People want great food but also do not want to spend a fortune for it. This is a modern-day culinary dilemma for most, and being in Laguna Beach, with such an array of restaurants, it can be a hard place to navigate through. We're here to help with a list laying out places with fantastic food at affordable prices. You can thank us later, but for now, just read along and enjoy feeling like you just beat the system.
A beloved family-owned institution, Active Culture is a resident hotspot and for good reason. The portions are large, the ingredients are organic, and the myriad of healthy, great-value options seem endless. After ordering the colorful, fruit-filled Bountiful Bowl ($10.95) for breakfast or a Mexican-inspired and popular Wholesome Bowl ($10.95) for lunch, you can also indulge in their satisfying yet guiltless frozen yogurt bar.
P.S. - We want the secret OG Sauce from the Wholesome Bowl on everything, but they are not sharing the recipe. So, we keep going back for more.
Japanese cuisine has a complicated reputation. Too expensive and people shy away. Too cheap and people are skeptical of quality. O Fine Japanese Cuisine alters that perspective by serving high-grade sushi and creative combinations at unbelievable prices. Do not be fooled by its strip-mall like location. With superb signature rolls offered at half price for half the roll, this is a perfect way to either save money or try a variety. Also be sure to order one of their kitchen or sushi specials. For lunch, they have dishes like Grilled Wagyu Steak ($15) on a sizzling platter which comes with miso soup, salad, rice, sautéed vegetables and your choice of a sushi roll. You read that right - all of that for $15. It is almost too good to be true, but it is real and very delicious. Feeling extra hungry? For $2, you can add on an appetizer like their creamy and crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura.
Another Kind Café is a downright delicious and authentic Vietnamese spot, serving both fusion specials and classics. Unassumingly situated on Laguna Canyon Road, you could unintentionally drive by and miss it, but that would be a mistake. Indulge in the Spicy Pulled Pork French Fries and balance it with the Lotus Root Salad. Traditionally a luxury item in Vietnam, the Lotus Root Salad here is regularly only $12.95, but for Happy Hour (3-6pm), this and all other small plates become $6. While we are certainly impressed by the food, we truly love the people and the family story behind this spot. The family's lives run so evidently through the veins of this café. The mother inspired all the dishes' recipes, the interior designer sister arranged the space, and the father added antique furniture pieces from their house. Go here knowing you will feel at home, and toast with them as they celebrate their 1 year anniversary this month.
4. Wine Gallery
Owner Chris Olsen, whose motivation stems from drinking and making great wine, uses his passion at the core of this eclectic, high-caliber food and wine bar. Wine Gallery is classy yet comfortable, and although it is slightly pricier than others on the list, their focus on sublime hospitality experience and quality food makes it worthwhile. After being wined and dined here, you will feel the same way too. Order the Spicy Cauliflower, Fish Tacos, and at least one Wood Fire Pizza. During their Happy Hour (5-7pm), the Daily Pie becomes half price and the Calabrese Pizza, Olsen's current favorite, becomes $8. Pair it with wine, and take off $2 each glass during Happy Hour. In terms of wine selection, have complete faith and trust in them, knowing you will not be steered wrong. If you see Mile 216, know that it is Olsen's brand, and it is sensational.
5. Slice (Coming Soon)
Although not yet open, we are excited for Slice Laguna Beach to be on this list. Why? Owner Cary Redfearn has imported a 7,000-lb. pizza oven straight from Italy to create an elevated experience at his fast-quality pizza concept. With a special flour mix for crispy, light yet chewy dough and forty different ingredients for ultimate pizza customization, expect excellence. Also expect new vegetarian specials every single day. Lastly, there will be an eighteen tap, self-serve beer and wine wall where you pay for what you pour. This full control over your dining experience combined with Redfearn's fervor for creating the perfect pizza gives us the utmost confident for their mid-October opening.