Bridal Shower - The bridal shower was held at Ashley's parents home and her sister and family friends made a great assortment of food. My favorites were the pasta salad, mini croissant sandwiches with different meats, and cake pops (featured in picture). The cake pops came in a tux (chocolate), a pink bridesmaids dress (red velvet) or a wedding cake (vanilla caramel). Since I'll be going to a bunch of bridal showers in the next few years, I want to remember that finger food and easy eats are the best way to go... as well as a fully stocked champagne bar.
Mesa - Costa Mesa - We went to Mesa for the bridesmaids and friends dinner after the shower. It's a happening bar with trendy menu items. The drinks were really tasty - I got the Lychee Martini and The Clash - and the food was a 7.5/10. The best food item was the fried green bean appetizer with a reduced soy dipping sauce. The atmosphere is what people come here for, which seems fashionable, tipsy and Southern Californian.
Rusted Pelican - Newport Beach - Cute, rustic beachfront restaurant. The champagne brunch was affordable and flowing. I got the vegetarian omelette with mushrooms, zucchini and jack cheese. This would be a good place to take your grandparents or parents to a beachy brunch, lunch or dinner.
Laguna Beach - We didn't eat here, but the restaurants up and down the main streets of Laguna looked amazing. My friend from the area recommends 370 Common, Mare and Nick's. Luckily, I'm going back down there this weekend to try some (or all) of 'em out!
SOL Cocina - We went here because the bride loves Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County and the cast frequent this spot. California style Mexican with upscale twists, similar to the Maria Maria chain up in Northern California. The highlights were my Grilled Fish Zarandeado Tacos (pineapple-cucumber salsa, cabbage, lime cream sauce) and the chips with Guacamole Sol (avocado, goat cheese, mangos, pepita, cilantro, tequila). The items that I wouldn't order again were the Ceviche Sol (small, underwhelming) and the Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita (odd flavor). You wouldn't think it, but those starving, plastic Real Housewives picked a place with some good food!