“Where to eat” is an ongoing list series that will be updated frequently
$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $20
$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $40
$$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $60
- Bandera ($$-$$$) Situated under the Hillstone restaurant umbrella, Bandera evokes the company's traditionally dim, somewhat romantic atmosphere and reliable eats and drinks.
- Orange Inn ($) A solid - and very small - sandwich spot/cafe located in the heart of Laguna Beach.
- Splashes ($$$) This is my favorite restaurant in Laguna Beach. What's not to love (...except the prices and the noise level)? Seaside dining and cocktails/wine at its absolute best.
- Summer House ($$) Intimate, yet warming and inviting, Summer House is the perfect venue for a casual family - or date - meal in the neighborhood.
- The Quiet Woman ($$-$$$) Fabulous cocktails, live music on Tues-Sat, decent - albeit pricey - grub, and some of the best cougar sightings in town!
- True Food Kitchen ($$) Healthy food that doesn't suck. Period. The location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach comes equipped with a spacious outdoor patio and...drum roll, please...alcohol!
- Wilma's Patio ($-$$) My favorite spot on Balboa Island boasts a multi-faceted menu with something for everyone. I am particularly fond of their Mexican cuisine.
Cuisine: Bakeries, coffee, sweet shops
- B Candy ($) One of the cutest candy shops that I've encountered in a very long time, not to mention legit. Why do I say that? Because, in addition to candy, they carry an assortment of delicious, handmade frosted cookies and uniquely flavored, artisanal ice creams. I highly recommend the cookies (my favorite is the frosted surf board).
- Cafe Lucca ($) While I cannot comment on the rest of the menu, Cafe Lucca's handmade gelato is, without a doubt, the best I've had in the country.
- Portola Coffee Lab ($) The closest thing to an artisanal NYC coffee shop this side of Brooklyn. I recommend the "flat white," which is similar to a Cuban cortado (espresso and warm milk).
- Sweet Jill's Bakery ($) Fudge and chocolate chip cookie dough-topped brownies. Need I say more? Didn't think so.
- Pirozzi ($$-$$$) It's hard to believe that this hot new Italian once housed a KFC! Indulge in fabulous fare - think great pizzas and steaks - much of which is cooked in the wood-burning oven. Try to score an al-fresco table over looking the bustling Pacific Coast Highway.
Cuisine: Japanese, sushi
- Sota Sushi ($$) While we didn't particularly enjoy the rolls, Sota'splated dishes are fantastic, namely the carpaccios, and the "sizzles."
- Avila's El Ranchito($-$$) Traditional Cal-Mex at its best; no frills, just solid plates of delicious - albeit greasy - Mexican food (just the way I like it).
- Sol Cocina ($$) Come here for the views and the location; stay here for the gratis chips, salsa, and black bean dip.
- Fleming's Prime Steakhouse ($$$) Although it's a chain, Fleming's runs its steakhouses like tight, well-oiled ships. You can depend on a sexy, masculine-modern atmosphere, skilled and knowledgeable employees, a nice array of wines and cocktails and, most importantly, tasty grub.
- Mozambique ($$-$$$) Perfectly situated, multi-level space boasting a rooftop with one of the best unobstructed ocean views of Laguna Beach. Menu is a bit confused, it seems, as the restaurant is more of a mish-mash of global cuisines; not a traditional/proper "steakhouse." Are there even steaks offered on the menu?
- The Bungalow($$$) Quite possibly, my favorite steakhouse in the country because of its unique, "non-chain" atmosphere, steaks so tender that you could cut them with a fork, strong cocktails, and excellent sides.