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Orange County restaurants with views

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My parents are extremely difficult to shop for, retired (i.e. my Dad doesn't take my Mom out enough anymore) and they love great food.

This Christmas I want to do something unconventional and buy them gift certificates for dinner at several restaurants that they've never tried. My Dad loves ocean views, marina views, anything worth looking at, really--but I don't want to sacrifice quality of food for view!

They like anything, but are getting a little sick and tired of Thai and Chinese. They live in Irvine near Newport Coast Drive. Please suggest anything worthwhile within 20 miles-ish.

Thanks in advance, chowhounds!

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  1. Las Brisas in Laguna, cliffs over the ocean, solid Mexican food. Splashes at the Surf & Sand, lunch with the ocean waves crashing at your feet, good California cooking. Chimayo on the pier in Huntington Beach, watch the surfers poison themselves in the ocean while you dine on upscale Cal/Mex cooking, watching the Sun set.
    Sorry about the reference to the water in Huntington Beach.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Ginger Wolf
      c
      Carolyn Tillie

      Las Brisas was the first thing that came to my mind as well -- H, you know how I feel about Mexican food and I like this place. Elegant and definitely worth a special occasion.

      1. re: Carolyn Tillie

        Thank you Ginger and Carolyn. My parents already know and love Las Brisas, which is good for me because I get to go whenever their anniversary rolls around.

        It truly is a great spot if not for the seafood then for the pelicans flying at eye level and pods of dolphins down below.

        Last time I was there, though, there was a ton (and that's just counting the silicone!) of horny yuppies trying to get some play out on the patio and top-40 music was blaring at an obnoxious volume. What's that about?

        1. re: Heather
          c
          Carolyn Tillie

          Ahh... too much silicone and bad music? It has become a place to See and Be Seen. Pity.

          1. re: Carolyn Tillie

            I just thought that was part of the normal view in this section of Orange County.

            1. re: Carolyn Tillie
              p
              peter gibbons

              Make that saline and really bad music. For my money I would go skip Villa Nva--nice view but have you ever had the red sauce? Lets just say you might have to include a roll of TP with the gift certificate. And, Chimayo is very marginal. Plus the view is dirty sand and volleyball courts. Not exactly a nice ocean view.

        2. re: Ginger Wolf

          I second the rec for Chimayo. Duke's upstairs on the HB pier is also good, although a bit more mundane. Hawaiian seafood - if you've been to Kimo's on Maui, this is the HB version of the place.

        3. Heather,
          If they like Italian, try Villanova.
          See link below.

          Cheers,
          Jim

          Link: http://cuisinenet.com/info/rstrnt-304...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jim in Wine

            The Villa Nova has a wonderful piano bar, very good to excellant Italian, big deep booths and overlooks the waterway, what is that, the Penisula? Service is always good. Reservations necessary during normal dinner hours.

          2. Dear Heather,
            You might want to consider the main restaurant in the Hotel Laguna.It is more sedate than Las Brisas, is on the beach with lovely views.Maybe you could ask them to fax you a menu and see if it appeals to you. I know that the management has changed over the last few years, which is what happens in Laguna... When it was called Claes, about 8 years ago I had an outstanding Christmastime dinner, wonderful lobster bisque, and roast goose. I went back for a Valentines dinner about a year ago and the prix fix menu did not sound good so we went elsewhere.
            I have found that having a menu faxed is a good way to gauge a new place, or save yourself from anticipating an old favorite item that is no longer on the menu. Call early in the day, not during rush times.
            Good luck..

            1 Reply
            1. re: tanyal

              Heather: I also tried Claes Seafood a few years ago and really liked the experience. I would call it California-influenced seafood, fish was very fresh. Their wine list was very good as I remember it. Your parents can ask for a window table with awesome ocean views. The Hotel Laguna is quite a historic building and should be quite a romantic evening for your folks!

              Youndo

            2. I would recommend 91 Oceanfront near the Newport Beach Pier and Splashes. Splashes has a better view, with the advantage of being able to sit outside and listen to the waves. 91 Oceanfront has good food (try the Newporter Salad), but you have to sit inside.