Three Michelin Star restaurants. Six Michelin Guide restaurants. When contemplating where this deliciously decadent destination is, you might think of a secluded city in Napa Valley, or one of the New York boroughs…but you’d be wrong. We’re talking about Costa Mesa, a surprising culinary gem in Orange County, California.
About 40 miles south of Los Angeles, Costa Mesa is the cultural center of Orange County, with the trademark City of the Arts®. At the center of it is Segerstrom Center for the Arts, OC’s stunning performing arts and theater complex and home to Broadway shows, the world’s leading dance companies, concerts and more. The campus is also the home to the new Orange County Museum of Art, which opened in October 2022. Visual arts abound in the city, including public sculptures by Joan Miro, Richard Serra, and Jean Dubuffet, an outdoor sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi and Orange County’s largest mural by Shepard Fairey. The city offers a free Costa Mesa Art Walk audio tour available on mobile phones at travelcostamesa.com/artwalk.
As the only city in Orange County with MichelinStar restaurants—and, in fact, boasting three of them—Costa Mesa’s wide range of dining offerings has made this city a traveling foodie’s perfect spot for an Eatcation®. Most recently, Knife Pleat earned a Michelin Star in 2021, serving French-inspired cuisine inside South Coast Plaza.
Innovative shopping and dining centers like SOCO Collection & The OC Mix, The CAMP, and The LAB Anti-Mall are home to hidden gems and internationally recognized culinary talent. Chef Atsushi Yokoyama of Hana re Sushi is a previous Michelin Star awardee, and Taco María’s chef, Carlos Salgado, is a multiple-time finalist for a James Beard Award—the two hotspots making up Costa Mesa’s other Michelin Star restaurants.
Costa Mesa prides itself on culinary innovation as well. The new Orange County Museum of Art just debuted Verdant, offering a plant-forward menu that rotates weekly, highlighting local, seasonal produce in Southern California. Arc at The OC Mix has been heralded as one of the first restaurants in the U.S. to reject modern cooking technologies—even an oven. Arc cooks everything over live fire—either grilled over orange wood, or over almond in the brick hearth.
Collage Culinary Experience is a two-story global dining collective of nine different dining experiences, all within an artfully designed space, including the only U.S. location for the renowned Singaporean eatery Paradise Dynasty. Ramen Row, Mitsuwa Japanese Market, and the Costa Mesa staple, Anjin, bring a vibrant and diverse cultural experience to the destination.
In addition to Costa Mesa’s celebration of performing, visual and culinary arts, you can also find the West Coast’s biggest shopping destination, South Coast Plaza. With more than 250 boutiques, this luxury shopping center has one of the largest concentrations of high-fashion retailers in the world and the highest concentration of design and fashion retail in the U.S.
Mere minutes from Orange County’s world-famous beaches, Costa Mesa offers a surprising and alluring destination to the discerning traveler. It’s truly the epicenter of great food, arts and culture in Southern California. Visit travelcostamesa.com for more information.