Sometimes when a special event or occasion comes up in our family, frankly, we don’t know where to go! We have all ages, budgets, and food tastes to consider, just like most people. It does not have to be family, sometimes co-workers, what a social respite or friends.

Where to go? Fortunately, Orange County, California has so many restaurants that making a list of valuable selections wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Here are some of the top contenders:

The old spaghetti factory in Newport Beach. Obviously, this is the cheapest. Reservations aren’t accepted here, but that’s okay – there’s a lively bar upstairs, interesting shops nearby, and the infamous “Crab Cooker” is literally around the corner if you want a shrimp cocktail to help you until they call your name. . There are several sauce options, but they stick to the basics.

Buca Di Beppo’s in various locations around the county. Another Italian place, they encourage sharing “as a family” here. The plates are huge, doggie bags abound. Having gone with both family and co-workers (at separate times of course), I can attest that the food is good, fresh, and that the staff are eager to please and make suggestions.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill also has a few locations in the county. Italian food is on the menu here too, but they do suit the diet! If someone has an allergy or a particular food program, they will do their best to make sure all needs are met. Plus, they have an added bonus here: Many of the staff have beautiful opera voices and love to sing at dinner. Particularly fun if it’s someone’s birthday. It’s also great if you have kids – the tables are covered with brown paper and crayons and thanks are recommended to the drawings.

BJ’s Brewery is over and it’s always busy! The micro-beers are on tap, the food is fresh and tasty, and it’s a hit with all age groups. Our 13 year old niece loved her food as much as my 78 year old dad!

For a more exclusive or special occasion, you may want to make reservations at one of the following three:

Marrakech is located along the coast. If you love Moroccan food, belly dancing, and big low seats, this is the place for you. Eating with your fingers is not only allowed, it is the only way. My husband and I went out here twice, but we have seen groups of up to a dozen having a good time trying to balance and eat! Okay, I wouldn’t bring Grandma and Grandpa here if they were traditionalists, but who knows, they might have the time of their lives!

La Fondue and The Melting Pot are the most expensive of all these places. They have quite romantic decor and service. How they serve, what else, fondue, it is a very intimate evening. My husband and I went to La Fondue the day after Valentine’s Day and we had a great time. They were very accommodating to my dairy allergy, which impressed me to the extreme. They made our chocolate fondue without cream! They added some extra beautiful berries! Also, they made sure that even though I couldn’t eat the cheese fondue, the rest of the food was more than “safe.” Which I appreciated, especially the chocolate part!

So there you have it, from the basic budget of around $ 10 per person to the high end of $ 75 per person. Regardless of how your group wants to celebrate, Orange County has you covered!