ORANGE COUNTY IS BLESSED TO HAVE SUCH A CONCENTRATED SELECTION OF DINING AND BAR ESTABLISHMENTS from the foothills to the beaches, and it’s amazing to share the evolution.
Real Estate is prime, restrictions are plenty and often times it’s difficult to create unique venues able to share in our awesome views and locations. Innovative restaurateurs build into busy locations including lobbies of office buildings, museums, and shopping destinations and some, build up. You can even get decent food and drink in airports and movie theatres today.
ROOFTOPS WITH A VIEW
Lucky for us, beachfront locations afford amazing panoramas but others need to build up in order to share outdoor views.
Cielo at The Skyroom – Long Beach
Rooftop Lounge at La Casa del Camino – Laguna Beach (pictured above)
Shebeen Bar and Veranda Rooftop at Mozambique – Laguna Beach
Skyloft – Laguna Beach
Few and far between; locations with basements, never mind basements with restaurants are hard to find in Southern California but we have a few unique venues that fit the bill.
The Cellar Restaurant – Fullerton
La Cave – Costa Mesa
Wine Bar in the cellar at the Hobbit – Orange
Who’s got the best lobby bar and who did it first? In the hotel arena, we would venture to guess that it was the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel and The Bar (currently named 180 Blũ) that introduced us to a lounge within a hotel lobby in 1983. Shortly after, the Four Seasons Newport Beach followed with The Gardens Lounge. We’re fortunate to have many others
today and Pelican Hill Great Room Social Lounge has developed an entire bar program in the Lobby featuring specialty cocktails, entertainment and even shopping. Hotel Irvine and the St. Regis are also home to lively lobby spots. Bistango may have pioneered fine dining in an office building lobby in the Atrium building in 1987 and Tangata is front and center at
the Bowers Museum where the menus reflect global influences developed around the exhibits.
SeaLegs at the Beach, SeaSalt Woodfire Burger, Beach City Provisions and Pacific Kitchen, “are lucky enough” (to coin a phrase of Restaurateur Alicia Whitney) to be the first beach venues with license to sell beer and wine at Bolsa Chica. Huntington Beach just opened Naugles at the Beach and next year the Hyatt HB plans to open a beachside concession. Huntington Beach official Dave Dominguez in the Facilities and Concessions department reports that there has been no official discussion to expand the licensing opportunities to
the beaches operated by Huntington Beach and that if they did so, it would take at least a year to make it happen. If Memorial Day, where SeaLegs on the Beach and Pacific Kitchen served 4,000 is any indication, beach goers will be flocking to Bolsa Chica.
HIDDEN LOCATIONS WITHIN
Who can afford to hide their wares. These three locations don’t promote their offerings. They are only accessible to the selected few “in the know.” Some are only open on select days and others require a password. Pie Society Bar – Costa Mesa, Blind Pig – Huntington Beach and Speakeasy – Corona del Mar. Do you know the secret password?
Boutique, small batch distilleries are sweeping the nation. Although complicated, due to the prevailing laws, select restaurateurs are incorporating dining with house distilled spirit tasting. Keep your eye on Orange County. We have many adventuresome restaurateurs that may dare to try.