Corona del Mar Plaza has undergone a complete transformation, making it the ideal destination to shop for the holidays and savor a delicious meal.
By Ashley Ryan
When it comes to holiday shopping, few things pair better than crossing names off your list and enjoying a delicious meal. When bags are stuffed with the perfect presents, the relaxing respite of lunchtime bliss is like the a bow on top of the present: a quintessential finishing touch.
The recent renovation of Corona del Mar Plaza makes it the best of both worlds, with a variety of dining spots and boutique shops, and the shopping center is already getting guests in the holiday spirit. This centrally located plaza, at the intersection of Avocado Avenue and East Coast Highway, made itself the center of attention the weekend of its grand reopening.
The transformation includes updated facades for the stores, enhanced outdoor seating areas, refreshed landscaping and a revamped parking lot, which is expected to improve vehicle circulation. And it was all unveiled just in time for the holiday season.
To celebrate the unveiling of this overhaul, an open house on Nov. 16 featured live music, special treats from many of the shops and a celebratory photo booth that placed guests in scenes like a snowy, winter wonderland and another holiday setting filled with wreaths and candy canes. But the main highlight of the day? The discounts.
The Season for Giving
Throughout the event, guests were able to snack on sweet treats and sip wine while wandering the varied shops and seeking out special deals in honor of the renovation. We stopped by to gather some of the best gift ideas for this holiday season, so read on to discover what Corona del Mar Plaza has to offer.
Snag the BACKSTAGE METALLIC DRESS to give the gift of sparkle this holiday season, allowing your loved one to skip the search for a perfect New Year’s Eve outfit, $128, at William B & Friends. (949-691-2292; williambandfriends.com)
There’s nothing like adding a hint of Hawaii to your holiday celebrations in Southern California. Gift some of Tommy Bahama’s COCONUT HOT CHOCOLATE for a new, island-style twist on a classic beverage, $24.50, at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store. (949-760-1886; tommybahama.com)
A collaboration between Corkcicle and photographer Corey Wilson, the PALM PARADISE CANTEEN holds 16 ounces of your favorite beverage, keeping it either hot or cold for 12 hours or longer—plus it features a California-inspired print perfect for an Orange County resident, $37.95, at Jack’s Surfboards. (949-718-0001; jackssurfboards.com)
Travel enthusiasts will love the GREETINGS FROM PARADISE ZIP POUCH, which features a tropical, embroidered postcard pattern and is just small enough to tuck away in your suitcase. On top of that, the new design is handcrafted by women overseas, offering them a way to make a living wage, $95, at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store. (949-760-1886; tommybahama.com)
For the introspective loved one, consider Chronicle Books’ “ONE LINE A DAY: A FIVE-YEAR MEMORY BOOK.” Its celestial-inspired cover is eye-catching while the pages inside offer room for motivating quotes, notes, musings and more, $16.95, at William B & Friends. (949-691-2292; williambandfriends.com)
Island-inspired aromas fill the air with a spritz of the cologne featured in this MEN’S MARITIME TRAVEL COFFRET SET, which comes with one ounce each of the original Maritime scent as well as Maritime Deep Blue and Maritime Journey, ensuring the recipient smells good no matter his mood, $65, at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store. (949-760-1886; tommybahama.com)
With warm weather year-round and more sunny days than most locales, you can’t go wrong by gifting Vitamin A’s one-piece JENNA BODYSUIT in the Ziva print, which adds a little something extra to capture your loved one’s wild side, $200, at Diane’s Beachwear. (949-759-1066)
Jewelry reminiscent of the nearby Pacific Ocean is sure to be a hit with any lady in your life this winter. With a brilliant turquoise stone taking center stage, the TEARDROP EARRINGS WITH SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS are sure to shine whether worn at the family holiday party or out on the town, $49.50, at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store. (949-760-1886; tommybahama.com)
A Hawaiian Hangout
Following a day of shopping, stick around to enjoy a delectable meal at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar & Store. The space was also renovated over the summer to include a refreshed patio and sleek, open-air interior, giving it a laid-back vibe with an impressive array of flavorful cuisine.
Peruse the menu for the perfect cocktail to start the meal—and, with the establishment’s tropical theme, a rum concoction is an obvious choice. The creamy Painkiller #2 has a slight spice, thanks to a nutmeg garnish, but the frozen mai tai is also a great option, serving as a warm-weather twist on an old favorite. Guests can also enjoy a number of other drinks, from the mango habanero margarita for a hint of heat to the dessert-inspired Key lime martini with a crushed graham cracker rim. If you would prefer something that’s alcohol-free but still crafted in the same manner as one of the restaurant’s artisanal sips, try a fruity zero-proof beverage.
When it comes to food, a number of starters will be quick to capture your interest, but the sliders remain some of the most endearing on the list. The Nashville hot chicken sliders are served on Hawaiian rolls with house-made pickles, each offering a sweet addition to the spice-rubbed chicken topped with Sriracha sauce. Or, opt for the seared scallop sliders, another spicy bite that comes with a chipotle aioli sauce.
Those looking to avoid the heat can choose a more traditional yet equally delicious appetizer: the World Famous Coconut Shrimp, served with a papaya-mango chutney. Another great option, if it’s available, is on a special menu. In keeping with the island theme, the macadamia nut-crusted goat cheese is also accented by diced mangoes, and its creamy flavor is unbeatable.
Diners may choose to share a healthy bowl or salad rather than a standard appetizer. The ahi tuna bowl (on the lunch menu only) features a plethora of nutritious ingredients, from red quinoa and local baby greens to roasted corn salsa, avocado and toasted almonds. A few salads are sure to catch your eye, as well, with the chargrilled filet mignon option bursting with flavor thanks to a savory garlic aioli, while a grilled chicken and mango variety (also only available for lunch) captures the essence of the restaurant with vine-ripened tomatoes, dried blueberries, crispy pepitas, mango and a lemon-basil vinaigrette.
If you’re not full by this point, consider one of the eatery’s entrees. Introduced with the remodel, the spaghetti squash bowl has been a quick customer favorite, combining a number of fall flavors like corn, mushrooms and pumpkin seeds. Blackened mahi mahi tacos are another popular dish that is large and in charge, filled with flavor thanks to a topping of tomato relish, chipotle aioli and coleslaw. A lime sour cream adds the perfect accent while soft plantains served on the side enhance the dish further, especially considering the coconut dipping sauce that accompanies them.
Even if you’re tempted to skip dessert, you may be quick to change your mind once you see the tray that’s brought around to showcase the after-dinner offerings. From Key lime pie and pina colada cake to pineapple creme brulee served in an actual pineapple slice, these sweet treats are the perfect ending to your island-inspired meal.