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Fabulous Dinner Rec Needed- Laguna Beach

We are staying in Laguna for two nights, and are looking for a combo of scenery and fabulous food. I usually prioritize food over anything else, but we are here now and I'm guessing I can find something that meets both requirements.

We are pretty open to type of cuisine, and price. Casual is always preferred but are ready to dress, and we do like california/american, pan asian or latin (ok, anything really)...

Thank you in advance!

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  1. Christine, There are some excellent restaurants along PCH from Newport Beach to Laguna. Just to mention some: Sabatino's, NB - The best sausage to go with great Italian food, 333 Waterfront, NB - mostly small plates, great martinin menu and harbor view, The Quiet Woman, Corona del Mar, Five Crowns, Corona del Mar, Las Brisas, Laguna - Spectacular ocean view and good Mexican food.

    I've never been to a restaurant along PCH that I would consider "formal". Beach area, just about anything goes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: janetms383

      Sabatino's is kind of waterfront, from Newport Blvd. via 31st Street that becomes Lido Park Way (past the Cannery Restaurant) and then turn right (past the guardhouse) onto Shipyard Way - kind or hard to find Sabatino's, but it's close to the water.

      251 Shipyard Way, Newport Beach, CA 92663

    2. Oh, I wanted to mention Tommy Bahamas. They've recently redone the menu and decor. I had absolutely THE BEST grilled cheese and tomato soup there. The sandwich had 3 cheese and lobster grilled to melty perfection and the tomato soup was handcrafted with heirloom tomatoes. Talk about wonderful comfort food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: janetms383

        They also have these excellent scallop sliders!

      2. French 75 is very good and in Laguna Beach. Las Brisas is pretty good food, but the view is really the feature. Lunch would be a good idea there - - just don't arrive later than about 6pm or you will miss the view. Hush is also highly rated but I cannot speak to that as I have never gone there. A great combo of view and food are the restaurants at the Ritz Carlton, which is just south of LB by only a mile or so (2-3 miles from downtown LB).

        1 Reply
        1. re: MaxCaviar

          The food at the Ritz Carlton is just aweful. It has gone downhill considerably. Was just there less than a month ago. Nothing was good food wise. Plus there is only one restaurant there.

        2. French 75 is good overall, but can be a bit inconsistent (though that may be me ordering different things each time and just hitting & missing).

          Ritz-Carlton is nice, but there's also the ritzy price tag.

          If you're willing to venture a bit south on the PCH, there's also Salt Creek Grille, which was pretty good.


          1. For fine dining, Studio at the Montage or Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis.

            For more casual, 230 Forest Avenue would be good but it has no view since it's downtown. I haven't been myself, but I've heard the rooftop bar at K'Ya has a great view.

            1. Nice casua/stylish fits in almost anywhere along the coast in OC (no t-shirts, tank tops, or flip-flops). You can go to the nicest places and feel comfortable if you wear a nice collared shirt, cotton pants or even clean jeans, and decent shoes (for men, that is).

              There are many very good restaurants to choose from in OC, but if you are looking for "fabulous food", it's going to be tough going...I've not found it anywhere in OC. But, for a combination of scenery and very good food, two restaurants immediately come to mind:

              Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis, Laguna Niguel .

              Studio Restaurant at the Montage Hotel, Laguna Niguel. Even if you choose not to eat at the Studio, you should definitely visit the Montage. The view is incredible. I actually prefer stopping there for a casual lunch on the outside deck adjacent to the spa. They have nice salads, sandwiches...but it is the view that will knock your socks off!

              For a much more casual meal, with a great view, the Chart House in Dana Point is quite nice...great harbor view.

              If you are willing to forgo the view, Sapphire Laguna has very nice food and a pleasant patio...and if you like sushi, one of the very best in southern CA is in Newport....Bluefin by Abe, in Crystal Cove.

              1. The Sundried Tomato Cafe is fabulous and very reasonable.

                I also liked 230 Forest very much although it was much more expensive than Sundried Tomato Cafe.

                Both are in downtown Laguna; but neither have views.

                Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar is great if you like Lawry's prime rib (that's basically what it is, being in the same "family" of restaurants.)

                Heard great things about Bluefin, have always wanted to go.

                Up in Fashion Island in Newport, I LOVE the homemade tortillas at the El Torito Grill. Yes it's a chain but it's one of the better ones.

                1. Oh, go ahead and do the classic touristy thing >>>> great food and scenery

                  Drink a glass of wine at sunset at The Cliff Restaurant (PCH at Legion)

                  then walk on down to the Laguna Beach Hotel for dinner at Claes.

                  Then desert across the street (after a walk along the main beach boardwalk) at
                  Brussel's Bistro (Tarte fine aux pommes, crème anglaise et sa boule de vanille

                  Or, there's a new restaurant across the street from The Cliff
                  near the walk-through-to-parking Peppertree Lane. Need help with the name.
                  Then eat chocolates from La Rue du Chocolat (inside on Peppertree Lane walkway


                  See also, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/551290

                  Brussels Bistro
                  222 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                  577 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                  Claes' Seafood Etc At Hotel
                  425 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kc girl

                    Or, mussels, frites and Chimay at Brussels Bistro.

                  2. In the same vein, we are going to Laguna for the weekend to visit my in-laws who are visiting from the east coast. Bringing our 3 year old son, who is pretty good in restaurants, but no fine dining. We're looking for a nice sit-down meal, no chains. Would Sundried Tomato be a good spot? What waterfront places are good/family friendly? I'm clueless to anything in OC. Thanks!!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: kellybean333

                      Sundried Tomato would be a good choice, as would (weather permitting) the outside deck at Sapphire Laguna.

                      Also, if you want a good meal in a absolutely wonderful setting that I'm sure your little one would love, go to the Beachcomber in Newport. It is literally right on the beach (bring a pail and shovel), great fun, good food and cocktails, but they take no reservations. Go for lunch or brunch (probably not dinner), be prepared to wait, they'll give you a beeper so you can enjoy the beach with your little one, and then have a fun meal. It's a great spot. If it's chilly, they even give you blankets to wrap up in!

                      1. re: josephnl

                        The Beachcomber sounds great - we will definitely check it out. Thanks!

                        1. re: kellybean333

                          Just discovered that the Beachcomber has started taking limited reservations. Definitely do so. They do it on Open Table via their website which is: www.thebeachcombercafe.com

                          You will love it...especially with your little one. The food is quite good, but the setting even better. Be sure you check their website re directions getting there. It's not hard to find, but you need to know how. Have fun!

                    2. In response to other posts, I would agree that Sundried Tomato Cafe is a very good restaurant. It, in my opinion anyway, definitely does not have "fabulous food" and obviously does not have any view whatsoever...so I don't think it's what the op is looking for.

                      Similarly, Five Crowns in Corona del Mar is just ok, and El Toriito Grill....well, it's an El Torito.

                      For something more special look at my earlier post re the Stonehill Tavern and/or the Montage.

                      1. another good bet is Coyote Grill in south laguna. great Mex food. the breakfast here is very good too (try their version of eggs benedict). they are directly on the water too, with an outdoor deck with tables and a large fireplace in case there's a chill.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MaxCaviar

                          Definitely agree...Coyote Grill is terrific...especially on a nice day when you can have brunch/lunch on the deck!