alia Samuels is the president and founder of Outshine Public Relations. An Orange County native, Talia represents a top-tier list of clients including some of the most celebrated chefs and restaurants in the county. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the California Restaurant Association’s Orange County Chapter and is an active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a by-invitation-only organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality.
In the Neighborhood
During the week, you’ll find me stopping by each of these places, at least once. Ok, most likely twice.
Moulin | Multiple Locations – Why do I absolutely love Moulin? Maybe it’s because every time I go, I escape to Paris for a few hours. It’s easy to be whisked away with the smell of fresh-baked croissants coming from the patisserie and the occasional shout of ‘Café Olé!’ from a barista across the bar.
Mix Mix Kitchen Bar | Santa Ana – It’s easy to see why Chef Ross Pangilinan is one of the most revered chefs in Orange County. OC Weekly said it best: “He’s at the top of his craft and where he belongs: in Santa Ana, which is—to borrow what Van Gogh wrote about the South of France—where the whole future of Orange County food is to be found.”
KIT Coffee | Costa Mesa – I might be their most regular regular. Since I discovered this place, I’ve made a trip here daily just for their iced chai with almond milk.
Shirley’s Bagels, Multiple Locations – “Their whole wheat everything bagel is my post-Pilates ritual.”
I’ve done extensive “research” on the subject of brunch. From lavish buffets with sweeping seaside views to Orange County’s best kept secrets, here are the places you’ll want to add to your list:
AVEO Table + Bar, Dana Point – Their seaside Sunday Brunch has a 10-station buffet which includes a full sushi bar, made-to-order pastas and a mobile Bloody Mary cart. Of course, I’m going to take advantage of their bottomless Perrier-Jouët mimosas. Need I say more?
Break of Dawn, Laguna Hills – Their brunch is amazing, but if you’re lucky enough to snag a seat to their exclusive BoD pop-up dinners, you’re in for a culinary experience sure to tantalize all the senses.
Taco Mesa Tortilleria Organica & Cafe – Taco Mesa pioneered healthy Mexican cuisine in Orange County 25 years ago. Now, they’ve come full-circle by making their own GMO-free tortillas for all their restaurants.
Macallans Public House, Brea – There is so much creativity coming from the kitchen. Every time I come here, I’m amazed at the unique combinations that somehow pair perfectly together like shrimp & strawberry campanelle or Oaxacan cheese churros.
Listen up, gentlemen…here’s where you should be taking your ladies when the weekend rolls around.
Ootoro, Irvine – I’ve yet to find a sushi restaurant that comes close to Ootoro’s authenticity. You know a sushi place is good if they don’t serve any form of California rolls. And, no, you can’t dip your nigiri in soy sauce.
Taco Rosa, Multiple Locations – I always feel good about eating here knowing that their tortillas are GMO-free, their seafood is guided by the Marine Stewardship Council, and much of their produce comes from the local farms I support. The integrity of ingredients is what sets Taco Rosa apart.
The Guild Club, Costa Mesa – With gold-plated cutlery and sultry live music, this member’s only club will make you swear you’ve been transported to New York during the Golden Twenties. So indulge a bit with French Fries & Caviar and sip on a First Glass cocktail; that is, if you’re lucky enough to be a member.
Hanna’s, Rancho Santa Margarita – I grew up in Coto de Caza and still have family there, so I frequent this steakhouse whenever I’m visiting. It’s also where I held my first restaurant job!