A Dining Guide to UCI

Amelia Alvarez
J.D. Candidate 2015, UCI Law

Although it seems like dining options around the law school are limited, there are some great places to get a bite or study.  Below is a short list of some of great dining spots close to the law school.  Restaurants located within University Center and Campus Plaza are excluded since you’re probably already familiar with them.

Somewhat Hidden Study Spots

1. Specialty’s Café & Bakery/Peets Coffee
100 Innovation
Irvine, CA 92617

This place is hidden within a local corporate park.  The food can be a little pricey, but the ingredients are fresh and the portions are large.  There is plenty of seating and it’s usually fairly empty (except during the lunch hour) so it’s a great place to study.  Only about a 5-7 minute drive from the law school.  This particular location closes at 6 p.m. and it is not open on the weekends.

2. Starbucks (University Research Park)
5171 California Ave
Irvine, CA 92617
(949) 856-1490

This place is also hidden within a local corporate park two streets from Specialty’s.  It’s a large Starbucks location with ample seating inside and outside.  It’s usually much less crowded than the Starbucks on California and Campus Dr., but it closes at 6:30 p.m.

3.  IHOP
5301 University Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 786-5203

The food is what you would expect, and the service is generally very good.  This location is large and not very busy during the afternoons or weekday evenings.  There are endless coffee refills, which makes it a great place to eat breakfast anytime while getting some light work done.

Personal Favorites

1. Champagne’s Bistro and Deli
1260 Bison Ave, Ste D3
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 640-5011

I can’t say enough about Champagne’s! Although it’s very crowded during lunch, it’s a great place for breakfast and dinner.  You can order breakfast and lunch at the counter, but dinner is full service.  It’s only a 5-7 minute drive from campus, and the food is reasonably priced.  I recommend the pancakes for breakfast, the turkey chili for lunch, and the fried chicken for dinner.  Champagne’s is casual dining, good food, and cute bistro ambience at a reasonable price.

2. Taco Rosa
2632 San Miguel Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 720-0980

Good Mexican food is hard to find close to campus, but Taco Rosa has yet to disappoint me.  Service is a little inconsistent so I’d try to visit during Happy Hour (2-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close) or Taco Tuesday to get the best value.  The deals are pretty decent, especially during Happy Hour (some of the entrees are 50% off).  There is a full bar and the tortillas are made from scratch.  I recommend any dish including the restaurant’s mole or tomatillo sauce.  It’s a perfect place for lunch, dinner, or drinks, and it’s only about 7-10 minutes away from the law school.

3. Wholesome Choice Market
18040 Culver Dr
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 551-4111

Wholesome Choice is a grocery store, but it has a food court and bakery that serves Indian, Persian, Lebanese, Italian, Chinese, Thai, and Arabic cuisine.  The place can get quite crowded, but you can usually get your food pretty quickly.  It’s only about a 5 minute drive from campus so it’s possible to grab lunch from the food court and still make it back to campus during the lunch hour.  The food is not expensive, and in the past I have received a student discount (you must have you student ID).  I’m a big fan of the Indian cuisine, which I usually pick up after doing some quick grocery shopping.  Convenient!
Shopping Centers with Multiple Dining Options

1.  The Bluffs Shopping Center
1302 – 1380 Bison Avenue
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Includes the following:
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Daphne’s California Greek
Island’s Fine Burger and Drinks
Pei Wei Asian Diner
Panera Bread
Wildfish Seafood Grille

Parking is VERY difficult to find from 11am-1pm, but most of the restaurants have decent lunch specials.  Only a short drive from campus, and there are plenty of options from which to choose.

2. Newport Hills Center
2600 – 2690 San Miguel Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

 Includes the following:
Pacific Whey Café & Baking Company
Taco Rosa

This shopping center does not offer too many choices, but Taco Rosa and Pacific Whey are both reason enough to endorse it.  See above for information about Taco Rosa.  Pacific Whey is a casual bistro that’s great for lunch or dinner.  The sandwiches, chips, and desserts are delicious.  A bit further from campus, but it’s still only a 7-10 minute drive.