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Lunch ideas after arriving at OC's John Wayne airport from Ohio

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Arriving at John Wayne airport just before noon later this month from Ohio & after picking up the rental car we want a culinary destination for lunch. We are a family of four with two teenagers. After a long flight, we want something unique & memorable for OC...preferably a place with good seafood & good coastal views. I understand it is the CA spiny lobster season as well as the dungeness crab season. Last spring, the CH'ers recommended Point Loma Seafoods after we arrived in San Diego - I'm looking for something similar to that. Keeping up with all the posts on this forum is overwhelming. I read where someone mentioned Pacific Fish Center at the Redondo Beach Pier - would that be something similar to Point Loma??? What about the Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove State Park although I understand there is a parking fee? Thanks - you CH'ers are great!

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Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant
131 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

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  1. Coyote Grill- Laguna Beach. Mostly locals, laid back, OC w/o glitz.
    http://coyotegrill.tv/

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    Coyote Grill
    31621 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    1. Beachcomber is right on the sand and is memorable for the view and the experience. Food is just ok - a fancified diner menu, and not a whole lot of seafood IIRC. It's on state park land, but I don't think the parking fees are enforced during the winter (don't quote me on that). Parking is on the inland side of Coast Highway, and you can either walk down (1/2 mile) or wait for the restaurant's shuttle from the lot.

      For seafood and the ocean view, perhaps House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer in Laguna:
      http://www.houseofbigfish.com

      We don't have very many places like Point Loma which are part restaurant / part fish store AND right on the water. If you can live without the waterfront part, perhaps the Bear Flag Fish Company (Newport Beach) or Catalina Fish Kitchen (Costa Mesa). Both are very casual restaurants, and not too expensive.

      If you can live without the fish market component, then The Cannery in Newport Beach, which is still on the water. Bluewater Grill would be ok in this regard too. Both on the pricier side, but not nosebleed expensive. Nosebleed expensive would be Mastro's Ocean Club in Crystal Cove. Bring your black AMEX and your rental Ferrari.

      Yes, you are correct to think of Pacific Fish Center (and Quality Seafood) in Redondo Beach as closer to Point Loma in spirit, but Redondo is nowhere near John Wayne airport.

      Just so you know: even though LA and Orange County are on the coast, almost none of our restaurants serve truly local seafood. We don't have a strong fishing & seafood culture compared to San Diego or Santa Barbara.

      Also, Dungeness crabs aren't caught commercially south of Santa Barbara, so you might be eating crabs from Washington or Canada for all you know. Spiny lobster season runs through March, however, very few OC restaurants serve it because of the cost: $25 / pound vs. $9 for Maine lobsters. Also - there's currently a Fish & Wildlife Dept warning against eating the tomalley from Central CA spinies, although tails are ok.

      http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/news10/201...

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      Quality Seafood
      130 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA

      Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant
      131 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

      Catalina Fish Kitchen
      670 W 17th St Ste G8, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

      1 Reply
      1. re: Professor Salt

        BubblyOne, Professor Salt & Laliz:
        Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts & recommendations. I am actually intrigued by the menu at House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer in Laguna as our first stop after arriving at John Wayne airport. Considering the time zone change from Ohio to CA, it will be a combination of CA lunch time/ early OH dinner time. We don't want anything nosebleed expensive either and will consider Coyote Grill & Las Brisas also. It is disappointing to hear about the spiny lobster advisory & the prices...we are former Boston transplants and I can remember buying Maine lobsters for $3.99/lb at the local grocery stores when we lived in Boston.

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        Coyote Grill
        31621 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651