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laguna Beach food recs

We will be travelling since 2am and arriving in Laguna Beach around 1pm. We want to go somewhere that is chow worthy for our first meal in Cali.. It could be a casual sit down patio to say ahhhhh were here in CAli... Or it could be a great pick up food type place we can take to the beach for the afternoon.

Also will need 2 restaurants for dinner and one more lunch the following day.

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  1. K'ya and the Rooftop Bar (same location) are both nice. K'ya isn't open for lunch but some of their items are available on the Rooftop. That's a very "aahhh, California" spot.

    1. Off the top of my head:

      For very casual or pick-up:

      House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer
      Taco Loco
      The Cottage

      For dinner or lunch:

      Watermarc
      Sapphire
      230 Forest
      Landmark
      Five Feet
      Zulu
      Eve's Caribbean
      Tabu
      Loft @ Montage

      If you don't need to stay in Laguna Beach proper, there are plenty of other options up and down the coast a few miles.

      -----
      Watermarc
      448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

      Five Feet Restaurant
      12017 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840

      2 Replies
      1. re: krick

        The wrong 5 Feet location came up in your links.

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        Five Feet Special Events & Catering
        328 Glenneyre, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

        1. re: krick

          In terms of best food for dinner (without any other factor like drinks/view) - Saphire would get my vote.

        2. I would get a table on the patio at Las Brisas and order off the bar menu It is one of the few places right on the ocean side of PCH with a view, plus you can walk right down to main beach from there. I don't really care for the food at the rooftop bar at the hotel that houses K'Ya, but the view is very nice. Another option is Coyote Grill in South Laguna, which is probably the most chow worthy of the three. Taco Loco would probably be my pick for a to go option.

          For dinner, I whole hardheartedly recommend Tabu for dinner. I thought Watermarc was overpriced and decent, but not great. 230 Forest is in the same family but I have a better opinion of it. The Cottage is good for breakfast, but I would skip the other meals there.

          If you really want the perfect beach location though, you should try and get reservations at the Beachcomber. The food isn't great (though it is not bad), but the location is the best in OC (as long as you are OK with the walk from the parking lot). You might be OK walking in for food at 2:00 or so though.

          -----
          Beachcomber Cafe
          15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA 92657

          Taco Loco
          640 S Coast Hwy Ste 1, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

          Coyote Grill
          31621 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

          Las Brisas Restaurant
          361 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

          K'ya Bistro - Laguna Beach
          1287 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

          31 Replies
          1. re: ocshooter

            I have read about Beach Comber Cafe on TA but this is a good 30 min north of our hotel in LAguna beach.. We also want to leave the car so we can enjoy some "wobbly pops"
            We will be staying at Laguna Rivera Hotel.. If anyone knows this area and could recommend a walk or even a drive close that we could go to before checking our luggage that would be good too!

            I am assuming some places are better for location and view and pay much higher for this and others are better for quality..

            Also any great happy hour drinks and nibblies places with view would be good too!

            -----
            Beach Comber Cafe
            23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

            1. re: palmtree38

              The Rooftop bar at La Casa del Camino (upstairs from K'ya) is great for happy hour, as is Las Brisas. The Sandpiper is a great dive bar with good rock & roll south of the main drag.

              I don't know where the hotel is exactly, but Laguna has a great bus system and it is easy to hop on the bus and get to downtown for drinks without worrying about drunk driving. The bus may even be free to keep cars out of downtown. You should be able to check in, park, hop on the bus, and with a little walking have a drink at the Rooftop, tacos at Taco Loco, stroll the main beach, more drinks and appetizers at Las Brisas, then dinner at the spot of your choice in Downtown, then bus back to the hotel.

              "The Summer Shuttle Service is a FREE four line service designed to accommodate locals and visitors who primarily come to Laguna Beach for the Pageant of the Masters, local art festivals and other day tripping activities during the ten week summer season. Beginning June 25 through August 29, 2010, shuttle routes operate seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Canyon route runs through August 31, 2010. Special 4th of July holiday hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The transfer point between the North, South, and Canyon routes is at the Transit Center/Bus Depot."

              http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityha...

              1. re: palmtree38

                FYI, as a local who enjoys a few beverages and doesn't always want to walk/drive, anyplace will call you a cab if you want to scoot around a bit. Also, Beach Comber Cafe is a great rec and only 15 minutes from your hotel, tops.

                1. re: BubblyOne

                  So it sounds like staying in LAguna we should make the hike to the Beachcomber??? This is a must try for location on the beach I have read. Is there any food items we should be trying?
                  Oshooter .. great rec's thanks so much.!

                  so these places are good for a 1pm lunch . We just want to drop suitcases and go out quickly to grab good grub as will be starvin..

                  Maybe Taco Loco might be good to bring back to the beach..
                  La Casa del Camino (upstairs from K'ya) is great for happy hour, as is Las Brisas what time do these start???? As we could get the taco loco then head to one of these for dinner?????????? will google to see if a menu online

                  1. re: palmtree38

                    Las Brisas goes all day, though they may be limited to the bar menu in between shifts. Taco Loco is a stand with some seating, so eating it quickly there or taking it and strolling along should be no problem. I don't know if the bars have a "Happy Hour," but every hour is happy hour on vacation in Laguna.

                    As for the Beachcomber, it is in Crystal Cove, a collection of shacks that made up a beach community right on the water. The residents were leasing the land, and when the lease came up a few years back, the State pulled the land back and refurbished the shacks, making them into rentals. Right there on the beach is the Sandpiper, literally across the bike path from the sand. The spot is lovely, and the shacks are cool to look at, but the food is just OK. If I were making the drive in and wanted a place to land that made me feel like I was on the ocean, I would go there. But if I had already wandered around Laguna, and was happy with the (small) main beach or the hotel's beach front, I might not worry too much about driving there.

                    1. re: ocshooter

                      From where you will be staying , at The Riviera Hotel, these are all a short stroll:
                      Taco Loco is a short walk, just halfway up the next block of PCH . You can get a beer with your tacos, and the food is authentic hand made local. Or you could get the food to go and cross the street, beach access right down the stairs.
                      In the same block, and right on the beach, is "The Beach House". I grew up in Laguna, and would sometimes ditch high school with my friends, and eat excellent crab louie salad here for lunch. What can I say, I was a teen aged foodie back in 1976
                      I haven't been in a while, but hear that it is still good, though of course way more $$$, but that's the OC these days.
                      Then , another $$ option just a bit into town on PCH is "The Cliff", which is in a little group of rustic touristy stalls on the corner of Legion and PCH.
                      Then , also walking distance , but south of you are a couple local favorites, for easy juice, sandwiches, and snacks type food " the Stand" on Thalia ( not great food, better for juices and vegan shakes), Goko Cafe ( pretty good sndwiches, and a variety of bottled tea + beverages) on PCH, and a bit farther, the Penguin Cafe, a tiny , funky diner for eggs,burgers etc.

                      That should give you an idea of the more casual side of Laguna. You are staying in a great location, and really, there is no reason to drive anywhere once you park your car, as long as you like strolling. When it comes to dinner options, others will chime in, plenty to chose from....

                      Enjoy

                      -----
                      Taco Loco
                      640 S Coast Hwy Ste 1, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      Cliff
                      577 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      Penguin Cafe
                      981 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      Stand Natural Food Restaurant
                      238 Thalia St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      Beach House
                      619 Sleepy Hollow Ln, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      Goko Cafe & Deli
                      907 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                      1. re: ciaolette

                        Ciaolette.. Thanks again.. I think your right.. After 10 hours of travelling I would like to just walk to shops and restaurants.. We will only have one full day and half day here so want to make the best of it. We will also be driving to the Sea Lion rescue as I dont believe we can walk this.

                        Crab Louie Salad sounds interesting.. do tell?? Is this anything like Conch salad ?

                        1. re: palmtree38

                          Coyote Grill is this also close to the Riviera hotel near Taco Loca.. What types of dishes are chowers?

                          Does it have a patio or more pick up and eat elsewhere?

                          House of big fish and cold beer is this all one restaurant name? lol cold beer will grab my hubby after a long travel.
                          We do love mexican and fish tacos and other seafoods. Not really interested in thai/indian/chinese/italian down in California as we have enough of that in Toronto :O)

                          -----
                          Coyote Grill
                          31621 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                          1. re: palmtree38

                            I also read that Coyote Grlll gets much better reviews on TA and Yelp then Taco Loca.. If this is south Laguna we may need a car but we could stop here on our way from San Diego going north to LAguna Beach?

                            We are here 3rd week of sept and they apparently have in the fall a meal 2 for $40 with lobsters beans etc.. not sure if it will be going on in september or not.

                            1. re: palmtree38

                              Coyote is a fair distance south from where you are, and a different type of place than Taco Loco. Taco Loco is more of a sand with some indoor and outdoor seating. I don't recall the full menu, but the specialize in fish tacos with a good variety of fish choices. Coyote is a sit down place with a full bar. The have a small patio in back with a peek-a-boo ocean view. I like going for breakfast for enchiladas and eggs and a Bloody Mary. I don't consider it the best Mexican nor the most inventive, but they are popular and do what they do well.

                              Another option is Javier's, though it gets a lot less love here in the new location than they used to get in Downtown Laguna. It is very popular with the beautiful people and cougars. I actually like the food and layout, tight across PCH from Crystal Cove. If you want to get a look at stereotypical OC, then this would be a good place to visit.

                              -----
                              Javier's Cantina & Grill
                              7832 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

                              1. re: ocshooter

                                ok maybe we will skip coyote and just go to taco loca get some pickup and take it to the beach.. In the evenin we could do the happy hour at Kya's or la brisas . We could do one saturday night and the other sunday night.

                                -----
                                Kya Restaurant and Bar
                                1289 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                                1. re: palmtree38

                                  I tried booking a Table at Kyas and it says it exceeds the dates ..

                                  Is the happy hour here 4:30-5:30 walk in first serve? Where is this happy hour being held ie up on the roof top or in their restaurant? as seems there are a few areas to this restaurant...

                                  We are going to pick up Taco loco for lunch and House of Big Fish and ice cold beer the other lunch.. light breakfast is provided at the hotel.. Kya's will do the trick for dinner (happy hour) and will just wing the last restaurant....

                                  -----
                                  Kya Restaurant and Bar
                                  1289 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                                  1. re: palmtree38

                                    K'ya tends not to be full for happy hour; I'd say you could probably just walk in. (You can't reserve a bar spot.)

                                    Even though light breakfast is provided at the hotel, I would suggest taking the 15-20 minute drive one day to Break of Dawn. It's not in Laguna Beach but Laguna Hills, but it is far and away the best breakfast in Orange County, and surprisingly cheap for what it is.

                                    -----
                                    Break of Dawn
                                    24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      Thanks for the input.. will see how our timing is as we will want to grab something quick the one morning as heading right up to Disney and spending the day there..

                                      I called kYA and turns out happy hour is only mon-friday as is house of fish..

                                      We have reservations at Big FISH ICE COLD BEER ONE DINNER.

                                      there has t obe other happy hours running on weekends somewhere in laguna that are good???

                                      1. re: palmtree38

                                        Yeah...Coyote Grill, every day until 7. $4 margaritas, lots of cheap apps in the bar or an $8.95 combo plate on the patio. Hang out with surfers and fun locals. Food is not killer, but is fine for the price and location.

                                        1. re: BubblyOne

                                          Is coytoe grill walkable from laguna riviera??? near taco loco??

                                          is there a item at Big Fish that is to die for??? menu does look good. this is our one saturday night and will just need one more dinner on Sunday to choose...???? Breakfast covered at hotel
                                          and Taco loco covered one lunch and will just need one more place for lunch.

                                          1. re: palmtree38

                                            "...and will need one more place for lunch."

                                            Back to Das U's suggestion above for Break of Dawn. If you are into food then don't miss it. If you aren't then closer places will do you fine.

                                            -----
                                            Break of Dawn
                                            24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              Break of Dawn menu does look superb do they offer this menu for lunch time? If so should we be making reservations in advance for Sunday lunch? There is no pictures on their website so how is the set up there any views?

                                              1. re: palmtree38

                                                No reservations. Go as early as you can or wait a bit. I promise you it's worth the wait. There's only one menu, and it's available all the hours they're open (I think they close at 3?).

                                                As for the setup, it's casual. No views; it's inland and next to a mall, but it is a hundred times better eating than any breakfast place with views. You can eat outside under the shade of trees, or inside at tables, but it's low-key, laid-back. Wear shorts and flip-flops if you want. It's about 25 minutes from Disneyland, if that's your plan that day (in which case you'll want shorts for sure).

                                            2. re: palmtree38

                                              Coyote Grill is around 3 miles from your hotel. As ocshooter said upthread a couple months ago, there is a free shuttle if you don't want to drive or take a cab.

                                              -----
                                              Coyote Grill
                                              31621 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                                              1. re: BubblyOne

                                                The shuttle will take us from our hotel to Coytoe grill???? IS there a link to this shuttle so we know where to pick it up??

                                                We are leaving 8am and want to be IN the park for 10am on the monday so we may just do this sunday noon for break of dawn..

                                                1. re: palmtree38

                                                  There are two services offered by Laguna Beach Transit: one is a year-round trolley and one is a summer trolley. The summer trolley is frankly more useful but it stops for the year on August 31.

                                                  Information can be found here: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityha...

                                                  For your Disney day, may I suggest stopping by Scandia Bakery before you leave? It's at 248 Forest Ave., just off Laguna Canyon Road (the main road inland to the freeways and the way you'll be going to Disneyland).

                                                    1. re: palmtree38

                                                      OK ME AGAIN'

                                                      Saturday lunch.. TAco Loco
                                                      Saturday dinner . Big Fish ICE COLD BEER
                                                      sunday . lUNCH break of dawn DINNER COYOTE GRILL

                                                      ?????????????????? NOW OF THE DINNERS WOULD DINNER COYOTE ON SATURDAY OR SUNDAY BE PREFFERED FOR MORE PEOPLE WATCHING BETTER SERVICE OR HAPPY HOURS ORRRRRRRRRRRR BIG FISH SUNDAY INSTEAD...

                                                      1. re: palmtree38

                                                        I don't think either does happy hour on weekends. Flip a coin...

                                                        1. re: palmtree38

                                                          Actually, Coyote's happy hour is on the weekends as well-their website has not been updated. If you look on Yelp, you will see it is 7 days a week (plus, I was just there on a Saturday and HH prices were in effect).
                                                          You probably don't want Mexican twice in one day, so your original plan above makes sense.

                                                          1. re: BubblyOne

                                                            perfect!~~ thanks for everyones help . I hope I made good choices on these restaurant pics..
                                                            Big fish happy hour looks fantastic but only weekdays.. grrr..

                                                            1. re: palmtree38

                                                              Less then a week for our holiday..

                                                              Decided on Taco Loco for lunch pickup . Dinner at House of big fish and ice cold beer and Coyotes.. (both we made ressies) and will play by ear the one day for lunch as we may get to break of dawn or it could be picnic pick up on the beach.

                                                              SAturday night spouse and I might get a chance to kick our feet up.. late 30's early 40 year old is there a good place to recommend? (not for food or into barbie and ken high maintenance people (looking more for. relaxed fun down to earth crowds.)

                                                              1. re: palmtree38

                                                                The Sandpiper in Laguna is a fun dive bar with live Rock most weekends. You definitely will not get the Ken&Barbie crowd there. You can also try the Marine Room (I've been, not for Ken&Barbie) and Hennessy's (I have not been), which are across the street from each other in Downtown Laguna. The later are good because you can park downtown then walk to either of them. I prefer the Sandpiper, but you may have to drive. There is also Mozambique, which has a variety of music. I know they do Reggae some nights.

                                                                -----
                                                                Mozambique Restaurant
                                                                1740 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                                                                Marine Room Tavern
                                                                214 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                                                                1. re: ocshooter

                                                                  Thanks Oschoter. We are at the laguna riviera and were hoping to walk so are these places close? I have heard of mozqmbuque on a post,, even a pub crawl near our hotel would be fun. If not could take a cab

                                                                  1. re: palmtree38

                                                                    Sandpiper is about 5 blocks south of you, Mozambique another 5 blocks beyond that. The others are in the heart of Laguna, which is about 8 blocks north. I would see what type of music is playing at Mozambique. If you are not into the genre, I would skip it. The times I have been to the Sandpiper, the band has been doing mainly 70's/80's to current covers of rock hits, so it is a mixed bag, but a good time with no real attitude. I think they have a Myspace page, but I can't get there from my work computer. Google is your friend, check it out.