Laguna Beach is a whimsically romantic city all on its own, but you can't just bring your date here, twiddle your thumbs and expect them to be swept away. You still have to bring your a-game, and luckily for you, we've got the insider info on where to charm your date for Valentine's Day and all-year round. Thank us later when your significant other is so impressed by how thoughtful and sweet you are.
If you're looking to start your date a little early, Kitchen in the Canyon is a casual and charming café serving breakfast and lunch in the Civic Arts District, making for a cozy date spot outside the more bustling downtown area. Owner and chef Patrick DiGiacomo also offers hands-on cooking classes where you and your partner can learn to create various dishes together. We spoke to DiGiacomo, and he likes to consider these experiences as "cooking events" rather than classes because patrons are immersed in every aspect over the course of three hours. From a relaxing and delicious start with charcuterie to learning various useful cooking skills while drinking wine, this experience will surely make for a wonderful date.
This modern Argentinian steakhouse takes traditional mesquite fire grilling to the next level by taking this culinary influence and pairing it with the simplicity and health-conscientiousness of the Southern California palette. With this unique and pointed focus, Maro delivers astounding options for a lovely meal. Anything cooked on their open fire grill, like their Grilled Shishito Peppers with Horseradish Aioli, provide a distinct smoky flavor and are delicious starters to share. Want to make a truly memorable impression? Their Ribeye Cap Steak comes from the end piece of ribeye that is both rare to obtain and a mind-blowingly tender section that will leave you very satisfied. Order this and you will not only "meat" but exceed your date's expectations.
Open since 1996, 230 Forest Avenue is a Laguna Beach dining institution. Not only does this spot have its own clout to speak to its excellence, Chef and owner Marc Cohen continues to modernize California cuisine by regularly sourcing the finest ingredients and innovating on his already delicious menu. We absolutely loved Cohen's take on the new Tuna Tartare with ahi tuna, papaya, avocado, ginger, ponzu, bell pepper, puffed rice, and onions. This starter was spicy, sweet, tangy, and a beautifully refreshing appetizer to start with. We'd order that and a couple other dishes to share because sharing is not only caring but always more charming and romantic.
One absolute must that's been on the menu since the restaurant opened: their Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding. Fresh chocolate croissants are delivered to the restaurant, then deconstructed into a new, creamy bread pudding mixture, and then paired with vanilla ice cream, a whiskey anglaise and seasonal berries. It is divine and a perfectly sweet ending to your date.
4. Las Brisas
Nothing says romance like alfresco dining right by Heisler Park, overlooking the beach and watching the pink sunset slowly fall and transform into a deep midnight blue. This is what Las Brisas delivers, as the beloved upscale Mexican restaurant that is all about atmosphere and ambience. Start with the Oysters on the Half Shell for a sumptuous and creamy bite that's cut by the acidity and freshness of their Watermelon Mignonette. Order a few cocktails, a couple of shareable eats and enjoy your company at this dreamy seaside cantina.
Pro Tip: Go around Happy Hour and seat yourself outside along the circular table with a fire pit in the middle. Ask your server to turn it on and turn the heat up for your date ;)