OC Register, July 2014 | Looking to eat or shop? Here’s some of the hippest spots in O.C.

From OC Register, Looking to eat or shop? Here’s some of the hippest spots in O.C.

The scene: What’s not a mall, not a design center nor a Main Street but has a bit of each? South Coast Collection in Costa Mesa emerged several years ago from the remains of the moribund South Coast Home Furnishings Center to become the kind of unconventional shopping and dining destination not seen since the anti-mall. The consistent heart of the center is the OC Mix building, which houses mini-boutiques that serve as incubation spaces for small indie businesses and artisanal food and drink purveyors. It’s flanked on three sides by furniture and décor showrooms.

The goods: Design Within Reach, Environment Furniture, Cisco Home are some of the showrooms that make this center a must-visit for lovers of contemporary furnishings. Coming later this year: HD Buttercup.

The eats: Arc Food & Libations, which prepares its food over wood fires exclusively, has been singled out by several critics as one of Southern California’s most innovative new restaurants. Shuck Oyster Bar, Taco Maria and Portola Coffee Lab also attract legions of fans (expect a long wait for your joe at Portola – they’re perfectionists). Pueblo Tapas is coming this fall; so is a pastry school, ST Pâtisserie Chocolat.

The crowd: During the week, it’s wannabe hipsters, home decorators, college and grad students from the nearby campuses, moms with tots in tow and office workers. During the weekend, it’s a casual assortment of couples, friends and families. The place gets packed on Saturdays, so get there early to nab a parking spot and check out the farmers market.

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