Ocean Views Meet Award-Winning Cuisine at These Laguna Beach Restaurants
Famous for its beautiful beaches and artsy vibe, Laguna Beach is as good as it gets when it comes to Southern California living. This small city stretches along Orange County’s iconic Pacific Coast Hwy and boasts an assortment of boutique hotels, groovy shops and alluring art galleries—not to mention majestic canyons and coves for hiking, biking and snorkeling. But in addition to all the outdoor activities, the city’s eclectic dining scene simply can’t be beaten. From rooftop hangouts to oceanfront establishments, here are our seven favorite places for a dinner date in Laguna Beach. Best Laguna Beach Restaurants
@localemag Who’s ready for the best margaritas in OC?! 🍹🌮 #localemagazine #carmelitas #carmelitaslagunabeach #lagunabeach #ocfoodies @carmelitaslagunabeach ♬ Como La Flor – Selena
If you are looking for south of the border cuisine with upscale vibes, then make a reservation for two at Carmelita’s in Laguna Beach. This authentic eatery is located steps away from the beach, providing the perfect oceanview backdrop for your dinner date. The kitchen prepares the menu from scratch daily by using traditional cocina techniques and meets with local farmers to source fresh and organic ingredients for their dishes. Some of their plates, including the Tampiquena, is made from a secret recipe that has been passed down from the owners’ grandmother. We suggest making the night more intimate by sharing some of their must-try items like the Mexico City Corn, shrimp taquitos and seasonal ceviche. They also offer a weekend brunch menu with savory plates and live music from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oh, and their organic margaritas are some of the best in town!
Transport your taste buds to the coastlines of Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan with a visit to Starfish Laguna Beach. This hip and sexy Asian fusion concept has been one of South Orange County’s most celebrated restaurants for nearly a decade. Most of their plates are made to share, which is the best way to try a little bit of everything, such as their lobster macadamia nut roll, banh mi beef sliders and Thai crab fried rice, containing jumbo lump crab, Thai herbs, asparagus and other flavorful spices. With an impressive 90-item menu, there is something for everyone at this exotic Laguna Beach eatery.
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Nestled along the coastline, you’ll find the cozy beach cottage restaurant that is AhbA. Decorated with eclectic furniture, stylish prints and lush plants, the space has a warm, welcoming feel from the moment you arrive. Although they offer a delicious dinner menu (squash blossom quesadilla, anyone?), brunch is the move if a day date is more your style. The shakshouka is rich in flavor with a spicy tomato sauce and sunny-side up eggs, or you can opt for something sweeter by ordering the banana French toast. Pair it with a fresh cup of coffee or bottomless mimosas for the ultimate Sunday funday!7/7
If you’re looking for the best table in town at sunset, then look no further than Larsen. With its 180-degree panoramic views and outdoor dining area overlooking the ocean, this upscale bistro inside the legendary Hotel Laguna is a must-visit. From the cocktails to the cuisine, the creative, chef-driven menu highlights diverse flavors using fresh, local ingredients. Their avocado toast is topped with poke, making it a one-of-a-kind appetizer, but it’s the short-rib cigars that set the scene for an epic Laguna Beach sunset. Pair it with the hotel’s Tequila Old Fashioned and toast to a delightful date night.
Ocean views and smoky American fare steal the show at this breezy rooftop restaurant. This Laguna hotspot is a stellar place for brunch, lunch, dinner or happy hour cocktails with friends. Head upstairs to the shaded rooftop, which hovers above downtown, and enjoy a meal al fresco under the beige umbrellas. Skyloft’s menu boasts an assortment of American BBQ cuisine, including plates like tempura-battered stuffed avocado (back by popular demand!), cherry-glazed salmon served with citrus white rice and seasonal veggies and the oh-so-savory smoked brisket. And if these decadent delights aren’t enough to draw you in, Skyloft’s impressive cocktail list sure will. Set your watch to island time and sip on a blueberry coconut mojito–made with Bacardi coconut rum, lime juice, mint, blueberries and raw sugar–or you can opt for the refreshing cucumber jalapeño margarita. Whatever your cravings, Skyloft’s kitchen will not disappoint (and neither will the ocean view).
Local Insight: Skyloft’s smoker was custom-made in Texas and had to be lifted into place by crane because it was too heavy for the elevator!
Just south of Skyloft sits sister restaurant Mozambique—a three-story South African-inspired concept featuring an elegant dining room, speakeasy lounge and open-air rooftop! This exotic yet comforting Laguna Beach establishment was inspired by the flavorful spices and bold spirit of South Africa’s colorful seaside restaurants, offering guests a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience. Snag a seat upstairs at sunset and enjoy decadent dishes like the hearty red and gold beet salad, wok-charred ahi tuna and a premium selection of wood-fired steaks. For your main course, we recommend the 14-ounce prime New York strip with Mozambique’s signature peri-peri prawns! This tender cut comes with au gratin potatoes, asparagus and a cipollini demi glace on the side. Be sure to pair your pick with one of their colorful cocktails, such as the purple-hued Laguna Sky, which is crafted with Empress 1908 gin, fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, champagne and tonic.
Best Laguna Beach Restaurants
When it comes to seaside dining, Splashes Restaurant at the beautiful Surf & Sand Resort is about as close as it gets. With waves that crash against the restaurant’s windows (and have even at times come over the wall), you’ll quickly realize why this fine-dining spot is certainly one to write home about. To get the full Splashes experience, reserve a table on the patio at sunset and watch the waves roll in. To eat? We love the crispy Brussels sprouts, citrus-cured kampachi and seared scallops!
Taking the place of San Shi Go, Seabutter has brought a fresh and contemporary sushi experience to Laguna Beach. The restaurant’s original roots lie in the star-studded city of Beverly Hills, but the concept has already received a warm welcome from Laguna locals after its soft opening. As for the menu, Seabutter boasts a delectable selection of sushi and sashimi dishes that showcase the freshest fish. Start with a few orders of sashimi and an appetizer, such as the oysters or snow crab miso, then move onto mains like the salmon truffle or Sunset Roll, which is made with spicy tuna, asparagus and avocado, then topped with yellowtail sashimi, cilantro and sweet yuzu sauce.
Best Laguna Beach Restaurants
After opening its doors to the Laguna Beach community over a year ago, Comedor offers traditional Spanish tapas with a California twist. Located in La Casa del Camino, it’s as if you’re eating in a familiar dining room with a European vibe that is encompassed through the hotel’s Spanish-revival charm. Must-order tapas include pan con tomate, Spanish flatbread and charred Spanish octopus, while the main dishes also shine (think paella, Spanish chicken and mushroom risotto). Join this new hotspot for happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. for half-off tapas, house margaritas and sangria.
Best Laguna Beach Restaurants
One of the premier waterfront restaurants in Laguna Beach, Driftwood Kitchen is exactly what visitors (and let’s be honest, locals too) want when dining in a charming beach town. Featuring breathtaking ocean views, an ocean-to-table dining experience and refreshing cocktails, Driftwood Kitchen does not disappoint. Dine here during sunset for epic views, and order a Salty Rim Martini, the seared diver scallops and the ora king salmon. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or simply life itself, this is the perfect place.
Best Laguna Beach Restaurants
No other city does coastal dining quite like Laguna, but if you’re looking to change things up, we know just the place. Broadway by Amar Santana is a New York-themed restaurant with industrial decor and a seasonal New American menu of small plates. Take a break from your beachfront favorites and experience a city-chic dinner at this chef-driven “Big Apple” restaurant! Award-winning Chef Amar Santana and restaurateur Ahmed Labbate have created an unbeatable atmosphere and a menu that reflects the season’s freshest local ingredients. Pro tip: don’t leave without trying the braised rabbit pappardelle pasta—you won’t regret it!