With a name that's a riff on the French phrase for golden bread, Pandor Bakery and Cafe specializes in regional French pastries OC Weekly once said inspire "where-have-you-been-all-my-life epiphanies". Pandor is far from just a pastry shop, though, as it boasts an extensive menu that includes everything from breakfast plates to paninis. By morning, guests can be found digging into Nutella french toast or croque madames?and head in early for its Dornut pastry, which OC Weekly calls "obscenely good." At lunch, the kitchen sizzles with the sound of pressed sandwiches layered with pesto chicken or grilled zucchini. Though Pandor's flagship location can be found in the south of France, the California locations incorporate local goods such as coffee from Costa Mesa's Portola Coffee Lab and forks grown within Orange County.
One of the original pioneers of the yogurt industry, Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt has been whirling yogurt since the early 1980s. A bevy of rotating flavors includes tastes such as just chocolate, peanut-butter cup, café latte, butterscotch, and mango tart. Sample a small bit with a mini ($1.85 for 4 oz.), or take 32 ounces home to share in a quart ($6.15). Traditionally conical edible yogurt containers (small cone $2.40, waffle $3.50) make it possible for hands to hold the frozen delight. At 25–29 calories an ounce, health-conscious consumers can enjoy licks without translating each tongueful into the quantity of jumping jacks or flying starfish impersonations needed to offset it.
From their oceanside locale, executive chef Katsuo Nagasawa and the staff at McKenna's serve up a menu of fresh seafood, oysters, sashimi, and natural organic steaks. As cool breezes drift in from Alamitos Bay or the giant snow globe in the back, live entertainment occupies eyes and eardrums amid happy-hour specials. McKenna's also regularly holds special events, such as packages that celebrate the Toyota Grand Prix or the Congressional Cup and other regattas.
The bakers at Frosted Cupcakery employ old-fashioned elbow grease and quality ingredients to condense gigantic gourmet-cake flavor into tiny bite-sized confections. With 14 daily flavors, a handful of seasonally rotating specialties, and a constantly replenished fresh-baked stock throughout the day, Frosted Cupcakery features ample treat opportunities. Royal white cupcakes are crowned with a choice of chocolate, vanilla, nutella, or coconut vanilla buttercream, and red velvet cakes are shrouded in rich cream-cheese frosting. Seasonal flavors such as pumpkin, orange, strawberry, and October flavor-of-the-month orange chocolate chip, topped with orange chocolate buttercream, are only available until the weather cools, forcing cupcake trees to hibernate for the winter.
At Malarkey's Grill & One Hell of an Irish Bar, live entertainment is a constant, but the species of the performers is not. Musical acts take the stage on Friday and Saturday evenings, filling the dining room with bluesy twangs or rock 'n' roll riffs. However, just as often, pelicans make plummeting dives into the waves beyond the restaurant windows, and dolphins frolic in the neighboring surf. Their theatrics typically lead into shoreline sunsets—a more romantic conclusion to meals than playing "That's Amore" for your date on the rims of your wineglasses.
Even when it isn't hosting such dynamic displays, the sea remains an integral part of Malarkey's menu of upscale comfort food. Housemade crab and halibut cakes are a popular fixture throughout the entire day, from their breakfast perch atop eggs benedict to their spot on appetizer plates during lunch and dinner. Guests craving a more landlocked experience can eat alongside a dining-room display of shelved bicycles and motorbikes, partaking of macadamia-crusted chicken or pulled pork that has been slow-cooked in banana leaves for seven hours. Aside from the weekend's bands, the calendar boasts trivia nights and football screenings.
Created by Patty Newkirk and her daughters, Laurie and Nancy, Creative Cakery began in 1983. Up until that point, the women had perfected their cake recipes inside the family kitchen, selling confections out of their home. Their designs are built upon bundt cakes with a fluted design that allows for easy frosting and decorating, in addition to nooks and crannies to add in birthday, holiday, or corporate-takeover-themed accoutrements.