More Orange County . CA
Many people that travel to the L.A. area moan about how large and spread out the entire area is, which is definitely worth moaning about if you spend most of the day in your car. But if you venture outside of the many freeways and into the individual towns you’ll find many things like they’ve been for the best 50 years. For example Garden Grove, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, each have eclectic main streets that haven’t looked like they’ve changed at all. Still the surf vibe and California atmosphere that made them the communities they are. When I talked with older relatives and friends there it’s interesting to hear stories about life in Orange County and L.A. in the 50s and 60s, where you would leave Anaheim, drive for 20 miles to another town, and all you traversed were Orange groves. No traffic lights, no big box stores, just empty fields.
Downtown Garden Grove
I visited the city of Orange, which is pretty much the center of Orange County. The pedestrian friendly walkable town square is used for filming movies needing a 50s setting, and many bars, small restaurants, coffee shops, and antique stores are near the square and adjoining streets.
In Orange I visited my cousin Dave, who is attending the prestigious Chapman University. I recanted my trip to Buenos Aires, and Dave suggested we hit the Pasta Connection, which specializes in Italian / Argentinian food. Set in a low diner style building, the dining room was wood paneled, mirrored, and big round tables with the checkerboard prints. I was instantly comfortable, and we enjoyed a long meal of empanadas, pizza, and Quilmes beer, (an Argentina import).
Another phenomenally good restaurant is Las Brisas, (The Breezes), in Laguna Beach. Although a bit more tony that San Clemente or the inland O.C. cities, it’s a fun town to amble around on foot, and Las Brisas has an amazing all you can eat brunch.