Just a few notes regarding your search for a quick bite before the circus. (By the way, the tent is on the Newport Blvd. side instead of the Fairview side as it was before. - anyway,
The Asia Cafe I mentioned IS open and their phone number is (949) 548-8366. They only have about 8 tables - small. It was always good quality, not stellar, maybe a new owner, too. I've never made reservations there, just walked in. But, I would call anyway.
Also, right around there is Soprano's (Italian). I haven't eaten there, but I think someone on this board did. It is in the small strip mall on Newport near (north of) Wilson. 2400 Newport Blvd. 949/645.8515. Maybe you can order ahead if one couple is there (you said you had four tickets.) Again, Mama Rose is around there, but I've heard stories of long waits and they said make a reservation.
Best access to Arlington street is, of course, from Bristol and not the Newport Fwy. So, what about something on Bristol a few blocks from Newport entrance like Memphis Cafe (714/432.SOUL(7685), Habana (in the Anti-Mall 714/556.0176) or even across the street at expensive The Lodge (hard to find parking). Or the other way, May Garden (714/751-9229) or even Acapulco - Bristol Street location 714/754.6528. Eating in the bar area is usually pretty fast (you wanted fast - not gourmet). Its good enough.
Given that your S/O can not get from work until 6:00, the tailgate pre-order, take-out may be a good idea - like you said. Call ahead to any restaurant and take out.
Also, if you want to go the happy hour kind of thing (they don't get busy until later), what about Shooters on Baker corner of Bristol. Are they still open? Shooters Tequila Bar & Café 725 Baker, Costa Mesa 92626 714-540-5061
Anyway, good luck.
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