Discover more in the "Lagunas". Laguna Beach is the big tourist draw but if you want to mix in more with the locals, head east to Laguna Hills. Though not blessed with coastline, L.H., a separate city from L.B., is more quiet with less traffic and slower paced (big senior population :-).
Laguna Hills Mall is an attraction for some who love bargains (definitely more than what you would find in posh L.B). Currently, the mall is in major transition. It used to be two-story-now just one. Though not a grand mall, it is convenient, has a Macy's and Nordstrom Rack, and has a good number of mainstream restaurants like BJ's and Elephant Bar. Closeby, there is a wonderful market, Mother's, which will fixed your healthy food eating fix
For accommodations, there is charming boutique hotel right across from the mall called The Hill, as well as Laguna Hills Lodge and Holiday Inn. You may want to consider staying here during peak season Laguna Beach holiday travel. If you happen to need a hospital, Laguna Hills is home to the major Orange County facility, Saddleback Hospital. Let's hope you won't need to go there though!
L.H. is just a few miles away, about a 10 min drive, from L.B. Consider to take OCTA bus 89 from the main/mall area of L.H to the main tourist area of L.B., a 20-30 min trip
(Edit: Javiers has since moved up PCH to Newport Coast. Same great food and drink- even better atmosphere! About 15 minutes from the old downtown Laguna location.)
Javier's Cantina in Laguna has been a favorite local hangout for years. If you're used to "chain restaurant" mexican food (think El Torito), Javier's will be a special treat. The chips are always fresh, frequently warm from the kitchen, and unlike at Las Brisas, complimentary. The moderately priced menu offers tasty choices including fantastic ceviche and scrumptious shrimp burritos.
Then there are the signature margaritas. Javier's boasts a wide selection of tequilas and handmade margaritas. One favorite is the "Laguna Rosa" margarita which includes cranberry and a specially chosen tequila. It's as smooth and sweet as Grandma's lemonade but quite a bit more potent.
Javier's understands that a great margarita starts with a great margarita mix. Many mixes contain corn syrup, the nasty sweetener that builds up in the back of your throat after just a few sips. Javier's uses Sunkist and it makes all the difference. Sunkist mix contains natural sweeteners and no corn syrup. It's one of the reasons Javier's margaritas are good to the last drop.
The atmosphere in Javier's is colorful and relaxed. Terra cotta floor tile and stucco walls will have you imagining you're in Baja. This is a great place to kick back on a warm sunny day, enjoy the peekaboo ocean view and call friends from other parts of the country just to rub it in!
The cantina always has on ocean breeze and a spirited mix of customers, many of whom come to view the latest sports events or people watch while basking in the glow of the late afternoon Laguna sun.
By the way, there really is a Javier. You may spot him personally overseeing the cantina on busy nights or occasionally out at other local establishments enjoying the good life.
Javier's Cantina is now located at Crystal Cove Promenade at 7832 East Pacific Coast Highway- Newport Beach, CA 92657, near Maestros Ocean Club and Trader Joes.
Since this is Southern California, nearly everyone between the ages of 16 and 35 proudly display’s their tat’s for all the world to see. I’m not sure what this tattoo represents, it take up most of the real estate on his back, so it must be important. (A friend tells me it’s a reggae tattoo)
A good place to view the tattoo parade is right down on or near the basketball courts. Hundreds of people congregate there and it makes for interesting viewing on a warm summer day.
Third street hill. Man driving down this hill is
like going down a roller coaster. Note: the police
station is at the bottom of the hill!
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