After a long day at the beach, and perhaps nursing a sunburn, there is no better restaurant to walk into wearing damp shorts and sandals than Tommy Bahama’s. As soon as your server approaches, order a Rum Babalu without giving it a thought. After a few sips, you’ll understand why you did. As you begin to relax, your mind wonders about the delightful aromas drifting in from the kitchen. The Jerk-Pork Tenderloin with mango salsa and shitake mushrooms is a culinary delight. If you’re feeling more informal, there is always their famous shrimp BLT, with Nueske bacon, Romas, avocados and a lemon-basil Aröii. Whatever you choose, once you slip into one of their comfortable chairs, you won’t want to leave.
Tommy Bahamas The Heisler Bldg., 400 S. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, USA, +1 (866) 986-8282
Driftwood Kitchen offers an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, and an ambience best represented by its signature dish, savory lamb. You will imagine you have been transported to a small French restaurant, with sheep grazing blissfully in open pastures leading down to the sea. Out on the deck, the tables are spaced just right to enjoy open conversation with your fellow diners. If you just feel like dropping in for an afternoon drink, the Driftwood Kitchen is the spot. With a full bar and friendly service, it’s a must when visiting Laguna Beach.
Driftwood Kitchen, 619 Sleepy Hollow Ln., Laguna Beach, CA, USA, (949) 715-7700
Las Brisas is just north of Main Beach as you make your way toward Newport Beach on Pacific Coast Highway. No town in California is without a Mexican restaurant, and Las Brisas is one of Laguna Beach’s finest. Though a suit and tie are not required, the menu certainly is worthy of the white-tie treatment.
Las Brisas, 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA, USA, +1 949-497-5434
The best of Italy is present at charming Romeo Cucina, whose Italian kitchen sets the tone of the restaurant. The waiters are often Italian, adding to the ambiance. Despite serving pizza, this restaurant is where you want to be if you like great food and reasonable prices. The complementary bread and tapenade is a favorite. Try the Rigatoni Giulietta and you’ll fool your taste buds into believing you’re on the Amalfi Coast.
Romeo Cucina, 249 Broadway, Laguna Beach, CA , USA, +1 949-497-6627
Grass-fed beef and organic foods are at the heart of the cuisine at Maro Wood Grill. Aside from the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, a feel of Argentina is in the air. Though they do wood-grill pizzas to perfection, their steaks are on a par with some of South America’s best beef houses. Even the baseball and skirt steaks are excellent. Reasonably priced, Maro is fast becoming a local favorite both for every day and special occasions.
For 37 years, Dizz’s has been a place to go for local and visitors alike. Featured many times in national magazines, this restaurant holds a special place among Laguna Beach’s finest restaurants. Finest, however, is re-defined by Dizz’s. The floral wall paper, lace curtains, shag carpeting, one-page plastic menus and mismatched dinnerware are at odds with the unrivaled service and food Dizz’s offers. Don’t be surprised by the complementary homemade pâte de maison with toast and a shot of vermouth. That’s just to get you started. Unrivaled among the entrées is their duck l’orange and Cornish game hen.
Dizz’s, 2794 So. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA, USA, +1 949-494-5250
Nick’s Laguna Beach is a local favorite, bubbling over with activity from lunch to dinner. Premier on their menu is the Scottish salmon, served with capers, mustard, butter and accompanying sides. To satisfy more down-home tastes, there’s the Buttermilk Fried Chicken or the Cowboy Hickory Burger. If you want a bit of taste bud luxury that you can grasp with your fists, try Nick’s Rib Eye Melt.
Nick’s Laguna Beach, 440 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA, USA, +1 949-376-8595
Come into The White House if you want to breathe rarified air. It is one of Orange County’s oldest restaurants. While sipping a martini, think about who may have sat at one of the tables back in the twenties and thirties when Laguna Beach wasn’t even known outside the area. Across the street is the Hotel Laguna, and in those days, these two institutions were the only places around for Hollywood stars to relax. The eggs à la Reynolds is a favorite on the menu. With a cut of filet mignon served on an English muffin, poached egg and hollandaise-mushroom bordelaise, few dishes are as delightfully delicious. On the lighter side, there are the Asian nachos or sun-dried tomatoes accented with lime juice. With a name honoring a local artist, the must-try Wyland omelet, served with bacon, mushrooms, avocados, cheddar cheese and homemade salsa, is unforgettable.
The White House, 340 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, USA, +1 949-494-8088