by Erin W Davis - 51 Reviews - 22 List
They say you're suppose to eat five full meals a day, right? Oh, that's five small meals? Well, I like the first one better. Orange County has so many incredible dining options, but if I had one day to eat just five meals down there, here's how I'd make it count.
Updated: February 09, 2010
Proud Mary's in the Dana Point Harbor is the perfect spot to start your day with the most important meal. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about this restaurant that initially reels you in, but once you've finished, you understand why the place is always packed to capacity. This family-owned restaurant brings in customers for the comfort-style food and the view of the harbor. Simply put, it's great food in a casual environment that has become a local favorite. My breakfast item picks are the Biscuits & Gravy and the Dana Point Scramble. And why choose just one? Be forewarned, however, that if you sit outside you will have to battle with the birds over your food, but that's part of the charm of this local hang.
No trip to Orange County is complete without a visit to the gorgeous Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach. It's their Studio restaurant that gets all the press and attention, as it should, but their other dining options deserve recognition as well. Take a leisurely walk along their Oceanside path and then head over to the Mosaic Bar & Grille to relax, catch some rays, and refuel. This poolside bar has much more to offer than just burgers and fries. With a menu packed full of California inspired foods like fish tacos and chicken burgers, it can be hard to decide what feast on. For me, it's a toss up between the Halibut Tacos and the Mahi Mahi Sandwich. Of course, you must accompany whatever you order with their Coconut Blended Margarita.
I just absolutely love the vibe of the Tommy Bahama restaurant in Corona Del Mar. It's got that relaxed island attitude that really makes you feel like you're on vacation. Even if I?m stuffed, I always find a way to sneak in a trip to this tropical cafe. Lunch and dinner are great here, but it's also perfect for that mid-afternoon snack. The things you have to order here are the Plantain Chips with Cinnamon and Sugar, the Coconut Shrimp, their Pi?a Colada Cake, and, of course, one of their tropical drinks.
If you want to go all out both calorie and spending wise, you really must go to Mastro's Ocean Club in Newport Beach. If you've been to the Beverly Hills location, you can expect a similar menu, but with more of an emphasis on seafood. And if you have been to the Beverly Hills spot, make sure not to pass this one up in lieu of somewhere ?new.? The Mastro's dining experience is an extraordinary one that, if you have the means, you should take advantage of whenever possible. There is a lively bar here that is known for attracting the Cougar scene, but if you're looking for a more romantic evening, the main part of the restaurant can deliver that as well. To really make dining at this location unique, I would suggest sitting outside where there's a view of the ocean just past PCH. I?d also suggest taking advantage of their seafood options. Just as with their Beverly Hills counterpart, they offer a build-your-own seafood tower. Get this! Another absolute must is the vanilla-battered shrimp. Entree wise you can't go wrong- there's a bevy of different fish and steaks to choose from so it really comes down to preference. Not to sound redundant, but every one of their desserts is also to-die-for. If you're only going to order one, and I don't know why you would, make sure that it is the Butter Cake (I want this as my wedding cake, it's that good!). 10,000 calories later, and possible dollars, as well, you wont be able to move, but it will be worth it!
A long-time favorite among the Laguna locals, this once understated Mexican restaurant, has now moved to Newport Beach and expanded with two more locations. If you ever went to the old location, you would have absolutely no idea that it was the 'same? restaurant. While the menu still serves up the staples, eating at the chic Crystal Cove upgrade is an all-together different dining experience. While I loved the cozy and laid back ambiance of the old location, the new Javier's is now a dining destination worth making a trip for. Located in the same center as Mastro's, this restaurant also has a reputation for its Cougar scene. Whether that's a draw for you or not, this new dining oasis is so beautifully designed that you must stop in, if only for a drink. The food is traditional Mexican and it is excellent. By no means overshadowed by the food and decor, their margaritas are some of the best. Not only do they have a huge selection, but they also know how to cater to their customers. For those Whole Foods shopping, Pilates practicing O.C.ers they offer a 4 Copas Organic Margarita. A great pick for lunch or dinner, but also perfect for a drink if you're not ready to call it a night after eating next door at Mastro's.