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Nice place for lunch date in Dana Point or Laguna?

Hi. I have lunch date tomorrow in Dana Point. Turns out the really nice place we wanted to go is not open for lunch--awwww. I'd like to go somewhere special, not just meh, but it has to be open for lunch. Any ideas? The Raya might be just a bit out of my price range.

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  1. If the weather is nice (and it should be) and you want a wonderful setting with good albeit light and casual food, consider eating at the outside deck restaurant which adjoins the spa at the Montage. Do check that it's open...I usually go there in the spring or summer, and it's terrific.

    Much less fancy, but with always good food, drinks and service (think burgers, sandwiches and such) is Nick's in Laguna Beach. I'd sit outside if the weather is nice.

    1. I like Zinc's Cafe in Dana Point. It's a pleasant lunch spot that does a spectacular grilled cheese among other things. Casual, beautiful, and serving carefully crafted, healthy food (something I personally like for a date).

      I think it's vegetarian though (I'm not, but still like the place a lot).

      1 Reply
      1. re: BacoMan

        The original Zinc Cafe is in Laguna. I would put it a somewhat distant 3rd to my previous posted recommendations.

      2. Hi FrenchRoast -

        You might try the WIND 'N SEA at the far edge of Golden Lantern, at the Harbour entrance.

        Good seafood, reasonable pricing, and you dine right on the water.

          1. re: stevenr

            Great food, drinks and service. Ambiance...not so much. I love the place.

            1. re: stevenr

              I will respectfully disagree about Harbor Grill, lately.

              It definitely used to be on my list of go-to places.
              The last couple of times have been a big disappointment. I'm not sure what's happened but the food just doesn't taste the same anymore.

              1. re: latindancer

                Thanks for the update re the Harbor Grill. We have not been in 6-8 months, but previous liked it quite well. Have they had a change in ownership/chef?

                1. re: josephnl

                  I really am not sure.

                  We have loved Harbor Grill, and have been going, for many many years…20?

                  Regardless, we went probably 4 months ago and both remarked how different the food tasted, just not as good as we both agreed.
                  We tried it again after a few nights and came to the same conclusion. I remember a time when reservations weren't easy to get on a weekend and now it seems a little tired.
                  We'll try it again when we're in the area because I have very fond memories and want it to be the same as I remembered :). It's always been such a great place and where it's situated is wonderful.
                  It'd be interesting to hear what you have to say if/when you're there again.

                  1. re: latindancer

                    No real horse I. The race, but I work in the Harbor and haven't heard any negatives about Harbor Grill at all.

            2. Thanks for the recs, everyone! We ended up going to Nick's in Laguna, which was delicious. Good cocktails (how nice to see a proper Pimm's cup on the menu!) and wonderful grilled salmon, blackened fish sandwich, and fried asparagus.