Friday, February 6, 2015

Shall we dine?

Since Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, I know many people are scrambling trying to make last minute dinner and date plans. Darshan and I have never been that into celebrating Valentine's Day and always prefer to do something more casual the weekend before or the week of, when restaurants are a little less crazy. Since moving to the OC five years ago, one thing we have realized is how amazing all of the restaurants are, and one thing Darshan and I love just as much as fashion, is eating! WE. LOVE. FOOD. Along with our love of food comes a love of eating out, and although we try not to do it too often because it can get so expensive, when we do eat out, we make sure to really enjoy our meals; there is nothing worse than wasting a night out on a not-so-great plate.

To help you all out, I am going to list my Top 5 favorite places to eat in the OC, and I am going to add one bonus for any of you who are feeling "adventurous" and want to take a drive to the jungle - aka Los Angeles. 

All of these places are great for either day or dinner dates and range from casual to fancy. Sometimes you feel like stilettos and lipstick, and sometimes you just feel like flip-flops and leggings (gasp!). All of these restaurants may range from flip-flops to stilettos, but one thing they all have in common - great food!

1. RJ's Cafe, Dana Point: if you want to dine like a local and enjoy the best breakfast or lunch in town, you have got to try this place! They serve the best coffee and breakfast in town, and it is located right across the street from the Dana Point Harbor. You can dine indoors or on their patio, and the service is excellent, we just LOVE their servers and they do such a great job of making you feel at home. I live for their "Doheny Omlette" (eggs, tomato, spinach, mushrooms and cream cheese) and Darshan and I always top our meal off and share their delicious Blueberry Pancakes. Leave your heels at home for this joint, its super casual and cozy! 

2. Ramos House, San Juan Capistrano: now I am not going to lie, I first only wanted to try this place because Ramos is my maiden name and I thought it was so cool that there was a restaurant that shared my name. Darshan and I brunched here a few years ago for the first time and I loved everything about it. The food was so tasty and creative, and the atmosphere is what makes this place even more "cool." It is located in downtown San Juan and is surrounded by historical property - I am talking first houses built in California type of history. Darshan and I love historical places, so after we dined at this cute little house-turned-cafe, we walked around and had a great day exploring the area. There is so much to do and see from cute shops to fun places to tour, and it was great to make a day out it. Attire? Well, it depends, this place meets somewhere in the middle, no heels but feel free to get a little dolled up! 

3. Rooftop Lounge, Laguna Beach: the views, the views, the views. I could spend the entire day at this lounge! It has panoramic ocean views, sits right on the beach, and has a front row seat of the sunset. This is one of my favorite places to have drinks, which are divine, and they also serve great food as well. It has a great atmosphere and is a mixture of locals and tourists without being too obnoxious. Once of my favorite places to sit is at the bar, I love chatting up other patrons and this is the kind of place where people go just for that. It is fun to go in the early afternoon, grab a table or spot at the bar, and stay and watch the sunset - so romantic! You can dress up or stay super casual here, people come here for dates but they also come fresh off the beach - no rules, just fun! 

4. GG's Bistro, Laguna Beach: this is one of our top favorite places to eat in all of Orange County! It is Mediterannean-Italian food and everything we have ever eaten here has been amazing. I always go for the Fettuccine Alfredo (obviously) and Darshan loves the Gyro, they also serve the most delicious Mojitos. You can dine inside, but we always love sitting on the Terrace and watching the Laguna Beach patrons walk around and even in the colder seasons they have heat lamps outside and you truly stay warm. The owners are some of the sweetest people you will meet and they are always there and will almost most likely double as your server; I always feel like when the owners have such a passion and love for their food, you know it will be good! This place isn't too stuffy, but I do sometimes enjoy dressing up to come here on date night, although you would be just fine if you went casual. I have actually even celebrated a birthday here with family and friends and it was PERFECT!

5. St. Regis - Stonehill Tavern, Monarch Beach: now this is a place for the stilettos. If you truly want to feel like you are on a perfect date and get all dolled up, this is the place to go. Darshan and I have celebrated our anniversary here before and we loved the food and the service (and we also got to see a filming of OC Housewives, eek!). Although this is one of the fancier places I have dined at, I am pleased to say the service wasn't too stuffy, the staff is friendly and they create a great ambiance. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, dessert and wine, and then afterwards we went for a drink at the hotel lobby bar and we had a great time! It has so far been one of our favorite dates we have been on, and there is just something special about pulling up to the St. Regis that makes you really feel regal! 

and for the bonus...

6. Le Petit Four, West Hollywood: this is hands down mine and Darshans favorite restaurant. We discovered this place about nine years ago and love to adventure out to LA just to eat here as often as we can. It is such an "LA" feeling place but also serves such great food and desserts. Although it is in one of the most upscale areas, it is not super fancy and you can attend casual or dressed to the nines if you wish. I am also proud to say that we have even dined right next to Nicole Ritchie here once. Every time I go, I have to end every meal with a fruit tart and I refuse to share, it is one of my all-time favorite desserts!! If you are ever in LA, or feel like taking a little drive for an evening, this is the place to go! 

Whelp, that is my list! I hope this helps some of you decide on some new places to try whether it be for Valentine's Day or a Just-because day! Also, here is a little outfit inspo just in case you are stuck on what to wear! Enjoy!








Enjoy your dates!

With love,
Amanda

Blazer: found at Nordstrom Rack, similar look and style here // white tee: via Nordstrom // white denim: Target // shoes: Christian Louboutin 'so kate' // gold necklace: 'Rebel Pendant' - Stella & Dot // bracelet: 'Glider Bangle' - Madewell