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Aug 6, 2012 12:20 PM

Pre-Pageant dinner -- Laguna Beach -- dietary restrictions

My mom and step-dad are coming to visit me in LA this week and (gulp) and meeting my boyfriend for the first time. The four of us are going down to Laguna for the Pageant (My mom and I have been to the Pageant a few times before--this will be the first time for both my step-dad and my boyfriend.) We need a good restaurant in Laguna Beach for a pre-Pageant dinner.

Dietary Restrictions: My mom is gluten-sensitive, my step-dad is gluten and dairy sensitive, therefore we need a restaurant that can easily leave out those ingredients. Neither parent is technically allergic so we don't need a strictly gluten- or dairy-free environment (in other words, we don't need a raw vegan restaurant! :)

A place that has good animal protein/produce choices would be terrific and will please all of us.

Due to dietary restrictions listed above combined with cuisine preferences:
NO--> Sushi, Asian, Mexican, pizza/pasta or sandwich focused menus, no divey places, no 5 star super

Good solid food in a nice environment would be terrific. Farm-to-table would be a plus.

MUST be open on a SUNDAY as we are going on SUN AUG 12

MUST be -IN- Laguna Beach, we're going to park the car once and walk around, take trolley (please, no suggestions in "nearby" cities)


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  1. If you like sea food, Cafe Zoolu is outstanding.

    1. Nirvana Grille is just down the street from the Pageant, and I know they have a gluten-free menu. They try to be responsible about sourcing their ingredients. If you call them for a reservation, you may want to ask about dairy-free menu items that you think may work for your step-dad. My daughter is allergic to dairy and she was able to eat their roast chicken (no sauce) without any problems. I think we had to ask for no-dairy in the prep for the accompanying vegetables.

      1 Reply
      1. re: empfam

        I'm a fan of the Nirvana Grill located in Mission Viejo. Same owners, same exec. chef. Enough variety in the menu to probably please everyone. I agree w/empfam, a call to inquire about dairy/gluten-lite options may be wise. Too bad, to. You'll probably have to skip the goat cheese vanilla ice cream w/pineapple. My fave dessert of theirs. Attentive service and a cozy 'special night out' ambiance.

      2. The Lumberyard was very accommodating to my special requests. They have covered parking and for $10 you can leave your car there for the Pageant. Walk is only 2-3 blocks.

        2 Replies
        1. re: janetms383

          Second the Lumberyard recommendation. Very solid food and a good wine list.

          1. re: janetms383

            That seems like a really good solution and they do what looks from their website like a nice Sunday brunch.

          2. I have always enjoyed Sundried Tomato Cafe. While they have a lot of Italian, they do have fish and meat dishes which I enjoy. They are at the end of the town closer to the Pagent, so walking between the two is a bit easier. I rarely have problem getting a table there, whereas the rest of Laguna can be a bit busier.

            1. Anyone have any experience with Brussels Bistro? Been there once pre-Pageant about 4 years ago. Menu looks appealing.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sablouwho

                The food is good there, but I'm not sure how they can handle dairy/gluten issues. My friends really like the mussels and frites.

                1. re: sablouwho

                  I like Brussels Bistro if you stick to the basics like mussels, fries and burgers. I strayed once and had a lobster lasagna that was horrid.

                  1. re: JAB

                    Good to know. My mom and I looked at the menu online together and she thought that the steak-y items sounded good and she thinks my step-dad would do fine with something like that.

                    Note to self: don't stray too far into left field on menu!