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Jul 8, 2011 06:24 PM

Laguna Beach recommendation

We will be going to Laguna Beach later this month. Please offer recommendations either in town or in the surrounding area, since we willl have a car.
Looking for the following:
- Casual, but great
- Local cuisine
- Cannot miss places
- Great fish/seafood

Restaurants can be for lunch or dinner and can be reasonable to upscale. Just good fresh food.



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  1. Casual, but really good:
    Tabu Grill - upscale but delicious with a lot of local fresh ingredients. In South Laguna.
    Alessa - great fresh Italian. Downtown.
    Laguna Thai by the Sea - Freshest Thai you've ever eaten. Hole in the wall in South Laguna.
    Javier's - Fancy Mexican. Expensive, but good view. It's actually in Newport Coast, but the organic margaritas are very good.
    O - Terrific sushi. In South Laguna, in the Albertson's shopping center.

    Local favorites:
    La Sirena - organic, health-conscious tacos and burritos. Downtown and in South Laguna.
    Avila's - Fun, sit-down Mexican, margaritas on the patio, good fish tacos. They've also recently started serving breakfast for the surfers.
    Z Pizza - Good, basic thin-crust pizza, with vegan options. In South Laguna.
    Cafe Zinc - Delicious coffee, lunches and breakfasts on an outdoor patio. Downtown.
    Taco Loco - Hippie tacos on PCH. Good lobster tacos. Downtown.

    Bar at French 75 - Big champagne menu, live music. On PCH just south of Downtown.
    Rooftop Bar upstairs from K'ya at PCH and Cress - Really nice view. Food's only okay, though.
    Marine Room - Live music and bikers on Sunday afternoons. Also the bars across the street have music. Fun on a weekend night.
    Splashes - Oceanfront bar on the sand at the Surf & Sand hotel (PCH and Bluebird)
    Las Brisas - Margaritas. Mostly tourists, but the view is lovely. Downtown next to the art museum.

    Super fancy:
    Studio at the Montage Resort - Five-star dining. Ask for the Sunset Room. It's a hotel, though.

    Also, a new sushi restaurant just opened on PCH just south of Downtown, and a

    La Sirena Restaurant
    4226 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023

    Sunset Room
    2029 S Hacienda Blvd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: msmag

      Tabu is one of my favorite spots in OC.

      It looks like one other person is willing to go out on a limb and recommend Javier's. The Newport Coast location I recommend for the scene, if you don't mind the crowds and want to mingle with folks that could easily be cast on the Real Housewives. Still, I do like the top shelf Margaritas and I enjoy the carne asada tacos. I think the rest of the menu is overpriced.

      Bluefin is in the same shipping center and has excellent sushi.

      Break of Dawn is definitely worth the drive out of the canyon for breakfast or lunch.

      The Sandpiper is a great dive bar for drinks and rock and roll.

      7952 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92660

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

      1183 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

      1. re: msmag

        Just wanted to add that yesterday we stopped by Cafe Zinc to get coffee and a bite for the road. My friend said that it had changed not too long ago to using Intelligentsia coffee, so I ordered a capp. Very soft silky foam, nice job with that.

        I got a Morning Bun. And it was unlike any morning bun I've every had before. Crispy exterior shell melting to a tender eggy middle, essentially a popover dusted in cinnamon-sugar. Surprising and good . . . other than the sugar all over my black pants and the car upholstery.

        1. re: msmag

          Went to Alessa yesterday, 2 hours for 3 courses. The charcuterie was average, we had a nice pasta dish with the tastiest sausage (sorry Sabatino's) and they overcooked the rib eye. No beer on draft which is odd in this day and age.

        2. Cafe Zulu for fantastic fresh fish. Casual but great, although its been a few years. The high end room at the Montage is very good. Sit outside.

          1. 230 Forest Avenue, Watermarc, Clae's at the Hotel Laguna, Dizz's As Is, Sorrento Grille and Cafe Zoolu.

            The Beach House for breakfast, Studio at the Montage for a great French meal.

            I'd skip Javier's. It was nice when it was in Laguna Beach, now it is a "scene" restaurant and loud.

            Cafe Zoolu
            860 Glenneyre St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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

            Dizz's As Is
            2794 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

            Sorrento Grille
            370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

            448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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

            1 Reply
            1. re: scottca075

              fyi - I just read that Sorrento Grille is closing at the end of August.

              Sorrento Grille
              370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

            2. I really like Watermarc. Ask to sit upstairs if possible. We love to just order a bunch of the best-sounding dishes off the small plates portion of the menu and share !

              We've had nice meals at Clae's too -and the view is just great !

              Also enjoy Brussels Bistro, for some great Belgian ales, moules frites (or, just the frites !)

              Brussels Bistro
              222 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

              448 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

              1. I'd say stop by Chocolate Soldier for some amazing almond toffee. It's a mom and pop chocolate shop - think Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co. but actually worthwhile. The truffles aren't to my taste. The things I think are amazing are the almond toffee and the honeycomb. Turtles are good too, but you can get those anywhere.

                Next to Chocolate Soldier is Sapphire, a high end restaurant with an attached grocery called Sapphire Pantry. The grocery has a very good cheese cave. If you're looking for food to-go (for say a picnic at one of the many great picnic sites in town), this would be a good, if pricy option. Think Spanish charcuterie, good breads, cold cuts, salads.

                Also +1 for me on Break of Dawn for a breakfast or lunch. Huge fan of Chef Dee's food.

                Also for something different, consider Eva's Carribbean. Chef Eva cooks with spices from across the Caribbean nations - Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago. If you like big flavors and spice, it's a good way to go.

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

                Sapphire Pantry
                1200 S Coast Hwy Ste 101, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                2 Replies
                1. re: Professor Salt

                  Ooh yes - Eva's ! It's been quite some time since I'd been so I'd almost forgotten about Eva's, which is really a shame because it's truly a unique and wonderful little restaurant. Happy to hear that it's still good and going strong !

                  1. re: Professor Salt

                    Break of Dawn is great, it just isn't Laguna Beach, it is darn near El Toro.

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