Oceanfront Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Mariusz Jeglinski Photography

14 Waterfront Restaurants in Orange County With Unforgettable Views

It’s Not Backed By Science, But We’re Pretty Sure Food Tastes Better With Ocean Views

Obviously, the beach is one of the best parts of California. The fact that we can dine just steps from the ocean, with breathtaking views of the big blue, is not to be taken for granted. The relaxation and contentment conjured from smelling that salty air, watching boats cruise by on the bay and taking in the sunset on a summer night is simply unbeatable in Southern California. Change up your date night or take your out-of-town visitors to one of these Orange County waterfront restaurants for those dreamy California views

 

Jolie

Oceanfront Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Jolie

The newest member of the OC community, Jolie (which translates to “pretty” in French) is sure to steal your heart with a menu of elevated brunch, lunch and dinner specials served alongside a handful of carefully curated cocktails. A sister restaurant to The Goldfinch and The 908, Jolie follows the same ethos of incorporating seasonal ingredients into its California coastal plates. Situated above Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach with 180-degree views of the waves and pier, this new restaurant is a dreamy spot for sunset dinners—whether on its rooftop deck (which will open later this summer!) or in its coastal-chic dining space.

Credit: Jolie

In terms of design, Jolie features a beige palette with green hues and a scalloped ceiling reminiscent of what is created by the wind and waves, yielding an elevated yet coastal dining atmosphere.

“We wanted to bring elements of the ocean into our restaurant space,” says Co-Owner Ciaran Gough. “Our goal was to give every seat in the house a view of the beach.” 

Start with the Summer Sangria, blueberry watermelon margarita or lemongrass sour, then indulge in the roasted bone marrow with toasted baguette or spicy tuna crispy rice stack. Entree highlights, like the shrimp and lobster linguine, prime rib dip and Wagyu strip, are just a few other palate-pleasing sensations patrons will soon become obsessed with.

Location: Huntington Beach

 

Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar

The salty air and fresh seafood are ultimately what draw guests to Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar—a rustic outpost perched at the base of the San Clemente Pier. Step into this Pacific Northwest seafood joint, and you’ll most likely spot locals fresh off the waves placing their usual order of oysters Rockefeller and a crab feast. Their indoor dining room boasts a nautical aesthetic, but why stay inside when the warp-around patio is calling your name? The oyster bar is where things get real, featuring ocean-to-table specialties like popcorn shrimp, buckets of clams, crab cakes and chowders. Oh, and don’t skip the sourdough loaf.

Location: San Clemente

 

Wind & Sea Restaurant

Oceanfront Restaurants Orange County
Credit: @gabriellazornosa

Known for their Pacific Rim fusion eats, it’s hard to beat Wind & Sea Restaurant‘s fresh catch of the day. Situated on the harbor in Dana Point, it’s no surprise that this pioneering seafood house sources up to 10 fresh catch specials a day. We would say it’s the al fresco patio, unobstructed ocean views and fireside dining that put this spot on the map, but it’s really the house favorite macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi, mud pie and world-famous Mai Tai—imported straight from their Kona Inn restaurant in Hawaii. Did we mention they’ve sold over 2.5 million?

Location: Dana Point

 

Lōrea

Oceanfront Restaurants Orange County
Credit: David Marano

Following the same high-style fashion as its parent establishment, Paséa Hotel & Spa, dinner at Lōrea is what you’ll be craving after a day of enjoying the sand, sea and surf of the Pacific. This coastal open-air restaurant in Huntington Beach breaks boundaries between guests and the surrounding coastal environment. Crackling fire pits and oversized black vinyl booths set the scene for the first round of cocktails. The Pacific Hamachi Crudo and Broiled Local Halibut are a must, but a slice of their Chocolate Soufflé Cake and a sip of the Boozy Affogato is the only way to end an evening at Lōrea.

“We’re using ingredients that we can get from the land,” Chef Rackliff says. “Here in California, we have some of the best produce in the country. We have the ocean right here too, so, of course, we offer fresh seafood—and amazing craft cocktails.”

Location: Huntington Beach

 

Louie’s by the Bay

An enticing collision of modern charcuterie, fresh pasta plates and prime steaks is what awaits at Louie’s by the Bay—an elegant Italian chophouse perfectly poised on the edge of Newport Harbor. Reclaimed wooden benchwork, woven wicker lanterns and exposed beam ceilings create a cozy ambiance with an elegant edge. Warm up your tastebuds with the octopus cacio e pepe, followed by the Louie’s Land & Sea Dueto, featuring a Revier Farm petit filet and lobster tail. On the brunch menu, each of the specials boasts cute and catchy monikers, like the Not So ‘French’ Toast and the Fly Me to the Moon Eggs Benedict.

Location: Newport Beach

 

Tavern House Kitchen + Bar

Situated on Coast Highway and Bayside Drive, you can only imagine the views waiting at Tavern House Kitchen + Bar. Spoiler alert: You get some of the best in all of Newport Beach! “The most striking thing is that Tavern House is elevated a half-story above the ground level. Everyone has a completely unobstructed view of the harbor and the canals,” says Chef David Wilhelm. With sunny Newport Beach weather, the atmosphere is warm, welcoming and relaxed—regardless of the time of day. With a covered patio and operable windows, the open-air bay breeze is truly unbeatable. Dig into seafood-centric dishes along with creative takes on American cuisine. Both the Buddha Bowl (with a sriracha-spiced basmati rice, a seasonal vegetable medley, heirloom tomatoes, avocado and goat cheese) and the ale battered fish and chips (with malt vinegar, tartar sauce, coleslaw and French fries) are not to be missed.

 

RAYA

Ocean View Restaurants
Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Take it up a notch and dine at RAYA at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. With Latin American pairings, your senses will ignite from the delicious flavors and the breathtaking views.

RAYA not only features expansive ocean views but also exquisite Pan-Latin coastal cuisine by celebrated Chef Richard Sandoval. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, the food is unrivaled and allows our guests to enjoy the restaurant any time of the day—all while watching local surfers hit the waves at Salt Creek Beach from sunrise to sunset,” says Ritz-Carlton’s Director of Food and Beverage, Sheryl Ishizaki.

Location: Dana Point

 

Splashes (reopening June 2024!)

Credit: Splashes

Sit and dine 25 feet above the water at Splashes restaurant the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach. Whether on the patio or inside near the open windows, the ocean breeze and sound of the waves crashing against the shore set an idyllic scene for a romantic date night. Fresh and local ingredients make up every dish on the breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menus, making the food just as delicious as the view.

Location: Laguna Beach

 

A+O Restaurant | Bar

Orange County Beach Restaurants
Credit: Balboa Bay Resort

A+O Restaurant | Bar, short for Anchors and Oceans, is a coastal-chic waterfront gastropub at Balboa Bay Resort. In addition to a fresh menu that pays tribute to the waterfront setting, A+O also features an exclusive California-distilled cocktail menu. This menu highlights farmers, small producers, local spirit distillers and purveyors in the Golden State. It’s all about the atmosphere at A+O Restaurant | Bar, where guests can sip on craft cocktails in the daytime, and during the evenings, relax by one of the fire pits while they listen to the live music (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 6-9 p.m.).

Location: Newport Beach

 

The Deck on Laguna Beach

What’s better than a view of the beach? A view on the beach! The Deck, one of the few waterfront restaurants actually located on the beach, is a local hotspot for sipping, socializing and celebrating. Enjoy the daily catch of oysters or keep it traditional and indulge in a Beach Burger with Vermont cheddar, applewood bacon, arugula, tomato and chipotle aioli on a brioche bun. Whichever your preference may be, you’ll dig this hidden restaurant in Laguna Beach!

Location: Laguna Beach

 

Driftwood Kitchen

Orange County Beach Restaurants
Credit: Anne Watson

Experience fresh, ocean-to-table dining at Driftwood Kitchen, a waterfront restaurant in Laguna Beach whose slogan is, “Any closer and you would have to swim.” If that doesn’t give you an indication of the view you’ll get, we don’t know what does! Try their California-inspired cuisine with seasonal ingredients and, of course, a thing or two from the ocean, such as the Hawaiian big-eye tuna tartare or the Spanish octopus. 

Location: Laguna Beach

 

Ola Mexican Kitchen

Credit: Ed Visions

Located in Huntington Beach’s beautiful Pacific City, Ola Mexican Kitchen boasts coastline views from almost every seat in the house! But the fun doesn’t stop there: Ola sets the mood with live music and a creative menu that mixes Mexican comfort food with south-of-the-border flair.

Local Insight: Hanging out in Huntington Beach for the day? Pacific City is the perfect pitstop, where you can eat, shop or simply cruise through this coastal center!

Location: Huntington Beach

 

Bluewater Grill

Located in the heart of Newport Beach, Bluewater Grill is home to some of the best seafood plates in Southern California. The mecca of high-quality and sustainable fish, Bluewater Grill even owns and operates its own fishing boat, yielding “boat-to-plate” freshness. And if you’re out on the bay, it’s a great place to dock and dine in Newport Beach! Guests have the option to either dine inside by the water or be served aboard their own boat. But wherever you choose to indulge, be sure to try their ponzu sashimi sea scallops and panko fried prawns.

Location: Newport Beach

 

180blu

Credit: Mariusz Jeglinski Photography

Watch the waves roll in from above at 180blu at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. “The endless ocean views and stunning sunsets at 180blu make our cliffside cocktail lounge a coveted and favorite spot for locals and visitors alike,” says Director of Food and Beverage, Sheryl Ishizaki. Pair 180blu’s unrivaled views with fresh seafood appetizers and craft cocktails, and you’ll have the perfect Southern California dining experience. You may even want to turn your evening into a staycation. After all, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is one of the best waterfront hotels in Orange County.

Location: Dana Point

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Noelle Dahl graduated from Sonoma State University in 2020 with a BA in English. Currently living in Huntington Beach, Noelle spends her days throwing pottery, combing the beach for seashells or planning her next adventure.
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