The best restaurants in Orange County combine good food, a great atmosphere, and a unique feature that makes them stand out above the rest. Whether it’s the best view, the best craft beer, or the best made-to-order guacamole, there has to be that one element to really make them shine in a region that is packed full of deliciousness. If you love watching cooking competitions and Food Network shows, this list is for you. Here are the best restaurants in Orange County by celebrity chefs.
The Anaheim White House – Bruno Serato
887 South Anaheim Boulevard
Open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner only
Chef Bruno Serato is not famous for winning a televised cooking competition, instead, he has inspired people all over the world with his efforts to feed the hungry. Serato, along with his mother, Caterina, are the founders of the nonprofit, Caterina’s Club, which they developed after seeing children at the Boys and Girls Club eating only a bag of chips for dinner. Today, Caterina’s Club feeds approximately 3,500 meals a night to hungry children, with over 2 million meals being served to date. Serato has earned notoriety for his philanthropy all over the world. He was recognized as a CNN Hero, knighted by the Italian government, and even received a papal blessing from the Pope.
Serato began his career at the Anaheim White House as a bus boy and worked his way up. In 1987, Serato took over ownership of the iconic restaurant. The restaurant was severely damaged by a fire in 2017, but Serato rebuilt and the doors opened again in April 2018. The Anaheim White House is a fine dining Italian Steak House offering traditional pasta favorites like rigatoni carbonara and ravioli formaggio alongside delicious prime steak and seafood dishes.
Broadway – Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach, California
Open Tuesday through Saturday for Dinner
Broadway by Amar Santana blends modern American cuisine and French culinary technique to bring guests an unmatched dining experience. Just one block from the Pacific Ocean, the Laguna Beach restaurant features décor inspired by the theaters of New York City and a chef’s table with seating for six special guests to overlook the kitchen where Amar Santana can be seen preparing his personal culinary creations. The Prix Fixe Menu offers a three course tasting with a wine pairing. Guests at Broadway can enjoy a selection of delicious meals including house made focaccia, Spanish Octopus, Mediterranean Branzino, house made pastas, and prime steaks.
Amar Santana is chef/partner at the Costa Mesa culinary hot-spot, Vaca.
The Crack Shack – Richard Blais
196 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, California
Sunday – Thursday: 10:30 am – 9:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 10:30 am – 10:00 pm
Richard Blais is a well known chef who gained notoriety as a powerhouse contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. Blais was the runner up in Top Chef Season 4 and the winner of Top Chef: All Stars. He has gone on to become a recurring judge on Top Chef, Master Chef, Master Chef Junior, and Cutthroat Kitchen. Blais is the owner of Juniper & Ivy in San Diego and partnered with Mike Rosen and Chef Jon Sloan to open The Crack Shack in Costa Mesa.
The Crack Shack is all about the chicken and the egg offering reimagined spins on traditional favorites and taking comfort food to a new level. Guests will enjoy classic fried chicken and deviled eggs, or choose from a selection of unique chicken sandwiches, bowls, and fries. The Coop Deville sandwich serves up fried chicken, pickled Fresno chilies, lime mayo, and napa cabbage on brioche; and the Malibu Barbie Q serves up a bbq thigh, cornmeal onion ring, smoky bacon, and pineapple mustard on a potato roll. The open-air restaurant offers a cool casual atmosphere for a fun dining experience to share with friends.
Herb & Ranch – Brian Malarkey
5301 California Ave, #140, Irvine, CA 92617
Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Brian Malarkey is a Top Chef alum from Season 3: Miami. He’s opened more than ten restaurants throughout Southern California, many of them in San Diego. In his latest venture, Malarkey finally made his way into Orange County with Herb & Ranch, a casual, food-hall style concept serving up unique and evolving menus from five stations in one location.
Located at the UCI Research Park, Herb & Ranch patrons from the nearby campus and business park can get breakfast and lunch, served fresh in a stylish, Southern California farmhouse setting. Dining options include breakfast burritos from the Farmhouse Grill, fresh salads from Greens & Grains, soup and sandwiches from The Press, poke bowls from Mahalo, and coffee, tea and adult beverages from The Bar. The cool, casual vibe of the indoor-outdoor dining space fits right in, and the complimentary WiFi makes it the perfect spot for mid-day meetings.
Nobu – Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa
3450 Via Oporto Suite 101, Newport Beach, California
Open for lunch and dinner
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, originally from Japan, is a world renowned chef with over 30 restaurant and hotel properties around the world. Nobu opened his first restaurant, Matsuhisa, in 1987 in Beverly Hills, becoming an immediate star. Nobu has earned many culinary awards over the years including James Beard Best New Restaurant and Michelin Stars for several of his restaurants.
Nobu Newport Beach opened in 2017, finally bringing the genius, award winning sushi bar to Orange County. Guests to the world famous Nobu can enjoy a variety of hot and cold dishes including shrimp and lobster with spicy lemon sauce, hokkaido scallop with spicy garlic or wasabi pepper, a 16 ounce bone‐in New York Strip, crispy brussels sprouts, and much more.
Pizzeria Mozza – Joe Bastianich
800 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, California
Open for lunch and dinner
The well known Master Chef judge, Joe Bastianich partners with famed chefs Nancy Silverton and Dahlia Narvaez to bring Pizzeria Mozza to Newport Beach. Bastianich comes from a food family, his mother being the James Beard Award recipient, Lidia Bastianich, who hosts the popular cooking show, Lidia’s Kitchen. Joe is also a James Beard Award recipient, along with his partner Mario Batalli.
Pizzeria Mozza is located along Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. With an emphasis on sustainability and a commitment to California ingredients, Pizzeria Mozza offers a selection of exquisite American-Italian dishes and over 50 wines. Guests can enjoy traditional favorites like Lasagne al Forno, or choose to go all out with the porcini-rubbed rib eye. Guests will enjoy a relaxed and friendly atmosphere as they enjoy the delicious cuisine of Pizzeria Mozza.
Red O – Rick Bayless
143 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, California
Open Daily for lunch and dinner
Late night bar hours available
Rick Bayless is a well known American chef who won Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and is the host of the PBS series Mexico–One Plate at a Time. He is the recipient of the Julia Child IACP cookbook of the year award, and a James Beard award recipient. He also developed a popular line of salsas, cooking sauces, and organic chips that are now available in grocery stores around the country, bringing his flavorful cuisine directly to your dinner table.
Red O Taste of Mexico, located at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, uses sustainable, local ingredients to prepare classic Mexican cuisine, steaks, and seafood in a fine-dining, resort style setting. Guests at Red O in Newport Beach will enjoy traditional favorites like Enchiladas Suizas and Pollo Asado, as well as unique creations like pork belly sopes and Mary’s Duck Taquitos. Diners will find a range of options and price points from traditional tacos to fresh Maine lobster. Visitors to Red O will also enjoy the luxurious bar and lounge with extensive specialty cocktails and tequila selections, award winning wines, and live entertainment in the evenings.
Ghost Kitchen Locations: Brea, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine
Flavortown Kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant featuring real-deal flavors from Chef Guy Fieri. From his signature Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Wings to his award-winning Mac N Cheese Burger, all of Flavortown’s favorites come straight to your doorstep. Ordering is available through most major food delivery apps and at FlavortownKitchen.com.
Plus, check out all the Guy Fieri Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurants throughout Southern California.
Quick Bites: More Celebrity Chef Eateries
- Asian Street Eats: A Pan-Asian fast casual concept is by chef Hung Hynh who was on Bravo’s Top Chef.
- Outer Reef: Another Bravo Top Chef, John Tesar, features fresh Californian produce and seafood sourced exclusively from the West Coast, from Baja to Alaska.
|Restaurants With A View in Orange County||Newport Beach Wine & Food|
|Top 10 Orange County Food Halls||Taste of Orange County Events|
|Orange County Breweries||Restaurants Guy Fieri has Visited on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives|
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, an expert at exploring all that Orange County has to offer, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.