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In the City of Orange, there are plenty of dining options, particularly in Old Towne, but we’re going to cover a few that are popular with locals – and ones you might not find if you weren’t from the area.

The Hobbit

2932 E Chapman Ave
Orange, CA 92869

Upscale, cozy, and warm, with an amazing prix-fixe menu that changes weekly.

This reservations-only restaurant offers far more than an outstanding meal – it’s truly an experience – and an unexpected one at that, considering its location on one of Orange’s busiest thoroughfares – Chapman Avenue, with a brightly lit gas station across the street.

Step inside, however, and you’re transported (not quite all the way to the Shire, but somewhere in the vicinity). With little nods here and there to Tolkien’s classic tale, this 1930s farmhouse has been home to the Hobbit Restaurant since 1972.

You’ll want to ensure you have about four hours to devote to the entire experience – it’s a dinner in three acts, beginning with tasty hors d’oeuvres in the wine cellar. There are “intermissions” in between each act – where you can go upstairs or sit on the patio. Pre-pandemic, they would invite guests to check out the kitchen — but it’s a fairly tight space so they may have phased this out for that reason.

The dishes themselves are heavenly, and the service is impeccable. Reservations are typically required well in advance. (Please note — there is a dress code.)

Truffle Bistro

774 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92867

Foodies in Southern California are unfazed by finding awesome restaurants in unlikely locations, like strip malls. Take the Truffle Bistro — an elegant little tapas restaurant flanked by a gym and a hot wings joint.

Once you step inside, you’ll find a lovely atmosphere that is quite unlike its neighboring businesses. The food here is fantastic, all scratch-made by owner and Chef Henry, who hails originally from Denmark. Our favorite seats are at the bar, where you can watch in amazement the dancing flames and sauté pans in constant motion. It’s truly remarkable.

We typically stick to tapas when dining here — and can highly recommend the Tomates de Carne (a stuffed tomato), the Albondigas meatballs, and Gambas Al Ajillo (sauteed jumbo shrimp). It’s not always available, but if it is, we can also recommend the homemade tiramisu!

Jeff’s Fine Foods

1904 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92865

Another off-the-beaten favorite with locals is Jeff’s Fine Foods (also known as “Jeff’s Inviting Food and Spirits”). Re-located some years ago to its current location, you’ll find this restaurant packed with locals who love its fresh seafood and perfectly prepared steaks.

Confession: I actually haven’t been here since before the pandemic, but I remember the food being delicious – and far more upscale than I expected given its location.

More recently, we tried our luck and went (without a reservation); it was a Friday night and it was completely packed. The space itself is on the smaller side — so this wasn’t a huge surprise.

Orange Hill Restaurant

6410 E Chapman Ave
Orange, CA 92869

As is suggested by its title, this restaurant sits atop a hill, in the foothills on the eastern side of the city. The Orange Hill Restaurant is known for its panoramic views overlooking the entire Orange County basin.

It feels more like a traditional “date night” and company-holiday party type restaurant—and reservations are recommended, particularly on weekends and any major holidays. If you want to take in the scenery without dining here, there is a large lounge area.