One of three patios at Habana.

Next-level patio dining at Irvine Spectrum

Irvine Spectrum Center’s outdoor dining scene is among the best in California. The food is extraordinary and abundant (there are more than 50 restaurants at the center). And the patios are globally inspired and breathtakingly beautiful. Here are several examples.


HABANA

It’s a throwback feel. Authentically Cuba. Not kitschy, just designed to look like the island nation from the 1950s.

Cuban jazz – maybe Machito – choreographs the banana and palm trees that sway over the restaurant’s three outdoor patios. The deliberately aged mosaic floors, vintage umbrellas and pastel colors complete the visual experience.

Not surprisingly, rum rules the beverage list – Habana boasts about 60 to choose from, including the famed Don Q. 20 Year Reserva.

Make sure to try the chef’s specialties, like the El Churrasco chimichurri skirt steak or Medianoche – braised pork shoulder pressed in a sweet bread roll.


JAVIER’S

Javier’s has been a signature restaurant at Irvine Spectrum since its opening in 2004. It’s become even better following a full renovation with expanded outdoor dining.

The first thing you’ll notice is the new 2,700-square-foot indoor-outdoor patio with a full bar. Its natural wood, thatched ceiling gives it the boutique charm of a Yucatan locale, perhaps Tulum. The new lounge and entrance give it a five-star luxury feel.

Javier Sosa, owner and the restaurant’s namesake, describes his menu as “the food we eat in our homes, but using the best ingredients you can get.”

His approach consistently places Javier’s among Orange County’s best.


ROBATA WASA

Seung Yang can be found meeting with San Diego fishermen before dawn, well ahead of the daily opening of his Robata Wasa.

He’s in search of the perfect uni – or sea urchin. That’s his restaurant’s specialty, and the uni pasta is its most popular dish.

Yang leans on Chef Miki to guide the menu. A sushi chef for 30 years, he began his training as a teenager in Japan. Outside, the expanded patio’s palatial columns give it elegance; the indoor-outdoor bar gives it sophistication. Try a flight of Japanese whiskeys – among the finest in the world.

Robata Wasa’s Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice: fried rice patties topped with spicy tuna, jalapeno, black tobiko, and sweet black pepper sauce.