Second-generation owner Lori Reich Rowe chose Walnut Village Center to open her second Little Onion Mexican Restaurant.

A half-century of tradition at Little Onion


As a young girl, Lori Reich Rowe fell in love with restaurants.

Why not? She spent much of her youth in her father’s Mexican restaurant, The Little Onion, in Santa Ana, hostessing and helping wherever needed.

When she vowed to follow in his footsteps, her father suggested she marry a rich man instead. But she wouldn’t listen.

“That’s not me,” she told him. And she was right.

When she took over the family business in 2010, revenues tripled. And now she’s broadened The Little Onion’s horizons again, opening a second restaurant, in Walnut Village Center, using many family recipes dating to 1963.

How would you describe the atmosphere?

It’s upscale but with a warm, family environment – with exposed wood beams, custom wrought-iron chandeliers and red leather banquettes.

Why choose Irvine for your second location?

I love Irvine. Both my boys grew up in Irvine.

Will you serve the same popular dishes you’re known for?

Yes, the menus will serve the same food, with the addition of a few contemporary dishes, like Chef’s incredible almond-based mole, and vegetarian options. We’ll still serve my mom’s recipe for green posole soup, too.

The new Irvine restaurant features an upscale yet warm family environment.

What’s the seating?

We can seat 150 inside, and we’re excited to offer a heated outdoor dining patio, as well as an indoor-outdoor bar with a hand-made, custom tequila cabinet.

What can diners expect?

Over the years, Little Onion has gained a reputation as the place to go for good, authentic Mexican food, and I am thrilled to carry on this family tradition over five decades later.

What’s on the menu?

Menu items range from handmade carnitas sopes to a grilled pork chop with mole negro Guerrero and a veggie tamale with epazote. There is also a craft beer and cocktail menu and $5 margaritas with names like Watermelon Mint Julep at the daily 4-6 p.m. happy hour.

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