Living in Laguna Hills, California I wanted to share some of our “Hot Spots” for romantic evenings with potential visitors. I hit a snag, of sorts. Orange County has this zoning issue-cities interweave here from block to block. So trying to come up with even five in our little suburban area was incredibly difficult. So it is with this that I decided it best to enlarge the hunt to the entire county!
There is no shortage of places to eat in Orange County, California. Romance abounds with the cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean on one half of the county and the hills and valleys on the other half. Depending on your budget and individual preferences there are so many to chose one that I had a very hard time pinning down the ten here. According to the Gayot restaurant guide, OCRegister.com and a personal polling of 20 long-time residents of the area here are the ones that “made the grade” as places to go when you want romance to fill the air (they are in random order):
Starting with the “inland” choices:
Anaheim White House-an institution in Anaheim. Northern Italian cuisine is combined with French touches in an actual white house in very elegant decor.
Orange Hill Restaurant-in the city of Orange. The restaurant has been host to numerous weddings, anniversary celebrations and proposals. The cuisine in American. The restaurant and bar overlook the sweeping valley below. The lights of the cities in the distance are incredible. So high on the romance charts, I even suggested to my sister that this would be the perfect spot for her wedding. The food is excellent, but the guests seem to wander over to the windows to enjoy the view as much as the catered reception.
Golden Truffle-Costa Mesa. While the restaurant doesn’t have any views and resides on a major street, what makes this restaurant special is the willingness of the chef and his staff to personally cook up some of the county’s most exotic cuisine and serve it in an unintrusive way.
Cedar Creek Inn-San Juan Capistrano. This restaurant is in the old town area, right across the street from the Mission. Again, no view perse but the patio lights and the ease of taking a stroll through the quaint city and shop in the anitque shops is worth it. The cuisine is Californian.
Five Crowns-Corona Del Mar. The main element to this extremely well known eatery is that it is an exact replica of England’s oldest inn. The Lawry’s owned restaurant serves American dishes, but the waitstaff serves you in period English dress and manners. Obviously, if you chose here, eat the steak ribs.
The Ritz Restaurant and Garden-Newport Beach. Continental cuisine served by a wonderful wait staff that want to make sure that whatever you are celebrating becomes special. Our son sent my husband and I here for our 23rd anniversary. He had taken his girlfriend and was not only impressed by the terrific food, but that the service was quiet, attentive and respectful (some eateries are not so with couples who are 20-somethings).
The remaining restaurants all have sweeping Pacific Ocean views. Except for Las Brisas which serves Mexican fare, the all serve American cuisine.
Las Brisas-Laguna Beach. Best bet, stick with the seafood. This restaurant has been around a long time. While the food may not really be up to the same standards as the rest of the choices listed, the view and usually the service are what keep this place on the “romantic” map.
The Chart House-Dana Point. Many the wedding and reception has taken place here. Even wanted to add our own daughter’s to the list. When we want a very romantic evening, this is where my husband and I go. The food is excellent, the staff professional and while you wait (and you will)you can enjoy a stroll in the “backyard” or just sit outside with a glass of wine.
Cannons-Dana Point. Plenty of directions to crane your neck at the view up here. I prefer brunch on a spring or summer Sunday, but of the long-time residents I interviewed, they’re sold on this hotspot for a special evening out.
Salt Creek Inn-considered Laguna Niguel. Different and eclectic. Service can be spotty, but the younger crowd I talked to seem to really enjoy eating here.
These were the chosen few, but I would be remiss not to mention if time and budget allow, try eating at any of the venues at the Laguna Beach Montage Hotel. The hotel is romance personified, the grounds are beautiful, the menus varied (alas a little steep for my budget)and sound delicious. Those who had eaten there couldn’t stop raving about how delicious every was and how beautifully it was served. One gentleman took his wife of 30 years there to celebrate their anniversary and the staff helped “hide” her pearl necklace in a specialy made dessert!
Now all anyone needs to do is put on the dress up togs and come and visit-during dinner! Oh and reservations are suggested!