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Laguna Beach


Harvest restaurant at The Ranch reopens for outdoor dining today

The Ranch at Laguna Beach has reopened its signature Harvest restaurant for outdoor patio dining as of today, February 5, in accordance with state and local health guidelines. 

Harvest will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served beneath a heated canopy surrounded by serene canyon views. Live music will also be provided from 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily for an added dose of atmosphere.

Harvest Restaurant outside

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

The Ranch at dusk

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is also one of the first hotels in the world to become Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide. This seal of approval is granted to hotels which implement and uphold more than 360 health, hygiene, and safety standards to keep guests and staff safe while maintaining an exemplary resort experience.

Harvest restaurant at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is a favorite for locals and guests of The Ranch Laguna Beach for its farm and hook-to-table cuisine, extensive wine list, garden-driven cocktail menu, and stunning views of the Aliso and Wood Canyon. The restaurant will reopen with its full menu, created by Executive Chef Kyle St. John, which marries the bounty of the season with the artistry of Laguna Beach into a vibrant array of local flavors, ingredients, and California culinary traditions. 

Harvest Restaurant dish

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Outdoor dining is back at Harvest at The Ranch 

Meals will be served on the Harvest patio, featuring a new canopy, heaters, and twinkling lights. The canopy sides will be open to allow for constant airflow, and seating will be spaced and managed to allow for distancing. Stringent sanitization protocols are implemented for guest and staff safety. Complimentary valet parking will be provided.

Created in homage to Laguna’s original Ranch homesteaders, the menu at Harvest changes with the season. Fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables are sourced from the property’s own half-acre organic garden and supplemented with ingredients from the best local producers. The result is handcrafted California comfort cuisine, locally rooted creative cocktails, 18 craft beers on tap, and unparalleled canyon scenery.

Harvest will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Due to capacity and distancing guidelines, reservations are strongly recommended. To make a reservation, visit www.ranchlb.com/dining/harvest.   

The Ranch at Laguna Beach has implemented numerous updates at Harvest to allow for a safe outdoor dining experience. These include, but are not limited to:

--Tables and chairs reconfigured on The Porch for increased physical distancing while still offering magnificent canyon views.

--Restaurant hosts will guide physical distancing at entrances, waiting areas, and queues.

--Silverware will be deep sanitized and rolled in napkins; straws are individually wrapped.

--Glass barriers will be installed at host stand for staff and guest safety.

--Table turn times will be increased to ensure proper sanitation protocols.

--Hand sanitizer will be readily available to guests.

--Face masks are required for staff and guests while visiting any area of The Ranch at Laguna Beach.

For more information about The Ranch Laguna Beach’s health and safety practices, visit www.ranchlb.com/wellbeing-practices. For more information about The Ranch at Laguna Beach, or to book a stay, visit www.ranchlb.com.


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Laguna chefs share the love on Valentine’s Day

By Diane Armitage

No matter what may be going on all around us, and despite the fact that social distancing is in play, Valentine’s Day will always be our annual optimist.

It may look a little different at our restaurants this year – the two-by-two tables won’t be shoulder to shoulder, and a larger percentage of Valentine dinners may be found on tables in our homes. 

Regardless, Laguna Beach chefs are ready with special plans for outdoor dining and takeout. Many, in fact, are providing their Valentine prix fixe menus for takeout this year.

Many restaurants have sent me their news for my Restaurant Directory at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/, but some menus are still in the crafting phase, so be sure to check the Directory for updates over the next few days.

Here’s the love in the air for Valentine’s Day: 

Flights to send you in the right direction

Jason and Sofia McLain are celebrating the anniversary of their first date (February 13) and their second date (February 14) with a weekend of wine tastings at their Canyon-based McLain Cellars, February 12-15. Wines will be paired with cheese, charcuterie, and chocolate. 

Gifty Ideas

Kudos to Nirvana Grille and GG’s Bistro for coming up with Valentine boutiques that offer ready-made gifts right along with their Valentine food.

Laguna chefs Nirvana

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nirvana Grille

Various-sized Valentine Gift Baskets at Nirvana Grille make love easy

Chef Lindsay at Nirvana has crafted a number of specialty baskets starting from $49. These gems are loaded with anything from crafted chocolates to spa gift cards, champagne, essential oils, and Valentine-themed serving platters.

She’s also teaching weekly cooking classes which, for me, would be my kind of Valentine gift.

GG’s Bistro has turned its small indoor restaurant space into a boutique of foods, chocolates, house-baked goods, wines and champagnes, and creative gifts for that browse-and-buy mode. Francesca has even brought in the Valentine’s Day decor for you.

Laguna chefs GG's

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of GG’s Bistro

Shop for Valentine gifts, specialty foods, and champagnes at GG’s Bistro

Restaurants with specialty items

Because Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday with Presidents’ Day on Monday, many of our restaurants are celebrating all weekend long with Valentine specials from Friday through Sunday.

Several restaurants have created Valentine weekend specials that will be offered along with the regular menu. GG’s Bistro, Royal Hawaiian, Lumberyard, Ristorante Rumari, Reunion Kitchen, The Cliff, Skyloft and Brussels Bistro are adding delectable delight to their standard courses. The majority have confirmed that these same specials will be available for takeout.

Be sure to check these “specials” out as they are announced in the Directory because these aren’t everyday options. Consider, for instance, Skyloft’s Fried Brisket Mac with, you guessed it, beer-battered brisket topped in their famous mac-and-cheese and ladled with rosemary gravy). 

Restaurants with Prix Fixe Menus

In a normal year and a typical crowded Valentine’s Day, many chefs prefer to create prix fixe menus to keep the kitchen running smoothly. This year, with indoor dining still not available to the public, they’re not expecting the usual Valentine crowds (though cozying up in an outdoor dining setting can’t be all bad on Valentine’s Day). Despite what could be lesser numbers, a handful of chefs are making those prix fixe menus anyway.

In fact, The Drake created a Valentine’s prix fixe menu for “Dine In” and an entirely separate one for a “Couples Take-Away Meal” that includes a bottle of Prosecco Gancia Docg.

The Drake’s Dine-In menu lets you choose one salad from eight options, an entrée from nine options (including my favorite, the Chili Lime Crusted Steelhead Salmon), and one impossible option from four desserts.

Laguna chefs Drake

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of The Drake

The Drake’s perennial favorite, Filet Mignon in Peppercorn Sauce

While the Drake’s “Take-Away” Valentine Menu might be a bit smaller in stature for easier packing, it’s a giant in taste, from the starter of Maine Lobster Louie to the significant Surf and Double Turn entrée. The Tomato Saffron Soup and Berry Tiramisu complete the menu.

Chef Amar Santana is offering yet another decadent menu at the Broadway for both outside diners and those who prefer eating at home. Takeout orders for this specific menu must be made by Friday, Feb 12.

Broadway’s menu starts with an amuse of smoked salmon mousse with quail egg and caviar because that’s just how Chef Amar flies. Then, wander through Albacore Tataki, Lobster and Scallop Raviolo, Butter Poached Maine Lobster, and Pink Pineapple Upside Down Cake (with Grapefruit Honey Sorbet, wow).

At Driftwood Kitchen, Chef Rainer Schwarz starts his Valentine prix fixe with a champagne toast and his crazy-good fresh-baked Parker House rolls. These two items basically corner the market on love.

He continues, though, with choices of salad or Hamachi Tartare and then White Asparagus Soup. A single entrée choice isn’t easy with Petite Filet & Braised Prime Beef Shortribs with truffled mashed potatoes or Chilean Seabass Filet with Maine lobster risotto. (Oh my.) The menu wraps up with a “Sweetheart Chocolate Dessert” for two.

Laguna chefs Driftwood

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Driftwood Kitchen

Chef Rainer’s Seabass with Maine Lobster Risotto at Driftwood Kitchen

Mozambique’s Valentine’s Day includes a free champagne split for every two entrées purchased. Chef Braulio’s prix fixe menu will be the only menu offered and live music will be supplied by our own Andrew Bloom. Watch the Directory for the menu’s details on what is usually quite an extensive menu from Chef Braulio.

At Nirvana Grille, nibble your way through a cheeseboard for two as you make choices from Chef Lindsay’s extensive 3-course menu. If you’re eating at the restaurant for Valentine’s Day, consider having a Nirvana gift basket waiting at the table.

Manned by Chef Erik, Oliver’s Osteria’s kitchen is nothing but love, love, love.

It only intensifies on Valentine’s weekend with a prix fixe 4-course dinner that starts with Capesante al Cognac (seared jumbo scallops) and wanders in a happy haze through Tartara Tarufata (ground aged filet) and Tris di Ravioli (3 raviolis – Lobster/Shrimp, Asparagus & Ricotta, and Pumpkin in butternut squash sauce).

Then, for your Oliver’s entrée, choose from Filleto in Fonduta (prime filet with taleggio cheese fondue) or Branzino (Chilean sea bass). Chef’s smug Semifreddo with a mocha fondue finishes the meal.

Make reservations

Even though you may think it will be a quieter Valentine weekend, I suggest you ignore that thought completely and make your reservations as soon as possible. If you’re planning takeout, most of the restaurants will be prepared for you throughout the weekend, though keep in mind that Broadway has a Friday evening (February 12) deadline. Just watch my Directory for changes and updates as new Valentine information and menus come in, or sign up for my email for alerts. 

P.S. About that Super Bowl this weekend

In Tuesday’s Stu News Laguna, I gave you several ideas for Super Bowl takeout ideas. If you missed it, you can find it in my blog on my website.

A much larger number of restaurants are open this Super Bowl Sunday than past years have proven. Some, however, will be closing at 3 p.m. or earlier to catch the game. Just check your favorite restaurant in the Directory to see their status. If I don’t have a status update, you might want to give them a call before heading in their direction.

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


Harvest restaurant at The Ranch to reopen for outdoor dining Friday

The Ranch at Laguna Beach will reopen its signature Harvest restaurant for outdoor patio dining on Friday, Feb 5 in accordance with state and local health guidelines. 

Harvest will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served beneath a heated canopy surrounded by serene canyon views. Live music will also be provided from 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily for an added dose of atmosphere.

Harvest Restaurant outside

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

The Ranch at dusk

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is also one of the first hotels in the world to become Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide. This seal of approval is granted to hotels which implement and uphold more than 360 health, hygiene, and safety standards to keep guests and staff safe while maintaining an exemplary resort experience.

Harvest restaurant at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is a favorite for locals and guests of The Ranch Laguna Beach for its farm and hook-to-table cuisine, extensive wine list, garden-driven cocktail menu, and stunning views of the Aliso and Wood Canyon. The restaurant will reopen with its full menu, created by Executive Chef Kyle St. John, which marries the bounty of the season with the artistry of Laguna Beach into a vibrant array of local flavors, ingredients, and California culinary traditions. 

Harvest Restaurant dish

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Outdoor dining is back at Harvest at The Ranch 

Meals will be served on the Harvest patio, featuring a new canopy, heaters, and twinkling lights. The canopy sides will be open to allow for constant airflow, and seating will be spaced and managed to allow for distancing. Stringent sanitization protocols are implemented for guest and staff safety. Complimentary valet parking will be provided.

Created in homage to Laguna’s original Ranch homesteaders, the menu at Harvest changes with the season. Fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables are sourced from the property’s own half-acre organic garden and supplemented with ingredients from the best local producers. The result is handcrafted California comfort cuisine, locally rooted creative cocktails, 18 craft beers on tap, and unparalleled canyon scenery.

Harvest will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Due to capacity and distancing guidelines, reservations are strongly recommended. To make a reservation, visit www.ranchlb.com/dining/harvest.   

The Ranch at Laguna Beach has implemented numerous updates at Harvest to allow for a safe outdoor dining experience when it reopens on February 5. These include, but are not limited to:

--Tables and chairs reconfigured on The Porch for increased physical distancing while still offering magnificent canyon views.

--Restaurant hosts will guide physical distancing at entrances, waiting areas, and queues.

--Silverware will be deep sanitized and rolled in napkins; straws are individually wrapped.

--Glass barriers will be installed at host stand for staff and guest safety.

--Table turn times will be increased to ensure proper sanitation protocols.

--Hand sanitizer will be readily available to guests.

--Face masks are required for staff and guests while visiting any area of The Ranch at Laguna Beach.

For more information about The Ranch Laguna Beach’s health and safety practices, visit www.ranchlb.com/wellbeing-practices. For more information about The Ranch at Laguna Beach, or to book a stay, visit www.ranchlb.com.


Chef Pirozzi, owner of Alessa and Salerno, supports Laguna Food Pantry volunteers

Every year, Chef Alessandro Pirozzi, owner of Alessa and Salerno restaurants in Laguna Beach, demonstrates his ongoing support of Laguna Food Pantry and its tireless volunteers by his actions, not mere words.

“The majority of us are lucky enough never to have to worry about food. But there are also many people out there who are counting on organizations like the Laguna Food Pantry to make sure that they have a meal for their family,” says Chef Pirozzi. “That’s why we always support them in any way we can.”

Anne Belyea, executive director of the Laguna Food Pantry, says, “Typically, Laguna Food Pantry celebrates its dedicated volunteers with an annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, such as the lovely party last year at Alessa’s. 

“That year, we had arranged for a simple but delicious menu. To our surprise, Chef Pirozzi showered us with every delicious appetizer, pizza, pasta, and entrée on the menu.”

Chef Pirozzi gift

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Submitted photo

Chef Pirozzi’s generosity is much appreciated by the Laguna Food Pantry

Unable to have a similar celebration this year because of the pandemic, Laguna Food Pantry reached out to Chef Pirozzi to purchase $15 gift cards for their 120 incredible volunteers. 

“Instead, Chef Pirozzi charged us only $120 total and gave us 150 hundred-dollar gift cards! Immediately, we called to address what we thought was an error. It was not,” Belyea says. “Then, again, with the stay-at-home order back, and restaurants only providing takeout (at the time), we reached out to make sure that this was what he wanted to do. Not only is Chef Pirozzi an accomplished and talented chef, but also a thoughtful and big-hearted community member.”

The Laguna Food Pantry’s Board of Directors and volunteers send their heartfelt appreciation to Chef Alessandro Pirozzi for his generosity and support.

The Laguna Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and operates with a safe drive-through distribution system. Anyone in need is welcome to pick up food once a week. If you know someone who would benefit, please pass along this information. If you’re able, the Food Pantry welcomes your support at www.lagunfoodpantry.org.


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Superbowl Sunday eats

By Diane Armitage

With outdoor dining open now, our Laguna Beach restaurants are scrambling to accommodate residents and visitors. This coming weekend, though, might be a bit quieter than most as the Superbowl takes over center stage. 

Typically, Superbowl Sundays are pretty quiet in our usual bustling town, but now that so many residents are accustomed to ordering takeout, our restaurants might see an uptick in takeout and delivery for the American Pastime Dream: Superbowl ads. 

Over the last year, many restaurateurs developed family meals and small catering platters, now perfect for your Superbowl plans. 

Here’s how I would suggest you plan your Superbowl Day…please note: Check my Restaurant Directory at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com for restaurant closures this coming Superbowl Sunday. In some of these instances, you might need to order on Saturday and reheat for the big day. 

Superbowl Sunday options (per team)

Kansas City Fans 

While the famed Kansas City café Beignet is temporarily closed, fans of Kansas City might want to pop down to our own Laguna Beach Lost Pier Café for our own version of warm, powdery beignets.

Superbowl Sunday Lost Pier

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Diane Armitage

Perfectly happy pouches of beignets are served in a paper sack at Lost Pier Café 

Hankering for K.C. famous ribs? Consider indulging in Lumberyard’s BBQ Ribs Family Dinner or Brussels Bistro’s Baby Back Ribs. 

Harley Laguna Beach offers up Chef Greg’s famed Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork with either complete meals for two or four or as a stand-alone 1-pound purchase. 

Skyloft smokes its ribs and brisket daily. Order full or half racks of their ribs or venture into their Skyloft Smoked Plates, which offer a build-your-own-plate scenario with brisket, pulled pork ribs, chicken andouille, and chicken wings. Add in one to four sides from an offering of nine options. That’s about as smokehouse as it gets.

Superbowl Sunday Skyloft

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Skyloft

Skyloft’s Smoked Platters offer a build-your-own dream scenario 

Scott McIntosh’s Reunion Kitchen also offers a BBQ Rib Stack (more like a tower) of baby back ribs with Thai peanut slaw. 

Tampa Bay Fans

Cheering for Tampa Bay, instead? That Florida town is known more for its fresh fish, shellfish, and Spanish influence. 

For me, there’s nothing better than the luxury of lobster in a soft-baked loaf. That can only be Slapfish’s Lobster Roll. Yes, it’s Maine lobster, but Maine doesn’t have a football team, so Tampa Bay gets to claim it this Sunday. Can you imagine how popular you would be with a platter of Slapfish Lobster Rolls for your Superbowl-watching comrades?

Superbowl Sunday Slapfish

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Slapfish

The unconquerable, undeniable Lobster Roll from Slapfish 

Slapfish also offers a Lobster Grinder (lobster, crab, and shrimp) and Clobster Grilled Cheese Sandwich (toasted sourdough with crab and lobster mix and gooey cheese), as well as their unbeatable Clam Chowder Bowl. 

In that same downtown square, Carmelita’s offers the best Lobster Chile Rellenos in town. 

Looking to really class up your Superbowl? Mozambique is still offering its Atlantic lobster tail meal, and Coyote Grill is in its last weeks of serving local Lobster with all the fixings.

Mussels or oysters more your ilk? Brussels Bistro continues to sell hundreds of pounds of its best-selling mussels every month and, yes, you can order them for takeout, too.

Superbowl Sunday Brussels

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Brussels Bistro

One of its perennial best-sellers, Brussels Bistro is still delivering Mussels and Fries by the many, many pounds

And, in addition to its giant Grilled Salmon Sandwich, which would make any Superbowl fan ecstatic, Chef Rainer’s Driftwood Kitchen sets you up for East & West Coast Oysters at a half or full pound.

Again, check my Restaurant Directory (website below) or call the restaurant direct to check for Superbowl hours or closures this Sunday. May we all enjoy a somewhat normal ritual…without all the usual rituals…this Superbowl Sunday. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


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Restaurants ready (again) for outdoor dining

By Diane Armitage

This week, when Governor Newsom lifted the regional stay at home order, it didn’t take long for restaurants to get the message. Cleared to fly for outside dining again, just about every Laguna Beach restaurant owner has been hustling to get their outdoor patios back in play.

Extended permitting from the City is allowing the restaurants to continue to design “patio seating” in creative locations. 

Chef Craig at Ristorante Rumari is re-perching tables, chairs, and bar stools on a back parking lot again (which I didn’t even know existed until last summer). 

Restaurants ready Rumari patio

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Ristorante Rumari

Ristorante Rumari is reopening its back lot patio (with a view!)

Broadway by Amar Santana’s Ahmed Labbate is setting up again in the neighborly bank parking lot. “We have a great deal of ordering and setup to do and rain has been predicted through Friday,” said Ahmed. “So, our first outdoor dining reservations are being taken for this Saturday, Jan 30.”

Hundreds of chairs and tables are also returning to our storefront sidewalks, from South Laguna’s NEA Pizza to North Laguna’s Asada

Still others have decided to wait

Popular newcomer AhbA opened in August 2019, just weeks before being plunged into the usual quiet winter. And then, it turned even quieter last March. While Owner Nick Bennett has struggled admirably through the changes, he noted that he’s “decided to wait awhile longer.”

Restaurants ready AhbA

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of AHBA

Popular AHBA has elected to wait before reopening

“We’re going to wait until the mandates are lifted and frustrations subside,” he said. “Until our seats are ready to be sat in, and tables are ready for dishes, we’re waiting until we are able to serve our community the way it has served us.” 

Chef Greg Daniels of Harley is also taking a few moments to survey the landscape before reopening for outdoor dining, noting that predicted rain this weekend has him thinking through his options. 

Takeout and delivery remains in play

Despite the reprieve for outdoor dining, Laguna Beach restaurants continue to add more items to their takeout and delivery menus. 

“There are plenty of people who still don’t feel comfortable eating at restaurants, whether it’s because of COVID or because it’s winter or whatever,” said Maro Molteni of Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill

“So, of course we’re still continuing our takeout menu. We love feeding people at home. We’re just able to add more options there when we open for outdoor dining here.”

Family meal offerings expand 

Last weekend, I enjoyed a very small birthday gathering for my dear friend, Nelson Coates, at Ruben Flores’ new Laguna Nursery location. Royal Hawaiian provided the Friday evening “family meal” of wood-grilled salmon and vegetables with potatoes and house salad. As usual, it was a fantastic, hearty meal.

Restaurants ready salmon

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Royal Hawaiian

Royal Hawaiian’s Friday Salmon Meal offers a significant plank

On Monday night this week, my neighbors, Tom and Joao, called me for help on finding a restaurant open on Monday night. They opted for Lumberyard, ordering two of my favorites from the menu – Crab Cake Salad and Rotisserie Chicken Dinners. They dropped an order of the Rotisserie Chicken dinner at my door; it was sheer heaven on a cold Monday evening. 

And a week prior, I ordered Nick’s Family Style Buttermilk Fried Chicken Dinner for yet another small birthday party. 

With Chef Ryan (formerly 370 Common + Kitchen restaurant) taking his fabulous fried chicken to the Orange Circle in the City of Orange, it’s good to know that we still have a couple restaurants we can rely upon for the homestyle cookin’ of fried chicken. It’s the first time I’ve tried Nick’s fried chicken and it definitely is worth repeat orders. 

Restaurants ready Nick's chicken

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nick’s

Nicks’ Fried Chicken Dinner includes plenty for five

Nick’s delivers a giant sack with dinner for five for just $70. It includes a hearty bistro salad, grilled sweet corn on the cob, cornbread muffins, fluffy mashed potatoes with buttermilk creamy gravy (yum), and five boneless, perfectly-crispy fried chicken breasts. Finish the meal with Nick’s famed warm butter cake and you’ll be ready for contented binge watching on the couch. 

Restaurant Directory updated 

I’ve updated most of the individual restaurant listings for new hours and days of operation in my Best of Laguna Beach Restaurant Directory. I’m also adding in new information on family dinners as well as upcoming Valentine’s Day plans, whether for outdoor dining or takeout. Please click here for the most up-to-the-minute details; check directly with your restaurant of choice about rainy day seating options. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


Laguna Beach restaurants and retailers receive $575,000 through LB Cares Grant Program

On Friday, Jan 8, 75 Laguna Beach restaurants and 82 Laguna Beach retailers received assistance checks totaling $575,000 from the City of Laguna Beach through the City’s LB CARES Grant Program. Click here for a list of all restaurants and retailers that have received funding through the program to date.

“Our City staff is to be congratulated for implementing this program in record time and getting checks to our local restaurants and businesses in less than three weeks’ time from the Council’s approval,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “To distribute nearly $600,000 to over 150 local businesses provides a much-needed boost to our local economy. We will continue to process applications and more businesses will benefit in round two.”

On December 22, 2020, the Laguna Beach City Council approved the $850,000 Grant Program, LB CARES, from City reserves to assist restaurants, bars, and retail businesses experiencing impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program provided direct financial assistance to these businesses and organizations by offering a $5,000 grant per qualifying restaurant or bar and $2,000-$3,000 grant per qualifying retailer, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Laguna Beach Hobie

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Hobie Sports and 81 other Laguna Beach retailers, plus 75 Laguna Beach restaurants, have received LB Cares Grants from the City

“The whole pandemic has been really tough for local businesses, and the fact that Laguna Beach is doing what they are doing with this grant program to help the small businesses in town is amazing,” said LB Cares Grant recipient Brandon Ferguson, owner of The Den Barbershop and Shave Parlor. “It will help us with catching up on bills so I can get caught up and back on track to where we were before the whole thing kind of hit us. Every little bit helps and the fact we were awarded the grant I couldn’t be more thankful.”

LB CARES has been extended to Tuesday, Jan 19 for restaurants and bars only experiencing impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. LB CARES Grant applications for restaurants and bars will be accepted until January 19 at 5 p.m. Grants will be awarded up to the funding amount of $650,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. Go towww.lagunabeachcity.net/LBCares for program details, eligibility restrictions, and to apply. Restaurant and bar applications will be notified after the January 19 deadline closes. The City Council may consider reallocating any unawarded LB CARES funding during its upcoming January 26 meeting.

“What the City gave us was amazing, that they were able to put this together,” said LB CARES Grant recipient Chef Lindsay Smith of Nirvana Grille. “It gave us that little breather, as a lot of us in town are struggling right now.”

Laguna Beach Lindsay

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Lindsay Smith, Chef and Owner of Nirvana Grille, is a grateful recipient of an LB Cares Grant from the City

“It’s really a special program and it is great that the City of Laguna Beach did this for local businesses,” said LB CARES Grant recipient Sun Park, General Manager of Heidelberg Cafe. “It is very helpful for a small business like us, and I am thankful for that.”

In conjunction with LB CARES, the City of Laguna Beach has also established the Laguna Beach Business Assistance Services Program. This new program is being established to help local businesses and nonprofits access available resources offered by state, federal, and county government, help determine the best resources to meet each business’ unique circumstance, and to help businesses with the process of preparing and submitting applications. 

For more information, visit the program’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/BusinessAssistance or contact Project Manager Jeremy Frimond at (949) 464-6673 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Holiday feasts for takeout from Laguna restaurants

By Diane Armitage

Can you believe Christmas Eve is just six days away? 

Fortunately, a number of Laguna Beach restaurants are ahead of the curve with a variety of takeout/delivery options for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This article lists seven participating restaurants, but more are on their way. 

As other Laguna chefs chime in this week, I’ll be updating this “Holiday Feast” list in my Laguna Beach Restaurant Directory at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com just click on the directory and check the “Holiday Offers” box for your options. (Don’t just wait for the holidays. You can also search all restaurant updates on daily menus and hours as we all support our restaurants in this “to-go” mode.)

Keep in mind: Resort restaurants that typically cater to holiday feasting families are not open this Christmas season. The restaurants at our beloved Laguna resorts such as Surf & Sand’s Splashes, The Montage Loft, The Ranch at Laguna Beach’s Harvest Restaurant, and others in the area are only allowed to serve in-room dining options to their registered guests. 

This time, I’m ordering the entries in the order they were received: 

Nirvana Grille 

Christmas Mix & Match. Chef Lindsay Smith will be offering a cornucopia of options for your Christmas feast in her online to-go menu. Choose your own brunch items or lunch/dinner feast items from a variety of proteins, vegetables, sides, and desserts. Consider, as example, Filet Mignon cooked to your liking, Basil Aioli Roasted Salmon, or Herb Grilled Whole “Loup de Mer” Sea Bass. Throw in cocktails or wines by the bottle, too. Create your own menu for two people or more. 

Available for Ordering: Now through Wednesday, Dec 23 at 10 a.m.

To order: Order online at www.NirvanaGrille.com.

Price: Varies according to your order

Pick-up: Schedule your pick-up time for Christmas Eve, Dec 24.

Holiday feasts Chef Lindsay

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Chef Lindsay Smith, owner of Nirvana Grille

Brussels Bistro 

4-Course Prix Fixe Menus. Brussels offers three 4-course options this holiday season. The appetizer across all three options is a 16-piece “appetizer-verrine” – 4 smoked salmon, 4 crab claws, 4 shrimp, and 4 pork belly. All provide for 3-4 people. 

Option #1 - Christmas Turkey Slices (Turkey Breast) and Gravy is joined with Apples & Cranberry Sauce, Gratin Dauphinois, and Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans.

Option #2 - Roasted Salmon and Spinach in Puff Pastry, Fresh Spinach, Mashed Potatoes. 

Option #3 - Beef Wellington (Filet of beef wrapped in phyllo pastry) with Beef Reduction Sauce, Fingerling Potatoes, and Green Beans. 

The dessert across all options finishes beautifully with four fresh-baked apple tarts. 

Brussels Bistro Available for Ordering: Now through Tuesday, Dec 22.

To order: Order online at www.BrusselsBistro.com. (Christmas Dinners cannot be shipped.)

Price: 

Christmas Turkey option #1 is $80 + tax and gratuity

Roasted Salmon in Puff Pastry option #2 is $120 + tax and gratuity

Filet of Beef Wellington option #3 is $160 + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up: December 24 between 10 a.m. and noon.

Broadway by Amar Santana 

6-Course Prix Fixe Menu. Chef Amar has created a feast that allows you to choose from two proteins at two price points. Each meal serves four. 

Broadway Available for Ordering: Now through Monday, Dec 21.

To order: Order online at www.BroadwaybyAmarSantana.com.

Price: 

Australian Wagyu option #1 is $395 + tax and gratuity 

Frenched Pork Roast option #2 is $325 + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up: Schedule your pick-up time for Wed, Dec 23.

Holiday feasts Broadway

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Broadway by Amar Santana

As an option this holiday season, consider the heady eggnog concoction from Broadway by Amar Santana

P.S. Add Broadway’s signature eggnog, a 16-ounce bottle for $18 serves two. It’s made up of quite a heady blend of Cognac, Spiced Rum, Pineapple, and Toasted Pecan. 

Oak Laguna 

4-Course Prix Fixe Menu. Chef Chris Mahler is offering The Oak Holiday Feast for 4 people. 

The “Main Event” offers 2 Roasted Cornish Game Hens with fig glaze and wild rice and chestnut stuffing. His best-selling Beet Salad serves up arugula, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and pomegranate. And sides consist of Cauliflower Au Gratin and Green Bean Casserole. Finish with Maple Pecan Pie (yum). 

Holiday feasts Oak

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Oak Laguna

Oak Laguna is serving up Roasted Cornish Game Hens to-go

Oak Laguna Available for Ordering: Beginning Tuesday, Dec 22.

To order: Call Chef Chris direct at (949) 433-6233.

Price: $170 (feeds four) + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up or delivery: Occurs on Christmas Eve, Dec 24.

GG’s Bistro 

Christmas A La Carte 

Co-Owner Francesca is still devising a number of festive dishes for your holiday feast. While some items have already been posted, she plans on having the entirety posted this week. 

One specialty you might strongly consider: Sea Bass with Mashed Potatoes on a Spinach Bed. Otherwise, choose from a variety of proteins, sides, vegetables, desserts, and cocktails, too.

GG’s Bistro Cafe Available for Ordering: This week through early Christmas Eve. 

To order: Order online at www.GGsCafeBistro.com.

Price: Varies according to your order

Pick-up: Schedule your curbside pick-up time for the 23rd, 24th or 25th between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Holiday feasts GGs

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of GG’s Bistro

The Christmas Sea Bass option from GG’s Bistro

Driftwood Kitchen 

4-Course Prix Fixe Menu. Chef Rainer Schwarz’ Christmas-To-Go feeds 6-8 people. 

He’s also offering two protein options as follows: 

Option #1: Double R Ranch Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast with specific vegetable side of Grilled Jumbo Asparagus and Heirloom Carrots and au jus for the roast. 

Option #2: Diestel Whole Roasted Christmas Turkey has its specific sides of Green Beans and Heirloom Carrots and the always-necessary cranberry sauce and sherry-sage gravy. 

Either option also comes with Parker House Rolls, Driftwood Winter Salad, and Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (with atomic horseradish sauce). Finish either meal with a Traditional Christmas Yule Log “Buche de Noel.”

Driftwood Kitchen Available for Ordering: Now through Tuesday, Dec 22. 

To order: Order online at www.DriftwoodKitchen.com

Price: 

Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast option #1 is $340 + tax and gratuity 

Whole Roasted Christmas Turkey option #2 is $285 + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up: Schedule your curbside pick-up time for Christmas Eve, Dec 24, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

Sapphire.Cellar.Craft.Cook 

5-Course December Holiday Meal Box. The Sapphire team is offering this special through the entire month of December. The Holiday Box feeds four to six people. It includes two Grilled Bone-In Ribeye Steaks, four Grilled Salmon Filets, salad, mashed potatoes, farmer’s market vegetables, and homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 

The Holiday Box also includes a $20 gift card for future use. Three special promotional wines are also available. Sorry, no substitutions. 

Sapphire Available for Ordering: Pre-order 24 hours in advance of desired pickup anytime in December. 

To order: Order online at www.SapphireLagunaBeach.com

Price: $189 + tax and gratuity

Pick-up: 24 hours later during normal operating hours. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and the largest, up-to-the-minute Laguna Beach Restaurant Directory  at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


The Best of Laguna Beach Banner2 2

Holiday feasts for takeout from Laguna restaurants

By Diane Armitage

Can you believe Christmas Eve is just nine days away? 

Fortunately, a number of Laguna Beach restaurants are ahead of the curve with a variety of takeout/delivery options for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This article lists seven participating restaurants, but more are on their way. 

As other Laguna chefs chime in this week, I’ll be updating this “Holiday Feast” list in my Laguna Beach Restaurant Directory at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com just click on the directory and check the “Holiday Offers” box for your options. (Don’t just wait for the holidays. You can also search all restaurant updates on daily menus and hours as we all support our restaurants in this “to-go” mode.)

Keep in mind: Resort restaurants that typically cater to holiday feasting families are not open this Christmas season. The restaurants at our beloved Laguna resorts such as Surf & Sand’s Splashes, The Montage Loft, The Ranch at Laguna Beach’s Harvest Restaurant, and others in the area are only allowed to serve in-room dining options to their registered guests. 

This time, I’m ordering the entries in the order they were received: 

Nirvana Grille 

Christmas Mix & Match. Chef Lindsay Smith will be offering a cornucopia of options for your Christmas feast in her online to-go menu. Choose your own brunch items or lunch/dinner feast items from a variety of proteins, vegetables, sides, and desserts. Consider, as example, Filet Mignon cooked to your liking, Basil Aioli Roasted Salmon, or Herb Grilled Whole “Loup de Mer” Sea Bass. Throw in cocktails or wines by the bottle, too. Create your own menu for two people or more. 

Available for Ordering: Now through Monday, Dec 21.

To order: Order online at www.NirvanaGrille.com.

Price: Varies according to your order

Australian Wagyu option #1 is $395 + tax and gratuity

Frenched Pork Roast option #2 is $325 + tax and gratuity

Pick-up: Schedule your pick-up time for Christmas Eve, Dec 24.

Holiday feasts Chef Lindsay

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Chef Lindsay Smith, owner of Nirvana Grille

Brussels Bistro 

4-Course Prix Fixe Menus. Brussels offers three 4-course options this holiday season. The appetizer across all three options is a 16-piece “appetizer-verrine” – 4 smoked salmon, 4 crab claws, 4 shrimp, and 4 pork belly. All provide for 3-4 people. 

Option #1 - Christmas Turkey Slices (Turkey Breast) and Gravy is joined with Apples & Cranberry Sauce, Gratin Dauphinois, and Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans.

Option #2 - Roasted Salmon and Spinach in Puff Pastry, Fresh Spinach, Mashed Potatoes. 

Option #3 - Beef Wellington (Filet of beef wrapped in phyllo pastry) with Beef Reduction Sauce, Fingerling Potatoes, and Green Beans. 

The dessert across all options finishes beautifully with four fresh-baked apple tarts. 

Brussels Bistro Available for Ordering: Now through Tuesday, Dec 22.

To order: Order online at www.BrusselsBistro.com. (Christmas Dinners cannot be shipped.)

Price: 

Christmas Turkey option #1 is $80 + tax and gratuity

Roasted Salmon in Puff Pastry option #2 is $120 + tax and gratuity

Filet of Beef Wellington option #3 is $160 + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up: December 24 between 10 a.m. and noon.

Broadway by Amar Santana 

6-Course Prix Fixe Menu. Chef Amar has created a feast that allows you to choose from two proteins at two price points. Each meal serves four. 

Broadway Available for Ordering: Now through Monday, Dec 21.

To order: Order online at www.BroadwaybyAmarSantana.com.

Price: 

Australian Wagyu option #1 is $395 + tax and gratuity 

Frenched Pork Roast option #2 is $325 + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up: Schedule your pick-up time for Wed, Dec 23.

Holiday feasts Broadway

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Broadway by Amar Santana

As an option this holiday season, consider the heady eggnog concoction from Broadway by Amar Santana

P.S. Add Broadway’s signature eggnog, a 16-ounce bottle for $18 serves two. It’s made up of quite a heady blend of Cognac, Spiced Rum, Pineapple, and Toasted Pecan. 

Oak Laguna 

4-Course Prix Fixe Menu. Chef Chris Mahler is offering The Oak Holiday Feast for 4 people. 

The “Main Event” offers 2 Roasted Cornish Game Hens with fig glaze and wild rice and chestnut stuffing. His best-selling Beet Salad serves up arugula, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and pomegranate. And sides consist of Cauliflower Au Gratin and Green Bean Casserole. Finish with Maple Pecan Pie (yum). 

Holiday feasts Oak

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Oak Laguna

Oak Laguna is serving up Roasted Cornish Game Hens to-go

Oak Laguna Available for Ordering: Beginning Tuesday, Dec 22.

To order: Call Chef Chris direct at (949) 433-6233.

Price: $170 (feeds four) + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up or delivery: Occurs on Christmas Eve, Dec 24.

GG’s Bistro 

Christmas A La Carte 

Co-Owner Francesca is still devising a number of festive dishes for your holiday feast. While some items have already been posted, she plans on having the entirety posted this week. 

One specialty you might strongly consider: Sea Bass with Mashed Potatoes on a Spinach Bed. Otherwise, choose from a variety of proteins, sides, vegetables, desserts, and cocktails, too.

GG’s Bistro Cafe Available for Ordering: This week through early Christmas Eve. 

To order: Order online at www.GGsCafeBistro.com.

Price: Varies according to your order

Pick-up: Schedule your curbside pick-up time for the 23rd, 24th or 25th between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Holiday feasts GGs

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of GG’s Bistro

The Christmas Sea Bass option from GG’s Bistro

Driftwood Kitchen 

4-Course Prix Fixe Menu. Chef Rainer Schwarz’ Christmas-To-Go feeds 6-8 people. 

He’s also offering two protein options as follows: 

Option #1: Double R Ranch Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast with specific vegetable side of Grilled Jumbo Asparagus and Heirloom Carrots and au jus for the roast. 

Option #2: Diestel Whole Roasted Christmas Turkey has its specific sides of Green Beans and Heirloom Carrots and the always-necessary cranberry sauce and sherry-sage gravy. 

Either option also comes with Parker House Rolls, Driftwood Winter Salad, and Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (with atomic horseradish sauce). Finish either meal with a Traditional Christmas Yule Log “Buche de Noel.”

Driftwood Kitchen Available for Ordering: Now through Tuesday, Dec 22. 

To order: Order online at www.DriftwoodKitchen.com

Price: 

Rotisserie Prime Rib Roast option #1 is $340 + tax and gratuity 

Whole Roasted Christmas Turkey option #2 is $285 + tax and gratuity 

Pick-up: Schedule your curbside pick-up time for Christmas Eve, Dec 24, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

Sapphire.Cellar.Craft.Cook 

5-Course December Holiday Meal Box. The Sapphire team is offering this special through the entire month of December. The Holiday Box feeds four to six people. It includes two Grilled Bone-In Ribeye Steaks, four Grilled Salmon Filets, salad, mashed potatoes, farmer’s market vegetables, and homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 

The Holiday Box also includes a $20 gift card for future use. Three special promotional wines are also available. Sorry, no substitutions. 

Sapphire Available for Ordering: Pre-order 24 hours in advance of desired pickup anytime in December. 

To order: Order online at www.SapphireLagunaBeach.com

Price: $189 + tax and gratuity

Pick-up: 24 hours later during normal operating hours. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and the largest, up-to-the-minute Laguna Beach Restaurant Directory  at https://thebestoflagunabeach.com/ and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


Dane Selznick named new coach of LBHS Girls’ Sand Volleyball team

Veteran volleyball coach Dane Selznick was this week named the 2021 Varsity Coach for the highly successful Laguna Beach High School Girls’ Sand Volleyball team.

Selznick coached USA Olympic tandems of Barbra Fontana/Linda Robertson Hanley (Atlanta 1996), Rob Heidger/Kevin Wong (Sydney 2000), and Kerri Walsh/Misty May-Treanor (Athens Gold Medal 2004). 

Dane Selznick Walsh and May Treanor

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Coach Selznick

Coach Dane Selznick with Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, Gold Medal champions in the 2004 Olympics

The Santa Monica native was honored as one of the “Legends of the Beach” in 1997 and is considered by Volleyball Magazine as one of the top 10 defensive players of all-time. As a beach world champion he was a finalist in 43 tournaments (15 wins), and as a coach he has worked with over 2,000 professional players and four different National teams.

Dane was selected to be on the inaugural Southern California All-CIF Boys’ Volleyball team in 1973 representing Palisades High School and is the son of the late beach volleyball legend Gene Selznick.

The Laguna Beach Girls’ Sand Volleyball team will be competing in its eighth season with an all-time record of 71-16, including two State Finals appearances. 

Last year’s heavily favored squad had the COVID-19 shortened season end at 2-0.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

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