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 WinnerFit for Foodies
Playground reviews from OpenTable diners
177 reviews since June 3, 2014
Overall Rating4.7
  • Food4.8
    Service4.7
  • Ambiance4.2
    Noise LevelEnergetic
100% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (160)neighborhood gem (109)hot spot (98)good for groups (83)special occasion (79)great for outdoor dining (54)vibrant bar scene (44)late-night find (33)romantic (18)notable wine list (12)great for brunch (10)kid-friendly (8)great for lunch (4)Show More
  • 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!
    Luv2eat
    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.
  • Great restaurant
    christie
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    This restaurant was amazing. Great foods. Different than your norm.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A GREAT Find!!
    PalVal
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    We let our waiter choose everything from drinks to desert and we LOVED everything!!! With a table of four, the dishes were easy to share. We can't wait to of back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • SamuelH1
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    Always a good time. 4th trip here. Had an interesting conversation with the hostess about dogs and if dogs have different languages like humans.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great and wonderful food experience
    foodieatheart
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    Eating at the Playground was just what I needed for my foodie evening. We enjoyed a tempting and adventurous menu inspired by seasonal vegetables and selections that are scrumptious, satisfying and visually appealing. I loved the chance to be seated next to a window separating me from the kitchen where the salads were being prepared. An added plus a chance to celebrate the summer evening by sitting outside on the patio where we could people watch the Thursday night neighborhood Farmers Market.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • yum2
    Dined on 9/3/2014
    I took my husband for his birthday dinner and we had a dining adventure. We started with kurobuta pork belly steam bun and it was melt in your mouth goodness which just whet our appetite. Next was the ahi ceviche in coconut milk and followed by pan roasted wild mushroom, bulgar with soft duck egg. My husband doesn't like anything with coconut or bulgar but he enjoyed both dishes. In fact, he said he'd order them again! Our last dish was the skirt steak presse with creamed spinach - the steak was cooked just right, pink and medium. However, the creamed spinach was gummy. I like that each dish came one at a time and meant to be shared. The service was friendly and the place had an energetic vibe.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Food yes, place, not so much
    JCintheOCVIP
    Dined on 9/3/2014
    Although downtown Santa Ana is amidst a renaissance of sorts, the required paid parking, noisy youth with boom boxes in the parkway disturbed our peace unfortunately. Counter height tables with stools is not comfortable. It is also noisy so intimate is not happening there. The food was quite good, but the mushroom with egg dish was replaced with one including bulgur; it was nutty and interesting but pales in compare to the prior version. Pork chops did not disappoint. Bao buns were heavenly. The sticky-figgy-toffee pudding was as heavenly as I last remember it. If it were mine to decide, I think I'd pair it with homemade vanilla ice cream rather than whipped cream for perfection. We enjoyed ourselves nonetheless and recommend it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fresh, vibrant, delicious!
    BeachTresses
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    We asked the server to just bring out whatever he thought was good- that was the best thing we could have done. He was familiar with the wine we ordered and was able to pair it with some amazing dishes. Heirloom tomato poke, chipotle corn, wild mushrooms with bulgur, wagyu steak with arugula & baby dutch potatoes, braised duck enchiladas, and black mission fig toffee pudding. Great, great, great! It was a smaller restaurant with a very organic feeling to it. Still very modern with the bar wall painted with chalkboard paint. Really great experience all around. Great little location.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Local foodie
    2foodiesVIP
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    The food was good and imaginative. It is difficult to judge the size of the portions and what combination work together as the menu varies daily on the availability of fresh ingredients and the season. The service started out well but as the restaurant got crowded the service level dropped off. The ordered dishes were progressively delayed. Beside this, The Playground remains a good restaurant with its own charm and ambiance. A definite repeat.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food!
    mishelley25
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    Everything we tried was amazing. The food is served when ready, so our meals came out at different times. It was ok because we ended up sharing everything and gave us the chance to try more items on the menu, which changes constantly. And the black fig pudding dessert is an absolute must!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • 10/10, WB
    FeedTheSwede
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    Fantastic restaurant. The food was inspired and delicious. The service was amazing, it felt like the service staff took pride in their job and went out of their way to make customers feel at home. Price was not unreasonable for such a great experience. Will definitely come back here again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Lived Up To The Hype
    LindsayAmanda
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    The Playground was recommended to me by a few co-workers who simply raved about it and all the hype was worth it. I brought my fiance there for his birthday and he really does appreciate some great food as someone who loves to cook himself. I mention that its great for groups because the seating there is all high benches and there is no corkage fee, so you really could save a ton of money by just bringing a bunch of your favorite wine. The waiters and waitresses are all very kind and knowledgeable and truly help make the experience great! I also loved how every day they had a new menu based on the freshest ingredients. It's hard to beat the perfect combination of textures, colors and flavors packed into every dish!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fabulous
    SomethingNewForDinner
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    I've been meaning to get to The Playground for quite some time, and finally did this week. So glad I did. My husband and son both call it their new favorite restaurant. The food is fresh, inventive and delicious. Likewise their craft cocktails. It is unusual for a restaurant at their affordable price point to create new dishes every day. Very impressive. What is really remarkable is how happy and attentive their staff is. You can tell they really believe in what they do. We will become regulars.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food, tight seating
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    I think they should pull away a few chairs from the long tables to give people a little elbow room. The good was great, but I wouldn't go back unless I get a private table or they do something about the space on the share tables.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Great Find
    glutton
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    My husband and I were blown away by the creative, tasty dishes. I wish I had more room to try other things, but what we ordered was superb, especially the plum salad, papaya salad and the sticky toffee pudding was to die for. It rivaled the sticky toffee pudding I've enjoyed in England.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Absolutely delicious food!
    Fortunecooky
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    This was our first visit. Had been unsuccessful in getting a Friday reservation 2 weeks in a row and finally settled for a Tuesday evening. Well worth the wait. The brown butter scallop sashimi was amazing. We ordered the Imerial Wagyu & Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken; both were fabulous. The fig toffee pudding was to die for and I will come back for this dessert if nothing else.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great dining experience
    SabrinaVIP
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    Excellent service, from the host to the server and other wait staff. The food has very innovative concepts, and most of them work. Very unique!
    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 LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.