Situated in Southern Orange County, Lake Forest is home to 82,000 people and is known for its quiet suburban pleasantness.
And with so much great dining options in the area, it can be an overwhelming process of choosing a good place to eat. But have no fear! I’ve hand picked twelve of the best places in town to grab a bite to eat.
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Baja Fish Taco
Baja Fish Taco serves some of the best coastal Mexican food in Orange County, period.
The fish tacos are legit, the shrimp tacos are legit, the burritos and the quesadillas are legit, everything here is delicious.
My go to order is guacamole and chips and the carne asada plate with pinto beans and rice. I like to take the tortillas that come with the plate and make little tacos.
The rice and beans are really good too. It’s soft, buttery and creamy and it’s not often that I mention the rice and beans from a restaurant, but that’s how good it is over here.
They also have an excellent selection of salsa at the bar to help accentuate the flavors of your meal.
There’s no part of the plate that I don’t clean off and I’m sure the dishwashers in the back appreciate me making their lives a tiny bit easier.
23020 Lake Forest Dr Ste 130 Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Siam Central Thai Kitchen
If you are looking for authentic Thai flavors, look no further than Siam Central. This is not one of those cookie-cutter westernized Thai restaurants that serves dumb-down Pad Thai. It’s a restaurant that you could place in Hollywood’s Thai Town and it would rival some of the best restaurants around there.
The menu is comprehensive with all your favorite classics, Tom Yum soup, papaya salad, pad Thai, curries, fried rice and more. Just know that anything you order will be super flavorful.
If you are having a hard time figuring out what to get, flip to the page with all their house specials, this is where they really shine. You will find things like the Sa-Tor Siam, which is a dish that consists of stir-fried ground chicken, ground pork, shrimp and squid, shrimp paste, pickled garlic and thai chilies.
Every purchase comes with a free Thai ice-tea, another huge plus!
23808 Mercury Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630
I’ve tried many poke places in and around Orange County and I have to say that Oke Poke has the best poke bowl in Southern Orange County.
Oke is similar to other poke places where you can customize your bowl every which way. There are tons toppings to choose from and there is a good selection of fish and seafood for your proteins.
This is exactly what I order and I know it verbatim because I go here so damn often:
5 scoop bowl with white rice, sweet onions, scallions, cucumbers, seaweed salad, two scoops of spicy crab, 2 scoops of albacore, 2 scoops of salmon, 1 scoop of albacore, Oke Sauce, Okeyaki sauce, heat, furikake, crunch onion and garlic.
This is the combo that I look forward to every week and which really hits the spot!
23646 Rockfield Blvd #604, Lake Forest, CA 92630
Not even 5 year ago, you couldn’t find a good pho place in South Orange County. All the good pho places were in the Westminster/Bolsa area, but times are changing. More and more authentic pho places are opening up further south. Pho Akaushi is one of these places.
Pho Akaushi made a name for itself in Garden Grove with its premium broth which is made from American wagyu beef that is simmered for over 12 hours. With it success, the owners spawned a new location in Lake Forest, which has been met with stellar reviews by residents of the city.
The pho is on the pricier side ($17), but it is well worth the admission, considering you are getting a rich and savory wagyu beef broth, with rare wagyu beef slices and chunks of wagyu spare+rib meat.Treat yourself to some indulgence!
22641 Lake Forest Dr B1, Lake Forest, CA 92630
Hole In the Wall Burger
Any foodie know that often times you can find the best tasting food at a restaurant that is a hole in the wall. Hole In The Wall Burger is no exception. They are crafting the best burger in town and anyone who’s ever been here can back up that statement.
The flavor profile of their burger slightly reminds me of In-N-Out but ultimately it encompasses its own style. Everything is fresh here, the pattie, the veggies, the buns, all fresh. My mouth is getting slightly watery just thinking and their burgers.
Beyond their burgers, they have a full menu of items including burritos, quesadillas, tacos and carne asada fries. Whatever you get will be phenomenal. They just get it here.
25262 Jeronimo Rd Lake Forest, CA 92630
Lupe’s Mexican Eatery
Lupe’s is a taco shop that offers a modern take of Mexican fare. They stock their restaurant with fresh, high quality, ingredients and it really shows in the flavor of their food.
You are going to find standard tacos and burritos here (like chicken, shrimp, al pastor and beef). The last time I came here, I got the al pastor burrito and it was freaking amazing. The meat was juicy and tender and just full of flavor. I savored every bite of that burrito and was sad when it was gone.
If you come with a big appetite, spring for one their signature burritos. The On Dana Point burrito is a California burrito wrapped with a quesadilla, protein, guac, sour cream, chipotle sauce, and bacon
I also recommend one of their breakfast burritos, which is very very good.
24531 Trabuco Rd Ste F, Lake Forest, CA 92630
Avila’s El Ranchito
Avila’s El Ranchito is a family-owned and operated restaurant that takes pride in bringing authentic flavors of from Guanajuato, Mexico by its founders Margarita and Salvador Avila.
They opened their first location in Huntington Park in 1966 and with it success they were able to spawned 12 other locations throughout Southern California. Each one their locations is operated by a member of the Avila family to ensure that the restaurants adheres to the quality set forth by Margarita and Salvador.
Their menu has an excellent array of authentic mexican classics like carnitas, tampiqueña, chili verde and chicken mole.
The extensive menu can leave you with decision paralysis, but we’ll make it easy for you: start things off with a refeshing margarita and spring for some uacamole Olé, then feast on the Carnitas Botana platter. Bring your appetite, you will definitely need it here.
24406 Muirlands Blvd Lake Forest, CA 92630
When you go to The Hat, one thing can be assured, you will be fed well! The Hat is a SoCal institution that is known for its huge and juicy pastrami sandwiches, but unlike Langers or Katz’s, the pastrami here is thinly sliced and takes on a flavor profile that is uniquely its own.
The portion sizes here are gigantic. An order of fries fills up a take-out bag and an order of pastrami cheese fries is enough to satisfy several hungry college kids.
Things you should try here: pastrami dip, chili dog, chili fries, onion rings. Bring you appetite, you will need it to get through half an order of anything here.
23641 Rockfield Blvd Lake Forest, CA 92630
There’s not many places where you can get good Korean food in South Orange County but luckily for residents of Lake Forest, Umma’s just opened up last year and is serving Korean food that can stand with the best of them in Korea Town.
Owners Melody Chin and June Choe hail from Hawaii and you can taste the island twist on many of their dishes.
Not sure what to order? The BBQ Chicken and Bul Go Gi plate is a crowd favorite and never disappoints. Meats are grilled to order and each meal include your choice of four banchan (side dishes).
24531 Trabuco Road Unit G, Lake Forest, California 92630, United States
Brü Grill & Market
Opened in 2011, Brü is a modern-casual restaurant that invites guests to come enjoy their seasonal American cuisine that is crafted with the philosophy that the best ingredients are the ones that are locally sourced or comes directly from the farm.
They have an extensive menu where you can choose from salads, steaks, pork chops, burgers, fish, prime rib and much much more.
Alcoholic beverages include an extensive list of craft beer, a variety of signature cocktails, and red and white wines sold by the bottle, half bottle, and glass.
They also have brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays with bottomless mimosas available.
23730 El Toro Rd Lake Forest, CA 92630
Renzo’s A Taste of Peru
If you want to treat your taste-buds to authentic flavors from Peru, look no further than Renzo’s.
The menu at Renzo’s includes Peruvian staples, like Aji de Gallina, Lomo Saltado, Arroz con Pollo and Ceviche.
The ceviche is super fresh and comes with a generous amount of fish, shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops, all of which get cured in a citrus marinade, which is good enough to drink on its own.
Rose Cafe is a hidden gem of a cafe that serves some of the best breakfast in Lake Forest.
Their breakfast burritos are well known around town and they offer around 13 different varieties you can get. You can’t go wrong with the classic or the California.
If you are not in the mood for breakfast, they have a full lunch menu that includes a plethora of tasty sandwiches and burgers.
Got a sweet tooth? No problem, they got you covered in that area too! They have a well stocked assortment of pastries and donuts to choose from. The danish and the blueberry fritters are my personal favorites.
20672 Lake Forest Dr Ste B Lake Forest, CA 92630
(Related: Best Breakfast Burritos In Orange County)