My 5 Favorite Healthy Restaurants in Orange County


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5 healthy restaurants in orange county I love.

I’ve been driving back-and-forth between Los Angeles and Orange County a lot lately. My parent’s are based just north of Los Angeles and my brother is in Orange County, so I seem to be splitting my time between both spots. Orange County is what I consider my true “home” – as I grew up there, went to high school there and still have many friends there. So up and down the 405 I go.

Orange County is home to some of my favorite beach cities (like, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar) and has fab restaurants to enjoy healthy meals while getting a little vitamin D. Healthy food, sun, sand, palm trees…what more could you want?

I was down in Orange County this past weekend and hit up the new (and gorgeous!) Cafe Gratitude location in Newport Beach. It’s a stunner for sure. And while I’m not vegan, I’m gluten-free and prioritize quality ingredients, which Cafe Gratitude delivers on. But there are several other restaurants that have become my “go to” favorites for healthy meals, so I thought I’d share those with you today.

Next time you’re in Orange County, you can hit them up, grab a healthy meal and go walk along the sand. A perfect day of Roaming Free in my books.

1. True Food Kitchen

451 Newport Center Drive,
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Located in Fashion Island, True Food Kitchen is a great place to rest and recharge after a day of shopping, errands or beach time. They have a wide selection of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options as well as grass-fed animal proteins. The menu is seasonal (which I love), so even if you go all the time (which I do!) it’s always fresh and nourishing. Some of my personal faves are the chopped salads and the chicken curry.

2. Cafe Gratitude

1617 Westcliff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Cafe Gratitude is a 100% plant-based, organic restaurant and you always leave feeling better than when you arrived. Perhaps it’s because you order your meal as an affirmation (“I am free and vibrant”) or perhaps it’s because all the meals are packed-full of nutrients – like a turmeric latte! Just remember that because it’s vegan doesn’t mean all the options are gluten-free, so make sure to verify with your server.

3. The Beachcomber

15 Crystal Cove
Newport Beach, CA 92657

The Beachcomber is my absolute favorite breakfast spot in all of Orange County! The restaurant is literally on the beach and listening to the waves crash while enjoying brekkie is always a great way to start your day. A couple of hints: wear flip flops and make a reservation. Oh, it’s also a great post-hike stop, if you’re up for an early morning Crystal Cove hike. I always get the organic eggs with apple-wood smoked maple bacon or the grilled vegetable omelet.

4. Paul Martin’s American Grill

534 Spectrum Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618

While Paul Martin’s is nestled in the Irvine Spectrum Shopping Center, this restaurant is anything but typical mall food. The menu is built on locally grown, organic and seasonal foods – and everything is made from scratch (even the sauces). That’s a bonus if you need to alter or modify a dish, which they’re always happy to do. For dinner I love their blackened ribeye or cedar planked salmon – but go early and enjoy happy hour!

5. Gulfstream

850 Avocado Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Gulfstream is owned by Hillstone Restaurant Group, which also owns R+D Kitchen, Bandera and Houston’s – other OC favorites of mine. But I find myself always going back to Gulfstream for the broader seafood menu and outdoor patio vibes. They’re also great at modifying to my gluten-free needs and I’ve found their service to be top-notch. Order the dover sole, Scottish salmon or Pacific red snapper with rainbow swiss chard as a side and a glass of one of their delicious wines.

Do you have other healthy, favorite spots in Orange County? Let me know – I love finding new places to eat!

Make sure to check out Roaming Free – A Whole Food Approach for Traveling the World Healthy, Happy and Gluten-Free for more tips, advice and wanderlust inspiration!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. I don’t live in California, but I love seeing this list! I’m always searching for the healthiest food in the most inspiring spaces – at home or traveling. I recently visited the Kansas City outpost of Cafe Gratitude, and ate at True Food Kitchen in Denver a couple years ago. Both are places I’d go back to in a heartbeat. Currently, I live in Saint Louis, but Winter Park, Florida is home for me (which also happens to be in Orange County, FL ;)). And the Winter Park Hillstone has got to be one of the most beautiful (perhaps I’m a tad biased). You can sit outside in an Adirondack chair overlooking the lake and watch the sunset. Perfection. Lisa, I was directed to your blog because I mentioned to someone that I was going to order cassava flour, since I’m a grain/gluten-free and overall clean eater (I’ve struggled with uterine fibroids and now Hashimoto’s). They shared a link to your cassava flour tortillas, which I can’t wait to try. When we visit California, these places will be on our list! Also, I know it’s up in Venice, but have you been to the new The Butcher’s Daughter? We loved their New York location!

    1. Love a fellow “roaming free” traveler! Cafe Gratitude and True Food Kitchen are definitely the bomb. But I haven’t eaten at The Butcher’s Daughter….will have to check it out! So glad you found my website Darraugh! :) x

  2. Excellent list! I’ve been to Cafe Gratitude, and have always loved it. I just found out recently that there’s a True Food Kitchen location opening near my home in a few months – SO BEYOND EXCITED :)