Summer Restaurants


Its summertime in Orange County and the living is easy. Fine dining or casual, some restaurants really heat up during the summer months – nothing beats enjoying a delicious meal and frosty beverage under the California sun. We asked Great Taste readers what their favorite summer restaurants were, and they were more than happy to share.

“My favorite summer restaurant is the Beachcomber in Crystal Cove.
It’s right on the beach, and is operated out of one of the old cottages that were built in the 1940’s as part of a seaside colony. And if the view wasn’t enough, they have the best burger hands down, that you can get in SoCal. Your mouth will water just thinking about it on the shuttle bus ride down, from the parking lot on PCH. It’s worth the trip.”
-Jimmy Weita, Executive Chef, Disneyland Hotel & Park Banquets, Resort Special Events

“For breakfast, Proud Mary’s in Dana Point Harbor can’t be beat (and isn’t too shabby for lunch either – I’ve taken the publishers of Plate and Flavor and the Menu there who will agree). Foodies all over Orange County know and love this place.
And for evening cocktails and apps, try Canons’s perched above Dana Point harbor giving proof to Richard Dana’s statement that this is the most romantic place on the West Coast. And it’s half price Happy Hour every evening until 7 in the bar, and better yet outside if the weather is nice.”
-Mike Gilles, the Growth Group

“My favorite summer restaurant would have to be Habana’s at the Lab in Costa Mesa. They have a great outdoor seating area and they make the BEST sangria. Perfect for a summer evening.”
-Candice Garcia, Foodie

“Nothing beats the Golden Truffle, where you can sit outside and enjoy fantastic, creative cooking, and if you squint your eyes, you’d think you were in Paris!”
-Maret Kunze, Foodie

Pelican Hill in Newport Beach boasts gorgeous ocean views and a multitude of exquisite dining options. Landry Fuller, Senior Director of Public Relations, tells us why Pelican Hill is such a perfect summer destination. For more information, visit

What makes your restaurants “Summer Restaurants”? All three of our restaurants (Coliseum Pool & Grill, Andrea at Pelican Hill Resort – Newport Beach Ristorante and Pelican Grill) offer indoor and outdoor seating, perfect for warm summer days.
During the summer, Coliseum Pool & Grill is popular for locals, families and guests who want a scenic view of the world’s largest pool, the golf courses and the Pacific Ocean while ordering from the outdoor grill options. We also use only the freshest ingredients, including seasonal vegetables and fruits from Irvine Ranch, that our Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray hand selects each Thursday to be used as “specials” on menus in all three restaurants.

How long have the restaurants been open? Pelican Hill Resort opened in November 2008.

Who is your Chef? How long has s/he been with the restaurants? Our Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray oversees all restaurants. At Pelican Grill, Chef Chang Sivilay makes the freshest California cuisine while Chef Mark Kalenderian oversees Coliseum Pool & Grill. They have all been with the Resort since opening.

Any special summertime dishes? In Andrea at Pelican Hill Resort – Newport Beach Ristorante, which recently opened for lunch as well Wednesdays through Sundays, a special summer brunch menu offers the fresh local flavors. The Burrata salad made with cheese and olive oil from Italy is always a popular dish, with fresh tomatoes from Irvine Ranch to compliment the dish.

And summer cocktails? The Coliseum Bar is a fun spot to meet on Saturday nights during the summer where DJ Marcos plays favorite current tunes with fun cocktails and appetizers throughout the night. The Pelican Breeze cocktail made with Appleton Rum, Apricot Liquer and fresh pineapple juice is a favorite.

Is the dress code beach-friendly? Coliseum Pool & Grill is always casual. Pelican Grill has a casual bar and the restaurant is a popular spot for golfers after playing a round, while dinner is slightly more refined while still casual. Andrea at Pelican Hill Resort – Newport Beach Ristorante is our signature restaurant and is slightly more formal than the other restaurants, yet there is no dress code.

Being in sunny OC, do your restaurants ever have an off-season? No, it’s sunny year round and even in the cooler months, all three restaurants have heated floors and ceilings for those who still prefer to sit on the outdoor balcony.
Another hot weather favorite is the Mosaic Bar & Grille located in Laguna Beach’s luxurious Montage Hotel. Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Lauren Burdon gives us a sneak peek at their summertime decadence. For more information, visit

What makes the restaurant a “Summer Restaurant”? While soaking in the sun, guests can enjoy poolside dining at Mosaic Bar & Grille. Located near the Mosaic Pool, the restaurant offers California-inspired beach fare with choices of salads, grilled sandwiches or fresh daily seafood, along with healthy choices from the spa menu. Our restaurant is not just a Summer Restaurant though, with our fabulous California weather, it is perfect all year-round!

How long has the restaurant been open? Mosaic has been open since the hotel opened, February 2003.

Who is your Chef? How long has s/he been with the restaurant? Our current Chef de Cuisine is Miguel Ruiz, who recently was promoted this year. He was formerly the Sous Chef at Mosaic for the past 6 years.
Any special summertime dishes? Yes – we feature seasonal organic and local dishes year round, and our lunch menu reflects items that beachgoers love year round – Halibut tacos, Chicken Burger, Mosaic Prime Burger, Avocado Pita, Veggie Wrap, Fish n’Chips, Salmon or Lobster salads, etc. In the summer, we offer a special dinner menu with select menu items that coincide with our CA Beach Fare theme – fun, outdoors, beachy. The dinner menu features many local seafood items such as: Lobster Puerto Nuevo, Coastal Halibut, Mahi Mahi Macadamia, Mosaic Ribeye, Ceviche Tostadas, etc. Our evening desserts also differ from our daytime desserts. During the day we feature many ice cream related dishes to keep our guests cool and refreshed. (The Mosaic ice cream cake, chocolate covered frozen banans, Brownie Bites Ice Cream Sundae). In the evening, our desserts focus on summer classics, which are good to share and fun – Smore’s Cake, Strawberry Shortcake, and Peach Pie.

And summertime cocktails? Yes – Many of our cocktails also have a beach theme, including the SoCal Cooler – Grey Goose L’Orange and Le Citron, Lemonade, Sprite, Muddled Citrus and a Sugared Rim.
Is the dress code beach-friendly? Yes! Shorts and a t-shirt are all we require, sandals or barefoot (we don’t use any glassware, only acrylic to keep your feet safe) and we’ll even hold onto your strollers, beach chairs, and umbrellas while you’re dining on our patio. If a cool breeze picks up in the evening, we have heaters, blankets, and a fire pit to keep you warm while you’re dining and listening to live entertainment (guitar) on the patio.
Being in sunny OC, does your restaurant ever have an off-season? We are so fortunate to have such great weather – we are open year-round!