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Need Laguna Nigel recommendations for a group of 10!

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Having a work meeting at the Ritz in Lagua Nigel for a couple of days and want to eat away from the hotel. Price is not the first consideration....Looking for great food and a fun, not stuffy atmosphere. The boss is paying, so good food is the priority!!!

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  1. My first recommendation would be to get out of Laguna Niguel. Take Crown Valley toward the Ocean then hang a right and head to Laguna Beach. There are lots of places to eat there. A search of the boards for Laguna Beach will turn up several lists of recommendations.

    My top pick for food is Tabu.
    I think the Rooftop Bar in the same hotel as K'Ya has the best view, and then the food at K'Ya is well regarded.
    I think 230 Forest is excellent. Watermarc is in the same family but I do not care for it as much.
    Head past Luna and continue up the coast to Mastro's Ocean Club for high end seafood and steaks or Bluefin for excellent sushi.

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    Bluefin
    7952 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92660

    230 Forest Avenue Restaurant
    230 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    Mastro's Ocean Club
    8112 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

    Watermarc
    448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    Tabu Grill
    2892 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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

    1. Definitely agree with ocshooters recs, but still would make a few comments. Although all of his recs are good, I'm thinking that if you are going to be a group of 10, and wanting great food, and having some fun...it's likely that you'll enjoy an ambiance where if you get a bit loud, you'll not offend others, nor will feel uncomfortable. Tabu and Bluefin are definitely among my favorites for food, but both are somewhat smallish, and if a group of 10 gets loud, it might be uncomfortable. My clear recommendation, if cost is not a major objection, would be Mastro's Ocean Club where they make outstanding cocktails and have great steaks and seafood. The food is terrific there. The restaurant is quite large and generally pretty noisy, so a group of 10 having some drinks, having fun, and getting a bit loud will not be at all out of place there. Their dining room is very nice, but for your group, the outdoor heated patio might even be nicer. The food is great there...my only hesitation about going there myself is that it's sometimes noisy...but it doesn't sound like that would be a problem for your big group.

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      Mastro's Ocean Club
      8112 E Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657

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

      1. josephini and ocshooter,
        Thanks for your recommendations. Mastro's looks perfect....except for the 20 minute drive after an evening of great cocktails!

        Sapphire and Salt Creek Grille look much closer. I think I know the answer on Salt Creek Grille, but what are your thoughts on those two?

        Is 230 Forest better than Sapphire?

        Thanks.

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

        2 Replies
        1. re: pnutbuddah

          I prefer Sapphire. If you're thinking about 230 Forest, consider their sister restaurant Watermarc which is around the corner, and I think is better and more interesting.

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          Watermarc
          448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

          1. re: josephnl

            I have the opposite opinions of the two. I have only been to Watermarc once, but it was half empty and still one of the loudest restaurants I have been to in OC. I reviewed it at the time on another site and my summary was that it was good, but nothing came close to great. And at $170 for 2 with a bottle of wine, it should be better than that. I don't think 230 Forest is better, but it is just as good, and less expensive.

            So it was loud, expensive, and not great.

            I don't think Salt Creek is in the same class.

            Again, let me plug Bluefin. Went there tonight, and it was excellent. Really good variety of non-standard shushi. They also have some cooked items for non-sushi eaters and if you can get he reservation, I am pretty sure they can seat 10. Plus, unlike other high end sushi bars, they have a full bar.

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            Watermarc
            448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

            Bluefin
            2917 W Pendleton Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92704

        2. You'll be all of 3 and half miles from one of the best restaurants in all of Orange County, the Studio at the Montage Resort. They have a "Chef's Table" that sits up to 12, which might be a great solution for your party.

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          Studio
          30801 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

          Restaurant 162' at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
          One Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629

          1 Reply
          1. re: Servorg

            I have been repeatedly underwhelmed by Studio. Although the setting is wonderful, as it the service, I have on 3 or 4 occasions been served very mediocre food as have been my guests. I have so much wanted this place to be special because of its incredible setting, but it has always disappointed me in the food department and this is especially an issue because it is very expensive. Stonehill Tavern nearby, although not nearly as wonderful a setting, has, imho much superior food . I definitely would not recommend spending the money for Studio...you will be disappointed.

            I still think for a party of 10 wanting fun, great drinks and really terrific albeit basic steak and fish food, I would drive the 20 minutes to Mastro's Ocean Club in the same Crystal Cove center as Bluefin. The steaks, sides, and drinks at Mastro's are outstanding. I love the sushi and all of the food at Bluefin, but still think for a party of 10 in this small restaurant, it might not be the best spot if you will want to feel comfortable having a drink or two, and getting a bit loud as a group of 10 is likely to do, Mastro's would definitely be more appropriate.

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

          2. josephini,
            thanks for your precise comments. this group will definitely loosen up after a couple of drinks, so I've made a res at mastro's and bluefin....just in case the boss decides he wants sushi. looking forward to either.