A recent $4.5 million renovation at Campus Plaza added a “front lawn” with chairs where visitors can meet friends or enjoy a meal from one of the center’s 13 restaurants.

Campus Plaza remodel delivers new gathering places, shops and restaurants

by TOM BERG

Every great city has its secret food scene, and the recently renovated Campus Plaza next to UC Irvine may be emerging as Irvine’s next “foodie central.”

Thirteen of the center’s 18 storefronts serve up globally inspired meals, coffees and teas, unique desserts, and even one of Orange County’s top-rated tacos.

And the recent $4.5 million renovation has made experiencing Campus Plaza even better.

The new “front lawn,” located in front of Cafe de Paris, replaces sidewalks to create an inviting outdoor vibe. It’s a spot to kick back in oversized chairs and enjoy lunch with friends under the sun.

The newly built outdoor fireplace next to Hen House Grill is conversation central. The benches and couches bring together friends over a slice from Gina’s Pizza or one of Chef Grace’s famous boxes from Asian Box.

Throughout the center, technology upgrades, including a music system and free Wi-Fi, enhanced facades and landscaping make the experience at Campus Plaza more cultural than commercial.

Campus Plaza’s new outdoor fireplace is the perfect place to read, relax or meet friends for a quick bite to eat.

Global tastes

Campus Plaza has always had great restaurants, but the upgrades have attracted new, creative eateries.

The new Saffron & Rose Persian Ice Cream isn’t your average dessert stop. The family-owned parlor serves up treats like faloodeh – dubbed the “oldest frozen dessert in the world” – that blends rose water and frozen crunchy noodles, alongside traditional favorites.

Friends Roberto Fierro and Sean Colin Young opened Taquiero Taco Patio at Campus Plaza in spring 2019. Since then, it has emerged as one of the top taco shops in Orange County. A local favorite: the Al Pastor, with generous portions of pork on handmade tortillas.

An abundance of other offerings are sure to satisfy your taste, whatever time of day.

Irvine’s retail scene

Retail across America is evolving at a lightning-quick pace. Some cities have failed to keep up. But Irvine’s retail is thriving as continual reinvestment creates shopping experiences that meet consumer demands.

Improvements made at Campus Plaza and other neighborhood shopping centers go far beyond a coat of paint. They provide gathering places for local residents to enjoy, and they attract top retailers and restaurants.

The added benefit of Irvine’s retail success: Sales tax dollars generate millions of dollars for the city to support Irvine’s first-class Police Department and parks.


Campus Plaza’s Restaurant Scene

  • Cafe de Paris
  • Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
  • Asian Box
  • The Buffalo Spot
  • Hen House Mediterranean Grill
  • Ding’s Garden
  • Starbucks
  • Gina’s Pizza & Pastaria
  • The Habit Burger Grill
  • Jersey Mike’s
  • Taquiero Taco Patio
  • Vitality Bowls