Planning a first date can be a lot of pressure. You want to pick out an ideal location and propose an activity that is fun and engaging, shows you put in thought, and allows ample time for you and your date to get to know one other. On top of that, you have to consider where to take your date to eat. Luckily, Orange County has some unique locations that are fitting for some unforgettable first dates.
1. laguna beach
After being cooped up indoors for months, everyone is understandably eager to make date night a real thing again. And while indoor dining rooms have begun to reopen, most diners would still prefer to sit outdoors for now, at least for a little while longer.
Here are 20 ways to ease back into date night, style. The scene : Although a new indoor dining room is in the works, the primary dining area here has always been entirely outdoors under a canopy of trees on a quiet stretch of Santa Ana Boulevard. What to order : Hamachi aguachile, gochujang fried chicken, Santa Maria-spiced flat-iron steak.
Santa Ana Blvd. The scene : The plaza outside Bistango is surrounded with a grove of date palms with a dancing water fountain in the center, which now doubles as a lovely alfresco dining pavilion with live music several nights a week. What to order : A bottle of Bordeaux, lamb chops, tamarind-glazed salmon, whiskey raisin bread pudding.
The scene : Water trickles from a fountain in the center of the courtyard while a solo musician strums his guitar, creating a romantic date-night ambience under strands of twinkle lights.
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What to order : Dolmades in avgolemono sauce, pastitsio, charred rack of lamb, a bottle of Nemea. The scene : While the interior is gorgeous — velvet banquettes, floor-to-ceiling drapery, library bar shelves — the sidewalk patio has been extended along the sidewalk halfway down the block.
What to order : Start with a loaf of freshly baked brown bread. After that: rabbit, pork belly, wood-fired octopus, pasta and clams Dish of the Year The scene : Most people might not realize that Five Crowns, known for being dark and clubby, has a delightful backyard lawn surrounded by towering ficus.
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ly reserved for private events, the yard has found new purpose as a candlelit outdoor dining area with string lights overhead and fireplaces around the perimeter. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar,lawrysonline. The scene : The penthouse terrace at Knife Pleat is a luxurious respite from the mall, or from life in general really. Settle into one of the feather-cushioned settees, calibrate your mind toward Champagne and envision Paris in the springtime. What to order : Wild escargot, steak tartare, roasted duck, fig panna cotta, chocolate cremeux. South Coast Plaza, Bristol St.
The scene : The bulk of the dining room at this tiny Argentine steakhouse has always been relegated to the front porch, but now it has been expanded into the parking lot, which has been covered with artificial turf and wrapped with a white picket fence. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach,marowoodgrill. The scene : The corner courtyard outside the entrance to Old Brea Chop House has been transformed into a luxurious patio, which on weekends features live music like a classical string quartet that sometimes goes off script and plays something from Journey.
2. disneyland / california adventure
What to order : Foie gras with strawberries and rhubarb, chilled seafood platters, ounce USDA Prime Delmonico steak with hand-cut fries. Brea Blvd. The scene : While the Playground complex has shuttered its corner gastropub, chef Jason Quinn still operates Playground To Go from the ading Dough Exchange, where at lunchtime guests can enjoy a brilliant riff on Middle Eastern street food and take advantage of the expanded patio along the tree-lined Spurgeon Street promenade.
Note: The patio at night is reserved strictly for Playground 1. The scene : With entire walls and a gigantic front door that either roll up or slide out of the way, the entire dining area at Puesto has felt very outdoorsy.
And, of course, much of the dining area is indeed outdoors, as is half of the bar. The scene : The dining room at Solita has always blurred the line between indoors and out, and for the moment it has been expanded beyond the threshold and onto the cantilevered terrace all the way down to the Bella Terra fountain.
What to order : Tequila, elote, rotisserie chickenwood-grilled carne asada. The scene : White tablecloths, a roaring fire in the hearth, bougainvillea-covered trellises and a massive laurel tree towering overhead, the patio of this Old World trattoria has always been a magnet for lovebirds. It still is, even as some of the tables now spill across the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
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Coast Highway, Laguna Beach,selannesteaktavern. What to order : Ash-roasted beets, wood-fired pizzasgrilled sea bass, burger. What to order : Hamachi crudo, fried zucchini blossoms, steamed mussels, grilled pork porterhouse.
Plus, inside, large street-side windows roll away almost like garage doors, creating a breezy, airy ambience. What to order : Chilled lobster, grilled turbot, uni toast and ribeye steaks. By Brad A. Johnson bajohnson scng. Benchmark The scene : Although a new indoor dining room is in the works, the primary dining area here has always been entirely outdoors under a canopy of trees on a quiet stretch of Santa Ana Boulevard. More in Restaurants Food and Drink.