A Look at Solstice Irvine

We chatted with the culinary team of one of Orange County's newest hot spots, Solstice.

Solstice opened at the end of February 2022 at The Boardwalk in Irvine, focusing on intentional cuisine made with seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Diners can enjoy lunch, dinner and brunch with a variety of imaginative menu items like the “Deviled Egg Mason Jar,” “Mussels Rockefeller,” “Carrot Burrata,” and “Halibut Bouillabaisse.” Foodies looking for a little taste of Solstice should check out the restaurant’s Social Hour with various bites and beverage choices. 

The restaurant’s star is Culinary Director Chef Demetrio Zavala (you might recognize him from the Food Network’s “Chopped: Beat Bobby Flay” and “Chopped: Grudge Match”) . 

Solstice Brunch Spread Irvine Orange County | WhereTraveler
Solstice Brunch Spread (Courtesy Solstice)

A Visit to Irvine’s New Restaurant Solstice 

WT: Did you draw any menu inspiration from your time on the Food Network?
Zavala: I often reflect on the feedback from the judges during my time on Food Network. For example, suggestions like adding more acid or more texture really resonated with me. That feedback is always in the back of my mind when creating a dish.  

WT: Are there any menu items that are completely unique to the Irvine location?
Zavala: The Celery Root Tartare and Pan-Seared Shrimp Mole were solely created for the Irvine location as they both introduce international flavors that we felt would be well received in this market. 

Carrot Burrata Salad at Solstice Irvine Orange County | WhereTraveler
Carrot Burrata Salad (Courtesy Solstice)

WT: Can you explain the concept of ritucharya in relation to the menu? Will the menu itself change seasonally as well?
Zavala: Ritucharya is the ancient Ayurvedic principle of eating with the seasons. Just like our name suggests, the menu at Solstice is based on the seasonal availability of ingredients. We’re proud to highlight and showcase ingredients picked at their peak of freshness. Now that we’re in spring, we’re highlighting artichokes, spring peas, and apricots. 

WT: What was the hardest part for you when it came to conceiving the actual menu?
Zavala: Finding ways to use every part of the ingredient is exciting to me, and harnessing this creativity has resulted in some of our most unique offerings. For example, the Celery Root Tartare is the result of having leftover tops from the Celery Root Mignon, and the green carrot tops are used in our chimichurri sauce. The difficulty lies in focusing that creativity and honing in on specific applications as opposed to exploring each ingredient’s endless applications.

WT: What are your personal favorites on the menu?
Zavala: Favorite dishes on the menu include the Tuna Tartare, Parker House Rolls, Apple Waldorf Salad and the Fudge Cake.

Blueberry Tart at Solstice Irvine Orange County | WhereTraveler
Blueberry Tart (Courtesy Solstice)