Our guide to Laguna Beach’s best restaurants

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Our guide to Laguna Beach’s best restaurants

10 Best Restaurants in Laguna Beach Right Now

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Courtesy of Selanne Steak TavernCourtesy: Selanne Steak Tavern

From tacos on the beach to fine dining and spots with Michelin stars, these are the best restaurants in Laguna Beach

Thursday August 31 2023

Courtesy: Selanne Steak Tavern

San Diego & SoCal Correspondent

Laguna Beach isn't your ordinary Orange County resort town. It has become beloved worldwide as a de facto artist colony where creative people come to explore and innovate. All that productivity needs fuel, and the best restaurants in Laguna Beach hold up their end of the bargain. There are many options here, from tacos on the beach to Michelin Stare and much more. Whisper it, but Laguna Beach might be the OC’s most rewarding foodie destination. 

A gorgeous place in many ways, Laguna Beach boasts an international culinary mix right at home, amongst the sunshine and ocean breezes. We can’t promise that these dishes will bring out the artist in you, but they will satisfy your appetite.

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Best Laguna Beach restaurants

All the steaks and chops come with decadent truffle butter and bordelaise at Selanne Steak Tavern, located in a historic house on Pacific Coast Highway. Their nearly 3,000-bottle wine list ensures a solid vino pairing for anything on the menu, which includes a dedicated wagyu section. The risotto with seasonal truffle oil is a crowd favorite for side dishes. Selanne has five separate dining areas, including a wine library and sunset terrace. 

Nick's is a neighborhood favorite that makes it look easy with spot-on renditions of American staples served in a handsome, lively space. The restaurant is a local gold standard for breakfast and lunch faves such as Bloody Marys, jumbo market salads, and towering fish sandwiches. Their beloved bacon-deviled eggs and asparagus fries could run for office. Nab a seat on the front patio overlooking the main drag on Pacific Coast Highway and watch the bustling scene parade by.

The drinks and good vibes flow at this buzzy, alfresco restaurant and bar plunked directly on the sand. This type of FOMO-inspiring place occasionally peppers your feed with envy. With chilled-out beats and sweet ocean air, the ambiance resembles a spirited beach party more than a sit-down eatery. Enjoy mahi-mahi sandwiches, lobster quesadillas, and cilantro-spiked margaritas between waterfront selfies.

At Gu Ramen, laid-back izakaya pairs food truck-style Japanese fare with craft brews and sake. Cap off a day at Thalia Street Beach with a frosty cold one and tasty drinking foods, including pork belly sliders, fried rice, and crispy lollipop chicken. The namesake ramen comes in a creamy tonkatsu broth with a choice of protein, heat level, and seemingly limitless toppings.

Las Brisas is a prominent Mexican restaurant offering legendary brunch, sunset margaritas, and ocean vistas from a dazzling waterfront patio. This Laguna Beach mainstay has a dreamy setting on palm tree-lined bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Weekend brunch is a champagne-fueled, four-course affair with entree choices such as lobster benedict, chilaquiles, and brioche French toast. Come sunset, it’s a toss-up for what’s more intoxicating: the ocean views or Cadillac margaritas.

Denim and tat-sporting waitstaff serve of-the-moment California fare in a modern setting. The far-reaching menu at Oak Laguna Beach reflects current food trends and yields popular dishes such as hot chicken sandwiches, skirt steak tacos, and pan-roasted salmon. Whiskey cocktails and craft beers keep the sleek, second-floor dining room humming while ocean views delight those basking on the wrap-around deck.

This comfy, upscale dining room features composed plates alongside the best cocktails in town. Chef Amar Santana takes popular globe-hopping dishes such as hamachi sashimi, Spanish octopus, and Mediterranean branzino, making them his own with vivid swaths of intensely flavorful sauces. The serious talent behind the bar compliments Santana’s cooking with seasonal, culinary-inspired drinks.

Laguna Beach’s omakase triumph is a Michelin Star marvel, serving delicious seasonal dishes embellished by tantalizing jams and fragrant sauces. Rebel’s menu features some fish that you won’t find on other menus in the area, unique offerings like cornet and udami while the classics are prepared with care and confidence. Reservations are a must, as they should be for a place like this.

The Royal Hawaiian is a stylish reboot of the classic tiki haunt, swapping kitsch for class with Insta-worthy interiors and gorgeous, orchid-adorned libations. The tiki gods were appeased when this 1947 restaurant received a fashionable makeover with palm print-shrouded interiors, rejiggered cocktails, and a contemporary take on faux-exotic pupus, including ahi poke, empanadas, and grilled sausage. Order a Lapu Lapu, the restaurant’s potent, signature drink served in a swizzle stick-embellished glass or giant, shareable clamshell.

Firing up the grill since 1999, the downtown Laguna Beach outpost of La Sirena sits within a cozy beach cottage. Don't be surprised if you see a big old crowd lining up outside this joint—at a minimal distance from the surf (two blocks) and serving up made-from-scratch Mexican food; La Sirena Grill is in high demand. After locals (and tourists) have enjoyed a swim, surf, or sunbathe, they head to La Sirena. Why? Because it's the go-to spot to pick up vibrant and succulent salmon burritos, avocado lime salads, and watermelon-strawberry agua frescas. The second locale in south Laguna offers roomier digs, bright margaritas, and several beers on tap. Both venues try to be eco-conscious, too, adopting reclaimed wood as part of the dining room interior and using sustainably sourced ingredients. 

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

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Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

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By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.


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