Costa Mesa: surf, skate or ski. Okay, maybe you can’t ski, but Costa Mesa’s home to some of the largest action sports brands around, including Vans, Hurley and Rip Curl — just to name a few.
Hittin’ the surf, rippin’ down a hill on a board…maybe next time, people. This trip, we’re getting killer BBQ, chillin’ in a zen garden and exploring the Orange County Fair.
But not before we grab some pre-rolls.
A ten-minute drive from John Wayne Airport sits OC3, an OG dispensary that was “one of Santa Ana’s first city-licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.” Now catering to both the medical and recreational adult-use cannabis markets, OC3 is a great spot to grab the goods before hitting the town.
You might be saying to yourself, “Wait a minute — isn’t this a Costa Mesa guide?” Well, in Orange County, you can only buy cannabis in Santa Ana, so we stop there before Costa Mesa, which is conveniently just next door.
At OC3, we meet up with Geneva Laulhere, or “G” as everyone calls her. G’s been working here for years and tells us that they always make sure to carry all sorts of different products, saying “We have a wide variety because everyone’s different.”
She talks about how everyone has a different tolerance and that OC3 tailors to everyone’s specific needs. If someone is coming in with particular cannabis effects in mind, especially a medical patient, they want them to have something in stock that’s just right for them.
What’s just right for our breezy adventure is a pre-roll or two. We grab a Delight Pre-Roll Pack and head out.
First up, some zen before the day ahead. Noguchi Garden is a human-made rock oasis nestled in the middle of a corporate park — perfect for recharging during your lunch break.
Large tan stones are pieced together to give the illusion of a desert floor. A triangular monument jets out of the earth, creating a perfect 90-degree angle. Water slowly bubbles down a rock face into a stream that snakes through the garden.
Giant rocks have been placed throughout the space, adding a natural feel while chiseled gray stone benches follow the arch of the stream. It’s dynamic and mesmerizing.
On two ends sit little hills, one full of rocks and cacti, and the other a cone-shaped fountain with water crashing down its sides. There’s a yin and yang here; one the dry desert and the other a lush green.
After some relaxing, it’s time for a bite or two.
An anti-mall shopping area that’s like a bunch of local businesses got together and made their own little Main Street. This is The Lab.
An airstream called “Creme Tangerine” in the corner sells records and plays easygoing music of the past. This place has it all, restaurants, shops and a brewery that’s pouring up some great sours.
Our first stop coffee, and as one must, a doughnut.
GOOD TOWN DOUGHNUTS
A quaint little shop with vegan options. Good Town Doughnuts is a local spot with a neon sign on the wall that says, “I’m a doughnut freak” and well, we’re all here for that.
Miki helps us from behind the coffee bar as we snag their iced coffee and a vegan triple berry doughnut. This puppy is garnished with mint, blueberry, and raspberry all atop of a triple berry glaze. We sit back and enjoy the outdoor seating, sipping our cold brew as shoppers pop into this shop, then that one, then the next.
Now onto one of The Lab’s more hearty spots.
This is brisket on brisket on brisket. LA Brisket, a BBQ joint that literally just smells like oh-so-sweet goodness.
In honor of the place’s namesake, we start with the half-pound brisket. It’s fall apart, call back home to tell the parents about this one, delicious.
Next up is the elote topped with cotija cheese, paprika and finely chopped cilantro with a sauce that’s letting that corn take a swim. Lime squeezed on top? Yes please, and thank you.
Last up is the 405 Sandwich — it’s a Monster. The bread holds in all that awesome brisket like a baby in a blanket. As you take that first bite, there’s a wonderful cut through the sandwich with blue cheese onions. Yum!
Filled to the brim, it’s time for the County Fair.
The Orange County Fair is everything that comes to mind when you think of a fair— and we’re here for it. Thrill rides move at what seems like a hundred miles an hour, the iconic ferris wheel slowly spinning, and of course the smell of fried…well, everything.
A perfect end to the day: the old county fair that brings us back to simpler times, the loud ringing of a bell from this game or another. And whether you actually win or lose really doesn’t matter.
Until next time, Costa Mesa.