Food & Drink

12 Essential Restaurants in Irvine for 2023

Published on November 8, 2023 | 0 Comments
enjoying a burger and beer restaurant in Irvine

Restaurants in Irvine are a diverse collection of cuisines and atmospheres, with every eatery offering its own unique take on an array of delightful dishes. This city prides itself on providing memorable experiences for all eaters, whether they’re locals in the know or visitors in for an adventure. The best restaurants in Irvine aim to impress every guest with fresh dining that keeps things modern yet thoroughly accessible. 

With so much fantastic food in the Golden State, it may be challenging to choose the best Irvine restaurant without knowing more about your options. We’ve pared down the selections to the 12 essential restaurants in Irvine for providing a quality dining experience, no matter what you’re hankering for. From top-tier Italian to casual New American to authentic Brazilian, there’s a fabulous feast in your future! 


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12 Essential Restaurants in Irvine 

1. Habana

For something from the international side of the menu, step into Habana and be spirited away to dining luxury. Latin restaurants in Irvine have rarely been this inviting!

The Vibe

Tropical touches and nostalgic Cuban décor transport diners to another place and time.

What to Order

Empanadas in your choice of lobster, chicken or vegetables are a classic choice for authentic Latin flavor.

Habana | 708 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618 | $$

Habana is a great restaurant in Irvine
via Habana

2. Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

Homestyle cooking at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar means you'll have a host of familiar dishes to choose from, including a menu of meals served TV dinner-style. This spot is one of the sweetest restaurants in Irvine for relaxing times with your inner circle.

The Vibe

As comfortable and lived-in as your favorite jeans and t-shirt.

What to Order

TV Dinner chicken Parmesan is a clever reinvention of the frozen version, complete with a Nutella brownie for dessert.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar | 13290 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92602 | $$

Lazy Dog restaurant & bar food
via Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

3. Wood Ranch

One of the most lauded restaurants Irvine, California has in store for foodies to explore, Wood Ranch is a modern BBQ bistro that's served locals and passers-by for more than 30 years. Plant-based entrees ensure a broad audience will find appetizing plates to enjoy.

The Vibe

Southern cooking gets the modern treatment, complete with soothing wood interiors and warm lighting.

What to Order

House-made veggie burgers will set vegans and vegetarians up nicely. Smoked brisket or BBQ ribs are the go-to orders for carnivores with a taste for sweet and smoky goodness.

Wood Ranch | 501 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618 | $$

Wood ranch is a restaurant in Irvine
via Wood Ranch

4. HiroNori Craft Ramen

HiroNori gets tangled up in the ramen craze with an Irvine restaurant that celebrates concept cuisine. Support of sustainable farming practices among their suppliers helps the proprietors provide a singular ramen experience for everyone.

The Vibe

Bright, open dining space invites social interaction over delicious traditional dishes.

What to Order

Simplicity reigns on this menu, with two meat and one vegan ramen option. Dip into pork-flavored tonkotsu or shoyu ramen or try the vegan ramen with sesame broth and cubed tofu.

HiroNori Craft Ramen | 2222 Michelson Drive, Irvine, CA 92612 | $$ 

HiroNori is a ramen restaurant in irvine
via HiroNori

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5. Cucina Enoteca

There's a retail wine shop waiting for diners at Cucina Enoteca, a novelty among the best restaurants in Irvine. Seasonal specialties transform fresh ingredients into inventive culinary creations that never fail to delight.

The Vibe

Upscale elegance without a hint of pretense, whether you dine indoors or on the lovely patio.

What to Order

Rigatoni Bolognese combines pork and veal with lemon ricotta for a rich pasta dinner. If you're in the mood for gourmet pizza, go for the fig and prosciutto pie.

Cucina Enoteca | 532 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618 | $$

via Cucina Enoteca

6. Puesto Los Olivos

Owner Eric Adler bills himself as a "tacoteur," a clue to the sweet Latin charm of Puesto Los Olivos. One of Irvine's best restaurants shares familiar Mexican creations prepared with a touch of savory sophistication.

The Vibe

A calm atmosphere prime for socializing makes the most of a deluxe bar and open seating.

What to Order

Short rib enchiladas marry the best of meat and vegetables, with guajillo pepper on deck to spice up the situation. Save room for a slice of piña colada cake for dessert.

Puesto Los Olivos | 8577 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618 | $$

Puesto Los Olivos is a restaurant in Irvine
via Puesto Los Olivos

7. Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails

Responsible stewardship is a prime method for Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails, a top-tier Irvine restaurant that celebrates fine dining with family and friends. Local organic produce and meats raised as naturally as possible help both chefs and diners make informed dining choices.

The Vibe

There's an air of artful luxury in this modern lounge-style eatery.

What to Order

Pacific ceviche makes the most of regional ingredients for a sumptuous seafood favorite. Farmers market enchiladas bury the best vegetables and greens in avocado sauce, a true vegan treat.

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails | 2607 Main St., Irvine, CA 92614 | $$$

plate of food from Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails
via Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails

8. Javier's Cantina

Dine island-style in the most upscale example of a tropical retreat at Javier's Cantina, a Mexican eatery par excellence. Restaurants in Irvine as lush as this call for a Panama hat and a flowered shirt!

The Vibe

Thatched ceilings, dark wood and pebbled floors wrap guests in illusions of a Tahitian resort.

What to Order

Mole poblano over bone-in chicken provides tender vittles no discerning diner can refuse. Seafood specialties like shrimp, crab and lobster enchiladas dive deep to provide pleasing plates, alone or as a combo.

Javier's Cantina | 501 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618 | $$

Javiers cantina is a restaurant in irvine
via Javier's Cantina

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9. Baekjeong Korean BBQ

The name Baekjeong means "butcher" in Korean, representing the quality meats presented in this premier Irvine restaurant's thoughtful dishes. Cultural pride informs every recipe, a collection of traditional creations bursting with heritage you can taste.

The Vibe

Close quarters and bustling seating is intentional for sending happy energy among the bar and tables.

What to Order

From the marinated seared short ribs to the thinly-sliced brisket to the pork belly, the cuts you'll enjoy are literally prime choices.

Baekjeong Korean BBQ | 14160 Culver Drive, Irvine, CA 92604 | $$

Baekjeong - Irvine
via Baekjeong Korean BBQ

10. Bosscat Kitchen and Libations

300-plus bottles of whiskey combine with American food given a twist of creativity at Bosscat Kitchen and Libations. This premier entry among the toniest restaurants in Irvine is a showpiece for diners who appreciate artistry in both food and atmosphere.

The Vibe

Stunning wall displays and table settings provide glittering cinematic flair in every corner.

What to Order

Stay on the lighter side with a kale goddess salad filled with healthy seeds and grains or go heavy with a shaved pork chop sandwich topped with BBQ slaw.

Bosscat Kitchen and Libations | 18169 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, CA 92612 | $$

Bosscat kitchen and libations
via Bosscat Kitchen and Libations

11. Agora Churraschiara

Agora Churraschiara is our choice for Brazilian steakhouses among the best restaurants Irvine, California is serving up. This specialty kitchen captures the spirit of high-level Latin dining with a menu of favorites for meal lovers to sink their teeth into.

The Vibe

Clean, linear design gives this dining space a pleasing sense of geometric precision.

What to Order

Choose your favorite cuts, everything from tri-tip to filet mignon, and pair them with an abundant salad bar for a balanced meal you'll adore.

Agora Churraschiara | 1830 Main St., Irvine, CA 92614 | $$$$

meat from Irvine restaurant
via Agora Churraschiara

12. Bistango

Bistango is one of the best restaurants Irvine can provide for art lovers searching for one-of-a-kind dining moments. This upscale eatery houses a gallery's worth of revolving art pieces for visitors to gaze at while waiting for their tables.

The Vibe

Masterful museum living carries from the décor to the architecture to the plating.

What to Order

Pasta fans can slice into Japanese pumpkin ravioli and discover a new favorite. Pan-seared tuna and pecan-crusted salmon give pescatarians more than their share of delectable morsels to savor.

Bistango | 19100 Von Karman Ave., Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92612 | $$$

Bistango restaurant in irvine
via Bistango

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Try Cooking California Foods

Looking for ways to enjoy Californian foods at home? Check into cooking classes in Orange County and discover the delicious difference gourmet courses can make. You’ll have your pick of the best California-style cuisines, everything from farm-to-table specialties to hearty, healthy classics. Your home table becomes a restaurant and you become the chef! Browse cooking classes near you today to find the perfect fit. 

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Whether tapping into California food tours for a guided epicurean excursion or exploring the terrain on their own, diners with a taste for gourmet craftsmanship may find themselves creating occasions to explore the landscape of Irvine restaurants. Plan a weekend brunch with friends, snuggle up for a date-night dinner, grab a bite for a quick afterwork dinner — or do all three! No matter the reason, there’s a restaurant in Irvine that’s ready to serve you something special.

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