A whole lot of Whole Foods
Irvine City News made several visits to the new store during its first few days of operation. The much-anticipated new Whole Foods Irvine did not disappoint, with the exception of a few quibbles.
The almost 43,000-square-foot store that the company calls a “retail destination” and a “culinary wonderland” is stocked with wonderful goodies from local purveyors and growers, including organic produce from Irvine’s own Manassero Farms.
The meat and seafood counters are impressive, as always, with a wide selection of sustainably sourced fish, and we’re excited about the made-to-order poke bowls, with fresh fish, rice and a variety of inspiring ingredients. There is the usual wide selection of meats, including grass-fed, organic and smoked.
One disappointment is the lack of a grill with seating near the meat counter, such as seen at The District, where a cook will prepare meat or fish to eat in or take home. It’s a favorite trick of paleo diet fans. Though it’s a bit more hassle, staff did confirm that one may take your purchased grass-fed bison or beef patty across the store to the pizza and sandwich prep side, where they will grill it up for you, just like at the Newport Beach store.
Do take advantage of the butcher’s and fishmonger’s skill and expertise. They’re happy to cut and prepare what you purchase to your specifications, or to fit that new recipe you’re trying out.
The Irvine store’s in-house bar and restaurant, called The Irv (yikes!), does not have the same cool gastropub vibe as found at Back Bay Tavern in the Fashion Island store. Still, it has a nice selection of craft beers on tap, and we’re looking forward to trying the Chupracabra Tears cocktail, a spicy green Bloody Mary made with Mezcal and Kale juice, at brunch.
For those who do imbibe, the store has 1,000 wines and an impressive array of craft beers along 56 feet of coolers. There’s also a smoothie and juice bar, a coffee bar with an Italian-crafted espresso machine, a bakery with bread made on-site, next to which is a display case filled with colorful macarons.
One highlight of the new Whole Foods Irvine is the kids and baby section. It delivers a variety of natural health and wellness products, eco-friendly toys, organic cotton baby clothes, and much more. Each product adheres to Whole Foods’ commitment to providing only top quality materials and sources that are gentle on the planet and harmless to the body. Our top picks include California Baby’s line of organic bath products, Klean Kanteen’s food-grade stainless steel sippy cups, and Green Toys 100 percent-recycled curios.
The Los Olivos Marketplace features a mix of retail, service and dining options, including known brands (Starbucks and Wells Fargo) and ones new to Irvine (Puesto and Burger Lounge restaurants). Many are open now, with more coming through summer.
Los Olivos Marketplace is one of several new and remodeled centers we’ll be looking at in coming months and years, including the stores replacing Macy’s at Irvine Spectrum, the remodeling of the Woodbridge Village Center, and the retail and commercial offerings planned in the Great Park Neighborhoods.