Category Archives: Lunch

OC Restaurant Week Spotlight: Lucca Cafe

It’s time for another OC Restaurant Week spotlight!  Previous restaurants included in the spotlight series include Pizzeria Ortica, Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille and Cucina Enoteca.  Today we are shining the spotlight on Lucca Cafe.

It’s no secret how much I love Lucca.  Since I moved back to Orange County from LA in 2010, Lucca has always been a go to for me.  Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Lucca aims to please.

Best way to start a meal at Lucca

Lucca, like many of the restaurants participating in OC Restaurant Week is quite delicious but not the cheapest place on the block.  But thanks to the prixe fixe menus Lucca is offering during OC Restaurant Week, you’ll get to try some of the best that Lucca has to offer.

On the lunch front, for only $15 enjoy a soup or salad to start, followed by some of Lucca’s signature entrees such as the Pulled Pork Shoulder Sandwich or the Veggie Lasagna.  And don’t forget dessert!  You also get a delicious dessert included in your $15 meal.

For only $30(!) at dinner, enjoy an appetizer, entree, and dessert.  Plus, you can also get selected glasses of wine at 25% off.  If that isn’t a steal then I don’t know what is.  Definitely save room for dessert at this meal, because the banana bread pudding and the dark chocolate creme brulee are divine.  To check out the full restaurant week menu, click here.

Stay tuned to see what restaurant will be featured next in the OC Restaurant Week spotlight!

*OC Restaurant Week runs from February 26th-March 3rd.  Check out all the participating restaurants at OCRestaurantWeek.com*

Cheap Laguna Beach Eats

Working in Laguna definitely has its perks – fresh ocean breezes, boutique shopping at lunch, and dozens of cute cafes.  Since Laguna is a top tourist destination, dining there isn’t exactly *ahem* cheap.  Fortunately, I’ve recently discovered a couple of great places to grab a bite that won’t hurt your wallet!

Discovery #1: The Stand

The Stand is a small, well, stand, that sells delicious vegan meals, fruit smoothies and other healthy snacks at a completely affordable price.  There are cute picnic tables outside so you can sit and enjoy your food, and the people who work there are some of the nicest you’ll ever meet.

One of my favorite items at The Stand is the hummus and guacamole pita.

It’s a pita stuffed with delicious hummus, guacamole, sprouts, beets and tomatoes.  It’s one of those pita sandwiches that you just feel healthier after eating it.  If sandwiches aren’t your thing The Stand also has yummy salads, soups, and even vegan cupcakes!  I can’t wait for it to get a bit warmer so I can try some of their fruit smoothies.

Discovery #2:  Taco Loco

Continuing the theme of small stands with outdoor patio seating, Taco Loco is a cheap little taco stand that offers a variety of tacos, burritos, salads and burgers.  It’s not exclusively vegan like The Stand, but offers a lot of vegetarian options such as tofu and mushroom burgers and veggie quesadillas.

Since it was my first time at Taco Loco, I decided to try the tacos!  One chicken, one potato, and one mushroom.

It’s hard to tell which taco was which in this photo (even with the Instagram awesomeness) but fear not – the tacos were delicious and the potato one came in a whole wheat tortilla which made it even more awesome.  They were also extra generous with the guacamole which is always a good thing.  If you are looking for some quick and cheap Mexican food, this is your place.

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, I can’t wait to get my hands on more yummy Laguna treats (Banzai Bowls I have my eye on you), but it’s nice to know I have two good options when I want to get my veggie and/or Mexican food fix.

The Stand

238 Thalia St
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Taco Loco

640 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Lunching at Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien was always favorite stop of mine when I lived in the L.A. area.  I enjoyed the open-faced sandwiches, freshly baked bread, and delicious beverages.  But when I moved to Orange County, there was not a Le Pain Quotidien in sight.  Until now.

As luck would have it, Le Pain Quotidien opened in Fashion Island this past fall, and I’ve been itching to make a stop there.  When my mom suggested we burn off some of our Thanksgiving dinner by facing the Black Friday crowds at Fashion Island I made sure our lunch stop was at Le Pain Quotidien.

The interior of the Fashion Island restaurant was very similar to the ones I had experienced in LA – lots of big communal tables, glass displays of freshly baked goods, and a patio area.  Since it was a beautiful Southern California day, my mom and I opted to sit on the patio.

After perusing the menu and ordering much needed glasses of iced tea, I finally decided on the Paris Ham and Gruyere Tartine.

I was very pleased with this dish.  It came with a trio of different mustards and little cornichons on the side.  The ham and cheese were also very flavorful.  It was light, but not too light and left me satisfied.

My mom ordered the Tuscan Bean and Proscuitto salad, which I became immediately jealous of as soon as it emerged.

The salad came with arugula, parmesan and basil croutons which basically looked like cubes of Le Pain Quotidien’s freshly baked bread.  I tasted some of her salad and it was excellent.  Mental note made.  I will be ordering this next time.

It was a lovely lunch and the perfect fuel to get us through the rest of our Black Friday shopping.  I definitely want to make a stop at Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast in the near future, as their breakfast pastries cannot be beat!

Sorry for such the long hiatus, Le Pain Quotidien.  But fear not, I WILL be dining at you again in the near future.

Le Pain Quotidien

401 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

The One with the Argentine Food Truck

Back in my L.A. days, food trucks were a dime a dozen.  Every afternoon they could be found lined up and down Wilshire Blvd. just waiting to serve hungry office works eager to escape their cubicles for a brief breath of fresh air.  While Orange County also has food trucks and designated food truck stops, none of them were ever near where I work.  Until now.

Since the company I work for is pretty awesome, they decided to rent out a food truck for our office day o’ fun.  The truck of choice?  Piaggio on Wheels.

I had heard some good things about Piaggio on Wheels and liked the fact that it was not only a Chimichurri Truck specializing in Argentine cuisine, but it was also a food truck I had never tried before.  Because this was a company event we had a special menu to select from, but that didn’t matter too much since it all looked delicious.

Chef Piaggio is known for his empanadas, so I decided to go with the Caprese Empanada made with Mozzarella and Tomato, the Chicken and Vegetable Empanada, the Chicken Quesadilla, Chimichurri Fries and the Dulce de Leche Churros.  The Argentine Sausage Sandwich also looked tempting but I decided to stick with my order.  A few of my coworkers ordered the Argentine Sausage Sandwich so I figured I could steal a bite if the urge struck.

Then it was time to feast.  And I do mean feast.  Each of us got at least 3 baskets loaded with Argentine food goodness.  I decided to start with the Chicken Quesadilla with chimichurri sauce.

*Note:  All photos were taken with my iphone so apologies for the blurry pics.

Oh my cheese (and sauce).  The quesadilla was loaded with cheese and you could definitely taste the chimichurri.  It was gooey and messy but also quite delicious.  I do wish there had been a little less cheese and a little more chimichurri, but other than that it was good.

Next up was the Caprese Empanada.  I was a little skeptical about tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in empanada form, but it actually ended up being my favorite of all the items I tried.  It just worked.  The chicken empanada was a bit of a disappointment – I think I was looking for more chicken and less vegetables.  This was also about the time I wished I had ordered the Argentine sausage sandwich instead of the chicken empanada.  Live and learn Allison, live and learn.

The chimichurri fries were nothing too exciting – just fries with chimichurri sauce on the side.  I did like how they put the sauce on the side so you could either dip your fries in the sauce (like I did) or dump them over the fries.

Last but not least it was time for the churro.  The churro was alright.  It could’ve used some more crunch and some more cinnamon and sugar.  But by this point I was so full of empanada, fries and quesadilla that I just had a few bites and called it a day.

My overall opinion of Piaggio on Wheels?  They definitely have some really, really good dishes like the Caprese Empanada that I would for sure order again.  I’d also order an Argentine Sausage Sandwich next time too since it seems to be a speciality.  As far as food truck fare goes, Piaggio on Wheels is definitely one of the better ones out there.  The menu is unique and the food tastes nice and fresh.  I’ll definitely be back.

Want to find out if Piaggio on Wheels is rolling near you anytime soon?  Follow them on twitter @piaggioonwheels.