With perfect beachside weather going strong this season, visitors and locals are sure to be scouting out the best local restaurants. Whether you’re looking for brunch or dinner with decadent dishes, these OC hotspots provide the perfect mix of great views, creative cocktails and delicious bites.
Bourbon Steak, Dana Point
If you’ve ever been to the Waldorf Astoria in Orange County (previously the Monarch Beach Resort), you know you should expect nothing but the best when it comes to their overall resort experience. Every single detail of the resort has always been first class from the ambiance to the service to the culinary scene. Add famous restaurateur Michael Mina’s golden touch to an existing classic, and you have Bourbon Steak. Rivaling any of the big players in Orange County, Mina has made his mark once again solidifying himself even deeper into the fast-growing restaurant scene in SoCal.
With jaw-dropping, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Bourbon Steak brings a new level of class to a resort that has been long-standing as one of the best on the West Coast. Mina’s signature butter-poached and dry-aged prime steaks are still the showstoppers, now throw in creative locally sourced dishes that showcase the best locally sourced seafood, meats and produce and you have a winner.
No steakhouse would be complete without an extensive cocktail program. The mixologists have created an old meets new cocktail menu that will have you wondering which generation to join. With the trifecta of stunning landscape views, sumptuous steaks and seafood along with an intricate libation program one can’t go wrong when booking a reservation at Bourbon Steak.
Andrea, Newport Coast
An all-time favorite of ours, Andrea at Pelican Hill is classic Italian with a setting that is honestly hard to beat. Located inside one of the most prestigious resorts in California, Andrea boasts one of the most stunning views around. Panoramic views of the resort’s golf course set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean looking almost like a painting thanks to its incredible color display and dramatic landscape.
Starting each day by hand-rolling more than a dozen fresh kinds of pasta, simmering scratch-made sauces and tossing together only the most seasonal ingredients to create original dishes is what sets this restaurant apart. Start with the Mediterranean Octopus or Eggplant Parmigiana; both provide an excellent introduction into what is to come. For entrees indulge in the Braised Veal Ossobuco, Prime Filet Mignon or Grilled Branzino. It would be a sin to miss out on the chef’s favorite side dish, the Tableside Barrel-Aged Acquerello Risotto. The chef will come out and prepare this right before your eyes and as he scrapes the top of the cheese wheel into the creamy risotto mixed with forest mushrooms you might find yourself salivating just a little!
Water Grill, Costa Mesa
Quickly becoming a local favorite in the OC, Water Grill displays an intimate and warm ambiance, with dark tones and elegant ocean-inspired decor. The menu hosts an array of sumptuous options, and each item is carefully presented on each plate. A must-try to begin is a variety of oysters from the Raw Bar which are sourced from Eastern and Pacific destinations from Maryland to British Columbia and Mexico.
Priding itself the use of nutritious local ingredients, Water Grill offers a wide range of seafood from shellfish platters loaded with Wild Littleneck Clams from Long Island to Large Channel Islands Red Sea Urchin. Noteworthy starters include the Atlantic Cod Fish Tacos, Wild Maldives Bigeye Tuna Poke and the Wedge Salad. For mains, we recommend the Double Ranch Filet Mignon and Wild North American Hard Shell Lobster paired with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes to top off the meal.
Socialize in the informal lounge located near the entrance for a post-dinner cocktail to extend the evening. Complete with a warm and inviting feel, mixed with exquisite design, Water Grill creates a trendy ambiance that is also perfect for happy hour if you decide to arrive before dinner.
Finish off your culinary journey with a decadent dose of Maple Cheesecake, served with Sour Cream Ice Cream or the Caramel Bread Pudding topped with Alaea Red Sea Salt. Whether you visit on a romantic dinner date or an evening out with a group, Water Grill promises to fill your belly with comfort food, enticing flavors and fresh ingredients within every bite.
Coastal Kitchen, Dana Point
There is no question that Orange County is home to some of the best waterfront dining in the World, but Coastal Kitchen is a standout all its own. Dating back to the 1920’s the property was once a commercial building and now an all-time favorite gathering spot offering the highest quality food in a friendly atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. Located off one of SoCal’s most beautiful beaches Coastal Kitchen boasts the most stunning sunset views around, with signature dishes served in a laidback setting, making this restaurant a triple threat.
Coastal Kitchen owners Michael and Christina Grant strive to create a memorable dining experience for guests every day, treating each customer like family that makes a meal here a notable standout. Coastal Kitchen’s menu is an authentic melody of fresh Seafood and American fare that will make you become a regular after your first bite. Toast to your visit with a Dutch Mule, mixed to perfection with Nolet’s Gin, Ginger Beer, and Grapefruit. Pair your libation with the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes or Pan-Roasted Grouper with Crispy Rock Shrimp; both are foodie favorites found here that will take your meal to a new level. Follow-up the evening with an order of the restaurant’s signature S’mores Pie. It’s a recipe inspired from Grant’s children’s favorite treat with Graham Cracker Crust, Chocolate Mousse Filling and Fresh Meringue to solidify your first time at Coastal Kitchen a success.
Oliver’s Osteria, Laguna Beach
Laguna has been long known for its colorful art scene and of course its fabulous array of world-class restaurants. As you drive down Pacific Coast Highway you will be surrounded by an endless amount of fine eateries that dot the streets every direction you turn. Just off the 133 highway next to the famous Sawdust festival, you will find one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in all of Orange County, Oliver’s Osteria. From the moment you walk in the door, you feel as if you have been literally transported to Italy with the smells, sounds and atmosphere making you feel right at home. The staff is warm and welcoming, and within minutes you feel as if you are part of the family. Short after you are seated you can’t help but notice what others are eating around you. The smell of fresh garlic, baked bread and all the incredible pasta dishes fully awaken your taste buds so much that you may just want to order everything on the menu.
Owner and Executive Chef Erik De Marchi has brought his passion for traditional Italian classics using the finest of ingredients and delivering mouth-watering menu items day in and day out. Born and raised in Imola, Italy Chef De Marchi followed his passion in the culinary arts graduating with a degree from the IAL Culinary academy of Emilia-Romagna. Inspired from this aforementioned region of Italy Erik left his home country in 2002 where he landed in Los Angeles to work with renowned chef, Gino Angelini at where else but Angelini Osteria. After years of experience between Los Angeles award-winning restaurants Angelini Osteria and Via Veneto, Chef Erik decided it was time to create a restaurant of his own. October 2018 two major life events took place on the same day, Oliver’s Osteria was opened on the exact day of his son’s birth whose name was of course, well, Oliver. Chef Erik’s menu is filled with flavor-bursting dishes, from the salads to the pasta and risottos to the fresh seafood and meats to the classic Tiramisu you are in for a meal of a lifetime!