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Places to eat in Dana Point

  • c

My husband has a conference at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel and I was looking for some places for us to eat and if anyone has any recommendations on must do things in that area I would appreciate it. We like most foods but I don't care for seafood (crazy coming from someone in Boston, I know!). We don't want to go crazy moneywise every night so a range of options would be nice. Thanks so much!

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  1. If you have transportation, I would head north to Laguna Beach. Suggestions there would be Splash at the Surf and Sand, 230 Forest downtown Laguna. Both places have web sites.

    1. Stonehill Tavern is a lovely place for a nice dinner...great food, service and wines...It's at the St. Regis in Dana Point...

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      Stonehill Tavern
      St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629

      1 Reply
      1. re: CynGriff

        +1 for Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern. It's expensive, but the OP asked for "a range of options." ST is one of the most enjoyable restaurants in Southern California -- great food, excellent service -- and well worth the money. I highly recommend the tasting menu with wine pairing, if you're so inclined, especially if juicy, rosy duck is the final savory course and the heady root-beer float with sassafras ice cream, root-beer sorbet, and warm chocolate-chip cookies is one of the desserts. (They've always allowed me to choose whatever dessert I want -- it doesn't have to be on the prix fixe.)

        Studio at Montage in Laguna Beach (3 or 4 miles up the PCH) would be another sterling choice. I haven't been there since Craig Strong earned a Michelin star at the Ritz (now the Langham) in Pasadena and moved on to Studio, but his menu in Pasadenaville was fabulous, and Studio has received excellent reviews under his leadership.

        I notice the OP's favorite meal was at Rosemary's in Las Vegas. That's a great place and less expensive than either of my recommendations, but both Mina and Strong produce dishes that are more delicate and refined.

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        Stonehill Tavern
        St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629

        Studio
        30801 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

      2. I don't know about you, but I would consider Stonehill pretty expensive, though I think they have a reasonable prix fixe menu. There are lots of recent discussions on Laguna Beach, so I would look there for options.

        Gen Kai in Dana Point is good Japanese, but going there and skipping out on the sushi would miss the point.

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        Gen Kai Japanese Restaurant
        34143 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629

        3 Replies
        1. re: ocshooter

          Love all the responses! Keep them coming!! We will definitely go with Stonehill Tavern (expensive yes but we won't eat there every night!!) and I'm going to check out the others. Trying to familiarize myself with all the CA lingo/abbreviations!

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          Stonehill Tavern
          St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629

          1. re: ocshooter

            They have a more affordable happy hour menu: 17:00-19:00 everyday, bar only, no reservations, 50% off shared menu & drinks.

            1. re: OCAnn

              that is unbelievable! thanks for sharing!

          2. Some of the most interesting and delicious breakfast and brunch / lunch food available in all of the greater Los Angeles and O.C. area can be found just up the 5 Freeway from Dana Point at Break of Dawn (whose owner / chef came from the kitchens of the Ritz Carlton there in LN).

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

            1. You would enjoy Mezzaluna. It's a casual place with outdoor seating within walking distance to your hotel, right on the corner of PCH. It's great for breakfast and lunch (good paninis and salads) - I've never been for dinner, but based on my other meals, I'm sure it's tasty.
              http://www.mycafemezzaluna.com/

              4 Replies
              1. re: BubblyOne

                Looks perfect for a nice casual outdoor dining experience - thank you so much! I now have Stonehill Tavern, 230 Forest, Mezzaluna and Break of Dawn for breakfast on my list! I'm going to do a separate post for this but while I have your attention :)) does anyone have any recommendations for lunch and dinner on the way from Santa Barbara to Dana Point? Thanks again!

                1. re: cbcb

                  What day of the week will you be going from SB to DP? It may make a difference if it's a weekend vs weekday.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Tuesday...also, how long would it take if we drove straight through? Not that we are planning that but just wondering how far it is??

                    1. re: cbcb

                      Well it's about 90 minutes to LA and then another 60 or so to DP when the traffic is free flowing at normal highway speeds.

                      For lunch along the coast (if you cut off in Oxnard and take the PCH via Malibu on down to Santa Monica) there are some interesting places for lunch such as Neptune's Net and Malibu Fish & Seafood or Dukes in Malibu.

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                      Duke's Malibu
                      21150 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

                      Malibu Fish & Seafood
                      25653 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

                      Neptune's Net Seafood
                      42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

                1. In Dana Point, if you just want a normal breakfast, there's Harbor House Cafe. If you want something fancier for breakfast (and you've already been to Break of Dawn, which should take precedence) you might head inland slightly to Ramos House Cafe.

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                  Ramos House Cafe
                  31752 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

                  Harbor House Cafe
                  34157 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629

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

                  1. Richard Nixon's favorite Mexican restaurant when he was at the Western White House was Olamendi's. If you can stand it, his picture adorns the walls.
                    Right on Pacific Coast Highway with a view of the ocean across the street. Family run place with good inexpensive Mexican cuisine.

                    http://originalolamendis.com/

                    Olamendi's Mexican Cuisine
                    34664 Pacific Coast Highway
                    Dana Point, CA 92624
                    Tel. 949-661-1005

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                    Olamendi's
                    34660 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92624

                    1. StoneHill did nothing for me. It was hotel food at extremely high prices. Also the hotel is set far back from the beach so the view is not that spectacular.

                      I would recommend the Montage. Take a walk along the trail in front of the hotel for breathtaking views of the coast line. Go for drinks at the bar for sunset then have some dinner. Afterwars take an after dinner drink and sit in front of the fire pit enjoying the evening.

                      Another great destination is Crystal Cove. There is a great walking path/bike trail. The BeachComer is right on the sand and they validate parking. The food is pretty expsensive for what you get so I would recommend breakfast. If you want something sweet, stop off at the Ruby's Shake Shack at Crystal Cove (not the one across the Montage). They have a date shake that is unusual.

                      Across the street from Crystal Cove is a shopping center with a Trader's Joes if you want to pick up some picnic items. Javier's in the mall is upscale Mexican food. Thursday-Saturday nights are fun to watch the cougars on the prowl. Also Mastro's in the mall has great live music on Friday and Saturday in the bar. Also a fun place to people watch in the bar but very expensive dinner. Good for a martini and the their bread basket.

                      The Rooftop Bar in Laguna Beach is a top floor deck of the hotel La Casa del Camino. Once again, great views but ok food. I would go for lunch or brunch.

                      On restaurant.com has a certificate for the Terrrace Cafe at Hotel Laguna. I would only recommend the Cafe since it is outside right on the beach. If you get the cert, this would a good place for lunch. Type in promo code FUN for a $25 gift cert for $2.

                      Enjoy!

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                      Ruby's Shake Shack
                      7703 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

                      Mastros Restaurant
                      2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: janeyoc

                        The food at top resorts and hotels began changing for the better in this country at least 30 years ago; nowadays, some of our best restaurants are downstairs from where tourists and businessmen slumber. So the time is long past when "hotel food" was a pejorative, but you seem to be saying that, to you, Stonehill Tavern serves old-style hotel food -- i.e., uncreative or ill-conceived dishes with dull, usually heavy, sauces, overcooked fish, vegetables, and pasta, a poor wine selection, and "Hi, I'm Brad" service at best. Is this what you meant? I've never heard anyone say that about Mina's restaurants, whether or not they liked the food. What dishes at Stonehill Tavern left you so cold? Have you been there more than once? Etc.

                        EDIT: I just checked their current "farmer's market" menu (you'll find it starting from here: http://www.michaelmina.net/restaurant... ), and it looks like Anti-Hotel Food, in your sense. Though expensive at $75 for five courses, it's priced below (far below in some cases) other tasting menus I've had in the last year in Los Angeles and environs. I'll bet the food is fabulous and encourage you to give them another chance.

                      2. Also Break of Dawn is really far away from the Ritz. Great place but not worth the drive and hassle of getting there.

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

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: janeyoc

                          20 minutes drive time on the Freeway during non rush hour for a SoCal Chowhound in order to eat great food is equatable to crossing the street and walking a couple of city blocks for a repast of noted excellence for any self respecting Boston CH.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            And while I'm at it, there is a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner in San Juan Capistrano if you like family fare, big portions and very fair prices in a friendly and extremely casual atmosphere. Mollies Famous Cafe.

                            Not creative in the same cutting edge way that Break of Dawn is. But excellent American comfort food. (and it's only a 10 minute drive from the Ritz)

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                            Mollies Famous Cafe
                            32033 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

                          2. re: janeyoc

                            It's twenty minutes away! You can't even go get a bloody bagel in South OC without ten minutes' drive.

                            Javier's, incidentally, is El Torito food with ambiance and a room full of MILFs.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              RE: Break of Dawn If you are familiar with OC, it might take you 20 minutes to from DP to ET. Remember Crown Valley is a long ways and many street lights to the freeway and getting off El Toror onto 5 from the 5 is always crowded. If you not a local, finding the smaller restaurant in a mini mall located in area with tons of malls maybe not as easy as you think.

                              RE: Stonehill. I have only eaten once and the thing that was the most memorable item was the amuse bouche. Also the "hotel food" comment was for all the hotels now a days that have a "famous chef" name restaurant in the hotel but just the menu to back the cooking. I am not saying the food was not good but not very imaginative for the price of the dinner.

                              For Javiers, I commented that it is "upscale" which it is compared to an Albertos or Robertos. I always go for the crab and shrimp enchiladas which are pretty good and do not compare to the ET. My recommendation is that it is a good place to watch an episode akin to the "Housewifes of OC" which would be fun to do with a pitcher of margaritas.

                              Please note my recommendations are mostly to do with atmosphere re: view and people watching. I noted when the food was just ok re: the price. Sorry if I have offended.

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

                              1. re: janeyoc

                                Hey, you didn't offend me, and I've lived in this area for 40 years. It's refreshing to have someone other than the few regular posters who think they have "the answer", when there isn't one. Your recs were solid, IMHO.
                                I hope the less than welcoming replies don't put you off from offering your opinion. It's just as valid an anyone's.