Opah Seafood Grill
We have a tendency in today’s culinary world to only give credit or attention to the shiny, and the new. Three week old venues, helmed by future Top Chef applicants and ambitious wine and cocktail programs. We love these places, and for good reason, but there is nothing wrong with the tried-and-true. Success and longevity should be celebrated, not shunned. Opah has been around for over a decade, and, as local establishments go, is the dominant, upscale culinary anchor of Aliso Viejo and the immediate surrounding area. Helmed by Chef/Owner Marc Cohen, responsible for 230 Forrest and Watermarc, there is a classical, yet elevated style to his kitchen. The place has a neighborhood vibe, refreshingly raucous chorus of regulars, and a consistently desirable lineup of seafood-inspired heavy-hitters, like Fish & Chips, Cioppino, and one of the best New England Clam Chowders around. It may say seafood in its name, but don’t shy away from the skewers or other land-based proteins while you meet the neighbors, and garner a new respect, for a historic spot.
Sit at the bar. The team here is friendly, accommodating, and it really is like if you took Cheers and gave it an Orange County makeover. You’ll get everything from OC Housewife stereotypes, to real estate agents celebrating deals over martinis, and regular characters you absolutely know at some point in the night will wonder why there isn’t a drink named after them. Might as well enjoy dinner and a show. Also, if that dinner is Cioppino, don’t tackle it alone.