Las Brisas, the Southern California restaurant perched above the scenic Laguna Beach coastline, unveils an entirely new dining and beverage program. Originally built in 1938 as the historic Victor Hugo Inn, the space was transformed to Las Brisas in 1979. Matching the property’s stunning views, innovative sea-to-table culinary programming delivers bold, traditional Mexican flavors captured through a lens of fresh Californian ingredients. Authentic techniques and housemade specialties, such as tortillas, rich salsas, and slow-braised meats, enrich guests’ palates with simply executed dishes and artful plating. In the coming months, the restaurant also plans to thoughtfully redesign the expansive bar and lounge area to create a new destination for locals and visitors, while maintaining its timeless charm. The redesign will be led by locally-based Margee Drews Design.
New Executive General Manager Chef Michael Gaines—an Orange County native whose diverse background includes posts in Michelin-starred kitchens in northern California, and being a restaurant owner himself—collaborates with Las Brisas’ esteemed culinary team to redefine modern coastal cuisine with a distinguished dining experience, creating a menu reflective of the vibrant, ocean setting and local bounty. Working alongside Gaines is General Manager of Operations Howard Gardner who brings more than 25 years of experience from revered establishments such as Water Grill. Together the duo putting food and service at the forefront of Las Brisas.
“Our number one priority is ensuring that our longstanding community and visitors have an exquisite experience from the moment they step on the Las Brisas property. The views are—as always—stunning, and our goal was to create a culinary program that is just as memorable,” shares Gaines.
The chef-driven menu draws inspiration from a 3,000-mile savory adventure through the Mexican Riviera, highlighting California’s seasonal bounty from land and sea. Welcoming guests for all-day dining, the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, indulgent dinner selections, and Sunday brunch. Menu highlights include French Toast served with seasonal fruit, cacao nibs, toasted macadamia nuts, and tangerine butter; Hiramasa Crudo with crispy shallots, cilantro, lime, and olive oil; Dungeness Crab Salad with grapefruit, avocado, Frisée, and green goddess dressing; Seared Sea Scallops with cauliflower puree, tomatillo, green olives, and sparkling wine beurre blanc; Al Pastor Tacos with charred onion, pineapple, cilantro, and salsa verde; and Roasted Chicken with mole, rice, onion, and white sesame seeds, among many other dishes.
Rounding out the menu is a beverage program centered on approachable favorites and traditional mixology, in addition to an extensive tequila library and a well-rounded list of wines. Seamlessly balanced selections include the Spicy Margarita with Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila, fresh lime, and agave-chili tincture; Salty Dog with Tito’s Vodka, grapefruit juice, with a salted rim; and Mai Tai with Plantation Pineapple Rum, Curaçao, lime, orgeat, and bitters. The diverse wine collection filters prominent classics for meal pairing with limited-production international bottles, ideal for special occasions. Purveyed from vintners in Italy, France, New Zealand, and Argentina, as well as the Californian coast, guests remain well-equipped to complement the contemporary cuisine with a light libation and laid-back environment.
Located at 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, Las Brisas is open daily for breakfast or brunch, lunch, and dinner. Reservations can be made via OpenTable and walk-ins are welcome.