Spanish for dining room, Comedor welcomes with grand wrought iron chandeliers hovering over carved wood and marble tabletops. Accents such as rose gold cutlery and earthy green seats provide a subtle pop of color. Its narrow patio is ideal for private conversations and Pacific Coast Highway people-watching.
Created for group sharing, the tapas portion of Comedor’s menu offers a number of selections for vegan and gluten-free preferences. The sweetness of carrot and apricot fritters is offset by a tamarind yogurt dipping sauce. More adventurous tastes should lean towards charred Spanish octopus with its squid ink-infused romesco contributing a saline component. A tortilla española’s precise layers of egg and potato are finished with an aji aioli for a bold finish.
Diners preferring classic combinations will notice familiar listings of mai tais, mojitos, sangrias and daquiris. Updated cocktail selections respectfully cover most spirits. Pink-hued La Brisa is poured with gin, Lillet Blanc, St. Germain and rosewater. My drink of choice was El Sol, mixing passion fruit, yellow chartreuse and white rum finished with mint. Head south from the main drag of Laguna for Comedor, a respite from the upcoming Pageant of the Masters crowd.
Anne Marie Panoringan is the food columnist for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at email@example.com.