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Jun 11, 2007 02:27 PM

Recommendations for Orange County

Staying in Irvine area this weekend, coming from East Coast. I am planning to drive farther south in Orange County and also up by Ventura County. Can you please recommend some spots for breakfast dining, cafes or late night hangouts with friends in the area? Nice places along PCH would be a plus. Thanks.

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  1. I few places come to mind; however, if you don't mind me asking "where on the East Coast are you coming from?".

    Recs would be different if you coming from, for i.e., NYC or Miami.

    5 Replies
      1. re: afarooqs

        IMHO, one should maximize their time spent in distant lands experiencing what they cannot get, or can't get as well, back home. Coming from NY and expressing your desire for places along PCH it sounds like absorbing the Pacific Ocean is a prime priority. As Irvine is your base, you have 3 drives along PCH to accomplish that: 1) Newport Beach south to Laguna Beach & +, 2) Newport Beach north into Seal Beach turning left onto Green Blvd. which morfs into Seaside Blvd. through Long Beach till the 110, and 3) Santa Monica Pier north to Ventura/Oxnard.

        You could do #2 & #3 in one day, but if it's on Sat. with great weather, the traffic can be bad!

        Breakfast - ?

        Lunch/Brunch - I would time it so you can have lunch/brunch at Geofrrey's in Malibu, and try and arrange a table as close as you can to the Ocean. There is an old saying that "the nicer the view, the worse the food". Don't challenge the kitchen with anything too creative, stick to the standards. There was a NYCer who went in Feb. and raved about the place except for the food: one dish enjoyable (nothing exceptional), the other not so good (I'd provide the link, but can't locate it). Opens 11:30 M-F& 10 Sat. & Sun.

        Dinner & Fun in Ventura/Oxnard - if that's your plan, then put those words into the search function above,... Not an area I frequent.

        #1 - South into Laguna Beach & ... - One of the food items you can't get back in NYC is peri-peri sauce. It's spicy, comes from Southern Africa, and addicting to some; so much so than Nando's (*) in Britain has grown to a chain of 175 restaurants/shopes headling with that one sauce with chicken. It might be worth you effort to try some, even if you just order an app at the bar and dine elsewhere at:

        Mexican - Somewhere you should try and have a "quality" mexican food outing. Maybe breakfast or lunch Laguna Beach to San Celmente, then dinner and fun in Laguna.

        Candidate - The opposite of Geoffrey's, here your going "just" for the food:

        El Molino de Oro
        31886 Plaza Dr., Suite D3
        San Juan Capistrano
        (949) 489-9230


        1. re: JBC

          Thanks a lot JBC. Your ideas are exactly what I wanted to accomplish with dining along the coast. This has been most helpful. Didn't know Nandos opened up in the US. I had it a few years ago in my overseas trip and brought back bottles of peri peri sauce.

          1. re: afarooqs

            I don't think Nandos are actually here...rather, it sounds like you can find something similar at Mozambique (

            1. re: bigipps

              Yes you right - No Nando's but something similar. Thanks for discretely restating the link which I mis-typed; unfortunately, yours doesn't work either because my computer picks up the right ). in the web address. Better without any ( )'s:


    1. I always recommend Honda Ya for requests like yours. It's a Japanese pub/restaurant. Good times will be had by all. Late night dining till about 1:30 am. But it's not in the coast per se. It's in Tustin.


      For coastal eats, try Sapphire in Laguna Beach.

      For breakfast, many say Ramos House in SJC (San Juan Capistrano) is a good bet.

      1. For breakfast on the beach in Malibu I would recommend Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. I would only go there for breakfast or drinks in the afternoon. Nothing really happens late night in Malibu. In Santa Monica, you might want to check out the Penthouse at the top of the Huntley Hotel. It has a fun bar and killer views.

        1. It depends how far into Ventura County you are going. If you go to Oxnard, go to H&C Seafood for lunch. It's by the Fisherman Wharf's in Channel Island. It's a fish market/seafood stand. You pick your own seafood, and they cook it. I had huge spot prawns for under $20 a pound. They also have a variety of crabs and lobsters. They close at 5:30 p.m., so go for lunch.

          1. Ramos House in San Juan Capistrano is my favorite for breakfast. Historic, charming and excellent food (and bloody marys). Also, try Cafe Zinc and Madison Square and Garden Cafe in Laguna Beach for breakfast as well. For an incredible place to have a drink with music, the lobby of the Montage is amazing.