What a difference two years make.

Two years ago, theaters, museums and concert halls were shut down, arts and culture programming went online, and friends and families gathered on Zoom to celebrate the holidays.

Now in 2022, it’s almost as if the coronavirus pandemic never happened.

Sure, the enormous loss of life and epic toll on our mental and emotional well-being are still being assessed. Masks are still available and worn at some crowded indoor venues. And vaccinations and flu shots (or negative tests, remember those?) are still recommended, but proof isn’t typically required for entrance anymore. 

Here’s a look at some of the best O.C. holiday offerings in the areas of culture, visual arts, dance, theater, classical music and food, brought to you by Voice of OC’s talented arts and culture writers.

Note: This is not an encyclopedic list. If your favorite arts or cultural institution is not included here, visit the organization’s website.

Happy holidays from the A&C team at Voice of OC!

CULTURE

If you ever heard the saying “best for last,” this is the time of year where it is most applicable. While some people look forward to the summer season’s festive fireworks, others have been waiting all year long for the holiday-packed month that is December. Dozens of cultural celebrations await Orange County residents as they head into the winter season, and luckily, most of them are catered to the entire family. 

Numerous entertainment activities line the programs of these events, from candle lighting to tree lighting ceremonies and musical performances to aerial performances. Participate in one or all of Orange County’s most popular holiday events this winter, including multiple Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas celebrations scattered across the region. Below is a small sample of what a winter holiday event catalog would look like in Orange County. – Kim Pham

The Aliso Viejo Recreation and Community Services Department will kick off the holiday season’s entertainment lineup with live performances from local talents at its fifth annual winter holiday event in the city’s Town Center on Dec. 1. Credit: Photo courtesy of Aliso Viejo Recreation and Community Services Department

5th Annual All is Bright Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: 5-8 p.m., Dec. 1
Where: Aliso Viejo Town Center Fountain & Amphitheater, Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo
Cost: Free
Contact: avcity.org

The Aliso Viejo Recreation and Community Services Department will be hosting its fifth annual holiday event in the city’s Town Center plaza. Guests can kick off the holiday season with a special visit from St. Nick, followed by the tree lighting ceremony where organizers will light a 22-foot tree. The department encourages guests to bring the whole family, as there will be activities for all ages including photo opportunities, magical snow, a trackless train, ornament-making, aerial performances and more.

Similar to the previous year’s event, this year’s Kwanzaa Breakfast at the Fullerton Arboretum is open to the local community to celebrate Kwanzaa principles with students and community partners of the university, the Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation, and the African American Studies Department. Credit: Photo courtesy of The Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation

Kwanzaa Breakfast Celebration

When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Dec. 9
Where: Fullerton Arboretum, Bacon Pavilion, 1900 Associated Road, Fullerton
Cost: Free
Contact: ibii@fullerton.edu

California State University, Fullerton’s Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation is partnering with Cal State Fullerton’s African American Studies Department once again to host their second annual Kwanzaa Breakfast celebration. The South Side Symphony, an orchestra passionate about Black music, will be returning to give a musical performance at the event for the second year in a row. Their music represents an orchestral take on a fusion of neo-soul, R&B, gospel, rap, anime music and any other genre that the members might be feeling. 

In addition to enjoying the live entertainment, people can also participate in a financial literacy activity and an economics panel discussion in the Kwanzaa spirit of creativity and cooperative economics, two of the holiday’s seven major values. According to the official Kwanzaa website, the African American and Pan-African community typically celebrates this holiday by organizing activities around The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa – the other five being unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, purpose and faith.

Ladera Ranch Menorah Lighting

When: 4-6 p.m., Dec. 18
Where: Town Green, 28801 Sienna Parkway, Ladera Ranch
Cost: Free
Contact: laderalife.com

Ladera Ranch Community Services (LARCS) will be celebrating the first night of Hanukkah, or more traditionally known as Chanukah, with an annual community gathering known as Ladera Ranch Festival of Lights. This Hanukkah, LARCS is working with local organizations to entertain hundreds of guests with dancing, dreidels, crafts, candle lighting and traditional Hanukkah food.

A menorah is a sacred candelabrum, or branched candle holder, with seven branches. Each branch represents an aspect of human knowledge in the Jewish faith and has also been recognized to signify the seven days of creation. The lighting of the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah symbolizes many things, including but not limited to resurrection, eternal flame and light over darkness.

The Muckenthaler Cultural Center’s Holiday Festival returns, featuring yet another photo opportunity with the notorious bearer of gifts, Santa Claus, and followed by a line of anxious children waiting to ask about their wishlist. Credit: Photo courtesy of The Muckenthaler Cultural Center

Muckenthaler Holiday Festival

When: 12-4 p.m., Dec. 18
Where: Muckenthaler Cultural Center Outdoor Theatre, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton
Cost: Free
Contact: themuck.org

The Muckenthaler Cultural Center invites the public to its annual Holiday Festival, where friends and family of all ages can engage in various holiday activities for free, including art workshops, live entertainment and a photo opportunity with Santa Claus. Dance numbers, musical performances, storytelling and more will be taking place on both stages for the duration of the event. Guests can shop for gifts at the artisan craft fair or make their own at the arts and crafts table for kids on the West Lawn.

VISUAL ARTS

‘Tis the season to decorate galleries, museums and arts centers with gaudy holiday lights!

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when nearly every local museum and cultural center transforms itself into a winter wonderland. COVID protocols seem to have disappeared entirely, despite the rise of strange new variants and the spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu and the common cold.

But museums and galleries have been proven to be far safer spaces than other indoor public environments, according to a study released last year by the Berlin Institute of Technology. That’s because ventilating and HVAC systems tend to be much better in visual art environments, with the intention of preserving the artwork. And people tend to socially distance when checking out art anyway.

In addition, many arts centers are holding holiday events outdoors. Here are a handful of holiday highlights worth exploring. – Richard Chang

Capistrano Lights

When: 4-6 p.m. Dec. 3-20
Where: Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano
Cost: $20 adults, $17 seniors, $14 for children 5-11, and free for children 4 and younger
Contact: (949) 234-1300 or capistranolights.com

The well-loved Capistrano Lights returns to the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano this holiday season. The California landmark grounds will be transformed with festive lights, community-designed Christmas trees, a large-scale nativity scene in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church (circa 1806), Charles Dickens-era carolers, extended backdrops for holiday photos and the nightly 30-foot tree lighting with music at 5 p.m. Children’s activities include Selfies with Santa, crafts by AR Workshop and Elf on a Mission, a daily hunt for Sullivan the Elf and his best friend Poppy. The galleries will remain open until 5:45 p.m. nightly.

The Muzeo Express at Muzeo in Anaheim showcases model trains and dioramas that aim to bring the spirit of the holidays to life. Image courtesy of Muzeo.

Muzeo Express

Where: Muzeo, 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim
When: Dec. 3-Jan. 22
Cost: $10 adults, $8 for Anaheim residents, $7 for children 4-15 and seniors, free for kids 3 and younger
Contact: (714) 765-6450 or muzeo.org

All aboard! The Muzeo Express is back in Muzeo’s Historic Carnegie Building, aka Carnegie Station. This downtown Anaheim holiday tradition has been reimagined for 2022 with a new location, new model train layouts and new displays. You can learn about model train gauges and scales, learn about the Golden Age of Travel, and while you’re there, check out “Houdini Unchained: The Legacy of Harry Houdini,” on display in the Main Gallery.

On Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., both exhibitions are free to celebrate the opening of “Muzeo Express.” The event will feature a scavenger hunt and hot cocoa. And at 6 p.m., the annual Anaheim Nutcracker Village and tree lighting event will occur on nearby Center Street in downtown Anaheim.

32nd Annual Winter Fantasy

Where: 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18; also open on Black Friday, Nov. 25
Cost: $10 adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children 6-12 years old, free for children 5 and younger
Contact: (949) 494-3030 or sawdustsartfestival.org

The Sawdust Art Festival is hosting its 32nd annual Winter Fantasy show, offering handcrafted items by 165 local and international artists. Three stages are presenting live music and community performances daily, Santa will be there for photos, and there will be carolers, marionette puppet shows, art classes, glassblowing and other art demonstrations. 

Muckenthaler Cultural Center

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 for Darden Christmas concert; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 for Hawaiian Christmas concert with Jim Kimo West
Where: 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton
Cost: $15-$30 for concerts
Contact: (714) 738-6595; themuck.org

In addition to the Holiday Festival mentioned above, the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, aka the Muck, is presenting two more holiday-related events. The Darden Sisters, comprised of four sisters (Selah on violin, Clarah on guitar, Havi on mandolin and Tabbi on bass), will perform yuletide classics and contemporary holiday songs on Dec. 15. Grammy winner Jim Kimo West – recognized as one of the world’s top “slack key” guitarists – will put his spin on Christmas songs, complete with hula dancing, on Dec. 22.  

Also running through Dec. 8 is “Intercultural,” an illuminating collection of 25 photographic self-portraits by Sheinina Raj. The artist, who is of mixed background, wears the traditional and authentic dress of various regions and nations of the world, with music by Nelly Furtado and four Quadraphonic Sound and Light boxes made in collaboration with Furtado. Admission is $5. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 

Casa Romantica

When: Select nights from Dec. 1-22, 5-7 p.m.; also Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente
Cost: $12 for general admission; $10 children 2-12, free for children under 2; free on Sundays
Contact: (949) 494-2139 or casaromantica.org

Casa Romantica is once again transforming into a festively decorated winter wonderland this December. The grounds will be illuminated by thousands of lights with a Casa Lumina Holiday Walk, and letters to Santa – with photo opportunities – will occur on Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (free admission). The Orange County Ballet will again give performances of “Casa Nutcracker” at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 ($40). Local acoustic duo Perfect Blend will perform holiday favorites at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 9. 

DANCE

Some of the most notable symbols of the holiday season come in the form of sugarplums and other dancing sweets found in “The Nutcracker.” This time of year would truly not be complete without the nostalgic sounds of Tchaikovsky ringing across stages (and through every shopping mall). Along with your pick of the timeless ballet classic, Orange County audiences can find a cultural celebration of Mexican folk dance and world-renowned contemporary dance. – Kaitlin Wright

Skylar Campbell and wife Jackie Oakley will perform as a part of Laguna Dance Festival’s Holiday Gala. Credit: Photo courtesy of Laguna Dance Festival

Laguna Dance Festival’s “Home for the Holidays”

Where: Surf and Sand Resort, 1555 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach
When: 5 p.m. Dec. 3
Cost: Starting at $250
Contact: lagunadancefestival.org

The Laguna Dance Festival is a nonprofit organization that has presented world-class dance performances in theaters, on film and in public spaces, reaching thousands annually. For the first time, its annual gala will be held during the holiday season. The event includes cocktails at sunset and dance performances throughout the evening. Performers are still to be announced, but past galas have featured new commissions performed by professional artists as well as a live auction, fine dining and more.

Two Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles dancers take the stage during the Nochebuena: Christmas Eve in Mexico celebration in 2019. Credit: Photo courtesy of Musco Center for the Arts/AR Photography

Nochebuena: Christmas Eve in Mexico

Where: Musco Center for the Arts, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22
Cost: Starting at $25
Contact: 714-997-6812, muscocenter.org

Celebrate the season, specifically Nochebuena (Spanish for Christmas Eve), with a spirited display of indigenous Mexican culture, Spanish heritage and more. Two of L.A.’s most acclaimed performance ensembles, Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar, return to Musco Center for the Arts with a show that expresses the Christmas traditions of Mexico. 

“The Nutcracker”

American Ballet Theatre
Where:
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: Various times, Dec. 9-18
Cost: Starting at $29
Contact: 714-556-2787, scfta.org

Anaheim Ballet
Where:
City National Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 25-26 and 2 p.m. Nov. 26
Cost: Starting at $25
Contact: anaheimballet.org/nutcracker

Festival Ballet Theatre
Where:
Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Dr., Irvine
When: Various times, Dec. 10-24
Cost: Starting at $45
Contact: festivalballet.org

Be swept away in the Christmas spirit by dazzling costumes, sets and dancing paired with the festive sounds of Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. Audiences have several chances to catch this perennial favorite including three with a proven presence in Orange County: American Ballet Theatre’s critically acclaimed production by Alexei Ratmansky, and annual productions by local professional companies Anaheim Ballet and Festival Ballet Theatre. Experience the nostalgia and holiday cheer of Clara’s magical journey to the land of sweets.

THEATER

If you’re looking for a measurement of the vitality of local theater this holiday season, look no further than that leading indicator called the Scrooge Index. It’s a terribly complicated algorithm that suggests the more shows staged in the last six weeks of a given year by OC theaters adapted from, inspired by, or gleefully ripped off from Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, “A Christmas Carol,” the more robust the community.

Considering that two years ago there was no live staging of any version of
Dickens’ original and last year there were only two, but this year at least six versions of, or reactions to, “Carol” will hit the local boards, things are looking up. But the full-fledged return of that most venerable cash cow isn’t the only holiday-related play in the works. – Joel Beers

After 37 years of playing several characters in South Coast Repertory’s “A Christmas Carol,” Richards Doyle took over the lead role of Scrooge last year. Credit: Photo courtesy of SCR/Jenny Graham

“A Christmas Carol”

When: Nov. 27-Dec. 26
Where: South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: $35-$101, with additional discounts for those under 12
Contact: 714) 708-5555, scr.org

The Camino Real Playhouse, Musical Theatre Village, the Rose Center Theatre and the Long Beach Playhouse are all producing some version of “Carol,” but this is the one that set the bar and continues to raise it – even amid three of the most challenging of its soon-to-be 43 years of life. Hal Landon Jr., who originated the role of Scrooge, retired from it after the 2019 production. Fellow founding artist Richard Doyle was given the red scarf but had to wait two years before wearing it in public. (Doyle did partner with SCR’s associate artistic director John Glore in 2020 to create an audio recording adapted from an edited performance version that Dickens used when touring.)  

In 2021, Doyle and director Hisa Takakuwa, who had 28 years of experience on the show as an actor and assistant director, debuted in their new roles. While both actor and director are deeply familiar with the show (before taking on Scrooge, Doyle had performed in the show for 37 years) and have a year leading the production under their belts, there is one way this production will feel new: It will mark the first time either has played or directed Scrooge in a house where everybody’s face may be visible (masks are optional).

Every Christmas Story Ever Told and Then Some!”

When: Dec. 8-22
Where: Bold Theatre, 10631 Bloomfield St., Unit 5, Los Alamitos
Cost: $30, $25 for students and veterans
Contact: 562-367-4225, boldtheatre.org

Founder John Pistone launched the Bold Theatre in 2021 in large part to produce plays that sparked conversations about urgent and important concerns.

This isn’t one of them. It is, however, a high-energy “90 minutes of ridiculousness,” Pistone says, a holiday counterpart of “The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged).” But instead of drastically shortening or merging all the Bard’s plays into one evening, the three actors in this 2013 play combine to play 30 characters and have to work as many holiday-related stories, traditions and songs as possible into 90 minutes.

The result, according to Pistone is a “whirlwind of a show that has music and dance elements, improvisation, audience interactivity and just a light and fun piece that gets you in the holiday spirit.” It also channels, or at least mentions just about every well-known Christmas story from classics like “Gift of the Magi,”  to the more pop culture oriented Rudolph and the Grinch – and, of course, ”A Christmas Carol “is mentioned. After all, it’s the reason this play even gets started, as two actors are enthusiastically trying to convince a third to not do what the trio does every December: stage ”A Christmas Carol.” 

Actors in Chance Theater’s 2016 production of “Little Women.” The show will be performed again at the theater during this holiday season. Credit: Photo courtesy of Chance Theater

“Little Women: The Broadway Musical”

When: Nov. 25-Dec. 23
Where: Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Drive, Anaheim
Cost: $25-$49
Contact: (888) 455-4212, chancetheater.com

Along with the Laguna Playhouse, which is producing plays about a wise-cracking nun, the holidays in the Land of Oz, and talented musicians who perform in their undies, the Chance Theater will be the busiest theatrical entity this holiday season.

While it covers a great deal of ground by mounting a play for young audiences, welcoming OC’s first Asian American sketch comedy troupe for two nights, and staging a Broadway musical based on a classic American novel, there seems to be one thing missing from the mix: its own holiday tradition. Most OC theaters that aren’t at least partially subsidized by a local municipality (for wont of a better term call them storefront theaters) tend to choose one holiday show and ride it as long as its audience still turns out. 

SCR is going on 43 years with its show, the Maverick Theater began its “Santa Claus versus the Martians,” in 2006 and Stages Theatre, even though it no longer has its own home, is still doing the radio play of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which it has done every year since 2010. By contrast, since 2010, the Chance has mounted at least a dozen different holiday-themed shows and more than 20 since its first season in 1999. Rather than a holiday show, the Chance mounts a holiday series, which usually involves some sort of mainstage musical along with something lighter or less traditional.

Of all its holiday mainstage shows, “Little Women” has the longest pedigree. A non-musical version was the theater’s first holiday series production in 2001 and this year’s production of the musical will be its fifth, tying it with “Anne of Green Gables” for most times in the holiday series.

It is also a milestone of sorts for at least one performer this year. In 2009, the first year the Chance produced the musical version of “Little Women,” 12-year-old Susan Pierce played Amy March, the youngest of the three sisters. This year, Pierce plays Jo March, the oldest of the three siblings.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Talk about a post-pandemic rebound – musical groups large and small are offering an embarrassment of holiday choices this year, surely one of the most diverse Yuletide music calendars in recent memory. Even if you don’t get out to a concert hall, chances are you’ll run into a beloved and longstanding O.C. holiday tradition. Mixed Company presents its “Tis The Season Handbell Carolers” regularly all over O.C.: Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Five Crowns Restaurant, Summit House Restaurant, and many other places. Mixed Company’s many handbell-playing vocal quartets, dressed in Victorian garb, spread infectious cheer wherever they pop up. – Paul Hodgins

Jazz quartet Manhattan Transfer is being hosted by the Pacific Symphony this holiday season. Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Symphony

Holiday Pops with the Manhattan Transfer

When: 8 p.m. December 16 and 17
Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: $52-$220
Contact: 714-755-5799 or tickets.pacificsymphony.org

Pacific Symphony is offering four tempting musical choices this season. The most traditional among them is Handel’s epic oratorio, “The Messiah.” But those drawn to something more modern might prefer “Holiday Pops with The Manhattan Transfer.” You’ll hear classic Christmas songs from the a cappella vocal group’s two Yuletide-themed albums such as “Happy Holiday,” “Let It Snow,” “Christmas Time Is Here” and “Jingle Bells.” Pacific Symphony opens the program with holiday tunes such as Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall will be decked out in glittery finery for the occasion, and you’ll get an up-close look at the orchestra musicians, conductor and guest artists as cameras project their images onto a big screen above the stage.

Pacific Chorale will hold its annual “‘Tis The Season!” concert at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Credit: Photo courtesy of Pacific Chorale

Tis the Season!

When: 5 p.m. December 18, 7:30 p.m. December 19
Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa
Cost: $32-$165
Contact: 714-662-2345 or pacificchorale.org

Grammy-winning Pacific Chorale has two holiday offerings. “Carols by Candlelight” (Dec. 3 and 7) is a more intimate and reverent concert. But the bigger, splashier event is “Tis the Season!” It’s one of O.C.’s best musical traditions, and it features the large choir performing lush, beautifully arranged versions of classic carols. Conductor Robert Istad leads the ensemble, and the Southern California Children’s Concert Chorus joins in along with members of Pacific Symphony and, at one point, a large, jovial man dressed in red.

A Feast of Lights

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3; 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo
Cost: $20-$30
Contact: 949-582-4656 or saddleback.edu

This beloved event features holiday classics performed by the Saddleback College Chamber Singers, Community Chorale and Symphony Orchestra. The big attractions are an audience sing-along and a fine selection of treats. If you arrive early you can visit the Art Gallery and check out the Student Holiday Sale: an eye-popping selection of unique, handmade items such as ceramics, prints and photos. Proceeds support Saddleback’s arts programs and student artists.

FOOD

This holiday season finds familiar concepts on the move, a brand new dining room for one successful restaurant group, the return of DTSA’s Tamalfest, plus a visit from Nigella Lawson. From Anaheim to San Juan Capistrano, culinary concept scoop to kamayan feast, our roundup is as diverse as the county itself. – Anne Marie Panoringan

Nigella Lawson will talk with Evan Kleiman of KCRW at the Irvine Barclay Theater on Nov. 26. Credit: Photo courtesy of Jane Gillespie

An Evening with Nigella Lawson

When: Saturday, Nov. 26
Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
Cost: $30-$120
Contact: thebarclay.org

British television personality and author Nigella Lawson (with a dozen best-selling cookbooks and over 12 million copies sold) will be responding to audience inquiries while sharing personal and professional anecdotes. KCRW radio host Evan Kleiman will be moderating.

3rd Annual Tamalfest

When: 3-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17
Where: 300 W. 4th St., Santa Ana
Cost: Free to attend; cost of individual vendors varies
Contact: facebook.com/dtsafeelgoodevents

Funded in part by the City of Santa Ana Arts and Culture Office, the 3rd annual DTSA Tamalfest will be held next month. Featuring neighborhood restaurants and live entertainment, the finalized list of participating groups will be announced soon.

Bloom Restaurant and Bar

When: Early to mid-December
Where: 31760 Old Mission Road, Suite A, San Juan Capistrano
Cost: Varies
Contact: bloomsanjuancapistrano.com

From the Orange County restaurant group that oversees Vine, Ironwood, Olea, Sapphire and The Pantry at Sapphire is restaurateur Russ Bendel’s newest concept Bloom. Specializing in chef-partner Jared Cook’s wine country cuisine, its signature dishes include an applewood bacon-wrapped meatloaf with a wild mushroom and sherry reduction plus a Chilean sea bass sauced in blood orange and coriander butter. Bloom’s full bar will be a crosswalk away after spending an afternoon at Mission San Juan Capistrano. 

Modern Filipino Kitchen (MFK) and Pacita’s

When: Saturdays and Sundays throughout December
Where: 2410 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim
Cost: varies
Contact: mfkaysee.com and instagram.com/MFK_aysee

Chef Henry Pineda’s MFK by Aysee recently shuttered in Bellflower, but will be popping up at his existing brunch spot Lola’s on Saturday and Sunday evenings. It will be reservations only and will only serve kamayan meals. For the uninitiated, kamayan (Tagalog for “by hand”) is when a group shares a meal of Filipino specialties with rice that’s served on top of banana leaves and enjoyed sans utensils. In early 2023, MFK will relocate to a location to be determined and be replaced by Pineda’s more permanent dinner concept, Pacita’s – named after his grandmother.


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