Panera Bread in Irvine, CA has good selection of breakfast and lunch options

Located near the corner of Irvine Boulevard and Sand Canyon Road is Panera Bread. Once you enter the doors, the scent of fresh baked bread fills the air. As you peruse the menu, make sure to sample some of their breads so you can make the right choice. All of their bakery items are on display whether you are in the mood for a pastry and coffee for breakfast or picking a dessert for after lunch. The service is friendly and attentive most days.

Jalapeño & Cheddar Bagel Breakfast Sandwich is an all-natural egg, a thick slice of Vermont white cheddar and smoked, lean ham all grilled on a Jalapeño & Cheddar bagel. The flavors were awesome! Gooey, melted cheddar with smoky ham and a spicy kick from the jalapenos in the bagel made this sandwich a winner. Thumbs up, way up!

Frozen Mocha is velvety chocolate & icy espresso, topped with whipped cream & drizzled with chocolate syrup. This was a perfectly blended mocha, not too sweet, great espresso flavor, and creamy. Thumbs up!

French Toast Bagel Breakfast Sandwich is an all-natural egg, a thick slice of Vermont white cheddar and all-natural sausage all grilled on a French toast bagel. This was another great sandwich with sweet and savory flavors – gooey, creaminess from the melted cheddar, savory sausage, and sweet cinnamon custardy flavor from the bagel. Thumbs up!

Spinach & Artichoke Baked Egg Soufflé is spinach, Romano cheese, red peppers and artichoke hearts, lightly flavored with a hint of garlic & a dash of Tabasco®. This was a light way to start your day with a cup of orange juice. The soufflé was light, fluffy and all of the flavors went really well together. Thumbs up!

Steak &White Cheddar Premium Hot Panini is served on a French baguette with seared top sirloin, caramelized onions, Vermont white cheddar & horseradish spread with your choice of side. The top sirloin was cooked to well done. The meat was tender, but would have been better if it was on the medium-rare side. All of the flavors went very well together, but the presentation was a bit flat (no pun intended). The baguette was crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Thai Chopped Chicken Salad is all-natural, antibiotic free chicken, romaine, wonton strips, a blend of fire-roasted edamame, red bell pepper, and carrot tossed in a Thai Chili Vinaigrette and topped with Thai cashews, fresh cilantro and a peanut drizzle. There are lots of flavors and textures going on here: crunchy won ton strips, smoky edamame, sweet bell peppers, spicy Thai chili dressing, starchiness from the cashews and peanut drizzle, and perkiness from the cilantro. Thumbs up!

Asiago Roast Beef is oven-roasted beef, smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions & creamy horseradish sauce, on an Asiago Cheese Demi. This is the best sandwiches on the menu. The roast beef was flavorful and tender. The horseradish went really well with the beef, not too invasive. The Asiago Cheese Demi was to die for! The Asiago was baked into the bread and added a wonderful cheese crust on the top. Thumbs up, way up!

If you looking for some place relaxing for lunch, stop by Panera Bread. You can even hop onto their wi-fi and surf the web too.

Savings Tip:
  • Sign up for their My Panera rewards card. You’ll start receiving free items after your first visit.
Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 4 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information:
6372 Irvine Blvd
Irvine, CA 92620-2102

Panera Bread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco Maria is crafting upscale Chicano cuisine in Southern California

Chef Carlos Salgado started cooking at a young age helping out in his family’s restaurant, La Siesta in Orange, CA. After finishing culinary school, he stayed up in the Bay Area working in some of the finest kitchens in the area – Vernon Morales’ Winterland, Daniel Patterson’s Coi, and James Syhabout’s Commis. Classically trained as a pastry chef, Chef Carlos brings his culinary talents and his culture to bear in all his offerings to SoCal foodies. Chef Carlos is definitely a farm to plate chef – always using local, seasonal ingredients. If you visit him in a farmers’ market environment, during downtimes, you’ll see him talking with the farmers. Frida, the Taco Maria truck, is setup like an exposition kitchen - big pane glass windows, sparkling stainless steel kitchen appliances, and all of the staff dressed in perfectly pressed white chef coats. You can watch them prepare items before your very eyes, whether it’s prepping ingredients or assembling your order.

Chilaquiles from Taco Maria is the breakfast of champions! Tortilla chips in chile cascabel sauce with queso fresco and a fried farm-fresh egg. The dark chile on the chips is a little spicy but has a sweet, rich, smoky flavor. The farm-fresh egg takes the cake! Breaking the yolk and letting it run down to coat the tortilla chips was just mind-blowing! It’s sensual and seductive. You’ll definitely fall in love with this dish! Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow of photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Taco Maria Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Pasta Prima Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli

Pata Prima makes a Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli (frozen and sold at Costco stores) that is awesome! I tried it during a sampling while we were shopping and fell in love with them.

Since of boiling them, I've been sauteing them in a skillet with olive oil. The raviolis turn golden brown like a wonton. Last winter, our friend bought a electronic turkey fryer and use it as a deep-fryer in the kitchen when we don't have a turkey to deep-fry. I thought to myself, what if we deep-fried the raviolis like they serve as appetizers in restaurants? They turn out perfect, just like wontons filled with spinach and mozzarella. Sprinkle on the parmesan oregano packet on top and you're good to go.

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

Corned Beef and Cabbage (used Better Homes and Gardens recipe as base then expanded)

Added red potatoes (halved), made a bouquet garni with seasoning packet from inside corned beef package with coffee filter and butcher twine), added 2 pint glasess of water,  and cooked in crock pot for 7 hours on high.

For dessert, I made The Naughty Leprechaun from BetterRecipes.  

Better than McDonald's Shamrock Shake with an alcohol kick. Made 3 at one time in blender and split into 3 wine glasses.

Hope you're St. Paddy's Day was great!


OC Food Diva

The Summit House is serving up hearty fare with English flare in Fullerton, CA

With beautiful views of North Orange County, The Summit House sits above it all. The exterior looks like an old English Inn with beautifully landscaped trees and shrubbery on the grounds. The interior is dark with a tavern off to the side and a huge main dining room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows so all guests can partake in the view. The tables are perfectly manicured with white linen table cloths and decorative folded napkins. The servers are dressed in period attire making the experience more memorable. All they need is the English accent and you would be transported to Ole England. My husband and I spend a Valentine’s Day dinner here back in the 1990s so we were interested to see if it had changed. 

Your evening starts with basket of bread (sourdough and walnut bread). I just love the scent of fresh aromatic breads!

Escargots Bourguignonne are served in a Brandy Pernod Garlic Butter. OMG, this is just like I remembered it. The Summit House was my first experience with escargot. Being from Hawaii, we eat lots of sea snails (called tsubu in Japanese). Escargot is so much better as it absorbs the flavor of anything that you serve with it. The Brandy Pernod Garlic Butter sauce is amazing! The escargot explodes with flavor. Tip: when you scoop the escargot from the holder or shell, make sure you dig deep to pick up the garlic chunks on the bottom. If you have eaten all of the escargot, take your bread and soak up the leftover buttery garlic flavor. Your bread is now a beautifully garlic flavored delicacy. Thumbs up, way up!

Caesar Salad is hearts of romaine with their classic Caesar dressing topped with shaved Reggiano Parmesan cheese. The dressing is bit too light - needs more garlic and anchovy kick. But I love the shaved parmesan and parmesan croustinis. Thumbs up!

Roast Prime Rib of Beef is slow roasted, carved to order, and served with their classic creamed corn, creamed spinach, and individual Yorkshire pudding. I ordered the Castle Cut which is a 24-ounce extra thick cut on the bone. The prime rib was cooked to a perfect rare, tender, and flavorful, but not quite the best I’ve ever had. You’ll definitely have leftovers with this cut. The creamed corn, on the other hand, was out of this world! It was creamy, sweet, and the kernels were still whole and juicily burst after biting into them. The creamed spinach was pretty good as well – creamy and balanced in flavor. The Yorkshire Pudding was rather plain but perfect for sopping up the meat juices and au jus. Thumbs up!

Rib Eye Steak is a 20-ounce USDA Prime bone-in rib eye, oak wood grilled, and served with straw onions and Gruyere au gratin potatoes. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare with an awesome char-grilled seal. The steak was tender, juicy, and full of flavor. The au gratin potatoes had a splendid brown crust of cheese on top and creamy layered potato goodness underneath. The vegetables were sautéed to perfection allowing them to retain their crispy greenness. The fried onion straws were okay. The dish would probably be fine without them. Thumbs up, way up!

Since we were celebrating my husband’s birthday, they brought out a little something sweet to end our evening. The Summit English Trifle is layers of rum and brandy soaked cake with English custard, strawberries, Chantilly cream, and toasted almonds. I love that they had a little “Happy Birthday” chocolate placard and a candle to make a wish. The trifle was scrumptious and light. This was the perfect end to a heavily-laden meal of beef. Thumbs up, way up!

If you’re looking for a good place for steak with a romantic view, set your sights on The Summit House. It hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years so you know it’s got to be good.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
2000 E Bastanchury Rd
Fullerton, CA 92835-3289

Summit House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pampas Brazilian Grille is Brazilian dining with a seafood flare in Las Vegas, NV

Nestled within the Miracle Mile Shops inside the Planet Hollywood Casino Resort, Pampas Brazilian Grille lures you in with the scent of freshly grilled meats. The exterior looks like any other restaurant in the mall so let your nose guide you through the glass doors to the interior with the dining room directly ahead of you, the enormous salad and hot food bar beyond it and the cocktail bar with al fresco dining to your right. I love to people-watch so the al fresco dining is always my choice!

If you haven’t been to a Churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse) before, you’re in for a treat. Passadores (the servers) dash around the dining room with huge skewers of sizzling meat and carving knives. Think of it as a Brazilian Dim Sum, but instead of carts, you have grilled meats carved fresh right at your table. This is my favorite cuisine! The Surf and Turf Rodizio is unlimited servings of fresh seafood of the day, grilled meats like Picanha (beef tenderloin with the fat cap), BBQ Pork, Grilled Chicken, Smoked Ham, Grilled Pineapple, Brazilian Sausage, and Turkey Wrapped in Bacon carved at your table. This also includes unlimited helpings from their side bar featuring over 50 hot and cold sides and salads. Tip: With my 10 years eating experience at churrascarias, here’s a simple way to enjoy your experience. You’ll be tempted to fill your plate with tons of sides and salads. Hold back and pick small bites like hearts of palm, mushrooms, shrimp, etc. Make yourself a crudité plate of sorts to share with the table. That way, you’re ready when the grilled meats come around. You’ll definitely want to try every type to establish your favorites. The Picanha is my favorite meat here and usually is the house specialty at churrascarias. The fat cap helps to keep the meat juicy during the spit-fire grilling process and has a crispy crust like chicharrones. The Grilled Pineapple is also a family favorite. The sugars in the pineapple caramelize and envelope the pineapple in sweet deliciousness. The seafood of the day for our dining experience was Bacon-wrapped Scallops, Grilled Salmon, Garlic Shrimp, and Fried Fish. The scallops were perfectly cooked with sweet flavor and tender flesh. The bacon took the scallops to a new level adding a salty, smoky flavor. Absolutely amazing! The first helping of grilled salmon was cooked perfectly with a soft texture and melted like butter. The second helping was a little bit dried out, but still had a good flavor. The Garlic Shrimp was sweet, crispy, and dipping it in the drawn butter made it even better. The Fried Fish, on the other hand, almost didn’t belong on the plate. It was dry and flavorless. I would definitely get the platter again minus the Fried Fish or just stick with the Meat Rodizio menu option. Thumbs up!

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Pampas Brazilian Grille (Planet Hollywood) on Urbanspoon

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box Recipe Series: Quinoa Cranberry Pudding Parfait

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box in this post was provided by Melissa’s Produce but the opinions expressed here are my own.