When the lights flicker on and off at The Gourmet Detective, there's no cause for alarm—it's all just part of the show. The interactive murder mystery dinner theatre injects a three-course meal with whimsical performers who blend comedy and drama into a vintage whodunnit. Each show transports its captive audience to the era of film noir, wrapping them into a dark, twisting narrative scored with live music from a lounge singer. The scene is set as guests mingle with the characters at a pre-show cocktail hour, then step into the seedy restaurant those characters run. When the first players are bumped off at the start of the meal, everyone in the crowd becomes equally gumshoe, witness, and suspect. Throughout the dinner, guests can either sit back and enjoy the show or gather clues by talking with the characters who serve each course between the scenes. The evening culminates in a reveal of the real culprit, as well as the audience's most inaccurate guesses.
As a teenager in the farm village of Calabria, Italy, Domenico Maurici helped his family grow farro, a rare grain. After graduating from Italy's Culinary Institute, Domenico went on a cruise of the Pacific Coast and fell in love with Orange County; he selected it as the place where he would open his own restaurant centered on the grain he had grown up with.
At Il Farro, Domenico transforms farro into pastas and risottos, which he uses to build specialty dishes such as the farrotto con salsiccia with Italian-style sausage and pecorino cheese. The menu also includes pizzas layered with prosciutto. If you’re on a date with a homesick mermaid or merman, there are seafood creations such as linguini pescatore with New Zealand mussels, manila clams, calamari, and king crab.
After walking through the brick archway at the entrance to Akropolis Restaurant & Coffee, guests take their seats beneath hanging, tulip-shaped lights. A candle casts a glow over each tabletop, mirroring the warmth of Greek entrees such as souvlaki chicken and moussaka—baked eggplants, potatoes, and minced beef in a housemade cream sauce. The chefs have even instilled elements of the Mediterranean into seemingly familiar dishes such as burgers and pizzas: bifteki patties come crowned with hummus or tzatziki, and the Akropolis pizza bears the weight of gyro beef, eggplants, sliced tomatoes, and red onions. Plates of burnt figs round out dinners, and glasses of Californian and Italian vintages add excitement to meals through the ever-present danger of red-wine stains.
Founded by three former broadcasters and engineers, Pita Jungle now transmits fresh, healthy vibes with salads, tapas, and pitas stuffed with falafel, beans, or chicken. Small plates such as hummus or spanakopita make ideal starters or between-course palate pleasers, and healthy burgers replace beef disks with patties shaped from grilled portobello mushroom or seasoned black beans. Wood-fired pizzas borrow pitas as their base, piling on vegetarian combinations of pesto and feta or hearty creations centered on roasted chicken. Lively plates of mahi-mahi with pita chips or chicken del sol pack a flavorful punch. Enlivened by draft brews, daily happy hours let diners kick back and savor healthy fare.
Baking Betty's two exuberant founders, Emily and Taryn, bake up batches of soft, chewy cookies from scratch everyday. The two best friends speckle cookies with sugary chunks of marshmallow and chocolate like field hands seeding Candyland’s farms. Available by the dozen or in bundled mini bunches, each batch of cookies bears sea-foam-green packaging and comes sealed with a kiss from the Baking Betty’s themselves.
Sol Restaurant's Sunday brunch boasts a sweet and savory variety of breakfast and lunch dishes, served in a relaxing, solarium-style dining room or on a sun-soaked outdoor patio. Serve yourself from the bountiful buffet, populated by platters piled with early-morning favorites, including smoked Scottish salmon, breakfast potatoes, and belgian waffles. A neighboring make-your-own omelet station hosts an on-duty chef who will sauté a custom mix of meat, vegetables, and cheese or perform a dramatic monologue from Julie and Julia. Those preferring the lunch side of brunch can opt for more noon-based options, such as the chicken brochette flanked by saffron couscous, or the beef medallions doused in rustico sauce. Complementing the endless gauntlet of gastronomy is an equally endless supply of champagne, which, unlike a Mobius strip, encourages lively conversation.