It’s lunchtime at the Quail Hill Shopping Center, and the warm weather has lured me outside to enjoy my garlic noodles beside the patio fountain. I am not alone. Nearby, a young mother watches her toddler giggle as he catches a few sprinkles in his outstretched hand. An older couple share conversation and pizza while their sleepy cocker spaniel rests at their feet. A table of co-workers in suits and skirts grabs a quick lunch-hour bite and some fresh air.
That’s why I love this place. Quail Hill is one of the best examples of what the Irvine planners had in mind when they designed each village: to create local gathering places where neighbors can meet at the market, the park or the coffee shop. The center of activity at Quail Hill revolves around the collection of restaurants where people eat “California-style” under the shade of towering palm trees.
It’s the perfect destination for lunch after a morning hike on the Quail Hill trail across the street or to begin the weekend at sunset, relaxing with a glass of wine on the patio. Of course everyone is welcome to enjoy Quail Hill’s shopping center, but for locals who walk or bike, it’s the heart of their hometown. I’m even told Irvine’s new mayor, Christina Shea, is often seen here!