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  • Playground

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Playground Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://playgrounddtsa.com
  • Email: jason@playgrounddtsa.com
  • Phone: (714) 560-4444
  • 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, Contemporary American, Gastro Pub
  • 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.
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
  • Diners' Choice WinnerCalifornian
Diner Reviews
  • "Took the Mrs out for a birthday dinner - food was great ! Different offerings than your typical place - but sooo good. Waitress was SUPER helpful and recommended just the right things for us. Will be back for sure......."
    Dined on 4/8/2014
  • "Best meal I have had in years, unique, fresh and fun. This place is a hungry person's playground . My only regret is I got full and could not try more."
    Dined on 4/11/2014
  • "Lovely food. Sometimes a bit heavy on the salt. But, if you don't like anything, they'll gladly take it off the bill for you. Always a wonderful experience."
    Dined on 4/12/2014
  • "Began with an assortment of 'appetizers' for the table. Not to be missed are the asparagus, wild mushrooms with soft boiled egg, sashimi with an unforgettable dipping sauce, and puffed nacho cauliflower. Followed up with duck (best I've ever had), spareribs (OMG to the 10th power), waygu grilled to perfection. Desserts included budino, chocolate cake from another planet, pane cotta with berries. Dessert description sounds plain but with the Playground spin on it, they're outstanding. Cocktails, beer and wine provide the right buzz. Gotta love the service too!!!"
    Dined on 4/12/2014
  • "The food was excellent, except for the octopus which was just so-so. The kale caesar salad and the cauliflower nachos were amazing. It is a fun palce to share and try new food combinations. Go there and experiment and have fun. Kudos to The Playground."
    Dined on 4/9/2014
  • "Playground's menu is fun and playful while offering delicious combinations of flavors. We started with the pork belly bun that came with a generous helping of avocado. It was delicate and relatively light for pork belly. I will have to get this every time! Other favorites were surprisingly the carrots (dark & light ones) that were tender & delicious and the duck breast that melted in our mouth. The desserts (especially the stick toffee pudding), cocktails and wine are also fabulous."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "This was our second time dinning at the Playground. The food was again incredible. Why can't other restaurants prepare food that is this tasty?"
    Dined on 4/3/2014
  • "Love the "no corkage" policy! Ask about the "omikaze menu".2 m"
    Dined on 4/3/2014
  • "We were seated at the communal table which can be pleasant, he table is best for 6 people but 4 groups were assigned (9 people) sat there, while many other tables were open. It was so cramped that the folks in the middle asked to be seated outside (on a rather cold night). We were off to a rought start when i asked information about the tap beers (the 10' x 10' chalk board menu behind the bar is promoting them) and was answered that the beer are listed behind the menu....when asked for olives in our martinis, they say "we don't serve olives". so anyway, we decided to order an appetizer to go with our drinks and made reservation somewhere else."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "I think the hype of this restaurant got me there but I'm not sure the food will keep me coming back. We had a variety of things so I think we got a good sampling of their menu but I personally expected more. The spot prawns we had were over cooked and too salty and the fig pudding tasted like a bran muffin with maple syrup. The maple glazed pork chop saved the meal for the guys, impressive size, but because of how they serve the food you end up eating it by itself, which is kind of boring. I would have preferred it to be served with another item so you had a blending of favors. Our waitress was nice and attentive, until we realized she wanted to turn the table. First time ever I've been asked to leave a restaurant.....and I didn't like it."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "From the check-in to end of the meal, the staff was great, helpful, pleasant ,food was great and the dining experience a memorable one. Being our first time, we were not sure of how to order. Our server was very helpful and made great recommendations. Have to say the pork chop was the highlight,. Not sure how they cooked it, but flavorful throughout. A bit noisy, but overall a great place"
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "There isn't too much to say except that everything was absolutely incredible. It doesn't matter what you get, you will not be disappointed."
    Dined on 3/27/2014
  • "The people who work there go out of their way to make sure you are happy. The food was fantastic. Great experience!!"
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "The Playground is more informal than I had expected. We were seated at a communal table even though we had reservations on a Thursday evening. The noise level was relatively high making conversation difficult. The service was friendly and prompt. The unusual menu was adequately explained by the server. The food was "original" but tasty and well prepared. The Playground is not a place for a relaxed and casual dinner but is a restaurant delivering a unique dining experience. But for us, once will be sufficient unless we go with a small group of perhaps 4-6 people."
    Dined on 3/27/2014
  • "Took my girlfriend here as a surprise. We love this place- always Awesome food, never disappointed in the ever-evolving menu--a foodie paradise. The Waitress was very attentive. Truely a gem in orange county. I recommend this place to all my friends."
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "We love this restaurant and tend to eat here every 2 wks or so. This was the first time that there were 2 dishes that weren't outstanding. Normally we just laugh at how great the dishes are. There really isn't thing else around that compares."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "My boyfriend and I checked out Playground after discovering them from OpenTable, based on their reviews, and I'm so happy to report that my experience was as good as (if not better than) all of the reviews we read. The items on the menu change daily and they are described in such interesting ways... But it's honestly a place where you could shut your eyes and point and you would be happy with your choice. The craft cocktails we had were so far better than average, and we even had an opportunity to watch the bartender at work. So interesting! The servers are knowledgable about the food and bar menu and are super personable and attentive.. You can just tell they love their jobs. I will be back next time I'm in the Santa Ana area!!"
    Dined on 3/6/2014
  • "Delicious and creative food in the downtown heart of Santa Ana. How glad we are -- and surprised, really -- that Playground is not in another state or city (too often true) but in our own back yard. We can't wait to see what's on the menu next time!"
    Dined on 3/19/2014
  • "The entire night was lovely, the food was incredible, and the service was really helpful. Would highly recommend making a reservation so you don't run the risk of being unable to experience The Playground."
    Dined on 3/19/2014
  • "I enjoyed all of the dishes we ordered but my favorite was the off-menu burger. I can't wait to go back and have it again!"
    Dined on 3/23/2013
  • "My husband and I went for a special meal to celebrate and what a great place to do it. They change their menu daily, depending on what is fresh and in season. We started with the baby artichoke, and it was fresh, light, and flavorful. We then had the ramen dish. It doesn't come in broth, so it's not your top ramen. We were instructed to break the yolk of the poached egg that was in it and mix up the red onion, green onion, and bacon chunks. Oh man! It was so delicious! The different textures were fun for my mouth and the flavors were fun for my tongue. We also got the maple glazed pork chop (HUGE) that is a standard menu item. It was so tender, moist, and full of flavor. Of course we had extra to take home and ate it for breakfast."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "We went with another couple who love great food - the wife being a gourmet chef. We ordered 11 different plates to share and we were impressed with every single one. Different infusion of flavors so it was a food adventure! The service was impeccable. We dined on the patio under heat lamps as inside was too noisy to hold our conversations. All of us would definitely go again."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "If you like great food and are not rigid . They have a no substitution policy. However is such a variety of food that it should not be a problem for most. The wait staff is fabulous, we were going to order the pork chop and he asked if we were really hungry because it is large. We decided against it, and later some guy by us order it and it was huge. It was large enough for four people! Also a great place for late night eating."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "I have been hearing all about the playground, and it has lived up to the hype. If my tatste buds had fingers they would type up what I cannot express in words, the food was out of the world. Notable dishes were the cauliflower nachos, bacon and egg ramen dish, waygu tartar, and the sticky desert. But those dishes might not even be there since the menu changes each week!! Not only was the food delicious but the wait staff was superb. Our dishes were constantly refreshed and everyone had a pleasant attitude. You are doing yourself a disservice if you do not eat at the playground..."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "We got the fixed price menu where the waitstaff made our choices. I'm glad they did because our waitress did an outstanding job. Highlights of the evening were the mushrooms, burger, wolf fish, tri-tip and farro. Each dish seemed to be better than the last. We also enjoyed the ability to share, so just in case some in our party preferred one dish over another, they were able to help themselves to more. The staff was also very cordial about accommodating a last-minute addition that increase our party to 9."
    Dined on 3/11/2014
  • "Everything other than the food was awesome. Our server, I wish I could remember his name (he's a fair skinned guy, blue or green eyes, facial hair, was wearing one of those news paper boy hats, shorter-stocky build) was really nice and helpful, couldn't have asked for a better server. My boyfriend and I read the piece of paper that forewarns diners about the saltiness of the food, but whoah... Every item we ordered was really....reeeeeally salty, in a bad way. The over use of salt on every single dish we ordered is the only reason we wouldn't come back or recommend playground to others. I hate to think this, but it seems like the high Yelp reviews may be more due to people trying to get into the invite only 2.0 rather than the food quality."
    Dined on 3/11/2014
  • "They were out of two of the appetizers we wanted. The cocktails that were recommended were awful. The food that we ended up ordering were mediocre. The seating is cramped and chairs/stools are uncomfortable. The acoustic is horrendous. Will never go back and will not recommend to anyone."
    Dined on 3/8/2014
  • "If you like something different, come to Playground! The dishes are fun and spontaneous! Always here full of surprises. The raw pork dish was exceptional! So fresh, can taste a slight sweetness along with the spices on the tip of your tongue. I just love this place, for sure one day I will try the 2.0 too!"
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "It's rare when the build up is less than the actual review, and this was the case here. We expected great things after a friend of ours told us about their experience at Playground 2.0 (which we hope to now get invited to) So I reserved a meal for my wife's birthday and headed over. We were sat at one of those community tables which worked out awesome cause the couple next to us had been there a few times and gave us suggestions. No matter what I say after this here is the most important part, if they have the cauliflower nachos on the menu, order them, please order them. OMG. They menu changes each night so if they don't have them come back again. That being said, we tried 3 other dishes and two desserts and they were all 5 stars."
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "This place in a real find. They do things their way and their way is fabulous. Incredibly original menu. Staff totally friendly and an owner and then later the chef came out to talk with us. I hesitate to post such a great review since it is already so popular and hip. Our new favorite place."
    Dined on 3/4/2014
  • "Try anything and everything. It's all spectacular."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "Heard about this place for a while, and decided to try it. The food was amazing and the service was attentive. I would definitely go back soon."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "Out of this world food, energy, and service! From the moment we walked up to the door, our evening was perfect."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "The food at the Playground might be the best I've ever had. Not just becuase it's incredibly creative, but also because each and every dish is prepared with so much attention to detail and skill. Absolutely stunning creations and an ever-changing menu means we will be back often!"
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "I took my fiance to the Playground for her birthday, and it was a perfect evening. I made reservations a week in advance for a Saturday night. The service was excellent from the minute we walked in. It was our first time so we wanted to try a little bit of everything, we appreciate the option to return the food if you don't like it hassle free but we did not need to do that at all. Every dish was amazing and its been 3 days and my fiance still hasn't stopped talking about how great the food was. The craft beers were top notch as well and I enjoyed the tv's above the bar so I didn't have to miss the basketball game."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "Great food! Individual menu items change each week based on the season and availability of produce. We tried the pork chop, amazing! The brussel sprouts were great as well. Wine...very expensive, however beer prices were good with a decent selection. Food may have been considered a little on the pricier end, but I believe you pay for the quality over the quantity. Our server was great! He was very knowledgable of the way the food and provided us great suggestions."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "Hands down the best meal I've eaten. Please do yourself a favor and don't miss out on this place."
    Dined on 2/20/2014
  • "This restaurant produces some of the most unusaul, flavorful and fresh dishes. I try things I would normally not even consider & have never been disappointed. Amazing place!"
    Dined on 2/19/2014
  • "Food was amazing.... best burger in town. My mom doesn't even like burgers and she ate two lol."
    Dined on 2/13/2014
  • "Wonderful ambience for the young energetic =crowd but, us old folks fit in too. Adam was excellent waiter and the thewait staff ere well trained , polite, accomdating and nicel.. great place will be back again and again. JP"
    Dined on 2/15/2014