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Solita Tacos & Margaritas, Crispa Crepes and More

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Find out what's new in Orange County food and dining news.

Bayside (949.721.1222, baysiderestaurant.com) has upgraded its décor. The ceiling “sails” in the bar have been replaced with more subtle acoustical improvements (noisy restaurants take note). Lamps line the bar and a fresh, new color scheme adorns the walls. New fabrics cover the booths and those in the main dining room are distinguished by long sheer panels that add an air of privacy. New patio window shades offer a water view despite sun glare. Check it out at the next Parrot Head Sunday Brunch, November 17.

On November 20, 6:15 p.m., Pinot Provence at the Westin South Coast Plaza (714.444.5900, pinotprovence.com) will host a Sommelier Fireside Dinner, Cabernet Sauvignon from Around the World, a themed five-course menu designed by Executive Chef Alfonso Ramirez and wine guided by Certified Sommelier Jorn Kleinhans. Dinner cost, $70. With wine pairing, $110. Tax and gratuity not included. Reservations required.

Solita Tacos & Margaritas, a new, casual Mexican eatery created by Partners Matt Baumayr, Rich Howland and Executive Chef Deborah Schneider of SOL in Newport Beach, will debut this month at the Bella Terra center in Huntington Beach (solitatacos.com).The kitchen’s open, oak-fired grill and smoker will capture the unique flavors found in Schneider’s Baja cuisine. Margaritas will be fresh, fruit-based and agave-sweetened, and the bar will have an extensive selection of top-grade tequilas. The all-weather patio shares seats with an indoor/outdoor bar.

New fall menus have hit the bar and dining scene. Look for quail with mushroom stuffing at Seasons 52 at South Coast Plaza (714.437.5252, seasons52.com); steak chilaquiles, crab-stuffed salmon and tres leches at Don the Beachcomber (562.592.1321, donthebeachcomber.com); swordfish with sundried tomato tapenade and Pacific pan-fried oysters at Back Bay Bistro (949.729.1144, backbaybistronewportbeach.com); an amazing list of new vintage craft cocktails by Koire Rogers at Arc Food & Libations (949.500.5561, arcrestaurant.com); and a new rum concoction at Tommy Bahama (949.760.8686, tommybahama.com) tagged Babalou, to fill the void until the new round of holiday drinks begins.

Think you have talent? Taco Rosa in Newport Beach (949.720.0980) is inviting singers, musicians, poets, and artists of all ages in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, to Open Mic, an event held every Sunday, 3-6 p.m., at the restaurant. Sign-ups in advance are requested. E-mail tacorosaopenmic@gmail.com for more information and registration.

Maro Wood Grill in Laguna Beach (949.793.4044, marowoodgrill.com) celebrates an Argentinian tradition on the 29th of every month called Noquis del 29, a special noquis (gnocchi) dinner. The organic house-made gnocchi and sauce vary from month to month. Previous noquis have been made with fennel, Cipollini onions and sausage and chevre noquis with asparagus.

Crispa Crepes has opened at Northpark Plaza in Irvine (714.389.5711, crispacrepes.com). Open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., the eatery serves a crepe-inspired lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert.

Okura Robata Grill & Sushi Bar will soon open on the site of the former Katsuya in Laguna Beach.

Two Madres Mexican Kitchen has opened at Portola Plaza in Mission Viejo (949.916.3643, twomadres.com). Chef Brent Omeste, formerly with Charlie Palmer, Cucina Enoteca and Marche Moderne, offers the usual burritos, tacos, bowls, salads and tortas, but with options to customize the meal with “Pick It” (the selection), “Fill It” with proteins or grilled vegetables and “Own It” by adding salsas, sauces and toppings. A children’s menu is also available.

Now that Mimi’s has been acquired by the French-based Groupe Le Duff, expect to find authentic French classic dishes, innovative new menus and a general revamp of service and décor. For new breakfast items, Executive Chef Katie Sutton, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, has introduced a croque madame waffle and pommes Lyonnaise Benedict. New lunch and dinner items include a signature bouillabaisse, grilled salmon Nicoise, coq au vin, baked brie, and more.

Savannah Chop House (949.493.7107, savannahchophouse.net) celebrates Mad Mondays with free appetizers in the lounge from 5-8 p.m. and drink specials all night. Lauren Black entertains from 6-10 p.m.
Nancy Wilhelm, owner of Tabu Grill (949.494.7743, tabugrill.com) has partnered with long-time friend Alice Liggitt, to create Skinny Nite Out, a line of low-calorie cocktail mixes. There are also zero-calorie, all natural glass rimmers that are flavored and colored to complement the mixes. Lemon Drop, Raspberry Cosmo and Margarita Mix are just a few of the products currently available at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, Monarch Beach Market and Marbella Ranch Market. For more information, call 949.230.8711 or e-mail nancy@skinnyniteout.com.

Vitaly, an Italian cafe owned by Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi of Bologna, has joined The CAMP in Costa Mesa (714.662.5500, vitaly.net). Specialties include street-food style piadina sandwiches, pasta made fresh daily, housemade Italian gelato, pastries, espresso, and wine. Open 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

After 10 years at the Balboa Bay Club (949.645.5000, balboabayclub.com), Chef Josef Lageder has resigned to take time off for traveling and other personal interests. Replacing the esteemed chef is Vincent Lesage, most recently the executive sous chef at the St. Regis Monarch Beach.

Chef Rich Mead, once chef/owner of Sage Eastbluff and Sage on the Coast, recently closed his Canyon restaurant in Anaheim Hills.

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