Laguna Beach has been on my travel list for over 10 years now, ever since the show – Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County – first aired on MTV back in 2004. The anticipation to visit Orange County only grew due to my obsession with the show and all the drama that came with it, not to mention the beautiful beaches and people of SoCal. Being from the New York area, I did indeed find most people in Southern California to be happy and friendly, might be the consistently great weather. Well, I finally visited Laguna Beach in 2016, needless to say I was beyond thrilled.
Charming, romantic, artsy with cute little boutiques and restaurants along the coastline, Laguna Beach certainly isn’t your average beach town. It has a rather ritzy, Mediterranean feel to it with breathtaking views of the pacific, especially during sunset. You’ll find the food here fresh, delicious and relatively healthy. When in Laguna Beach, grab cocktails and appetizers at sunset; it was one of the most memorable moments during my visit. Despite the weather being practically perfect all year round, you still need a light jacket or sweater due to a chilly breeze in the evening. Out of the few cities I visited in Orange County, Laguna Beach was my personal favorite due to its character. Here are a few culinary highlights of my trip.
|iconic view of Laguna Beach|
1. Las Brisas (cocktails & appetizers)
Come here any time of day or just before sunset and enjoy gorgeous views of Laguna Beach at the Patio. Great for people watching and relaxing. Grab a La Rosa Margarita!
Ultimate La Rosa – made with Corralejo Blanco, Patron Citronge, pomegranate and lime juice. Delicious margarita, strong, yet smooth.
Mojito Tropical – blended with Bacardi Pineapple Rum, pineapple and lime juices, simple syrup, fresh mint, coconut and a splash of sprite. My friend loved this drink, but it was way too sweet for me.
Complimentary Chips & Salsa – well made salsa, had a serious kick to it.
Ceviche de Pescado – sea bass and shrimp marinated in fresh orange and lime with tomatoes, chilies, onions and cilantro. Fresh, delicious and flavorsome! Healthy too, a must-do!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Las Brisas
FAVORITES: Ultimate La Rosa Margarita | Ceviche de Pescado
OVERALL: 4.5 / 5
Las Brisas is the first restaurant I dined at in Laguna Beach and the views did not disappoint. The food here is fresh and delicious, and there are a variety of healthy food options on the menu. I highly recommend the La Rosa Margarita and Sea Bass Ceviche. Next time though, I wanna try their Guacamole, Peach Sangria and Sunday Brunch!
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Very Good | Décor: Romantic/Beach Views | Service: Friendly | Value: Good value for the views
2. The Rooftop Lounge @ Hotel La Casa del Camino (cocktails & appetizer)
First come, first served – arrive early to grab a spot! Breathtaking views during sunset. Succulent mojitos. Great date spot. A must-do!
Classic Mojito – made with Bacardi, fresh mint and lime. Initially a bit strong, but the bartender corrected this upon my request.
Mango Mojito – perfect and delicious!
Coconut Breaded Shrimp – it’s really hard to go wrong with anything fried, so yes, the coconut breaded shrimp was quite good. Between the Spicy Mango and Island-style Coleslaw sauces, I’m not sure which one was which, but I preferred the red sauce (slightly sweet) over the yellow (strange flavor). Additionally, the side salad with Asian flavorings topped with sesame seeds was fantastic.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Rooftop Lounge
CUISINE: Cocktail Bar/Lounge
FAVORITES: Mango Mojito | Side Salad that comes with Coconut Breaded Shrimp
OVERALL: 4 / 5
The Rooftop Lounge was packed before sunset, arrive early to grab a spot. The prices here are reasonable for the splendid views… $12 for a mojito is very reasonable IMO, though I regret not ordering a flavored Mojito. This is another spot in Laguna Beach that I wanna return to and next time I’d like to try the Sangria, Chicken Empanadas, Crab & Shrimp Ceviche and Burratta Bruschetta in Truffle Oil… sounds heavenly!
Food: Very Good | Drinks: Very Good | Décor: Romantic/Casual/Ocean Views | Service: Not Attentive | Value: Great value for views
3. Nick’s Laguna Beach (dinner)
Gastropub, trendy, lively, classic American! Loved the exposed brick walls. Make reservations as this place fills up quick! You simply can’t go wrong with the food here!
Cocktail & Starter:
Black & Blue Mojito – Malibu Rum, muddled blackberries & blueberries, mint and lime. Unique and delicious!
Shrimp Taquitos – jumbo blackened prawn taquitos topped with avocado salsa and chipotle ranch. The taquitos were delectable, such bright flavors!
Fish Tacos – 3 tacos topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and chunks of avocado. Granted the tacos were mouth-watering, a side of a chipotle ranch sauce would have been a nice touch.
San Francisco Cioppino – a hearty stew that consisted of jumbo prawns, salmon, sea bass and mussels, clams. The stew was quite tasty, but it lacked garlic and some spice. Having said that, I loved the chunks of salmon and other seafood in the stew. The Sourdough Loaf Bread on the side was out of this world… warm, buttery, garlicky with lots of herbs. Yum!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Nick’s Laguna Beach
CUISINE: American/Wine Bar
FAVORITES: Black & Blue Mojito | Shrimp Taquitos | Fish Tacos | Sourdough Loaf Bread that comes with the SF Cioppino
OVERALL: 4.5 / 5
The wait at Nick’s was long, and so we opted to sit at the bar. Our bartender was friendly and service was great! Nick’s offers an extensive wine list, additionally the food is amazing with an array of options to choose from. Next time, I want to try the Asparagus Fries, Blackened Fish Sandwich and Butter Cake that everyone has been raving about! Overall… solid, delicious, American food!
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Classy/Trendy | Service: Friendly/Attentive | Value: Good
Have you been to Laguna Beach? What restaurants do you recommend?