Posted on 5 Mar
You can tell a lot about a place by its culinary scene; by the chefs who flock there, the local ingredients that inspire its menus and the international flavors that enliven its dishes. From old school haunts to future classics, here’s a look at six restaurants shaping the foodie scene in Laguna Beach.
SPLASHES - One of the best places in Laguna for drinks and bites right on the sand, this local favorite serves fresh, California cuisine with big views. Located inside the Surf and Sand Hotel, patrons have been known to drop in for a sunset martini, only to witness the extraordinary bioluminescence come alive in the shorebreak just steps from their oceanfront table.
LAS BRISAS - Located beside famed Heisler Park in one of Laguna’s most historic, landmark buildings, this seafood-forward restaurant specializes in frothy cocktails and dishes from the Mexican Riviera. The best time to visit is just before sunset; grab a margarita and some ceviche and prepare to be wowed by the technicolor display.
NICK’S LAGUNA BEACH - Widely considered the crown jewel of the Laguna culinary world, this buzzing eatery is a go-to for a dinner date, weekend lunch or post-work drinks. An open kitchen, exposed brick walls and wood-trimmed booths lend the space a sophisticated coastal vibe, while a menu of crowd-pleasing favorites, including the Prime rib sandwich, shrimp taquitos and cioppino draws throngs of locals and out-of-towners all year round. If you can, nab a seat on the patio beside Pacific Coast Highway and prepare for some serious people watching.
THE ROYAL HAWAIIAN - You don’t need to travel to the Aloha State to get in the aloha spirit. This classic Polynesian hotspot, which dates to 1947, is slated to re-open later this month with a revamped menu and sleek new tiki look. A perennial favorite for tiki drinks and Polynesian flair, the new outpost will be helmed by chef/siblings Martin and Marto Molteni, who plan to bring the Hawaiian hangout back to its glory days as So Cal’s best Polynesian steakhouse.
THE STAND - True to its name, this healthy hotspot is just that, a stand, serving some of the best vegan and vegetarian bites in town long before those terms became household names. From fresh-squeezed juices to acai bowls, salads and even burritos (the healthy kind, of course), it’s the perfect place to grab a quick snack before hitting the beach.
MOZAMBIQUE - Featuring three levels of dining, including a rooftop lounge with panoramic ocean views, this local mainstay is a popular happy hour spot, with a vibrant menu filled with exotic dishes that celebrate the flavors of South Africa—plus great live music that perfectly complements the food.