Best Places to Eat Outdoors in Irvine
With its ocean air, dozens of parks, and more than 44 miles of bike trails, vibrant Irvine is a city that continually asks locals and visitors to enjoy the outdoors. Irvine restaurants are no exception. Here are some of the hotspots for outdoor dining.
1. Mick’s Karma Bar | 2010 Main Street
Claim to fame: Golden Foodie Award–winning burgers made with sirloin that’s ground fresh every few hours
Why you’re eating outside: There’s some indoor seating, but this burger joint’s location—tucked away in an office park—means they cater mostly to workers looking for an excuse to get out and get some fresh air. Plus, the outdoor seating come with views of fountains and modern-art pieces.
Try this: The Mediterranean burger, topped with roasted peppers, hummus, and feta cheese
2. Dogzilla | Multiple Locations
Claim to fame: “Fusion” hot dogs served on Hawaiian roll buns and with toppings such as avocado, housemade teriyaki sauce, or yakisoba noodles
Why you’re eating outside: There’s no choice. The chefs hand out their hot dogs from inside a green food truck, which travels throughout Irvine and the rest of Orange County, stopping near office complexes, festivals, movie-in-the-park nights, and other community hotspots.
Try this: The Yaki Dog, a spicy Cajun pork link topped in yakisoba noodles, ao nori, red ginger, and okonomi sauce
3. La Sirena Grill | 3931 Portola Parkway
Claim to fame: Mexican food cooked with local, organic, and sustainable ingredients
Why you’re eating outside: A fountain bubbles over at the center of a huge outdoor patio, where red bricks line the floor and climb upwards to form columns—some covered in vines. Lights strung around trees make this ideal for after dark, when you can dine at tables for two or start a party at one of the patio’s couches.
Try this: The blackened salmon burrito filled with Sirena cabbage, jack cheese, guacamole, and organic beans or rice
4. Yard House | 620 Spectrum Center Drive
Claim to fame: Their selection of “chalkboard beer,” rotating taps chosen to highlight local, domestic, and international breweries—be on the lookout for selections from the breweries of California's Hops Highway
Why you’re eating outside: As one of the popular Irvine Spectrum restaurants, Yard House has a patio with candlelight in the evenings and a smattering of palm trees surrounding the area, offering a serene break from shopping at the center’s more than 100 stores.
Try this: A poke stack of marinated raw ahi, crispy wontons, avocado, and wasabi soy sauce
5. CUCINA enoteca Irvine | 532 Spectrum Center Drive
Claims to fame: Hundreds of wines paired with housemade pasta and other Italian cuisine, all made with seasonal, local ingredients
Why you’re eating outside: Combined, the two oversized patios total roughly 2,700 square feet. Flowers and greenery cover both brick-lined settings, and the larger tables make ideal places to eat a family-style meal while people-watching along the main drag of the Irvine Spectrum Center.
Try this: Short-rib pappardelle with cremini mushroom, carrot, and parmigiano
Pro tip: Pick out wine from Italy, France, Napa Valley, or one of America’s other wine regions at the onsite shop—then pay a small corkage fee to drink it with your meal.
6. Knowlwood | 14952 Sand Canyon Avenue
Claims to fame: Handmade milk shakes, award-winning hamburgers, and soups made from recipes that date back to the original restaurant’s opening in 1957
Why you’re eating outside: The exterior of this casual restaurant looks like a red barn, which lends a rustic vibe to the patio tables. (Thankfully, there are plenty of oversized umbrellas to prevent farmer’s tans.)
Try this: Irish nachos—french fries covered in cheddar, chopped green onions, bacon bits, and housemade ranch dressing
Andrew is a senior writer, a singer, and an occasional actor. He spends the rest of his time playing guitar in the back of bars and trying to convince at least one of his friends to go bowling.