Toast to the Coast OC Restaurants With Views
Summer Down at These Seven Sensational Restaurants Featuring Some of the Best Views in Town
Written By: Mary McNulty
Photographed By: Mariusz Jeglinski
One definite way to enhance a great meal is to add a view that is distinctively Southern California. Local beach communities offer the luxury of great food with breaking waves as the backdrop. From Laguna Beach to Long Beach, the options for meals with views are almost endless. Whether dressed in a suit and tie, or board shorts; casual or elegant, there is a place for you. OC Restaurants With Views
All of the menus are complemented by a wide selection of beer, wine and cocktails. As the evening progresses, the shades open, and the drinks mimic the color of the setting sun. That’s why we’re here. No, we’re here because of the best climate in the world. Needless to say, the restaurants capitalize upon this natural resource with unique features. Outdoor terraces and street level patios are open year-round, serving the complete food and drink menu. What a perfect venue for people watching, all under the guise of dining.
Many of the menus offered at the selected restaurants have a personal relationship with the respective leader. African cuisine is well respected by Mozambique Managing Partner George Poulos, as seafood is respected by Fly-N-Fish Oyster Bar & Grill Executive Chef and Seattle native, Julio Hawkins. Each display a true passion for food, which is intensified by discussing their respective menus. The flavors of each restaurant are reflected in the name, and whatever the culinary and atmosphere desired, there is a beautiful local beach restaurant to satisfy it! OC Restaurants With Views
1740 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Mozambique is a Southern California institution with its view, unique African cuisine, both savory and sweet, and colorful cocktails. The Veranda, the venue’s sensational rooftop, offers the full menu and bar with excellent service. This is one of the best places to people watch in all of Laguna Beach, with views of the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful bodies of Orange County.
According to Managing Partner George Poulos, the secret to great African cuisine is the Peri-Peri sauce. He asserts the sauce goes well with everything with the possible exception of ice cream! As a native of Mozambique and a second generation restaurateur, he knows.
The Prawns and the Peri-Peri Chicken presented had a slight kick that is perfect for those who like it mild. Both items are available during happy hour on the Veranda at a great price – $10 for the chicken, $14 for the prawns. For those desiring a touch of more heat, the dish is served with extra Peri-Peri sauce on the side.
Mozambique is also a great venue for music. In addition to well-known bands such as Smash Mouth, local musicians also take the stage, after auditioning. The website offers a shot at performing at the Laguna Beach landmark.
It’s hard to call it a day or night when visiting Mozambique. With beautiful views, especially at sunset, a wonderful selection of cocktails and a varied menu to suit both full and small appetites, the establishment has a reputation that precedes it. What makes it really nice is that you can enjoy the Veranda year-round. This is a perfect place to take the summer visitors, or better yet, dinner for two in the offseason.
Fly-N-Fish Oyster Bar
2304 W Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Right in the middle of the action is Fly-N-Fish, an intimate restaurant and bar, offering the perfect spot to watch the surf rise and the sun fall. The street level view and Newport Beach crowd makes the people watching as entertaining as the food and drinks.
Newport comes alive during happy hour, and Fly-N-Fish offers specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to bring a beautiful end to the day. Obviously with “oyster” in the title, it would be essential that they are offered during happy hour. A half-dozen freshly shucked oysters are $10, or $2 a shot. Another crowd pleaser is the clam chowder, which is a staple on any seafood menu. Many Bostonians have come in extremely defensive, wanting to try it, especially at happy hour when it’s $6 a cup, for the right to bash it. Too bad! According to the chef, they quickly become apologetic after the first spoonful. Sustainability and freshness come to mind when it concerns seafood, and the chef is, in part, leading the charge. He is very passionate when communicating the need to ensure the health of the oceans, and works with Santa Monica Seafood. Together, they ensure constant delivery of only sustainable and fresh catches.
The beach atmosphere makes it the perfect place for board shorts and a colorful cocktail. It is hard to determine where the sunset ends and the Mai Tai begins. The great windows overlooking the main drag of Newport with the Pacific Ocean right behind, assures an ever-changing scene.
3131 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Directly contrary of the casual beach style offered by Fly-N-Fish, the Winery is elegant, complete with a private dock for individuals out in the water. This venue makes for the perfect date night with suits, ties and dresses the norm. The two story glass-encased wine tower is in addition to the wine lockers purchased by private customers.
The outdoor terrace provides a wonderful view, offering a full menu. Overlooking the marina, the scene is a great deal more relaxed than those normally experienced in a beach community. Unlike the throngs generally seen, the marina setting provides a view of gently rocking boats against the Pacific Ocean. Each view, whether at a table or the bar, is unobstructed. From almost every seat, there is a 180-degree view of the yachts and ocean. Once again, there is no shortage of menu options, whether it be an appetizer or a colorful beverage. The Winery offers a diverse menu, serving a variety of small plates, seafood, beef and chicken.
“Crush Hour, ” which is their happy hour, runs from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday. One of the hands down favorites is the YG’s Alsatian Pizza — crème fraiche, applewood smoked bacon, Gruyere and onion. The pizza runs $12.95 during happy hour. Pair it with The Winery’s own label from a vineyard in Paso Robles – The Boyz.
6272 E Coast Hwy
Long Beach, CA 90803
An interesting name, Tantalum is element 73 on the Periodic Table. That element reflects the vibe of this upscale establishment, defined as “a non-corrosive element found by the sea, known for its ability to absorb negative elements from its environment.” True, there are no negative vibes found here, especially at happy hour, which has a rather unique schedule. On Monday, it’s happy hour from opening to closing! From Tuesday through Friday and Sunday, it is from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The good times flow with a number of must-haves. For the heartier appetite, Chef Jack Daniel (JD) Robertson raves about the Kobe Beef Burger, which, amazingly, is on the menu at $9, and is perfectly medium cooked. Of course, you do want fries with that! There are three options: Skinny Fries $4.50, Ketchup Fries $5, and OMG Duck Fat Fries at $7.50. There is only one suggestion Chef JD has: to accompany the Kobe Burger with a specialty beer or two. Sure, Tantalum has the standard imports such as Stella, but also offers a wide wonder of local brews to try. The San Diego based St. Archer Blonde Ale and the Great White from Eureka should not be overlooked. For those who find such brews pretentious, fear not; Pabst Blue Ribbon (yes PBR) and Coors are available under the “Basics” label. Craft beers during happy hour run $5 for 16 ounces, while basic beer is $3.50.
The highlight of the view is the marina in Long Beach, with boats and yachts enlightening the scenery. There is something extremely relaxing about looking over the water with waves lapping consistently against the boats. Regardless of the day of the week, Tantalum hops after sunset. The stage, against the Pacific, offers entertainment from 6 or 6:30 p.m. every day— not just during the weekends. The entertainment selection is varied from a DJ spinning hip hop, or Top 40s, to soul or R&B. The musical selections provide a perfect background to conversation. The atmosphere is relaxed and the service — second to none.
180blu at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
1 Ritz-Carlton Dr
Dana Point, CA 92629
Featuring panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, 180blu provides a 150-foot high perch to watch the ever-changing landscape of Salt Creek Beach. As the sun begins to set Thursday through Saturday, bands light up 180blu. What a great way to relax after a rough day, with live music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. — this is the time the predominately Latin-flavored appetizers and distinct cocktails really begin to flow! Some of the appetizers have become a victim to their own success. You had better experience the Lobster Taco appetizer featuring flour tortilla, black bean purée, chile de árbol salsa avocado, and cilantro. Make a special trip soon, because Chef Steve Wan says the popularity of the dish makes it difficult to keep up with demand during the summer season.
The Clam Ceviche (tomatillo, tequila onions, cilantro, lime, guajillo powder) presented was almost too beautiful to eat. If you want a switch from seafood, another go-to dish suggested by the chef is the Pork Belly Sliders — hoisin adobo, jalapeño aioli and cucumber on a brioche bun. All of the appetizers go well with the cocktails. At sunset, a refreshing Cucumber Lemon Margarita (Herradura Silver Lemonade, cucumber, and Meyer lemon) is light and refreshing. If you prefer rum, the Passion Fruit Mojito sounds intriguing (Bacardi, passion fruit, mint, and lime).
Lobby Lounge at The St. Regis Monarch Beach
1 Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629
Built into the side of a cliff with a view of the Pacific, The St. Regis Monarch Beach is distinctively SoCal. From the incredible view to the exceptional hospitality of the Lobby Lounge, The St. Regis offers something for both world-class travelers and locals alike.
Blake Coscino, bartender at the Lobby Lounge, prepared two cocktails that scream sunset in Dana Point. Fresh fruit and drinks with lovely muddled colors make the selections perfect to enjoy while watching the blazing sunset. The first selection is a vibrant red drink with a perfectly descriptive name, FreshBerry. The cocktail is a combination of muddled berries — blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, with raspberry vodka, Chambord, a little bit of lime juice, and cranberry juice — essential to creating the bright red color. With the fresh fruit topping the glass, it is well worth an Instagram shot! The FreshBerry is followed by the sexy sounding Organic Sensation, which mimics the yellows of the setting sun. Ketel One vodka, St. Germaine for sweetness, lemon juice, and a garnish of lemon and cucumber. The food available for the Lobby Lounge comes from the Stonehill Tavern. Appetizers such as Kobe beef sliders with a shallot marmalade and herb fries are definite hits.
No sunset at a St. Regis, regardless of the location, is complete without attending the nightly saber. At sunset, the butler staff congregates at the Lobby Lounge with a bottle of champagne in hand. As the sun sets, the saber is used to uncork the bottle! The bottle is then gifted to a randomly selected guest in attendance; a fun way to spend happy hour!