Breakfast & First Things
Zinc Café & Market
350 Ocean Avenue | (949) 494-6302
Our favorite all-around restaurant and retail in Laguna, Zinc will always be #1 in our hearts. Beyond the Zinclinis and the perfect poaches, we just can’t think of a dreamier place for a foggy Saturday morning breakfast than their box-hedged patio. The village hub for carefully crafted coffees and chance reconnections, we’re also powerless to resist the adjoining shop’s South of France-feeling retail stocked with dinnerware, textiles and cookbooks it will pain you to leave behind.
1456 South Coast Highway | (949) 494-1577
Follow the cutest brick walkway in town toward the cobalt awning and its brightly painted Dutch door, the top always open if Andree’s is. A 1960’s time capsule of a bakery awaits, presided over by the patron saint of ‘fresh baked daily’, owner Ron Reno. The assortment of baked goods is indeed heavenly: Danishes, croissants, muffins, cookies and Bear Claws and Elephant Ears as big as their namesakes. It is a place for longtime regulars, and those who simply appreciate seeing a maestro at work.
Madison Square & Garden Café
320 North Coast Highway | (949) 494-0137
An al fresco eatery in the heart of North Laguna’s Gallery Row, Madison Square serves up breakfast and lunch classics in a dreamy patio setting. The small retail shop includes an array of found objects ranging from kitschy to curio, and the result is a deeply nourishing morning.
303 Broadway Street | (949) 494-6296
A Sunday morning staple, this tiny Broadway Street storefront is home to our favorite bagel creations anywhere. Try the famous CTA (cream cheese – tomato – avocado) with plenty of lemon pepper – it’s a simple combination that’s also blow-your-mind delicious.
Sapphire & Sapphire Pantry
1200 South Coast Highway | (949) 715-9889
A green cottage with bright white trim in The Old Pottery Place, Sapphire‘s paved brick patio is steps from “The Greeter” and a world away from your average ‘by the beach’ lunch fare. Locals come for the fresh sangrias and seafood classics with a mideast twist. We can never resist a second order of the house made potato chips or the signature cocktails (plus they have one of our favorite rosés by the glass). Equally wonderful is the artisanal showcase on display at next door gourmet store and takeout counter Sapphire Pantry. An impressive selection of small batch favorites, impeccable coffees, a cheese lover’s chamber and an off-menu burger with a diehard following are all part of what makes this jewel shine.
238 Thalia Street | (949) 494-8101
A throwback bastion of vegan/vegetarian offerings, The Stand has been turning out health-minded Mexican dishes for generations of Lagunans. Order at the counter and snag a seat on the casual little patio for a guilt-free grubfest.
Carmelita’s Kitchen de Mexico
217 Broadway Street | (949) 715-7829
This relatively recent addition to the well-trodden heart of Laguna’s village offers a tasty take on beach-Mex cuisine. Industrial design touches are balanced by Mexican tiles and lantern chandeliers, the overall vibe one of modern warmth. And dishes like grilled fish tacos, slow-braised carnitas, surprisingly flavorful spinach enchiladas and no shortage of fresh salsas leave no question that Carmelita’s is here to stay.
Broadway by Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre Street | (949) 715-8234
Broadway first envelops you in a warm union of textures and hospitality, the feeling that you’ve come to the right place accompanying you to your seat. Amar Santana’s Spanish-fusion is intriguing in concept and excellent in execution, from the exquisite cocktails (we couldn’t get over the flat-out deliciousness of the Native Sun or the Loucette), to the giant leg of jamón ibérico sliced paper-thin with a simple complement of Marconas and Manchego. A toothsome, mint-laced cavatelli felt revelatory, and the perfect egg raviolo was slurp-your-sauce good. The overall experience was one of surprise and delight; we’ve already scheduled our return.
30801 South Coast Highway | (949) 715-6420
The Montage resort’s fine dining overture shines in its polished position above Treasure Island. A special occasion restaurant so singular that a close friend selected it as her wedding site, the vast wine cellar and rich menu accents impress, but it’s the flawless service that you’ll remember long after your reservation time has passed.
30862 South Coast Highway | (949) 497-8226
Without exception, La Sirena is the local’s recommended favorite for sustainable ‘MexECO’ fare. Everything we’ve ever tasted here is so good that it doesn’t really matter what you order, though the blackened wild salmon burrito, fresh corn tortilla tacos and addictive guac are all go-to cravings. We love the original cubbyhole on Mermaid Street at breakfast time, and the South Laguna outpost for dinner (with a side of the best spicy margaritas in town).
234 Forest Avenue | (949) 497-8222
The red brick interior at this lively Italian cucina lends a downtown feel to the neighborhood choice for thin-crust pizzas and solid, traditional pastas. A particularly inspired crop of shareable, cheese-centric appetizers helps you begin your meal on a high note.
Nightcaps & Desserts
The Lobby Lounge
30801 South Coast Highway | (866) 271-6953
It seems that every occasion – Christmas toast, beach afternoon, Mother’s Day mimosa – would be well-suited for drinks and biscotti bites at the Montage’s sprawling, refined cabin living room and terrace. Its cedar-scented ambiance and comfy seating clusters enfold you in the sort of contented ease you’re slow to leave.
446 South Coast Highway | (949) 494-5469
This historic ode to a New York loft mixes up fruit-infused drinks and supplies the city’s most impressive scotch selection. A hip hideaway on Laguna’s main drag, this is a great place to begin or end your evening.
448 South Coast Highway | (949) 376-6272
The right place for a cool drink after a hot day on the beach, Watermarc is one of the crowded Pacific Coast Highway haunts worth a visit. Its extensive wine list and tasty mixologist concoctions wet the whistle, while the 3:30 – 5:30 Happy Hour is extra incentive to take time for a proper cocktail.