Nirvana Grille is All Food, Family and a Great Fire Pit
Written By: Charlotte Farrell Nirvana Grille
Sure, August is essentially over, but if you’re a true Californian, you know that September is one of our favorite—and hottest—months of the year. School is back in session, and while the kiddos are back in class, that doesn’t mean the adults can’t still enjoy the beaming sunshine and balmy nights. I give you Nirvana Grille in Downtown Laguna Beach.
The food speaks for itself. Owner & Executive Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales is a pupil of the prestigious culinary arts program at Orange Coast College, which led her to work for big name companies like Fox Studios, Universal Studios, Cienega Catering, Pascal Olhats at Traditions by Pascal & Pascal Catering and The Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel. Her food knowledge, drive and culinary skills are fine-tuned, but she is constantly learning what is current in dietary trends, improving her techniques with her staff and innovating the menu with each season where she debuts her menus at up to 50 percent off all the new menu items at Nirvana which bodes well for loyal locals and newcomers as well.
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One of the major factors that keeps customers coming back for more? Bliss Above Broadway, Nirvana Grille’s exclusive seasonal outdoor rooftop patio for dining and lounging by the fire pit. It also works as a private event space. The idea seems simple, but it’s one of the rare spots that has a view of it all. From every angle, you can see something special, be it the ocean, the downtown area, the palms against the historic Hotel Laguna, beautiful Laguna homes or rolling hillsides, each prompts people to strike up conversation with their neighbors and enjoy sampling food that might make you want to order one of everything on the menu. September is the perfect time to capitalize on this setting. The tourists have cleared out, parking is ample, (and cheaper), and the intimate setting is laid-back and casual, but also combines elegance with a Cali-cool attitude. As the sun sets, cozy up by the fire pit with your significant other as you sip on wines hand-picked by Co-Owner and Chef Lindsay’s hubby, Luis Rosales, who loves spending time visiting with guests and learning all there is to know about what makes a good vino.
Aside from the ambiance, the patio is the perfect place to take more than just dinner with a casual gathering of friends with their small plates and cocktails. If you want a more budget-friendly option, don’t just settle for the norm of a one hour of happy hour. At Nirvana Grille, enjoy a happy evening in their designated bar areas all night every night, where you can swirl and taste select house wines for $6, premium wines for $8, select well cocktails for $9 and beers like Corona Extra for $4. Not to mention nibbles ranging from $5 to $8 like roasted poblano chile, Chilean blue lip mussels, wild mushroom ravioli and organic chicken wontons.
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For private events, both the main dining room and Bliss Above Broadway are ideal. Imagine you and your crew chatting as the sun sets and the fire pit roars. For bigger shindigs, you can call the upstairs and/or downstairs yours, making you the hostess with the mostest without lifting a finger. The team at Nirvana will take care of it all. They cater on the regular from LA to SD, so they know the ins and outs of feeding big groups and making an everlasting impression on everyone’s taste buds.
Since 2006 when Chef Lindsay and her husband opened their first location in Mission Viejo, the cuisine has definitely spread some major buzz around town, leading to the opening of their Laguna Beach location in 2008 while Chef Lindsay was four months pregnant. This spot is now their sole focus as well as their heart and soul, of which the community is forever grateful.
“The world is changing,” said Chef Lindsay, “as such, we are shifting our focus in a new direction by starting to focus on more casual dining to meet the everyday needs of our guests, while not losing touch of the special occasions that continue to be celebrated with us. We are a family and we realize that things have shifted for us and the pace of life doesn’t slow down and we grow up! We want to keep things fresh, have craveable good food and have a place where no matter what you can or cannot eat, everyone in the party can enjoy a good meal at Nirvana Grille.” This means a dedication to seasonal ingredients and evolving inspiration, which she finds from her family, her community and that inner determination that allows the supermom to also be a super chef.
Family is a big part of the business as well. Don’t be surprised if a young boy greets you at the door, takes you to your table or has you participate in a quality control survey. Chef Lindsay’s son, Diego, really was born into this business and has helped from a young age around the restaurant, now leading up to the front as one of the gang, bringing smiles to diners and keeping himself busy while Chef Lindsay works her magic in the kitchen and Dad watches after their guests. On a slow night, you may even catch a glimpse of their 22-month-old son Mateo sampling new creations by the chef—a.k.a Mom—or trying to follow in big brother’s footsteps when let loose.
That’s what makes this spot different from the rest. Family, quality and a sense of zen. The vibe lies in their name, which can be defined as “a state of bliss, oblivion, and an ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability and joy.” So when it comes to choosing a spot where you can stop, enjoy the moment and make the chaos of life pause for a little while, set your sights on Nirvana.
303 Broadway St, Ste 101
Laguna Beach, CA 92651