For those staying on campus for the summer holiday, a brief respite from the pressures of summer internships and extra courses is just a drive down Interstate 5. Orange County, California is the perfect destination for those looking for a weekend off, or even a day trip to try some of the best food Southern California has to offer.
If you’re tired of the Los Angeles smog this summer, map out a Metro Rail route or hop in the car and give the Orange County experience a go and it won’t disappoint as long, as you’re willing to commit your time and tastebuds.
Breakfast at Bruxie
A treasure of Orange County eateries and a go-to for students at nearby Chapman University, Bruxie is nestled in the heart of Old Towne, Orange. To start the perfect OC day, grab a fluffy liege waffle kissed by powdered sugar and pair it with signature chocolate sauce. For those more inclined to a savory waffle, Bruxie offers a mushroom, goat cheese and arugula waffle that marries all the flavors with a vibrantbalsamic vinegar. The combination sounds strange at first blush, but one bite will make even the most hardened carnivores believers in this vegetarian-friendly offering.
Bruxie’s waffles travel well, so take your order to go and discover Old Towne’s hidden gems on foot. You’ll stumble upon antique stores, thrift shops, rustic fountains and well-dressed locals. Most shops are small and quaint but host all kinds of knickknacks for curious eyes.
Parking can be troublesome, so keep trying for a spot in the nearby residential area. Friendly homeowners accustomed to eager visitors won’t shoo you away; plus, it gives you an opportunity to linger around the old-fashioned decor of colorful cottages and immaculate front yards.
Bruxie is located on 292 N Glassell Street in Orange, Calif. near Chapman University.
Five-Star Burgers Dress Down for Burger Parlor
Although not all of downtown Fullerton is as picturesque as Harbor Boulevard, the delicious sandwiches and fries sliding out of Burger Parlor’s kitchen make the drive worthwhile. Chef Joseph Mahon (formerly of Bastide fame) is at the helm of this unpretentious burger-lovers’ mecca. Order “numbers” are actually laminated cards of famous album covers, including Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic.”
The star of the show is Mahon’s “Smokey,” a juicy tour de force of savory flavors which lives up to its namesake, topped with a perfectly crispy double helping of bacon.
If you’ve had enough beef in your life, satiate your lunchtime hunger with their specialty sandwich, the “Chickwich.” Its perfectly toasted bun, cheese, chipotle aioli, and well-grilled chicken breast will leave you smiling and reaching for napkins, because it can get a little messy.
While there are plenty of quaint shops and boutiques on Harbor for you to peruse after attaining burger nirvana, downtown Fullerton also has a farmers’ market Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fullerton Downtown Plaza. The market features live entertainment and activities beside a showcase of fresh produce. Downtown Fullerton also has vibrant nightlife in bars and clubs that draw crowds of students, artists and young professionals.
Burger Parlor is located on 204 N Harbor Blvd. in Fullerton, Calif., in the heart of downtown Fullerton.
Pizza Lounging in Laguna
Top of the World Drive in Laguna Beach offers sweeping views of the crystal-clear coastline, spotless skies, and rolling hills. Sure, it sounds like a cheesy brochure for a timeshare property, but you really can’t go wrong with this location.
The surrounding town of Laguna also has wonderful places to dine, such as the Pizza Lounge, about 100 feet from the main beach. Each slice at this inexpensive and fast little eatery packs in quite a punch with the right ratio of toppings to sauce. If you’re not craving tomato sauce, try the chicken pesto pizza. The ingredients translate perfectly to Pizza Lounge’s thin yet substantive crust.
Better yet, take your pizza on the go and visit Top of the World Park, a favorite for lovers, adventurers and photographers. A smooth uphill drive past posh houses and one worthwhile hike later, Top of the World brings visitors great views of the city and is a great spot for an impromptu picnic.
Pizza Lounge is located at 397 South Coast Highway, in Laguna Beach, Calif. Top of the World Park is at 21601 Treetop Lane, Laguna Beach, Calif.
These are just a few ideas for what to do in Orange County, but the options are limitless. There are plenty of ways to escape the drudgery of internships in L.A. this summer, and a half-hour drive out of the bustle of L.A. is a great place to start.