August is no time to be standing over a hot stove. Or even a hot grill.
Fortunately, Irvine has some of the most beautiful outdoor dining anywhere, and most of these restaurants offer healthy menu options.
And by healthy, I don’t mean boring.
Take Puesto, for instance, at Los Olivos Market place.
Ceviche fans can choose from sea bass with pickled red onions and avocado or wild shrimp with passion fruit and mango.
The menu also offers three bowls, two of them gluten free. The Verduras bowl arrives with squash, garlic-braised mushrooms, corn, black beans, crispy quinoa, herb lime rice and an avocado tomatillo salsa.
Or you can choose a trio of street tacos, each wrapped in handmade blue corn tortillas. My daughter and I went in for the braised mushroom tacos topped with pickled onions and stone fruit serrano salsa. The stuffing is wrapped in mozzarella that has been fried on the plancha until it’s thin and crispy. But you can drop the cheese and it’s still delicious.
Each guest gets a little tin of fresh salsa, by the way, so you don’t have to share when dipping chips. My daughter and I dined on the patio, which has ceiling fans stirring up a nice breeze. Clara ordered their house-made Mango-Limon, a refreshing non alcoholic drink.
Puesto also has a solid selection of tequila, mezcal and rather creative margaritas. The Fruit Cart is all about summer: Don Julio blanco tequila, mango, pineapple, watermelon, cucumber and chamoy.
I tried the Yoga Pants with Don Julio blanco tequila, strawberries, tamarind soda, lemon and honey.
Goodbye hot stove, hello cold drink.