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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cinnaholic is in Tustin!

A new branch of Cinnaholic just opened at The District in Tustin! Originally from Berkeley, they opened their first location in Brea a few years ago and are finally making their foray a little further south into OC. 

What is Cinnaholic? It's the answer to your cinnamon roll dreams! Not only can you satisfy that cinnamon roll craving but you can BUILD YOUR OWN cinnamon rolls with your choice of 15+ frostings and 20+ toppings! 

A maple frosted cinnamon roll topped with oreo cookies and raspberries? Yep! How about a chai frosted cinnamon roll with apples and pie crumbs? YUM! This unique concept allows for unlimited creations and quite a fun yummy experience!  

Specialty Cinnamon Rolls

For those less creative sorts, they also offer 7 specialty pre-paired cinnamon rolls.  --> 
I especially loved the aptly titled cookie monster which is topped with Cinnaholic's decadent raw cookie dough! 

The best part? Cinnaholic's cinnamon rolls are so INCREDIBLY delicious! Served up warm, they bake a fresh batch every 20 minutes. The rolls are incredibly light with just that right amount of yeastiness, and the frostings are decadent. All the toppings are also super fresh, and all their baked goods are made with a healthier (but still delish!) beet sugar. 

If for some bizarre reason, you're not in the mood for a cinnamon roll (you rebel, you) they also sell cookies, baby buns, brownies and of course, the all-the-rage raw cookie dough by the scoop. ;)

I shared my cinnamon rolls with a few friends and everyone just went NUTS over them. I can't recommend Cinnaholic highly enough!

Cinnaholic is located at 2423 Park Avenue in Tustin, in the center area of The District at Tustin Legacy Shopping Center. As reference they are between Prego and Union Market. 
Open 11am - 9pm, Monday thru Thursday, til 10pm on Friday & Saturday, and 8pm on Sunday. 

Oh, AND all their products are vegan, dairy & lactose-free, egg-free and cholesterol-free BUT trust me, you'd NEVER know it!

For more info visit their website:

Friday, December 28, 2018

NEW Restaurant Review: Silva's Fresh Eatery and Churrascaria

There's a NEW Churrascaria in town! 

So I don't claim to be a pro when it comes to Brazilian Churrascarias (a.k.a.steakhouses) as I've only ever been to two of them - the highly touted Fogo de Chao in LA and the much closer Texas de Brazil in Irvine.  While I wasn't overly impressed with Fogo, I am a pretty big fan of Texas de Brazil (TDB). 

When I was invited to come check out the new Silva's in
Costa Mesa, I was expecting something along the lines of TDB, but boy was I wrong! At the typical churrascarias, waiters come to your table with long skewers of different slow roasted and seasoned proteins, and slice off a serving for you. It's a never-ending parade of mouthwatering meat that would give any vegetarian nightmares. 

At Silva's it's a more casual approach. Yes, they still have the delicious variety of meats on skewers but instead of the waiter parade, you go up to the buffet and tell them how much of each you would like to try.  Similar to other churrascarias, they also have an extensive salad and side bar, called the Chef's Table at Silva's, where you can fill out the non-protein space on your plate. Be sure to try the truffle mac and cheese and the cheese bread, as they were both absolutely delicious! 

Honestly, the biggest surprise at Silva's was the price.
Typically, churascarria's charge around $50+ per head for their all you can eat dining experience. However, at Silva's I was really surprised to see the All You Can Eat experience is only $22.95 - almost half of the typical cost. 
Now, they only have about 7 different proteins which is less variety when compared to a place like TBD, which typically has about 10-12 different proteins circulating. However, they have two version of the infamous Brazilian picanha which is always the star at churrascarias, and I have to say they were both absolutely delicious at Silva's. I especially loved the garlic picanha - which I've never seen elsewhere, and HIGHLY recommend. 

If you're not an AYCE type of diner, they also offer an a la carte option with entrees ranging from $13.95-16.95, and a child's menu at $5.99.

They also have a cute bar area and do offer Happy Hour Mon-Friday. The dining room itself is really nicely adorned with warm textures and stylish lighting and seating.  It's a great place to meet up with a friend, date or even a large group as there were a few groups of 10 while we were there that were nicely accommodated.  

Silva's is located at 3672 S. Bristol in Santa Ana, in the South Coast Metro area. It is a tad hidden in the northwest corner of a large shopping center, but definitely worth the hunt. ;)
Dining Hours:
The Chef’s Table + Churrascaria 11:30am - 4pm Mon-Fri
Happy Hour Menu 3pm-7pm Mon - Fri
The Chef’s Table 5pm-9pm Mon - Fri
The Chef’s Table 12pm-9pm Sat and Sun
Late Night Menu 9pm -12am Fri and Sat

To see the full menu or read more visit their website:

Be sure to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent ya! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

NEW Restaurant Review: SAJJ Mediterranean in Irvine

There's a NEW Mediterranean restaurant in Irvine that you're going to want to try!

SAJJ Mediterranean, a Northern California fast casual staple serving up Mediterranean food in the style of making-your-own bowl, wrap or pita just recently opened their second location in Irvine, on Irvine Center Drive near Sand Canyon.  Earlier this year they opened up their first location in Rancho Santa Margarita, and judging by the raving yelp reviews it's become a local area favorite! 

What sets SAJJ apart, is the way each guest is allowed to customize their dish. Serving up only local hormone-free Halal meats along with organic local sides and housemade toppings, SAJJ focuses on promoting a healthy fresh diet while offering delicious food. 

Protein options include chicken and steak shawarma (my personal fav!), shawafel, falafel and pomegranate chicken. Your selected protein is then served in a choice of pita, wrap, salad, or rice bowl. You then get to fill your selected dish with unlimited toppings including garbanzo beans, eggplant, sumac cauliflower, avocado and many many more! To top it off you also have your choice of sauces, including cilantro mint chutney, hummus, tzatziki,  spicy tahini sauce and more. The combinations of these fresh delicious ingredients are endless!

I had a great time trying out SAJJ as it was the perfect way to eat healthy without lacking on the flavor. They also offer the most refreshing housemade waters including a mint lemonade that I HIGHLY recommend you try with your meal!

The Irvine location is located 6636 Irvine Center Drive in Irvine. 
Hours:  Monday thru Saturday, 10:30 - 8pm, and Sunday 10:30 - 6pm.  

To see the full menu or learn more about SAJJ visit their website at:

Be sure to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent you! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

NEW Restaurant Review: Davios in Irvine

So as those of you who follow me know, I just recently came back from a culinary tour in Italy so I'd like to think my Italian food game is on point! ;)  Needless to say when I heard that Davios Northern Italian Steakhouse had quietly opened up their first location on the west coast in Irvine, I was pretty excited to check them out!

The "Steakhouse" part was especially intriguing to me as one of the best pieces of beef I've ever had was a Florentine Steak in Tuscany.  In addition to regional Northern Italian food, Davios specializes in prime steak grilled to order. Established by Steve DiFillippio in 1985, Davios has been well known for many years on the east coast in Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia and NYC, and is now making its first foray to the west coast. 

I visited for dinner, and was pleasantly surprised with the attention to detail that is paid to the food, the service and the ambiance at this lovely new restaurant. Davios is located in what was previously occupied by Prego Ristorante in the Irvine Towers on Von Karmen. The setting is large and upscale, but still manages to be intimate and cozy with its low lit interior and warm decor.  The staff's warmth and attentiveness also makes you feel like you're the only guest there. I was very impressed by the level of service, and the detail provided throughout the entire meal. 

We started our meal with the raw bar served up in a grand silver tureen which made for quite an impressive plating. Included in the raw bar was fresh Maine Lobster, luscious lump crab meat, chilled shrimp, raw oysters, and a lovely tuna tartare, which proved to be my personal favorite of the seafood items. Everything was incredibly fresh and was paired perfectly with the typical sauces and accouterments. It made for a lovely light first course with which to start a grand meal at Davios. 

As a starter, I tried both the America Kobe Beef Meatballs and the Oven Baked Lump Crab Cakes. I was most curious to try the crab cakes as I'm often disappointed by the crab to filler ratio with many crab cakes. I was pleased to see the crab cakes at Davios were filled with the most divine crab and not masked with binding ingredients. They were also served with a lovely lemon mustard sauce that melted in your mouth with every bite of sweet crab.

As excited as I was about the crab cakes, I have to admit that the star of the appetizer show was most definitely the kobe meatballs. Everyone at the table just oooed and aahed over how scrumptious they were - tender, flavorful and served in the perfect hardy marinara sauce that stood up very well to the strong flavor of the kobe beef. This was hands-down my favorite dish that I tried at Davios and a dish I would come back just to order again! 

Staying true to Italian coursing, the pasta dish was served next with a delicious potato gnocchi garnished with organic mushrooms, basil and white truffle oil. Now, I love gnocchi and order it just about anywhere I see it. Davios' rendition was music in my mouth as the truffle oil and meaty mushrooms paired perfectly with the robust gnocchi. I also loved the curls of fresh Parmesan that melted ever so slightly over the gnocchi, adding another level of richness and texture to the dish. I would HIGHLY recommend this dish to any fellow gnocchi lovers! 

As the main, I had opted for the New York Stripsteak as I wanted to try the 'steakhouse' side of Davios. It definitely didn't disappoint. The beef at Davios is local Brandt beef from central California which is then dry aged in-house by Davios.  The flavor and quality of the beef shines through and rivals any top steakhouse in Orange County or otherwise. I also have to mention the delicious goat cheese croquettes that were served as a side with it - these little gems were delicious! 

For dessert (Yes, I managed to squeeze in dessert after all this food!) I shared the warm chocolate cake with homemade vanilla bean gelato. The cake was a chocolate lover's dream for sure but the standout for me was actually the gelato. You could see the specks of vanilla bean and the freshness was evident in every bite. I would've been happy with a bowl of this lovely gelato alone. 

One of the best things about Davios is there's really something for everyone. A typical Italian restaurant this is not, with options for the seafood lover, the beef eater and of course, the pasta fans. I love when a restaurant can not only do multiple things, but most importantly does them right! Davios is a great addition to OC as you don't see a lot of that in our region. I highly recommend you visit soon and see for yourself! :) 

Note: I came for dinner but if you're look for a slightly more casual visit they do serve lunch and have a gorgeous patio which would make for a perfect sunny day excursion. They also have a grab and go menu (on their website here: if you want to try their food but are tasked for time. 

 Davios is located at 18420 Von Karman in Irvine, at the Irvine Towers.  
Open for dinner Sunday through Tuesday; 
Lunch Monday through Friday, 
and Brunch on Sundays. 
Validated complimentary parking is available at the lot directly across from the towers, 
or by valet for a fee. 
Website (and menu):
Phone: 949/477-4810 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Oliboli - not your average doughnut!

Have you heard of the NEW Oliboli doughnuts in Tustin?! Recently opened near old town Tustin, they make every doughnut fresh when you order it! Yes, it take a little longer but trust me, it's worth it. ;) 

Family-run by the the Desprez family using Grandma's recipes, Oliboli offers several unique doughnut flavors including Fry Bread Apple Jam w Ricotta, Burnt Butter Bourbon Bacon, Lavendar Sugar and several others! They carry both yeast and cake doughnuts as well as a varied menu of coffees and teas - having an in-house gourmet coffee program.  

If the name Desprez sounds familiar it's partially because Brooke Desprez, the Chef behind these unique yummy flavors at OliBoli, is one of the original founders of the well known Sidecar Doughnuts down in Costa Mesa. However, everything at Oliboli is new and made using unique flours and artisan old school techniques. All the topping are also made fresh in house so you know it's gonna be delicious!

I recently visited for the first time, and tried the Burnt Butter Bourbon Bacon and Cactus Pear doughnuts for myself. All I can say is I'm a believer! Both doughnuts were deliciously decadent with the perfect combination of complementary flavors on each. 

Located at 135 W First St, Suite B - in a small shopping center, near old town Tustin.  
Open everyday from 7-3pm. 
Find out more and see their full menu of flavors on their website:

Be sure to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent you! ;) 

Friday, November 16, 2018

NEW Restaurant Review: Ja Jiaozi in Irvine!

Ja Jiaozi is open and ready to thrill you with some unique new tastes!  
The first US location of the popular Chinese chain, Ja Jiaozi opened about six months ago at the Irvine Marketplace. Ja Jiaozi focuses on serving up healthy and flavorful Chinese dishes while staying true to its Chinese roots. 
In case you hadn't noticed, Orange County has become a hotbed of dumpling houses in the past couple years. There's used to be a time not that long ago when craving dumplings meant you had to drive to Garden Grove or Westminster to find quality dim sum. Nowadays, delicious authentic dumpling and Chinese food are accessible all over Orange County. Lucky us! ;) 
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So what sets Ja Jiaoizi apart from all the other dumping or Chinese restaurants in OC? Well, first off their dumpling are handmade - from the dough to the crimping, these bad boys are made fresh. You can even verify this when you walk into the restaurant and see them being made through the big observation window. True to their mission of bringing healthy food to the Chinese loving public, Ja Jiaozi also forgoes the typical MSG, artificial colors, and preservatives that can often be found in Chinese food. 

Signature House Dumplings - yum!
The first decision you'll have to make at Ja Jiaozi is boiled or steamed, as in how you like your signature dumplings? I tried both and although I have a preference for steamed, they were both delicious and cooked perfectly. The signature jiaozi are pork, dried shrimp and shrimp roe, and are a MUST order if you visit. There's a reason they're the most popular item on the menu! ;) 

They also offer many other versions of dumplings from vegetable, cod fish and chives, pork and celery, and shrimp to their highly popular steamed jiaozi combo, which is an instagrammer's dream with all 5 dumplings a different color. Remember - they use NO artificial colors in their food so each of these gems is colored naturally which also means each piece has a unique flavored skin. The yellow dumpling is made using pumpkin, the black is made with cuttlefish sauce, green is spinach and red is red cabbage. Pretty creative and the best part, is they all have a different filling and all taste delicious! It's a great way to get introduced to some of the different varieties they offer at Ja Jiaozi. 
Steamed Jiaozi Combo

In addition to dumplings, Ja Jiaozi has a full menu of creative dishes including veggies, hot and cold noodle dishes, fried rice varieties, soups, and several creative house specialty dishes. They also have quite a few ingredients on the menu you don't see in a typical Chinese restaurant like quinoa and cactus.
Braised Beef w Quail Eggs

One of my favorites was the house specialty, Braised Beef with Quail Eggs. Unlike many egg dishes, the quail eggs are cooked through so when you bite into them they're solid, but still soft - sort of like a slightly more tender and flavorful hard boiled egg. It's the perfect pairing to the tender braised beef which results in a really terrific dish. 
Beef Fried Rice w Mushrooms

Another dish I really enjoyed was the Beef Fried Rice with Mushrooms which admittedly is not the most appealing dish when it arrives at the table, with it's brown monotone color. However, after a few bites you'll be more than wiling to forgive the somewhat bland appearance of the dish. Cooked perfectly and with the umami mushroom flavor that melds perfectly with the crispy beef slices throughout. Ironically, we almost didn't order it because the menu said it had 'cheese' in it, which we thought was a tad off. However, the cheese is very subtle and adds a bit of creaminess to the rice - surprisingly good! 
Stir Fried Green Beans w XO Sauce

If you're looking for a vegetable dish, I highly recommend the Stir Fried Green Beans with XO Sauce. Cooked tender but with a distinct crunch, these green beans are some of the most delicious I've ever tried. Not sure what they put in their XO sauce but it definitely brings out the best of the green beans. 

Another item on the menu worth noting, that really blew my tastes-buds away was the Fried Rice Cakes for dessert. Not sure what to expect from the description, but I was anticipating something along the lines of a ricecrispie cake.  Boy, was I wrong! These little morsels of deliciousness were unlike anything I've ever tried before - crispy on the outside but with a warm interior of ooey gooey mochi-like dough, and drizzled with sweet condensed milk, raspberry sauce and chocolate. Even though I shared the dish with my friend, I could've easily eaten the whole order by myself! If you like mochi do not skip this tasty little treat! 
Fried Rice Cakes
I really enjoyed trying out Ja Jiaozi and highly recommend it to anyone wanting Chinese dishes and dumpling that differ from what you typically find in Orange County. Trust me, you won't be disappointed and be sure to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent you! 
Ja Jiaozi is located at 13776 Jamboree Road, on the Irvine side of the Marketplace, next to the movie theaters. Open daily from 11-2:30pm and 5-9pm. 714/786-8999
For more info or to see the full menu, see their website:

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Restaurant Review: The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita

Have you been to The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita lately? If not, it might be time for a revisit! Admittedly, it had been awhile since I'd dined there - although every time I go walk by their gorgeous patio, I always tell myself I really need to go back soon! Luckily for me, an opportunity came up and I jumped at the chance! 

If you've never been before, The Blind Pig sits on the perimeter of Rancho Santa Margarita Lake and has some prime real estate when it comes to water views. The interior has a fun speakeasy type vibe indoors with plenty of comfy seating complimented with brick walls and a bit of a retro industrial vibe. They have lots of nooks and crannies for intimate seating as well some large tables that can easily accommodate large groups for birthday parties or other celebrations. If you'd rather sit outside (and who wouldn't with those views!) they've done an excellent job of maximizing the space on the patio with some comfy couches surrounding fire pits as well as some high-top tables from which to catch the best glimpse of that sunset over the lake. 

The Blind Pig serves modern gastropub style food made for sharing. The menu includes an impressive range of cuisines as well as a stunning seasonal craft cocktail menu, and a vast selection of craft brews. No surprise that Executive Chef Karl Pleader comes from an equally diverse background of Filipino/Asian and Hispanic heritage. Previously he worked at the now defunct, but still fondly remembered for its fabulous food, The Crosby. He also made his way around to a few other places in Orange County having learned hands-on from some of OC's best Chefs. The diversity in training and background is evident upon first glance at the menu as current offerings run the gamut of classic and ethnic creativity including such items as beef tartare, French onion soup, wild boar meatballs and then switching gears to the Latin inspired mushroom saltado and the Filipino staple of chicken adobo. I am always one for diversity on a menu so long as the kitchen can get them all right. Often times, that isn't the case as diversity often means execution suffers when a kitchen tries to tackle too much on one menu. I'm happy to report that this definitely isn't the case at The Blind Pig.
The menu changes seasonally, albeit some of The Blind Pig's popular dishes remain on the menu continuously. On my recent visit, I tried the following...
Street Tacos -  It was Tuesday when I visited so we had to start with a couple of the street tacos. Every Tuesday from 6-9pm, the Blind Pig offers $3 a la carte tacos. These may be called "street' tacos on the menu, but they are most definitely gourmet all the way as the quality of the ingredients is evident with premium proteins and creative flavors. On this night, I had a delicious chicken taco and a pork taco with a fresh green sauce topped with slivers of onions and diced cilantro. Chef does mix it up every week so it's always a surprise as to what next week's tacos will be - just FYI.  
Beef Tartare - Now, I love me some beef tartare and order it just about anywhere I see it on the menu, so the Blind Pig was no exception. Here they serve it up beautifully with a house xo sauce, tiny dollops of a light crema, speckles of chive and a hint of oregano - all with a generous side of crispy mini crostini. It was literally perfection on a plate! This was actually my favorite dish this evening as it couldn't have been prepared more perfect for my taste. I loved the slight kick of the xo sauce with the cooling effect of the crema, and I don't think I've ever had oregano on tartare, but it seriously worked! Highly recommend you order this dish next time you visit! 

Grilled Octopus - For me, octopus is always a do or die dish. I've had as many good experiences, as I have bad when it comes to octopus and how well it's executed. Grilled perfectly tender and with not a hint of rubberiness, Chef Pfleider's octopus was the star of this dish.  It came to the table handsomely plated with a mélange of perfectly al dente brocolini, charred cherry tomatoes, tender chickpeas tossed in a red chile sauce, black rice chips and dusted with a scallion ash for additional flavor. I so enjoyed this dish and especially loved the mix of flavors together when getting them all in each bite of octopus. 

Chicken Adobo - So being that the Chef has a Filipino background I had to try the chicken adobo. As Filipino food has had somewhat of a resurgence of late in Southern California, I've been fortunate enough to try quite a few renditions of chicken adobo. While I understand that most of the dishes at The Blind Pig are more of a creative play on classics and not necessarily meant to mirror exactly the traditional dish, I do think the chicken adobo was pretty authentic flavor-wise.  I also have to say I enjoyed the playful, yet not typical addition of fennel shavings to the mix. The fennel brought a really nice brightness and spring-like quality to the somewhat pungent soy and vinegar taste of this classic dish. It also married well with the heavier potatoes and pearl onions. The chicken adobo, of course, was served with the perfect accompaniment of medium grain rice. 
I was really impressed with my visit to the Blind Pig Kitchen and highly suggest you give them a try if you've never been or haven't been in awhile! They also have many fun offerings on several nights if you'd rather try them out at Happy Hour or one of their special nights... 
Happy Hour is from 3-5pm daily, even on the weekends! 
They offer $5 wine, $6 well drinks & $9 specialty cocktails with a discounted food HH menu too!
Tuesdays are Tiki Taco Tuesday where tiki cocktails are $8 and of course, their $3 tacos from 6-9pm
Wednesday is $3 off glasses of wine and $8 house made Old Fashioned/featured whiskey flights
Thursday is their infamous "Kill the Keg" nights with $5 draft beers til the keg is gone! 
Sundays is $6 bloodmarys, $5 beers and $12 bottomless mimosas w purchase of an entree during Sunday Brunch. 
The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar is located at 31431 Santa Margarita Parkway in RSM.  
Closed Mondays. 
Tuesday: 3 -11 p.m.
Wednesday & Thursday: 3 - midnight
Friday: 3 -1 a.m.
Saturday: 11 -1 a.m.
Sunday: 11-10 p.m.
For you north OC folks, apparently The Blind Pig is soon opening a second location in Yorba Linda! No word yet on exactly when it's opening but keep follow them on Instagram or Facebook to stay attuned to any announcements! 
Don't forget to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent you! ;)