The raw food wave has traveled to South Orange County.
A small Orange County chain specializing in raw-food dining, 118 Degrees, opened its fourth location earlier this week just across the city boundaries at the Ocean Ranch Village.
Its other locations are in Costa Mesa, Tustin (inside the mega-Whole Foods) and Anaheim. The local version is called 118 Degrees Community Café
Chef Jenny Ross brought her culinary chops into the former Chick-Pita location at 32341 Golden Lantern St., where the cafe will be open daily. It features a space with shared communal seating and a 12-seat patio.
The focus here is anything but fast food. The menu offers fresh, whole-foods smoothies, quick-serve and grab-n’-go options.
So what is a raw food dish made of? Here's what's in the verde tacos: Napa cabbage leaf with spicy peppita cheese, cucumber, corn, carrots and chopped spinach.
Lasanga may be one of those dishes hard to imagine raw, but Ross' has layers of zucchini and yellow squash, tomato, creamy macadamia ricotta and sweet basil marinara and is topped with portobello mushrooms.
The café is in the Ocean Ranch Village, anchored by Cinepolis and Trader Joe's, and offered the first 100 visitors a free smoothie or cookie on Monday.
Ross was on hand to make sure eveything ran smoothly.
"We are grateful and honored to be part of this vibrant community and look forward to sharing some delicious times ahead, "she said.
More than 100 guests turned out and all of its free sugar cookies disappeared quickly.
"Not a sugar cookie left in the house," she said. "On a side note, our popular apple cobbler sold out fast, too."
On the patio, diners enjoyed salads and other colorful entrees from the new eatery as they sat around unique wood tables, chatting away.
Jessie Spiro, who was enjoying a kale salad, said she was happy to have a new place to try.
"We need other places to eat ... other than fast-food, so this is a welcome addition," she said.
Ross has spent the past five years bringing fresh, organic living cuisine to Orange County at her flagship 118 Degrees Restaurant at The CAMP in Costa Mesa.
“The new Laguna Niguel location will serve to empower the community by offering a fun and healthy alternative: fresh, organic living cuisine. As with my Costa Mesa and Anaheim locations, I am confident that we will provide an experience that is comfortable, inviting and educational.”