Playground
Playground

Playground

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://playgrounddtsa.com/
  • Phone: 7145604444
  • Hours of Operation:
    Dinner: Tuesday - Wednesday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Thursday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 2:00am
    Sunday Brunch: 11:00am - 3:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Californian, Gastro Pub, Contemporary American
  • Executive Chef: Jason Quinn
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Beer, Counter Seating, Late Night, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Spurgeon
  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: City managed parking lots are located one block north and south on Spurgeon Street; street parking available on Fourth Street (free after 8:00 p.m.)
A word from Playground
The Playground is a chef driven small-plates restaurant that highlights the freshest and most exciting available ingredients in dishes inspired by great culinary traditions all over the world. The menu changes daily based on available ingredients and the chefs’ whims. The optimal party size is between 4 and 6, so that everyone can sample a number of dishes. We're not the kind of restaurant where you should expect to order your own dish (plan to share,) to think in terms of starters and mains (who made those rules anyway?), or to customize your order. Each plate has been crafted by the chefs in the way they believe best highlights the ingredients. Modifying an element would change the dish into something we don't believe in, and we're not going to serve you anything we don't believe is the best we can do.

Please note that we allow two hours for all reservations. If you would like more time please give us a call and we can see if we can accommodate you.
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Service
Playground reviews from OpenTable diners
176 reviews since June 27, 2014
Overall Rating4.7
  • Food4.8
    Service4.7
  • Ambiance4.2
    Noise LevelEnergetic
98% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (164)neighborhood gem (112)hot spot (102)good for groups (82)special occasion (71)great for outdoor dining (57)vibrant bar scene (44)late-night find (28)romantic (14)notable wine list (13)great for brunch (8)kid-friendly (7)great for lunch (4)Show More
  • Eat here now.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/22/2014
    Just be aware, you are in their realm, will pay by their rules, and will love it. If you don't, you're just wrong. Oh, and get the fried chicken.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Playground
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Have been many times to the Playground and love it. Sat night the food was incredible as always but the service was poor which is unusual so hoping it is because she was newer to serving and that it was an unusual occurrence.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • I bit too full of itself
    MarcoVIP
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    The cute menu commentary kind of let's you know you are in for a true hipster dining experience. The restaurant is indeed very hip hot at the moment. Not a particularly comfortable dining experience as most of the seating is at forced group high tables which are just plain awkward. The cocktails took forever to show up. Even a beer took a very long time to arrive. Food is sent out as it is prepared, i.e. in a jumble and ranged from good to very good. Best dish was the fried chicken. Brussell sprouts also worth ordering, but don't expect them to show up at nearly the same time as the chicken. Finally, there are "of menu" items about which you will not be advised. The hamburger seemed popular but you'll have to ask for it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • No private table please
    opentable4me
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    Host Keith was great. Unfortunately where we were seated was disappointing. "Private table" is not very pleasing since I made my appointment in advance with a request on the patio. We were seated next to a party of 20 and our server was preoccupied, not to blame him. Just disappointed because our main course was forgotten and we couldn't wait any longer. Brussel sprouts, tacos are a must. Tostada was ok. I wanted to have my birthday guest try the fried chicken, but that was the dish that was forgotten. Best cocktail, Flower Bank.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great server, and figgy pudding!
    jainechapman
    Dined on 10/16/2014
    We had a very helpful and nice server, and the Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee pudding was sublime!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great as Usual!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    We always feel comfortable ordering ANYTHING from the menu because every dish is always delicious. Also, the free corkage makes us feel we can afford as much from the menu as looks interesting. This last experience we had a Wagyu dish that I will remember forever. The ocean trout was another standout. The meat just melted in my mouth with the most amazing flavor. We dined outside which is very comfortable even on a cool night because of the heat lamps. Service was beyond perfect! The only dish that didn't amaze was the squash. It tasted good but was a little heavy for a veggie. All the other dishes more than made up for it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • excellent food & too much attitude
    snoid
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    why does really good food have to be served with a "my way or the high way attitude" ? We liked the food combinations but wished that service and restaurant concept had a bit less " I have to be cool at all cost" factor . Yes, we love fresh, hot food but also like to eat together - having the dishes served whenever they are ready does not make for a nice dining experience . We however loved how beer and wine is served - great idea to make the beers smaller and the wine by the glass bigger . Great selection of both - we were amazed !
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yummy!
    Luvyummyeats
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    The food here is consistently A plus.. Tried the pork chop and it was wonderful ..
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Creative Dining Experience
    CuriousGeorge
    Dined on 10/11/2014
    I had heard of Playground so went with a friend the other night. I made last minute reservations. Went early so was no problem. The drinks were unique, fun, and delicious. The menu is all over the place, so for a first time guest, a bit of explanation is appreciated. The waiter was friendly, but a bit impatient, as this must be tedious as the menu changes daily and I am sure there are constant questions. They are using great, unique ingredients (freshly cracked peppercorns on 1 cocktail) and the drinks were delicious. The jicama taco- so clean and pure tasting. The burger TO DIE FOR. Food comes out promptly. Very little wait, if any. Go......you won't regret it. I can't wait to try what's next from these over the top creative chefs.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • never disappointed
    Scubasteve
    Dined on 10/9/2014
    I don't know how many times I have been to the playground, but it's always excellent. Staff is friendly and effective, food is always flawless. I won't recommend any particular dish because there's always something new, but you really can't go wrong.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/9/2014
    This place never disappoints! Decided to take my dad here and he loved it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Awesome Experience
    luv2taste
    Dined on 10/8/2014
    This is a great find for a fine dining experience in a casual small downtown atmosphere. The food was unbelievable! Love the serving style and the creativity of the dishes. Great tastes and textures. Can't speak for the vibrant bar scene because we ate outside which was so enjoyable considering the old downtown atmosphere. The service was impeccable.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A fun and classy experience
    Teeare
    Dined on 10/7/2014
    Met a friend for dinner the other night; it had been awhile since I had been to the Playground and if anything it's gotten better in my absence. Great from the beginning with a friendly welcome and walk to the table and then a warm greeting from our server. She was very knowledgeable about the menu, which led to some nice conversations and she took us through the fun bar and craft beer menu choices as well. Over the duration of our meal we interacted with several other members of the wait staff and were all as friendly, knowledgeable and focused on ensuring we had a very fun and enjoyable dining experience. While the service was top flight, it wouldn't have worked if the food wasn't at or above the same level, which it was.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Playing at Playground
    foodislife
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    Playground was everything I thought it would be, the food was absolutely delicious and the service was top notch. Hearing about the Uncle Lous fried chicken me and my girlfriend ordered it and I will never look at chicken the same again. For desert we had the famous sticky fig pudding and fell in love. We can't wait to go back and explore the menu some more. Dined on 10/3/14
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Playground never disappoints!
    AprilKVIP
    Dined on 10/1/2014
    I come to Playground 2-3 times a month. It is the best restaurant in Orange County! The menu is different every day, so every time you go you have a different experience. Some of my best visits have been when I looked at the menu and thought "I don't see anything that I HAVE to have"... So I try different things and end up falling in love! The ramen is always great, Uncle Lou's fried chicken is delicious, and don't forget about the sticky toffee pudding- I am usually too full to order dessert but it is SO worth saving room for if you have never had it. Staff is amazing, food is amazing... I LOVE PLAYGROUND!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Eat and Play at Playground!
    lovegreatfoodVIP
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    We are from Ohio and this is an outstanding place to eat and play when you are in the Santa Ana area! Each morsel of food here is served in a unique way and is super delicious! The menu is always fresh and usually you are tasting something that you have never tried before - it is awesome. We had Albacore Poke, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Wild Mushrooms Philly Cheesesteak Style, Sweet Szechuan Ribs, Baby Sweet Potato, Cauliflower Hearts, Cecina Tacos and Waygu Tri Tip - mmmmm! The Sticky Toffee Pudding is so tasty. Our servers Josh and Bob were very dedicated and extremely helpful - the service is just wonderful. Even the host Keith is great! Can't wait to go back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • First Time Visit
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    This was our first time to visit The Playground and it was fantastic! The food was simply amazing and the service was exceptional. We will definitely be going back again and since the menu changes daily, it will always be a new experience when we visit.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Playground DTSA
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    Overall, Playground was good. Drinks were great, service was good, and the food was mostly good with some disappointments. The general complaint about the food was that it was over salted. Specifically the Skate wing was seasoned with too much salt. Otherwise, the flavors were good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • beyond
    yumm
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    It was nothing short of excellent we (boyfriend) always love visiting your place
    Special Features:
    hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Unique and Fun Experience
    RKRK
    Dined on 9/24/2014
    We were seated at a long bar-height table that could seat 12 and there were other diners at the table as well. All of the servers were very friendly and helpful in deciding what to order. Floral Park cocktail was outstanding, bourbon based but not over-powering or too sweet. Beers on Tap are too numerous to list and unique. I love that there are many small plates and you can try a lot of different things. Pork Belly steam buns were great as was the Ceviche taco in a Jicama tortilla. My husband said he could have eaten 10 of those. Wagyu beef could be ordered by the ounce, so you don't have to fill up on an 8 oz. steak. Great dessert menu, Hazelnut Cake with Fennel Panna Cotta was so good my dessert hating hubby ate half of it!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great experience!
    CARob
    Dined on 9/24/2014
    I went Playground with a group of coworkers and we had a great time. The food was unique and amazing, service was very good, and the overall atmosphere was fun and energetic. The backstory of the restaurant was a good read, and I especially enjoyed to unique names for the food choices. And also Uncle Lou's Chicken was as good as advertised.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Tastebuds dream!
    sidesqueeze
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Menu selection is unique and everything, meats included, were cooked to perfection. Great use of vegetables, sauces, to enhance the proteins on the dish. The service was outstanding and we felt immediately welcomed and like was wanted to stay. Finished dishes never sat on our table taking up space and the servers always confirmed before taking it that we were finished. The staff was knowledgeable about the menu, which changes daily, and it was exciting to try new combinations of food and vegetables. The menu is priced correctly and the more expensive items are worth every penny (Glazed Pork Chop $35, wow, it was out of this world amazing). I am looking forward to returning sometime soon.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fabulous find
    nonicknameVIP
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    We dine there frequently and absolutely love the tastes, the service, the scene, particularly outdoors.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • gwen made my experience
    goodstuff
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    the food was excellent. i had heard great things about the place and the playground lived up to the hype. to me gwen our server was a delight and she made my experience that much better. thank you geen and playground for an awesome tastey evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lively and interesting
    DCorb
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Found Playground on a whim and gave it a try. The prices are a little more than regular dining out and the portions smaller, but the innovative menu was a treat with notables being the wagyu tri-tip and the trumpet mushrooms. As long as you know what you're getting into, the experience should be notable - and the ability to decline any dish you find not to your liking is quite the safety net. And I have to agree that anyone looking to return Uncle Lou's chicken is just wrong.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always an interesting night.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    The food, service, and people here are amazing. The food is creative, interesting, and always leaves a lasting impression. The service staff is attentive and really knows the wide array of food.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Second visit
    Chris
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    I cook a lot and dine out at great restaurants frequently. Both visits have had food that is exceptional. Makes me try and really taste while eating to figure out all the taste explosions. Will be a regular customer. Word has it they are opening up another establishment "market" across the street. Will give that a try too.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • crenwren
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    We had a terrific evening at Playground. There are so many delicious choices on the menu take a group so you can try everything. We can't wait to go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Excellent food and ambience. Staff friend and cool. Chef wanders around and talks to people. Very enjoyable time.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always interesting & Always good
    SushihVIP
    Dined on 9/18/2014
    Weekly changing menu... So keeps the variety and Mouth salivating in anticipation. While there are a few always recurring items, that can become favorites, the interesting and mouth-watering new offerings keep us trying and being rewarded with something always good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yumyum
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    I had a good experience at Playground. The ambiance is really cool. The service is outstanding. The waiter knew the menu and the ingredients to the dishes very well. He recommended a few dishes that were delicious. The wine and beer were really good. I would come back and I will tell my friends and family about it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • One of the BEST in OC
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    Hands down my favorite restaurant in Orange County - the Playground never ceases to surprise me. The menu changes every day - offering seasonal ingredients and SO much creativity. The staff is friendly, fun, and very knowledgeable. No corkage fee = the best. It makes for a fantastic AND affordable meal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A new favorite!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    One of the best meals I have had in a long time. This is definitely my favorite restaurant in Orange County. Everything was perfect, from the food to the service!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Adventurous dining
    mechang
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    Chef creates unusual combinations of flavors. The ribs were the best. Not the same menu each night. Noisy atmosphere not conducive to serious conversation. Found bar stool seating uncomfortable. Regular table height must be reserved. The service was excellent. We were couples celebrating our anniversaries and had more than enough to eat. Some dishes were pricey for the petite servings. Go with friends who will share dishes with you so it's a tasting meal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Eclectic Food Adventure
    Foodie4Life
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    Playground is an outstanding food adventure for those who are open to creative and extremely eclectic food. Their "small plate" or “share bit philosophy” enhances the ability to taste more of the daily menu. The concept of a ever-changing, fresh for today and seasonal menu produces a craving to keep going back to see what new creations will be offered on that day.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • donna
    Dined on 9/11/2014
    The most amazing food ever. So many things I have never heard of but every bite was delicious.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • As always, amazing
    JazzieB
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    We love playground and always seem to end up there when celebrating a life event. It is the perfect restaurant to enjoy with friends or for a date night. The food was amazing- so many creative dishes- the tuna nam ka tod lettuce wraps were amazing! Thank you for another fantastic dinner!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Solid Experiment
    Juan
    Dined on 9/9/2014
    My wife and I are pretty bad at trying new things but for our anniversary we sucked it up and tried this highly recommended place. The restaurant was nice and clean and cool looking. We decided to sit outside because it was quieter and a nice night. Most of the food had strange ingredient combinations and my wife was skeptical, but we tried several dishes and were pleased with almost everyone. The steam buns, the ramen, the broccoli dish, even the super odd carrot dessert was excellent. The chilaquiles were too spicy for my wife but I found them very tasty. One of the main chefs came out and talked to us a couple of times which is very nice and the rest of the staff were super helpful as well! Brave the weird sounding dishes!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Such a cool vibe
    Michelleidalia
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    Cool experience, Took me out of my comfort zone and area amazing and different food! I'll be back for sure
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Absolutely fabulous!
    Luv2eatVIP
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    I dislike the taste of lamb with a passion. The server asked we try it and other food we don't care for. If we don't like the dishes, they will remove it from the bill and give us something else. We would be surprised. Being the skeptic, I slowly agreed. LIFE CHANGING!!! Absolutely fabulous this dish was. This restaurant is my new find for trying ingredients which I will not normally try. The flavors of their dishes are magical and the service is a welcome change. The servers are excited about the dishes and want to share their passion for the food at The Playground. Thanks for a unique restaurant. I'm glad the owner never made it into the kitchen at Houston's as this restaurant probably would not have been born. Thanks to The Playground!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.