I don’t stop living at 9 PM on weeknights, but sometimes it feels like Orange County does.
Have you ever had a friend over (on a schoolnight!) or just felt like getting out of the house for a bite to eat or find a new place to hang out only to be notified by Yelp that nothing in a 5 mile radius is even open?
It’s frustrating, I know.
And you don’t always want to go to a bar or club just to get out of the house. (Or maybe you never want to go to a bar, which is totally fine by me).
That’s why we’ve put together a list of places that will satisfy your need to plug into the world after dusk, even in the most suburban and exurban stretches of Orange County.
This list is not exhaustive but we want to add to it, so let us know what we missed in the comments!
The Best 24-Hour Spots in Orange County
Harbor House Cafe in Dana Point and Sunset Beach
I empathize with the staff of any place that says “We never close!”, but I’m grateful that we have any 24-hour diners around Orange County that aren’t Denny’s or IHOP. Get your diner classics (I’m talking biscuits and gravy, country-fried steak and french toast) here, bottles of beer and wine. The menu is extensive.
Corky’s Homestyle Kitchen in Ladera Ranch
In a neighborhood where I’ve admired many a home but seen nary a soul outside of a vehicle, Corky’s is a pretty impressive 24-hour diner that makes everything from scratch and has an extensive baked goods sections ready for pickup, so you can get cookies and pies to eat later in comfort (read: on the couch with Amazon Prime streaming).
BCD Tofu House in Irvine and Garden Grove
Korean comfort food in the form of tofu soup, BBQ and bibimbap (a Korean bowl with rice and usually vegetables, fried egg and/or beef).
Taqueria de Anda in Santa, Orange and more
We salute Taqueria de Anda, where tacos are still $1.35 each and burritos are $5-$7. Going to a taco shop is like paying homage to our ancestors, even if our ancestors never ate a taco in their lives and were in bed at 9 PM on most evenings in the old country. There’s nothing like sitting outside in the cool night air and eating a taco doused in onions, pico de gallo, cilantro and lime.
Best Spots Open Past 9 PM in Orange County
Boba and Tea Bars
Here’s a secret suburban teens know: boba and tea bars are open later than most other retail establishments in the ‘burbs (and that’s most of Orange County), and are an under-appreciated place to meet up with friends or get some work done outside of the house or library.
- Class 302, the Taiwanese cafe known for its oversized boba drinks, has two locations Irvine open until midnight on weeknights and 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.
- Snow Monster in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Westminster has super cute dessert creations along with its tea drinks and is open until midnight every day.
- Harmony Tea Bar is the rare South County boba place in Mission Viejo that’s open until 11 PM on weeknights and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Free wi-fi and plenty of seating make this a viable replacement for Starbucks.
- Lollicup has two Irvine locations open until 11:30 PM every night and until midnight on Friday and Saturday at the Jeffrey Rd. location. Some diehard bobaheads (a new term that’s totally sticking) claim that the quality of Lollicup drinks don’t match some of the others in OC, but we like the variety here and never go wrong with jasmine and taro milk tea.
Late Night Eats
If you ever crave something more than In-N-Out late into the evening with no desire to cook, there are plenty of gourmet kitchens open late in Orange County.
- Gen Korean BBQ in Tustin and Huntington Beach are open until midnight every day, with All You Can Eat being the only way to eat around here.
- Chapter One, The Modern Local in Santa Ana dishes duck fat fries, burgers and new American favorites until 1 AM on weeknights and 2 AM on Friday and Saturday.
- Habana in Costa Mesa is the kind of place that makes me worry I will never make it to the real Habana since I spend all my money on Cuban food at home. Open until 1 AM on weeknights and 2 AM on Friday and Saturday and serving favorites like ropa vieja, roasted half chicken and bocaditos.
- Wursthaus in Santa Ana serves two late-night perennial favorites: sausage and fries, with a German and Belgian influence. Also, Chimay and Leffe on tap to make your dining experience fully European. Open until 1 AM on weeknights and 2 AM on Friday and Saturday.
- Nubia Cafe in Anaheim is a hookah bar with a food menu of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean comfort food (kabobs, falafel, pizza on pita crust) and is open until 3 AM every night.
- Restaurant Marin in Costa Mesa at the South Coast Collection (SoCo) is open until midnight every day, and you may have seen the signature blue booths and tables on Instagram because they are so darn cute, but it’s the modern day diner vibe that is perfect for late night gatherings with friends.
- Haven Gastropub in Old Towne Orange is open until 2 AM every day, and Chef Greg Daniels has been in the game for some time now, serving crowd favorite lamb burgers and a variety of New American plates.
- Tsuruhashi in Fountain Valley is a Japanese BBQ joint that’s open until midnight every day.
- Honda-Ya has three OC locations and promises that its restaurants “do not offer any wild, entertaining performances by the chefs like you see in other sushi and teppan restaurants” but simply good, traditional Japanese dishes in a relaxed environment.
- The Beach Barrel in Newport Beach does delivery until 3 AM on Friday and Saturday nights to nearby residents and serves late-night wins from a Cubano sandwich, BBQ chicken pizza and pulled pork sandwiches.
Late Night Cruising
Sometimes there’s nothing better than cruising with friends with the windows rolled down and no particular destination (since most places are already closed). Here are a few long stretches of road in Orange County that you can drive in the cool night air and let conversation or the space to be alone or with friends be the main event:
- The Name Changer: Take Golden Lantern starting at Dana Point Harbor, which becomes Moulton Parkway (Laguna Niguel/Hills), which becomes Irvine Center Drive (Irvine), which becomes Edinger Avenue and eventually ends at Huntington Harbor. During the day, it’s just an extremely long street that’s as wide as a freeway in some places, but at night, it’s a calming drive when lights turn green as you approach.
- The Scenic Home Tour: We won’t name streets, but the hills of Yorba Linda and Orange make for fun window house-shopping and provide great views of OC’s flat lands below.
- Classic PCH: Take Laguna Canyon Road to PCH and head north for the quiet stretch between North Laguna and Newport Coast, or south to enjoy driving through Laguna Beach without crazy traffic.