Deanna and Renee's memories of childhood are bathed in the warm, nostalgic glow of bustling family celebrations nourished by Northern Italian dishes and homemade wine. So influential were these culinary family traditions that the sisters banded together in adulthood to share their love of fine dining and their hometown with visitors from across the globe. Thus Old Towne Orange Walking Food Tours was born, a venture that enables the pair to shepherd curious foodies and history buffs of all ages through Old Towne Orange during their meticulously planned culinary walking tours.
The leisurely paced tours introduce guests to the town’s diverse selection of bistros, bakeries, and farmers' markets via numerous stops to sample house specialties. The Orange Sampler Tour introduces palates to the panoply of cuisines in the county –from heirloom tomato salad to french baked potato soup.
The chefs at Filling Station have found success in a simple formula: comfort food plus a comfortable café in which to enjoy it. Guests bite into huge burgers or belgian waffles on the flower-lined patio and toast with beers beside the warm fireplace. This is a slice of what Filling Station's owners call "the good ol' days," and it's easy to get swept up in the atmosphere of nostalgia. A dog-friendly policy makes every meal a true family affair, especially since you can bring that cousin who doesn't go anywhere without his leash.
The Cozy Cave, or living room, of Chapman Coffee House pays homage to Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'i faith. For a two-year period, the spiritual leader sought refuge in a cave, embracing seclusion as an opportunity for meditation. Acknowledging his example, the founders of Chapman Coffee House established the Cozy Cave as "a place for meaningful conversation." On the walls, chalkboards display words of wisdom, dictated by Bahá'u'lláh, as well as artwork from Orange High School students. Groups meet here for daily interfaith devotions; individuals often come to quietly contemplate.
In the kitchen, baristas accentuate Diedrich coffee beverages with artistic flair, manipulating foam into the shape of hearts, houses, and flowers. Cooks dedicate their attention to preparing white-chocolate brownies—a house specialty—as well as grilled paninis. On occasion, live musicians fill the dining area with song. In the winter, a fire crackles in the cozy cave to warm up the dwarves who live in the back.
Cuts of filet mignon aged up to 35 days steam under coats of béarnaise sauce, and kurobuta pork chops glisten with drizzled necklaces of cherry butter. Skuna Bay-Vancouver Island craft-raised salmon mingles with a citrus-saffron marmalade and seared diver scallops flaunt a garlic-dijon beurre blanc. At Manhattan Steak & Seafood, chefs see the culinary world as a grand soiree, mixing and mingling plates accessorized with stunning sauces and accents—each capturing its own admirers. Their fish have flown in from around the world and their steaks have been aged more than a month, but even these can’t overshadow the fraternity of wild game: bison, elk, boar, and ostrich.
The aromas of pepper and garlic fill the restaurant's five themed rooms. The "Red Room" derives its name from richly upholstered crimson booths, which stand in contrast to stark white walls. The wine cellar is illuminated by sconces set into castle-like stone walls. Jazz musicians descend on the lounge area Wednesdays–Saturdays, prompting foot-traffic on the hardwood dance floor. Live music also adds a distingué touch to the Sunday champagne buffet brunch, which features tables of colorful pastries, carving stations brimming with meat, and unlimited champagne.
So successful were the three original Lamppost Pizza establishments that the eatery has grown to 37 locations since its inception in 1976. Friendliness and fun unite with the pizzeria's penchant for sports to make visits memorable. But as nice as big-screen TVs can be, the real magnetism of this haven for sauce and cheese lies in the pies spun in the kitchen. Beer and wine complement the menu, which also includes calzones, pastas, sandwiches, and grill fare such as burgers.