Mona Shah-Anderson is the secret driving force behind many of Orange County’s most prominent chefs. She owns and operates Moxxe Public Relations and her clients include beloved restaurants (and Laguna favorites) such as Driftwood Kitchen, The Deck on Laguna, and Slapfish.
The PR dynamo has deep roots in Laguna Beach and she visits every chance she gets—often with her seven-month old twins in tow. This week, between feeding her babies and shooting TV spots for her restaurant clients, she spoke with us about what keeps her coming back to Laguna Beach.
Laguna Beach is for explorers. When I moved to Orange County eight years ago, I got an apartment in North Laguna and spent as much time as I could walking the boardwalk, getting to know my neighbors at all the shops and galleries in town, and, of course, getting to known the local food scene.
My advice: PARK YOUR CAR. By the time my first summer rolled around, I’d moved to South Laguna. I had a “no driving on weekends” policy. I was walking distance from coffee and breakfast at Cafe Vienna (it has closed since then), tacos for lunch at Coyote Grill, and dinner at Eva's Caribbean Kitchen... and then there was my all-time favorite beach: Tablerock.
When I discovered the trolley, it changed everything. Even to this day, I'm obsessed with it. My now-husband, Paul, and I used to take the trolley to explore all the hidden beaches. That's when we discovered Wood's Cove. It became like a secret between us and we escaped there regularly. That “ding-ding” of the trolley bell makes me happy no matter when I hear it. [NOTE: FREE weekend trolley service begins Friday, March 6. Trolleys will run along PCH every Friday 4:00-11:00pm; Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm; and Sunday 11:00am-8:00pm; www.visitlagunabeach.com/trolley.]
Our sunset spot was always Aliso Beach Park and any time we could get home early enough to catch the sunset we were there. It was on that beach where Paul asked me to marry him. Out of the blue. On a bench. Even though we don't live there now, we find ourselves driving down when we can, just to catch a sunset and reminisce. That’s another “Laguna thing”: the town holds more than it’s fair share of incredible memories.
I think the dining scene in Laguna Beach is continually improving. Some of my favorite spots—aside from the restaurants I represent (Driftwood Kitchen was just named Best New Restaurant in Orange County by the OC Register)—are Broadway by Amar Santana (that man is a genius), Brussels Bistro (I love the late-night scene), Eva's Caribbean Kitchen (still, after all these years), Sapphire (Best. Steamed. Cheeseburgers. Ever.), and Studio at Montage (if you're buying, I'm there).
Laguna Beach has been the backdrop for some of the most magical moments of my life. It's a bold statement, but it's no exaggeration. My plan is to move back one day…that’s how captivating I find the town to be.