Not everyone in Laguna Beach can afford Claes in the Hotel Laguna.
My first time we were broke, and this is one of the 2 or 3 places we could afford to eat.
It is still there in the same spot, mostly the same food
(though "bell burgers" are now a thing of the past).
Favorite Dish: the $ ~90-cent (today) beef softshell with hot sauce.
Here is my favorite place to eat a dinner that is near-perfectly timed
The Beach House has a comfortable but small deck that sits out right over the beach so you can take in the gorgeous Laguna Beach sunsets.
Food is good (recommend any seafood dish)
Beach House menu
but the main reason to eat here is to catch sunset while
outside (hint) on the raised open deck over the beach.
Problem is, there are only about half a dozen tables (the deck is narrow) that are actually outside in the open air above the beach, and everybody wants one.
My lame / unsubtle method:
not really a trick at all. You know the drill.
Check out a
- time your reservation for about 1 hour before sunset begins, arrive early, sneak the hostess a $20 and wait / drink in the bar until one of the 6-7 tables on the deck opens up.
If you walk in and expect to automatically get an outside table on your good looks, you may be disappointed.
Favorite Dish: Just last week had FRESH COCONUT MAHI MAHI with mango-orange coulis, ginger mashed potatoes and fried plantains.
It is still very tasty and is usually what I get or else the halibut.
Lots of people like the "sand dabs" so ask about them as well (didn't see them on the menu).
Again, the food is good, and with the sunset from the deck it is even better.
Here is the picture of the sunset from the Beach House deck
I took this before dinner at my table with a cr@ppy low-rez digital camer on the Beach House restaurant deck as the sun burned its way through Catalina Island before setting in the Pacific at 16:50 the evening of Wed. 12_08_04.
Almost seven years ago, and again someday soon with a better camera, if I have anything to say about it.
Favorite Dish: Coconut mahi mahi with an appetizer of iced raw oysters, mussels and shrimp.
Bring your camera and make a reservation for sunset:
Beach House Sunset Times
Huge handmade sandwiches at reasonable prices for the area. Espresso is acceptable, not great. typical coffee house/small deli fare.
Favorite Dish: Try the Canyon sandwich. Quite large, full of veggies. Approx $7 for large, Spring/2008
A carefully decorated, charming cafe that fell out of a Midsummer Night's Dream and into Laguna Beach. The food is delicious and prepared with the utmost care. Awesome coffee bar that brews Dietrich's Coffee. Everything on the menu is amazing. Try it all - and chat up an elf while you are at it! Totally a place where fairies and gnomes would come for a chat, a song, or a dance.
Favorite Dish: The Smoked Salmon Bagel is pretty amazing.
Delicious California / Mexican food in an incredible location.
Las Brisas has its terrace on the cliff right next to Heisler park.
Everything you want to know about and how to find it is at this link:
Las Brisas website
Favorite Dish: Catch of the day with seafood enchilada.
Even if Mexican food is not your thing, at least sit on the terrace at "magic hour" / sunset with a margarita.
The view is incredible, and Heisler park right across Cliff rd. is one of the most beautiful walks in Laguna Beach.
Very quaint restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway, right at Laguna Main Beach. You can enjoy breakfast and a chat while watching the aqua waves crash on the shoreline. Food is awesome; the experience is cathartic.
Favorite Dish: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes, served with wedge potatoes and toasted fresh bread.
A Laguna Beach legend. You don't come to the Royal Hawaiian for the food. You come for the kitschy Polynesian decor and the drinks. In particular, the Lapu Lapu. The Lapu Lapu is a Mai Tai-type concoction served in a fish-bowl glass. Once you've had one, you can stomach the food. If you're foolhardy enough to have 2, you'll likely be found the next morning face down in the sand. You'll be lucky if you have your trousers on.
Favorite Dish: Head straight to the bar and grab a Lapu Lapu.
Hennessey's bar and restaurant is a great spot to have lunch and a traditional Irish stout. It is located right across from the main beach in Laguna and has outdoor seating. They regularly have live music and it is one of the locals hangout.
Favorite Dish: Fish and Chips
The Studio is the formal restaurant at the lovely Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. We celebrated our 25h anniversary here and it was very nice. After catching the sunset, we changed into our formal attire and lingered in the gorgeous lobby by the fire, the restaurant is a short walk away from the main lobby. We ordered appetizers, had our Archery Summit Pinot Noir decantered and also enjoyed our entrees and dessert. I had the John Dory which was a nice portion fish in a Teryaki glaze, my husband had the Fillet Mignon. Desserts were brought out with Happy Anniversary which was a nice touch.
Our service was outstanding, the Sommelier came to our table and tasted our wine and then helped us order accordingly. A very nice dinner!
Favorite Dish: The John Dory seafood entree, desserts, appetizers
Decent little bistro / restaurant with delicious desserts, pastries, also with a rear terrace facing the main beach right in the middle of downtown.
This is a highly recommended place for when you have a taste for french, breakfast (until 4:30pm!) but also excellent dinner or cafe and dessert.
Try the dark chocolate espresso cake with some strong coffee on the terrace at night after dinner. It was excellent.
Favorite Dish: They serve (among other things) - Escargot, Bouillabaisse, Veal Osso buco, Duck Confit.
I thought this was a find and I went back.
Check out the website:
C'est La Vie Laguna Beach
When we went in they asked if we wanted to sit inside for a more formal dinner or outside and eat off the lunch menu. We wanted to eat outside, if they had heaters on the patio. Of course, they did. First we wanted to order a margarita, after we made up our mind what flavor we would like to try. They had several to chose from so my son had a regular one, my daughter tried pineapple, and I just had a glass of wine.
I had not eaten Mexican food in years but I remembered that I did at one time love Nachos.
Everyone enjoyed their meal, the location, and the service was very good.
We would recommend this restaurant to everyone.
Favorite Dish: I had nachos. They were delicious. They have margaritas in several different flavos that are great also.
(Pronounced "Clay's") - Upscale with an excellent view of the beach through "knee-to-ceiling" level large windows.
This is another place to catch sunset with dinner. You can also (though not officially part of Claes) sit outside on the Hotel Laguna terrace for drinks and a more limited menu from the terrace bar.
All menus and amenities can be checked out in detail at the website listed below.
Winelist covers the gamut from Cristal to Staggs Leap.
Claes is quiet, upscale and formal, certainly not cheap.
Favorite Dish: Steamed Manilla clams, black tea smoked duck breast, seared ahi tuna.
I also enjoyed an armagnac on the terrace for dessert.
Here is the menu:
Here is the winelist:
( a 2Mb PDF download)
If you're looking for good eats away from the "must look good at all times" vibe of main beach, this is one of the best local dives in south Laguna. The place is TINY! Almost no one eats inside the place because there is just a little bar w/ barstools (about 5) and a couple of tables outside. But that doesn't stop anyone from pulling up outside and ordering a great lunch/dinner to go.
Favorite Dish: 2 Chicken tacos. Yummie!!!! I've tried most of their food, and really like the carnitas. But will always go back to the chicken tacos. They're super-yummie.
You might walk past this little taco shack on PCH without giving it much notice but that would be a true shame! There are lots of vegetarian options, seafood and of course yummy mexican food with a California flare. All the seating is outside so you can enjoy the sun and watch the locals stroll by. And to make it even better, prices are extremely reasonable!
Favorite Dish: The tofu mushroom burgers are to die for. You may be thinking that a tofu burger is only for hardcore vegetarians but even the most manly men will be begging for more. The trick is they add lots of fresh guacomole, sauteed mushrooms and salsa to make it incredibly tasty.