Eating great food is, well, great. But having that same food in a unique environment is even better. Whether on our own or with a friend, being entertained by our surroundings makes for a memorable meal. Here are a few places where you might not expect to find quality eats or drinks.
Daydream Surf Shop – Breakfast Chic
Surfing is often an early morning activity, so it makes sense that we’d find caffeine in a surf shop. The industrial side of Newport Boulevard houses a number of locally-owned eateries and coffeehouses, meaning residents were in the know long before the rest of us. Without coffee in the name, Daydream remained under the radar. Get your fix, along with vintage clothes, grooming products and cool housewares. And do contemplate a pastry from Rye Goods while you’re there. 1588 Monrovia Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 612-7175; www.daydreamsurfshop.com.
Best of Friends Cafe – Community Park Cravings
Picnics in the park are cool, but how about a park with its own cafe? That’s what we learned when a colleague mentioned a place on the same property as Tustin Sports Park (Not to be confused with Friend’s Cafe). While we dined on a legit tuna salad sandwich in their modest dining room, our eyes darted between the cheery mural and all the desserts in their pastry case. After chatting it up with one of the owners, we learned they do a lot of cake business as well. Bonus: all sandwiches come with a cookie, because, “….we like to make you smile”. Uh, you had us at tuna salad. 12850 Robinson Dr., Tustin, (714) 352-5734
Farmhouse – Garden Party Dinner
After wandering the labyrinth that is Roger’s Gardens, a glass of wine and something farm-to-table was exactly what we craved. Luckily, the team helmed by Chef Rich Mead has got you covered. With the most natural of backdrops, diners savor meals alongside blooming flowers, in a gazebo or under the stars. It’s a perfect pairing of concepts. 2310 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Corona del Mar, (949) 640-1415; www.farmhouserg.com.
Morning Lavender – Tea Time and Tulle
Imagine all the pretty things under one roof. Then imagine a cup of lavender latte while you browse. After opening in Old Town Tustin, this boutique became the talk of the town for fans of Morning Lavender’s weekend tea and Instagrammable wall. Bridesmaid-esque frocks and offbeat greeting cards are carefully curated. If there’s a grumbly in your tummy, pastries and a stunning avocado toast will be happy to tide you over. 330 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 486-1429; www.morninglavendercafe.com.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.