Costa Mesa, California was nominated by my close friends Bobo and Chichi in my recent competition to uncover America’s next great gastronomic vacation. Since we had all lived in Mexico together and I knew they were true foodies, I was certain that if they said a location was a culinary destination, it had to be amazing!
Costa Mesa approached me about collaborating to promote their new #Eatcation. Indeed, that’s exactly what it sounds like: a vacation based on food! Evidently, I was the ideal individual to assist them in publicizing their new venture!
Not in the mood to dine out tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver right to your door from the greatest restaurants in town.
Where exactly is Costa Mesa?
Costa Mesa, often known as the City of Arts, is a city in Orange County, California.
Costa Mesa is only about an hour from Los Angeles if there is no traffic, but no traffic is not always guaranteed. Many people (including myself) believe you should fly into LAX, but there are two airports nearby, including Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, which is just four miles from Costa Mesa!
Flights to LAX may be less expensive, but if you throw in the cost of Uber, you may be better off utilizing a nearby airport. I landed at John Wayne Airport and was in my hotel within five minutes. When you compare that to the over three hours it took us to return to Costa Mesa following our trip to Los Angeles, it’s enough to make you reconsider using other airports!
Costa Mesa has a comprehensive portion of their website devoted to assisting you in contacting them; you can see it by clicking here.
What Makes Costa Mesa Such a Gourmet Mecca?
To begin with, there are several alternatives! Costa Mesa restaurants vary from hole-in-the-wall favorites to Michelin-starred establishments and everything in between! Costa Mesa is also known as the OC’s gastronomic hub! Several honors have been bestowed to Costa Mesa restaurants, both locally and globally.
You’ll soon realize, as I noted in my guide to the top restaurants in Costa Mesa, that Costa Mesa has an unique mall culture. Many, if not the majority, of the greatest Costa Mesa restaurants are located in retail malls or shopping centers. So don’t let it deter you! Restaurants in Costa Mesa have amazing access to some of the finest fruit available anywhere, and it shows on their menus!
The diversity of meals offered in Costa Mesa really astonished me. During my visit, I had California-style BBQ (I promise it’s a thing and it’s fantastic), Japanese meals, Latin brunches, Hawaiian donuts, very real Italian food, award-winning milkshakes, craft beer, all the Tex-Mex, and so much more!
Ramen restaurants are so popular in Costa Mesa that there is a street named Ramen Row! I can’t wait to return to Costa Mesa and spend a full day eating my way along Ramen Row.
Costa Mesa’s Top Attractions:
Costa Mesa is not just a world-class cuisine city, but it also has a lot to offer. I managed to get a lot done in the short time I was in Costa Mesa.
You may begin by participating in the Costa Mesa Art Walk, which is free and a terrific opportunity to get acquainted with downtown Costa Mesa. On your art stroll, make time to visit Noguchi Garden.
Noguchi Garden is a minimalist sculpture garden that represents California. The water element that flowed throughout was fantastic. On Fridays, food trucks set up in the garden from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and I was hating myself for not making lunch arrangements since everything they were cooking looked delicious!
The LAB and The Camp are two more places you’ll rapidly get acquainted with throughout your stay in Costa Mesa. Both The LAB and The Camp provide retail and food options and are relatively close to one another. I took a step between them.
The LAB (Little American Business) is intended to be an anti-mall, focused entirely on small local companies.
Coffee shops, doughnut shops, clothes boutiques, and even a record store may be found at The LAB!
The Camp advertises itself as a green, eco-friendly retail campus devoted to an active, healthy lifestyle that is environmentally conscious and community-oriented.
The Camp is lots of intriguing stores and restaurants, and it would be a perfect spot to meet up with friends to go shopping before stopping for lunch or an afternoon drink.
You should also get acquainted with SOCO, an eating and culinary experience comprised of over seventy design shops and restaurants. The OC Mix, one of Southern California’s most recognized retail and dining halls, is located inside SOCO. Taco Maria, one of Costa Mesa’s two Michelin-starred restaurants, is also housed in the complex.
Take a break from shopping to enjoy a bottle of wine and light snacks at We Olive & Wine Bar. I’d want to try the cheese store across We Olive, which serves some fantastic cheese plates and charcuterie boards, the next time I come.
South Coast Plaza is the polar opposite of The LAB and The Camp.
South Coast Plaza is the biggest shopping mall on the West Coast, with annual retail sales of more than 1.5 billion (that’s billion with a B!) dollars, the most in the country.
Every year, over twenty-four million people visit the huge mall. South Coast Plaza features over 250 stores, including every major designer you can think of, as well as many new ones for you to explore. All of the big designers are represented, including Armani, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, and Gucci.
There are three Macy’s shops in the retail mall! South Coast Plaza also has over thirty eateries, including the well-known Din Tai Fung.
The Orange County Museum of Art, or OCMA as it is more often known, is located relatively close to South Coast Plaza.
The museum was tiny but had some intriguing exhibits, and the overall architecture was remarkable.
The OCMA is a terrific post-brunch, pre-shopping visit to absorb some culture before hitting the mall!
The museum will relocate from its current temporary home to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts campus in 2021, in a brand new 52,000 square-foot facility with a rooftop sculpture garden. Further information regarding the new structure may be found by clicking here.
Costa Mesa Craft Brewers
I had heard of Costa Mesa’s restaurant culture, but I had no idea about their great craft brewers until I came. Costa Mesa boasts an excellent array of craft breweries, several of which are within easy walking distance of one another! This means you may plan your own spontaneous beer sampling or bar tour.
On my visit, I was able to sample beers from both Gunwhale Ales and Salty Bear. I really like Gunwhales’ West Coast IPA and Salty Bear’s Hazy Citrus IPA. On my next visit, I plan to visit Bootleggers and Greencheek breweries, which are both close and highly recommended.
Costa Mesa Accommodations
The Crowne Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa graciously housed me. The hotel is wonderfully positioned, and I was able to walk to the majority of the retail malls and restaurants listed in the article.
The LAB, The CAMP, South Coast Plaza, and several of the eateries mentioned above are all within walking distance. I could also stroll to Noguchi Gardens. To get to SOCO and the OC Mix, you’ll need to take an Uber, but because to its central location, Uber journeys are speedy and reasonably priced.
My accommodation was spacious and pleasant, and the staff was quite kind, even signing for and keeping a huge number of inbound goods for me. On the second day, several of the employees knew my name and were always willing to assist. To book your own accommodation, go straight to the hotel’s website by clicking here, or use the search engine below to see today’s best prices on Booking.com.
I hope that after reading about all there is to see, see, and eat in Costa Mesa, you will agree with me that it is an ideal destination for foodies!
I had a great day in Costa Mesa and plan to return soon to bring you more gastronomic delights from this hidden Southern Californian gem!
Disclaimer: I’d like to express my gratitude to Travel Costa Mesa and the Crowne Plaza Hotel for hosting me throughout my stay. As always, all views are mine.