Credit: Ed Visions

13 Places for a Beer and a Bite After Surfing in Orange County

From the Tides to the Tap: Catch a Break at Our Favorite Beachside Hangouts

Surf. Sunshine. Suds. That’s what we call the perfect day. After an endorphin-inducing sesh in the ocean, we know there’s only one thing that really satisfies, and that’s an ice-cold beer. Continue riding that surfer’s high all the way to one of Orange County’s beachfront restaurants for a crisp pilsner or lager that hits all the right notes. Whether you’re looking to surf and savor at a laid-back bar or kick back at a beachfront lounge to catch the sunset, we’re sharing all of our favorite places to crack open a cold one alongside some wave-worthy eats. And hey, if you don’t surf and are simply craving a brew with a view, we won’t tell.


Mutt Lynch’s

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Best Beach Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Erik Hale

Convincing the whole crew to grab an après-surf brew is no hard sell when you’re talking about Mutt Lynch’s. This list wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to this nostalgic beach town bar that has been Newport Beach’s local watering hole for generations. Sitting right on the Balboa Peninsula boardwalk, this breezy bar couldn’t be more conveniently located for a beer and a bite after a surf sesh. Their menu has every pub grub staple you can think of and over 30 draft beers. Grab a schooner of Pacifico and catch a sports game with your buds after a day of getting barreled. 

Local Insight: Sunset surfing on Wednesday? Be prepared to test your wits with Wednesday night trivia!

Location: Newport Beach


Newport Beach Whaler

Newport Beach Whaler is known for its nightlife, but day drinking at this PCH bar sheds a whole new light on this hotspot. Load up the surfboards after a day at sea and head over for bites and brews on the sunlit patio. The vibe is upscale in comparison to Newport’s typical bar scene, with patio furnishings that mimic a poolside resort and two bars. We call it refined relaxation and find that it’s best for groups of friends. Order the mango-chile glazed coconut shrimp, birria street nachos and a round of Pacificos for the table. There’s something about a lager with lime that always hits the spot.

Location: Newport Beach



Bodega Laguna

Best Beach Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Bodega Laguna

New to the downtown Laguna Beach scene, this vibrant, Mexi-coastal restaurant and bar left no detail unfinished in their colorful cantina. Underneath the striped awnings across from Main Beach are laid-back lounges and windows that open directly to PCH for some of the best people-watching around. Quench your post-surf thirst with a hand-shaken margarita or an ice-cold Pacifico. Oh, and the spicy wings with a lime chimichurri rub, pickled onions and a pasilla lime aioli dipping sauce are a must-order.

Local Insight: Head upstairs to sister restaurant, Skyloft, and look for orange curtains to find an Elivis Presley-themed speakeasy!

Location: Laguna Beach




Huntington Beach’s surf culture put this city on the map, and it only makes sense that downtown restaurants encapsulate everything we love about this beach town: the laid-back vibe and coastal-inspired cuisine. You’ll find Ola just past the pier, in the hip shopping center of Pacific City. Boasting panoramic ocean views from the second-story patio and insane taco platters, Ola has rightfully earned itself a title as one of Orange County’s best beachfront restaurants. Don’t get us wrong, the margaritas slap, but you can’t overlook notable draft selections, including Pacificos served up in a chilled pint glass. It’s not science, but a Pacifico overlooking the Pacific just makes sense. 

Location: Huntington Beach


The Brant Kitchen & Bar

Ice-cold beers and burgers are just a walk away from Huntington’s surf. Just slightly south of the pier is The Brant, an elevated American restaurant and bar that only opened last year but is quickly becoming a Huntington Beach staple. The design is simple but the flavors are far from it, and let’s be real: oceanfront floor-to-ceiling windows are all you can really ask for when it comes to beachfront aesthetics. Another reason we love The Brant? Our favorites are on draft. Order up a Pacifco for a satisfying sip and grub up on The Brant Burger, which features a brioche bun, Kobe beef patty, arugula, bacon, tomato, onion jam, garlic aioli and white cheddar.

Location: Huntington Beach


Bear Flag Fish Co. 

A beach day followed by Bear Flag Fish Co. is a quintessential Orange County experience. This counter-service seafood deli serves wild-caught fish, with everything from fresh poke to seafood chowder. You’ll love it even more when you learn that they fish locally off our coast via their own fishing boats! Bear Flag has three beachside locations, and the Crystal Cove restaurant was recently remodeled with a light and airy finish. If it’s your first time here, the Bear Flag Burrito never disappoints. And trust us—extra Tommy’s Sauce always! For the bev, pair your plate with a Pacifico.

Location: Crystal Cove 


The Shwack Beach Grill

The best Doho days end with spontaneous trips to The Shwack Beach Grill. This no-frills, Del Prado diner is exactly what you think it would be: coastal comfort bites in a surf shack setting. Surfboards hang on the ceiling of this beachy bar, and it’s great for family, friends or even solo dining. The Shwack’s welcoming vibe will make every surfer feel at home. One of our favorite things is The Shwack breakfast burrito after dawn patrol, but if we’re talking brews and bites, Big Al’s Burger with crispy onions is a local favorite, and they have 12 rotating drafts to wash it down.

Location: Dana Point



Fin Sushi & Sake

Just north of Thalia’s waves is the historic Hotel Laguna, which sits just above the shore of Main Beach. Inside this beachfront restaurant is Fin Sushi & Sake, a sit-down sushi spot that combines the high life of hotel dining with the laid-back vibe of the coast. It’s best for a post-surf lunch date where you can share fresh-caught sashimi and sample Japanese beers at sunset. If the weather calls for it, which it usually does, grab a table on the patio underneath the fringed umbrellas for unbeatable ocean views.

Local Insight: If beer isn’t your thing, Fin’s spicy marg is one of the best in town.

Location: Laguna Beach


Palmilla Newport Beach 

For the girls who surf, take your gang to Palmilla Newport Beach. This trendy, Balboa Peninsula hotspot transports diners to Mexico with a luxurious look and feel. Enter under the wood-paneled art installation that marks the exterior to find yourself surrounded by lush palms, rattan fixtures and a fully retractable ceiling. If you’re planning on eating dinner here, book a reservation because there’s usually a wait (which will go by quicker if you order a Pacifico at the bar). Bites blend Baja and Sonoran flavors, and the filet mignon street tacos with jalapeño crema are perfectly satisfying after a day of sunkissed surf. 

Location: Newport Beach


Asada Cantina and Kitchen 

Nestled between North Beach and the Outlets at San Clemente, Asada is one of the town’s more upscale eateries and the big brother to Asada Tacos and Beer in Laguna Beach. The San Clemente cantina is a bit farther from the water, but the enchiladas and brews are well worth the quick rendezvous inland. For example, spend the day surfing by the pier or at Trestles. Then, spend the afternoon drinking drafts that are $2 off during happy hour. Dim lighting and mosaic-tiled tables set the mood, and the menu is made up of endless taco and enchilada combos. 

Location: San Clemente


Station Craft Brewery


Station Craft was voted the No. 1 brewery in Dana Point for good reason. Roll up to this Lantern District tap room following a day at Doheny to refuel with coastal craft beers. The interior is minimalist and modern, with long dining tables that are great for groups. Beers are brewed in-house by South County legend Tom Parkin, who can often be found on-site. Find your favorite by starting with a flight of four. Surfing counts as a workout, so order up on giant soft pretzels, fried pickles and sliders. Did we mention the patio is pup-friendly?

Location: Dana Point


The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar 

Move from the board to the boardwalk and dine at The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar. This family-style, pier-top restaurant has been serving San Clemente since the ‘80s. While sitting underneath the iconic blue umbrellas, 360-degree ocean views will allow you to continue watching the waves after your ride. The menu at this beachfront restaurant has something for everyone at every time of day—we’re talking breakfast, lunch, sunset and dinner menus that are all inspired by the sea. If you’re just grabbing a beer and a night bite, head to the oyster bar. Menu specials rotate daily, and oysters are only $1.50 apiece. 

Location: San Clemente


Red O “Taste of Mexico”

Best Margaritas Orange County
Credit: Katie Oswald

Surf. Refresh. Red O. Fashion Island set the trend as Red O’s flagship location, but this Orange County Mexican restaurant has since expanded to four SoCal locations due to its favored fare and refined interiors. The bar is illuminated by bulbed chandeliers and is always lively. The red leather booths are best for long conversations with friends—ideally over multiple Pacificos! If you lounge long enough, resident DJs begin to transform the restaurant into a Tulum-like bar. Graze over the tequila list straight to the brews because a Pacifico from Mexico is perfectly on theme.

Location: Newport Beach

Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!
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Erik Hale is the visionary and publisher behind LOCALE Magazine. He launched the magazine in 2010, wanting to give the community of OC a premiere lifestyle magazine that knew all the native knowledge behind OC. “Six years ago Ashley and I sat at a table scratching the name LOCALE (among some other names) onto a sheet of paper,” says Erik, “coming up with story ideas and basically dreaming. Everything we imagined has happened and we have been blessed with so much more. I am so grateful as we start another year for my family, my two wonderful children, my health, our amazing writers, designers and photographers, our advertising partners and you.”




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