There are so many things to do in Laguna Beach-surf, hike, browse the galleries and museums, sun bathe-but don't waste a moment scrolling through Yelp reviews trying to figure out where to eat. Take it from a local.
Follow this culinary itinerary to guarantee that breakfast through dessert becomes a memorable experience. Spend your vacation soaking up rays, catching waves or hiking the canyon. We've got tantalizing tastes taken care of.
Breakfast: Active Culture
Active Culture is the perfect place to jump right into Laguna Beach's organic healthy food lifestyle. Pick up a Quinoa Lentil Bowl, a protein-filled combination of rustic kale, crunchy sunflower seeds, tasty lemon vinaigrette, signature "slammin' sauce" and more. Nosh on the Southwest Wrap-organic black and red beans, flavorful avocado, green cilantro and piquant salsa-as you head to the beach. Whatever I order, I wash it down with one of Active Culture's smoothies or shakes, such as the Berry Tasty smoothie, made with organic açaí and fresh blueberries, raw organic almond milk, organic frozen coconut, fair-trade dark chocolate, raw cocoa powder and vanilla.
Lunch: Tommy Bahama Bar & Grill
After an active morning and afternoon at the beach, I like to meander north to enjoy lunch or happy hour at sunset at Tommy Bahama, a lively downtown eatery. The dining room, decorated with warm wood paneling, imparts a laid-back Laguna Beach atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. For an appetizer, try the fish tacos-bright pink Ahi in a crispy wonton shell, topped with crunchy, island slaw and drizzled with a light green wasabi-avocado créme. I love the lump blue crab and avocado salad; a Southern California dream on a plate. Beneath the crab and California avocados is shredded romaine lettuce, vine-ripe tomatoes, feta cheese and red onions, all dressed in a tangy lime-caper vinaigrette. Leave room for the piña colada cake.
Head south along Coast Highway, to Mozambique for a taste of South Africa set to live music. Discover the vibrancy of peri-peri spices, livening up prawns, wood-fired steak or chicken. The deep red seasoning gives off a slow burn that keeps you coming back for more. Prepare for your main course with appetizers such as Alaskan King crab legs, which come with a vibrant horseradish cream and velvety seafood aioli. Signature entrees include Atlantic lobster, Chilean sea bass, Mahi Mahi and Durban lamb curry. Take in these delicious tastes as you're immersed in the sounds of a live band playing blues, funk, rock, Motown or reggae, whisking you away into the night. Pair your food with a refreshing, slightly fizzy African mojito, made with citrus vodka, muddled red grapes and lemon soda, all topped with a float of Chambord. And when you're ready to call it a night, take advantage of their complimentary shuttle service, which will take you within a three-mile radius.
Breakfast: Nick's Laguna Beach
Continue your beachfront culinary journey with a great selection of breakfast items at the ever-popular Nick's Laguna Beach. Start off with a Bloody Mary-made with a savory-spicy mix and garnished with a speared, fried, blue cheese-stuffed olive-or a bubbly mimosa served with organic, cold-pressed orange juice and dry Champagne from Burgundy, France. Nick's grilled asparagus omelet is a vegetarian dream as it has sumptuous Brie cheese, zesty chives, sautéed mushrooms and egg whites. Or, go for the big one and order the Filet & Lobster Benedict, which has chunks of succulent lobster on top of an English muffin, finished with Nick's signature Hollandaise sauce. Don't miss out on side dishes, such as fresh-baked, buttery biscuits and award-winning Nueske's Applewood smoked bacon. Dine indoors to watch the chefs in the exhibition kitchen, or on the outdoor patio-great for people watching.
Lunch: The Deck on Laguna Beach
For lunch, happy hour or both, you'll want to feast at the aptly named restaurant, The Deck, which offers the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy unsurpassed views of Main Beach. The Deck's specialty is seafood. I like to start with oysters on the half shell. Other faves are The Deck's salty and savory clam chowder, or Baja shrimp cocktail with four types of seafood, as well as freshly caught fish. They've also got salads and sandwiches, along with their infamous beach burger featuring sharp Vermont cheddar melted over Nueske's bacon and a house special blend chuck patty, with herbaceous arugula and vine-ripe tomato chipotle for a little bit of sweetness. Life is good at The Deck.
Dinner: Three Seventy Common
At Three Seventy Common, dishes combine a number of international influences such as Mexican, French, Italian and Mediterranean using locally sourced meats and produce. Among the small plates, the broccolini with a fried egg is a must. The bone marrow, short rib, pork loin with BBQ mac n' cheese and the wild salmon are revered by the locals. The last Sunday of the month, Chef Ryan's famous three-course fried chicken dinner is served family-style (reservations a must!). Fun nightly specials, too. Delicious cocktails complement the menu, such as the Chupacabra, made with tequila, lime, cilantro, cucumber and agave. I like to customize mine by making it spicy, an option that Three Seventy Common is happy to accommodate. Deal-seeking adventurers will enjoy Tuesdays, where you can enjoy a mysterious "brown-bagged" bottle of wine for $15. Diners who enjoy a proper wine pairing should come on Wednesdays, when there's a three-course dinner option with paired glasses. For those with a sweet tooth, try the bourbon bread pudding or seasonal berry shortcake.
Laguna Beach is one of the top culinary destinations in Southern California thanks to fantastic food and prime oceanfront locales for impressive mealtime views. Are you staying for longer than two days? No problem. Awesome options abound-consider this list your head start.
Discover all the great restaurants of Laguna Beach.