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2014's Best New Restaurants In OC

Nick's Laguna Beach header 610 header restaurant
(credit: Nick's Laguna Beach)

New restaurants pop up all of the time. Some don't last very long, but the good ones definitely have staying power. Not surprisingly, the best new restaurants in Orange County offer a variety of good options. From Italian to Mexican to Indian, here are some of the best restaurants that opened their doors in Orange County in 2014.

(credit: Fig & Olive)

Fig & Olive
151 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 877-3005

Having opened late in December of 2013, Fig & Olive really made a mark in Newport Beach during its first year in 2014. Fig & Olive is not afraid to try new things. One of the unique things about this place is that no butter is used in the kitchen. Rather, you'll find a variety of olive oils used in the Mediterranean dishes - including the seasonal apple sorbet. You'll also find some signature cocktails that you'd never dream up. For a good example of this, try the Fig and Walnut Julep, which is bourbon, mint, St. Germain and port, muddled with black Mission figs and garnished with walnuts.

Tortilla Republic
(credit: Tortilla Republic)

Tortilla Republic
480 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 393-4888

With all of the Mexican restaurants in Orange County, you know you're getting some competition if you decide to open another one. Tortilla Republic is a Mexican restaurant that features some of your favorites like queso fundido. However, this restaurant also features some more unusual items like lobster enchiladas and tacos with tortillas made with jicama. You'll find fresh seafood and locally sourced organic ingredients in the dishes here. One visit and Tortilla Republic might be your new favorite Mexican restaurant.

a&o kitchen bar yelp
(credit: Sonja S./Yelp)

A&O Kitchen + Bar
1221 West Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 630-4285

Located inside the revamped Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Beach's newest gastropub A&O Kitchen + Bar is the latest from chef Vince Lesage. The waterfront bar and restaurant offers a comfortable and open ambience with an unpretentious menu including favorites like the Pork Belly Steamed Buns with Hoisin, Kimchi Vinaigrette Slaw, and crispy pork belly on a steamed bun. Other great items include the steak frites, whole wheat turkey wrap, and the chicken wings. For dessert, definitely try the key lime pie.

Related: Best Candy Stores In OC

the north left
(credit: Chris C./Yelp)

The North Left
400 N Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 543-3543

Offering small plates, Santa Ana's The North Left serves up delicious dishes using fresh ingredients. Serving lunch and dinner daily, The North Left is one of those places you will have to come back to time and time again. It's that good. Prices here can be a little steep (the pork plate is $45), but they do offer smaller plates ranging from $6 to $18 such as black cod, chicken nuggets, fries, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

cucina enoteca
(credit Zack Benson)

Cucina Enoteca
Fashion Island Shopping Center
951 Newport Center Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 706-1416

Opened at the Fashion Island Shopping Center, Cucina Enoteca offers up a California inspired Italian menu with a modern twist. With only the freshest ingredients, patrons dine in a sophisticated setting and eat favorites like their mission fig + gorgonzola pizza, the jidori chicken, prilled pork flat iron and the delicious cucina burger with braised short rib, fiscalini cheddar, honey mustard aioli and truffle fries. The restaurant also serves up an inspiring cocktail list with house infused liquors, specialty cocktails and other drinks like artisan beers.

(credit: Gerry B./Yelp)

440 S. Anaheim Blvd., #201
Anaheim, CA 92805
(714) 533-2392

Finding a good Indian restaurant is always a good thing. It's even better if the place offers something unusual, like Indian street foods. Built around kebabs made with chicken, lamb or shrimp, the menu at ADYA can best be described as delicious. You'll also find pavs, which are essentially Indian Sloppy Joes, and curries. Striving to use local and organic ingredients in her dishes, Chef Shachi Mehra has outperformed expectations to make this one of Orange County's top restaurants of the year.

Provenance Newport Beach yelp
(credit: Anita L./Yelp)

2531 Eastbluff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 718-0477

It's not easy for a restaurant to come up with a really different concept, but Cathy Garland Pavlos (owner and chef of LUCCA Cafe) has come up with a great one that fits right into the trend toward fresh, organic ingredients. Boasting a 1,300-square-foot organic garden on site, Provenance allows customers to see the ingredients that could end up on their plates. The menu here is seasonal and inspired by Napa Valley and features many great dishes that it will be hard to pick your favorite.

Related: Orange County's Best Nachos

Winery Restaurant & Bar
(credit: Winery Restaurant & Bar)

The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar
3131 W. Pacific Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 999-6622

The Winery in Tustin has long been known as a fine-dining experience. You'll get the same fine-dining experience at this new location - and you'll get that experience right on the waterfront. In addition to the usual menu, which has some of the best food you'll find in Orange County, you can also find special events that feature great wines, scotches or cigars. Whatever you order here, you can rest assured that the perfect wine will be available to pair with your meal.

Related: Best Candy Stores In OC

Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on
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