Ever wonder how Orange Coast magazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.” Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves?” You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…
“Where should we eat? Some foodies never ask this, as they always have a hot place in mind. Other friends are open to anything, any time. When I have to decide where to go, it’s usually about the atmosphere as much as the food. A rainy day lunch with girlfriends calls for a different venue than a special-occasion date night. And what better way to please out‑of‑town guests than Sunday brunch on a waterfront patio?”
“Whatever your appetite, we’re sure to have something that suits you in our Best Restaurants feature (Page 116) as we’ve tripled the size of our list this year and broken it into categories. So you won’t just find the best new restaurants, but also the classics, most-improved spots, and delightful one-of-a-kind places, among other groupings. This issue is a fascinating chance to get into the head of our dining critic, Gretchen Kurz. She comes in for a planning meeting, we talk trends, what she likes (and doesn’t), and we leave those meetings excited and hungry—no more food meetings before lunch! One pattern we’re noticing is fewer lunch options. About half of the 30-plus restaurants we feature in this issue don’t offer weekday lunch and have added weekend brunch instead. Other places have decided to focus only on daytime dining. The scene in Orange County is shifting, and sometimes it moves fast—we had to swap or remove at least three dining listings in our last issue just before we went to print. Keeping up is a challenge we relish, most of the time. Be sure to check out Gretchen’s essay about the downsides of her job (Page 125). It will make you grateful to be able to choose where you eat after she does the preliminary work.”
Ever wonder how Orange Coastmagazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.” Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves?” You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…
Best Restaurantsis the April 2017 issue ofOrange Coast – The Magazine of Orange County. “For the first time, we (Orange Coast) give you an expanded list of O.C.’s standout restaurants—everything from new to classic, cozy favorites to attention-getters.”
Pechanga is well along with an ambitious $285 million expansion of the Hotel and all other guest amenities on the property with the exception of the Casino facilities. A new 2,400 space parking garage has just opened as the first part of the enhancements.
The project involves adding a new, AAA Four Diamond, 568-room and suite hotel wing; a stand-alone luxury two-story spa and salon with 17 treatment rooms, a fitness center and hydrotherapy pool terrace; a resort-style pool complex with eight pool areas; two new restaurants; and an additional 67,000 square feet of event space.
“We estimate the expansion will result in an economic output of over $550 million, generating roughly 2,944 jobs up front as a result of construction-related activities,” said Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics. “We estimate the local economy will benefit from an additional 560 jobs per year going forward as a result of expanded operations at Pechanga Resort & Casino.”
Pechanga’s Digital Marketing Manager, Sean MacReady fills us in.
Talk about clever marketing. How do you get the point across with recall that Pechanga always has complimentary Valet Parking for their guests? See Sean’s creative approach in “Jurassic Parking” from Pechanga’s You Tube Channel.
What’s the dining out scene like in Old Havana and Cuba? Do locals eat in restaurants? Our next guest, Tori Klein, the Director of University of Nevada Las Vegas’s (UNLV) Foundation Events was just there. We’ll get an informed perspective from someone who really knows the restaurant business. It’s, unfortunately, a lot more primitive in Cuba than you know.
Locals (average salary of $10 per month) simply can’t afford to eat in the Government-owned establishments unless they have access to tourists and their American dollars. Privately owned restaurants need to buy their supplies on the black market due to chronic shortages. Beef is not even available to ordinary Cuban citizens.
The government-owned restaurants in Old Havana don’t necessarily showcase Cuban food. Tori mentions that the most memorable of these establishments cooked quite exceptional pizza in a wood-fired oven. Not exactly Cuban fare.
The most interesting restaurants are the under-the-radar, paladars. These are privately-run, entrepreneurial enterprises operated in former residences. Tori looks forward to returning and exploring more of these
The William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV is consistently ranked as one of the top college hospitality programs in the country. Their faculty members are internationally known experts. The programs mix the right amount of classroom and work experience. UNLV students are well prepared upon graduation to enter the job market, and the alumni are distinguishing themselves in their careers.
Tori Klein’sTop Tips for visiting Cuba:
Find a Cuban guide before you go. One with connections for the things you want to see and do who has a Cuban cell phone.
Stay in a hotel if the idea of roughing it isn’t appealing.
Remember Casa particulars vary greatly and while there are a few posted on Airbnb most aren’t so there is no way to know what it’s like until you get there…AC is mandatory pretty much year round.
Know that your cell phone and your WiFi won’t work even though your carrier will tell you it will. Know that if you buy internet access at a restaurant, it probably won’t work at all and they won’t refund your money. Hotels are your best bet but if you’re not staying there you probably won’t be given access.
Take cash. There are no ATMs. No American credit cards are accepted yet. Whatever you think you’ll need – double it. European and Canadian cards are accepted in hotels. Best exchange rate for Cuban CUCs is with Euros. Take those. They have 2 currencies. And even the Cubans are confused. When quoted a price, ask how many pesos…1 cuc=26 pesos. $100=87 cucs.
Toilet paper. Have some on hand at all times…And do not assume toilet seats are a given…they’re not. At all.
Don’t be afraid of local restaurants – paladars…there are some real gems but do not expect the same quality in food, service or sanitation standards as in America. Do the homework or let your guide help you.
As in Mexico, drink only bottled water. The rum in Cuba really is that good…
Print any maps you think would be helpful in advance and take them with you. Do not assume you’ll get one there.
When in Cuba…be Cuban – relax, take it easy, slow down, unplug. Everything takes longer. Assume your flight will be delayed from departure to your return.
L.A Beer Week, produced by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild, is set for L.A. and environs from June 20th to 28th, 2015. For one thirst-quenching week local breweries, bars, restaurants and other hospitable venues host a wide variety of events celebrating the culture of craft beer in the greater L.A. area.
The festival kickoff is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, June 20th in Exposition Park. It’s the flagship event for a week’s worth of great events staged all throughout the City of Angels.
L.A. Beer Week was founded in 2009 by a group of dedicated beer enthusiasts and community members. L.A. Beer Week is organized by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild; a 25+ brewery strong, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the culture of #LAbeer.
L.A. Brewers Kickoff on Saturday, June 20th in Exposition Park will feature 75+ breweries, live music and entertainment, a wide selection of food trucks, educational panel discussions, a VIP private area and more. General Admission includes a commemorative tasting glass and samples of over 200 different types of beer, cider and home-brewed sodas. A portion of the proceeds will benefit L.A. Kitchen.
Orange County’s answer to the prestigious, red carpet awards shows is The GoldenFoodies. Voting has started for this year in the first group of categories and the public is invited to vote for their favorite restaurants and related categories. There are two more weeks of voting cycles…
Winners are chosen by the people. It’s a People’s Choice Food Awards. The Golden Foodie Awards Gala at The Fairmont in Newport Beach is Saturday evening, September 28th. Good luck to all…
Voting concludes on August 9th for the categories of : Mexican, Vegetarian, Pizza, Beer, American Cuisine, Burger, Cocktail, and Best Food Talk Radio Show.
The Founder of The Golden Foodies, Pamela Waitt, and J.C. Clow of TheWinery Newport Beach join us. It’s been announced that J.C.’s The Winery Newport Beach has been nominated (one of three nominees in the category) for Best New Restaurant. Congratulations…!