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Best dinner in Laguna Beach?

1_healthnut Apr 30, 2007 05:49 PM

stonehill tavern? studio @ montage resort? loft @ montage resort? or anyplace else worth trying...?

recs based on the regular menus would be much appreciated....due to seafood allergies & non-carnivores among the group, tasting menus aren't really an option.

cost is not an issue.


  1. k
    ktcolt Apr 30, 2007 05:57 PM

    Having been an OC native for 17 years and Newport Beach and Laguna Beach being my stomping grounds...I can say that I love Las Brisas, the Royal Hawaiian, The White House, Hennessey's, The Hotel Laguna (awesome ocean views)....all are wonderful and provide menus that will appeal to the masses in your group!

    12 Replies
    1. re: ktcolt
      Carrie 218 Apr 30, 2007 06:02 PM

      Thanks, KT - I've booked my ocean-front room for the art festivals in August and are looking forward to re-experiencing many establishments of my youth (including a jaunt to The Five Crowns). I actually remember when Las Brisas was Victor Hugo and my mother would take me to lunch at The White House.

      I'm hearing really good things about Stonehill Tavern, Michael Minna's place at the St. Regis, the Studio at the Montage, Blue Coral for seafood, and French 75.

      1. re: Carrie 218
        ktcolt Apr 30, 2007 06:37 PM

        While you are up in Corona del Mar at Five Crowns....go to The Quiet Woman too! It is a fun little hole in the wall which is very popular with the locals. It is at the corner NE of PCH and Marguerite just north of Poppy where the Crowns is located! Victor Hugo...now there is a name from the past!

        1. re: ktcolt
          chowesq Apr 30, 2007 07:24 PM

          My definite #1 in Laguna is Tabu. It is simply incredible. Great food, great atmosphere, great wine list. The Montage has some good food but the atmosphere is really hotel-y and lame. Do yourself a favor and skip Hush, it isn't worth your time now that Jonathan Pflueger is no longer in the kitchen.

          1. re: chowesq
            Cali Boy Apr 30, 2007 08:17 PM

            Best view with dinner - Las Brisas - decent food
            Great food and ambiance - French 75 - ask for Marcos. They have an amazing champagne bar
            Best Cesar Salad - Ritz Carlton - Club Grill - ask for Extra Anchovy & Garlic!!!!!!! If you like that sort of thing.
            Sword Fish - Try Cafe Zulu. Wow!
            Best Prime Rib - Savana Chop House (Laguna Niguel),Jalapeno Au Groten potatos are awsome. Try the chocolate martini too!
            Stay away from the Rib Joint in Dana Point.
            Steak - Flemings (Newport Beach), great wine menu

            Just a few quick thoughts!

            1. re: Cali Boy
              chowesq Apr 30, 2007 08:46 PM

              Oooh Cafe Zulu is amazing swordfish but the decor is a little funky in a bad way.
              As for the 2 Las Brisas nods- go for a drink and the view but do NOT eat there!!!!!!!

              1. re: chowesq
                MaryT Apr 30, 2007 08:52 PM

                I had my wedding dinner at Las Brisas back in the 80s, is the food worse and it now more touristy, at the time it was a bit touristy but I thought the food was pretty good? And the Hotel Laguna used to be pretty great too. Wasn't there another hotel in that area with a several story lookout/view with high end good, something like Laguna Royale? High end place, great service and a similar view.

                I always loved the Quiet (headless) Woman for business meetings -- it was one of the first places to have a sign saying "NO CELLPHONES" :-)

                1. re: MaryT
                  chowesq Apr 30, 2007 09:44 PM

                  I certainly wouldn't rank Las Brisas anywhere near "best" dinner in Laguna. The town has some seriously good food. AND the post says that cost is not an issue so I am going for no-holds-barred serious dining.

                  1. re: chowesq
                    1_healthnut Apr 30, 2007 11:33 PM

                    thanks, chowesq, that's the kind of response i was looking for. i appreciate everyone's feedback, but i think we got a little off-topic.

                    i'm looking for restaurants that most people would consider "special occasion" or "expense account" places. truly memorable meals (i.e. the laguna equivalent of spago, sona, campanile, etc.)


                    1. re: 1_healthnut
                      torta basilica May 1, 2007 10:09 AM

                      Very surprised at some of these rec's, but...

                      For a blow-out, Studio at the Montage - incredible location, views, service, you can still do the tasting menu, just advise of food preferences in advance. The food is not what it originally was, but still ranks way up there.

                      People love Stonehill, but I wasn't all that impressed.

                      Ritz-Carlton's food has really gone downhill, BUT their Wine & Cheese & chocolate bar is really fun. They bring out flights of wine & cheeses & really a great thing to do with a group of people - you probably won't need dinner afterwards!

                      Bluefin in Crystal Cove right up the road is very exciting, but a problem for those with seafood allergies! One of the best restaurants we have & their omakase is to die for.

                      That's it. There's some 'next level' restaurants that are excellent - Zoolu & 230 Forest & Mozambique (on 2nd thought, you might like this for your choice if you want to avoid hotels - they do have excellent food & service in a wonderful atmosphere) come to mind, but not what you say you are looking for.

                      I'm more than a bit shocked at the Royal Hawaiian, Hennessys, White House, Las Brisas, Quiet Woman, Flemings & French 75 recs, considering that you are asking for excellent cutting edge food. Tabu I'm mixed on - sometimes good, sometimes not so exciting & it's a very small space, as is Zoolu.

                      Claes in the Hotel Laguna is good, but heavy seafood emphasis.

                      I wish we did, but we really have no equilvalents of Sona, Campanile & Spago really isn't all that unless you do their tasting menu. Was very disappointed at a birthday dinner there last month.

                      1. re: torta basilica
                        ktcolt May 1, 2007 10:50 AM

                        Torta is right as is Chowesq...if cost is truly no issue!

                        1. re: ktcolt
                          1_healthnut May 1, 2007 04:36 PM

                          thank you, thank you! based on these recs i think we'll probably end up at studio. i'll post a report/review after we go...

          2. re: ktcolt
            Carrie 218 May 1, 2007 07:30 AM

            Thanks for the reminder of The Quiet Woman! I had no idea it was still around... This all hearkens back to days which bring me to Newport 17, The Velvet Turtle, and The Red Onion...

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