Thanks to more than 320 days of sunshine every year and its picture-perfect Mediterranean weather, dining in Laguna Beach is one amazing experience. To diners’ delight, almost all restaurants offer outdoor dining. It’s almost impossible to beat this Orange County beach town’s magnificent views overlooking the azure waters of the Pacific Coast. It is hard to pick just a few, but here are some of our favorite and arguably best Laguna Beach restaurants.
Because Laguna Beach is located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, it’s an easy 1.5-hour drive to this lovely destination. Restaurants in this piece of Southern California paradise run the gamut of laid-back casual to somewhat finer dining, but we’ve never eaten in any restaurant here that didn’t roll out the red carpet with friendly attentive service and a big smile. Just one more reason Laguna Beach is one of our favorite SOCAL beach towns.
Though we can’t include every restaurant we’ve enjoyed here, we believe it’s only fair to call out those that either left a lasting impression or we found so delightful that it warranted a return visit.
Address: 1555 S Coast Highway Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (888) 579-8544
You’ll never find better oceanfront views in Laguna Beach than at Splashes Restaurant located at the iconic Surf and Sand Resort. Top chef Ron Fougeray brings not only his impressive culinary skills to this beautiful seaside eatery but also his passion for sourcing the area’s finest and freshest ingredients.
Menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner are not extensive but are well-thought-out. Our lunch included shared crisp brussels sprouts with smoked honey goat cheese, candied pecans, brandy cranberries, and radish. This amazing dish was followed by a crisp octopus with sweet potato, Spanish chorizo, saffron crème, and pickled shallot. Flatbreads, sandwiches, and other main entrees are other options.
Make sure to ask your server for a wine recommendation to accompany the phenomenal entrees. You’ll want to raise a glass to magnificent views while enjoying one of Southern California’s favorite beach towns.
Address: 361 Cliff Dr. Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 497-5434
Perched high above the California coastline on the magnificent Laguna Beach promenade, Las Brisas serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a stunning ocean view setting.
Its sea-to-table menu features California Coastal cuisine infused with the Mexican food flavors of Baja, California, Mexico.
Though the restaurant runs on the pricey side, it’s absolutely lovely for a romantic dinner or special occasion dining. We found the entrees here incredible and service impeccable. Our dinner for two consisted of a shared Crab and Endive Salad with avocado, mango, and lime.
My hubby is a huge Chili Rellenos fan and he couldn’t have been more pleased with his Shrimp & Crab Rellenos accompanied by aguajillo sauce, queso Oaxaca, black beans, and rice. I went for the Mediterranean Branzino, a true Baja favorite, pan-seared with roasted parsnip, and Swiss chard.
Las Brisas is also an ideal choice for Happy Hour, served on its picturesque outdoor patio.
SAPPHIRE. CELLAR. CRAFT. CORK
Address: 1220 South Coast Highway, Suite 101, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 715- 9888
This restaurant is one we tend to visit on each of our weekend trips to Laguna Beach. Its global comfort cuisine is really that good!
The charming eatery occupies a 100-year-old structure once home to The Old Pottery Place. Inside and outside dining are available though we always request the outdoor open-air patio with Pacific views.
Brunch, lunch, and dinner menus are impressively creative and the food is tantalizing. Word of warning though. If you do not share the main entrée, you’ll need a take-home box as portions are large.
Our favorite lunch choices include the Steamed Manilla Clams, Mexican White Prawns & PEI (Prince Edward Island) Mussels. This delightful seafood gem is made with Spanish chorizo, melted garlic, and charred tomato broth served over saffron pearl couscous. The Hawaiian Albacore Tuna Sandwich is also a winner. Other entrees here include starters, soups, salads, omelets, sandwiches, and fish tacos.
ALESSA BY CHEF PIROZZI
Address: 234 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 497-8222
Every town needs a good Italian restaurant and when Alessa By Chef Pirozzi opened in Laguna Beach, it delighted locals and visitors alike.
Born in Naples, Italy, Chef Alessandro Pirozzi learned Neapolitan cooking techniques from his grandmother. We would highly recommend reservations at this impressive lunch and dinner bistro as it’s extremely popular every day of the week.
We’re in love with Chef Pirozzi’s innovative menu, and his restaurant offerings are simply divine. Starters include traditional antipasti but can get really inventive with charcuterie items such as elk, bison, and wild boar salami.
Other entrees include soups, salads, calzones, pizza, pasta, and dinner favorites. Again, you can stay traditional or go out on the limb with elk chops, smoked duck breast, or wild boar gnocchi. What to order? Ask your server, though everything we’ve had here is tantalizingly spectacular.
After living in Naples for almost four years, I had to try the Pizza Margherita for comparison to the original Neapolitan treasure. With just one bite, I was transported back to Italy. Veal Piccata is one of my hubby’s Italian favorites. Another winner here. Save room for dessert as the menu is impressive, running the gamut from homemade gelato and sorbets to Tiramisu and the chef’s daily creations.
NICK’S LAGUNA BEACH
Address: 440 South Coast Highway Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 376-8595
This is another restaurant in Laguna Beach where you’ll need reservations or you’ll be waiting a good while. It’s an extremely popular eatery, always packed no matter when we’ve dined here.
Nick’s is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend breakfast. Though the menu isn’t very extensive, it’s absolutely impressive. Diners can choose from starters, market salads, sandwiches, burgers, and lip-smacking-good house specialties.
Everything we’ve had here has been gourmet-quality superb. Do not dine here without having Nick’s Original Bacon Deviled Eggs, lightly fried, and topped with applewood bacon. Sure, you’ve had deviled eggs in the past, but, there’s nothing like Nick’s version. We love the Kale and Quinoa Salad with red grapes, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, red cabbage, red peppers, and parmesan cheese, topped with champagne vinaigrette. Tuna Tartare is another of our top choices.
Another favorite is the Original Ribeye Melt, with tender sliced ribeye, Swiss cheese, red wine, and mustard bacon sauce on grilled parmesan sourdough. You’ll never get a better steak sandwich anywhere. One visit here is never enough!
Address: 1740 S. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 715-7777
For a real tasty treat, dine at Mozambique. Its extraordinary atmosphere and immensely flavorful cuisine is inspired by the East African coastline. You will find dishes from Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania, as well as colonially influenced dishes on the menu. Dining here is like having a world of sensational experiences under one roof.
The restaurant is divided into separate themed dining rooms, one an open-air rooftop lounge with a panoramic ocean view. The Durban Room is a delightful new twist. Taking the form of a vintage piano lounge circa 1920s, it’s literally a modern-day “speakeasy” with live entertainment.
For a perfect introduction to East African cuisine, Mozambique’s Sampler Plate is the way to go. With luscious prawns, tender chicken pops, flavorful farmer’s sausage, and tasty beef samoosas served with the restaurant’s own robust Peri-Peri sauce, it’s an awesome dish to share.
South Africans love curry and they prepare this dish expertly. And so it was with my Durban Curry with tender braised lamb, potatoes, carrots, and onions.
The ideal finish to a perfect meal is the Portuguese Hot Butter Pudding with mixed berries, crème anglaise, and vanilla ice cream. It’s sinfully superb.
LARSEN AT HOTEL LAGUNA
Address: 425 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 494-1151
The newest kid on the dining scene is located in Laguna Beach’s iconic 125-year-old grand old lady of the sea, the Hotel Laguna.
Especially popular throughout the years with the Hollywood crowd, this historic hotel has recently undergone a massive restoration. As far as Laguna Beach restaurants go, its signature eatery sports one of the very best ocean views from its lofty outdoor terrace just steps from the sand. On a recent weekend visit, we dined here for lunch and couldn’t have been more impressed.
The menu features a raw bar and other starters along with salads, sandwiches, and tacos. If you’re a seafood lover, you must get the Market Oysters, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp, and Poached Lobster platter. A half-portion was ideal for two. Another house favorite is the Short Rib Cigars with horseradish crème fraîche.
BROADWAY BY AMAR SANTANA
Address: 328 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
New York ambiance meets SOCAL beach town vibe at this chef-driven restaurant featuring local seasonal ingredients. Its progressive American cuisine with a French twist has helped transform Laguna Beach and Orange County into premier foodie destinations.
Advance reservations are a necessity, especially if diners are looking to snag one of Broadway’s most coveted seats at the chef’s table overlooking the bustling open kitchen.
Guests can choose items from a four-course dinner menu featuring a first, second, side, and dessert. Given so many creative culinary gems on Chef Santana’s menu, choosing can be quite a challenge. A vegetarian friend of mine commented that though some restaurants offer multi-course vegetarian or vegan choices, they’re not always top-end preparations. Not so with Broadway, as every dish produces the ‘A+ Wow’ factor.
We’re so glad this unique restaurant has come to Laguna Beach.
230 FOREST AVENUE
Address: 230 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: (949) 494-2545
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you really want to find the best restaurants in a destination, ask the locals. That’s how we found 230 Forest Avenue.
Laguna Beach Magazine has voted the eatery “Best Seafood, Best Happy Hour and Best Desserts.” And it’s of no surprise to us. Situated in a historic building once home to a sundry and produce market, the restaurant has lovingly retained its original hanging doors.
Chef Marc Cohen’s culinary masterpieces are nothing short of magnificent. The dinner menu includes Grazing Plates (perfect for sharing), soups, salads, sandwiches, and mains. Not sure what to order? Ask your server as they are incredibly helpful and will steer you in the direction of your taste buds.
We drooled over our Kung Pao Calamari made with Japanese eggplant, peanuts, and Shishito peppers. As a salad lover, I found the Baby Kale with strawberries, citrus, toasted almonds, pickled onions, and goat cheese topped with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette an absolute delight. Following our server’s recommendation, we ordered the lamb chops served in savory tzatziki – a perfect palate pleaser.
Famous New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme once said “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” Guaranteed you’ll find amazing food at these Laguna Beach restaurants, all with a laid-back, comfy beach town feel. Bon appétit!
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Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Maria Haase