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Birthday dinner for 2 in Laguna

Visiting Laguna next week and looking for a nice spot, but not necessarily wanting to break the bank with average food and a bit of an ocean view. Advice from Lagunatics? Will consider all types of food.

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  1. Cafe Zoolu - Great halibut, cute atmosphere (hole in the wall feel)

    Watermarc - Fun and hip. Great place for lots of small tasting plates and wine.

    Cafe Zoolu
    860 Glenneyre St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    1. I'd second Watermarc - a really nice menu well-executed, esp. strong on the small plates side (consider making a nice meal from a selection of those), great eclectic wine and drinks list, very good service and ambiance (inviting, comfortable upstairs, more exciting and buzzy downstairs).

      In South Laguna Beach, I'd recommend Eva's Caribbean. It's a really cool place with great food, much smaller place so it's more of an intimate experience. Menu choices won't be as varied as at Watermarc but what they do have is nicely done.

      448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

      1 Reply
      1. re: mikester

        I'd second Watermarc and Eva's. I'd also at Nick's Laguna in downtown, actually next to Watermarc. Also Sapphire Laguna if you can get a reservation.

        Sapphire Laguna
        1200 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

        448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

      2. I'll second Zoolu, Sapphire and Watermarc, although my last visit to Watermarc was not very good and none of them are really great in my opinion.

        Lumberyard is good but ambience/decor is similar to Bandera, which isn't really birthday worthy.

        Sage in Crystal Cove is just north of Laguna and pretty good as well.

        448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

        Bandera Restaurant
        3201 E Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

        1. I like Las Brisas...Decent food and amazing view.

          1. Sapphire is the only one you'll have a great ocean view at, though - and you need to be on the patio. This is a very good restaurant - this time of year, you might have luck with reservations or put your name in and sit at the (small) bar & wait it out...

            If you want to be right on the water, the beachside bar at the Hotel Laguna serves serviceable food & good drinks and the location can't be beat... I would almost do this, as with the early sunsets, you won't see a lot of water, unless you're right on top of it, from any restaurant at night.

            1. If this is a special evening, you might consider Bluefin. Most regard it as the best sushi in So Cal. They also have very nice non-sushi entrees. The Omakase there is fabulous. It's small and intimate but during the week it should be fairly easy to get into. Some ocean view but not much. It's in the Crystal Cove mall just a little North of Laguna on PCH. If you want more of an ocean view yet decent food, try Javier's (mexican cantina) in the same development.

              Bluefin Restaurant
              7952 E. Pacific Coastal Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92657

              1. I'd also recommend Eva's.

                1. I can't belive no one brought up Tabu in South Laguna. OK, it has no view, and it is pricey ($80pp?), but the food is great. There are not too many great view spots in Laguna with great food. Las Brisis has good food with a very nice view. The rooftop bar at K'Ya is a nice spot to watch the sunset, then head elsewhere for dinner after dark. I have not been for food, but Mozambique should also have a decent view from the patio.

                  1. We recently celebrated a milestone birthday at Studio Restaurant at the Montage. Overall, one of the more engaging dining experiences of my life, made even more memorable by the company I enjoyed. The seaside venue, view, ambience and, of course, the food were all world-class. Highly recommended for next time.