Healthy Hidden Gem
If you work where the restaurants are based, you may stop in for breakfast, lunch and a snack at afternoon break. They are convenient, and the best of them have servers who greet you by name and remember your order. But they remain largely hidden from the rest of us, as they are often without convenient or free parking and without the culinary draw to inspire us to stop in.
Some are worth searching out, or walking across an office complex or across the street to try. These include Dandelion Conscious Café, Bistro 24 and Fooda, all located in the towers on either side of Jamboree and Main Street.
A new entry in the commercial center culinary scene is W Café, which opened recently in the Hoag Health Center/Urgent Care complex, located across Sand Canyon from Hoag Hospital Irvine and near Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center.
The new café is a welcome addition to the breakfast scene on this side of Irvine, which has been lacking. Parking is free and easy, a big plus when it comes to cafés in commercial buildings. And the space itself is clean and contemporary, with light flooding in from two sides and ample seating both inside and out.
It’s the second location for W Café, with the first a popular spot in the Westcliff area of Newport Beach. This stretch of Sand Canyon is decidedly less ritzy than Westcliff, which means we’ll likely appreciate what W Café has to offer even more.
The food is fresh, delicious and several dishes are even Instagram worthy, with attractive plating and colorful presentation. The menu advertises the use of wild caught fish and grass fed meat, with no added hormones or chemicals.
The restaurant serves breakfast all day, which is a treat. The healthy at heart might opt for Chia Pudding, which includes chia seeds soaked in almond milk along with hemp granola and health assortment of fresh berries. There’s also a nice take on avocado toast on the menu. The paleo fitness practitioners who must have beef for breakfast will not go wrong with the Caveman’s Breakfast, which includes two eggs and a nice little rib eye steak drizzled with chimichurri sauce. It’s a breakfast bargain at $8.95. The breakfast burrito and Sunrise Sandwich are also excellent a.m. choices.
The more indulgent palates might prefer Bananas Foster French Toast, complete with caramelized bananas, or the decadent Donut French Toast, which is just that: French toast made from donuts, though also with a nice side of fresh berries.
Top choices at lunch include lamb chop shish kebab or salmon tacos. There’s a wide selection of salads, including a classic Caesar, and an old school San Francisco Bay Shrimp. The lunch menu also includes flatbread pizzas, a dozen or more sandwiches to choose from, hot and cold, as well as tasty burgers made from Angus beef, lamb, veggies or turkey.
The service during the uncrowded hours we’ve visited has been friendly and prompt. The general manager at the restaurant is from Germany, and Chef Wais Omar was formerly the food and beverage manager of the Balboa Bay Club.
W Café is currently open Monday-Friday only, from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which is too bad. This place is already one of the best restaurants in the Oak Creek/Quail Hill adjacent neighborhoods. Hopefully, its coming success will dictate dinner and weekend hours.