When it comes to eating out, happy days are almost here again. Survivors of the Great Recession in the restaurant industry saw modest revenue growth in 2013, even though overall restaurant foot traffic was down, according to industry forecasts. Consumer spending in 2013 was up 2 percent compared with the previous year – an uptick driven by growth in average check size, according to market research firm The NPD Group. So diners paid more for their dining tab, but they ate out less often. For 2014, NPD forecasts a slightly better year. The firm said the food service industry will see visits up 1 percent and spending up 3 percent. Mintel, another market research firm, is more optimistic. For 2014, Mintel forecast a 5.9 percent growth in U.S. restaurant sales, which reached $438 billion in 2013. That's up from $429 billion in 2012. Concepts focusing on gourmet coffee, doughnuts and premium fast-casual foods are expected to drive sales in the new year, according to NPD and Mintel. In Orange County, trendy fast-casual brands and chef-driven bistros continue to dominate the food scene, which saw another net gain in restaurants in 2013. As of Dec. 1, the county had 8,376 restaurants, 172 more than in 2012, according to county health records. So what's on tap for 2014? Here's a look at restaurants to watch:

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