Orange County and Catalina Island Restaurants

Much like L.A., restaurants in Orange County are generally casual, and you’ll rarely see men in jackets and ties. However, at top resort hotel dining rooms, many guests choose to dress up.

Of course, there’s also a swath of casual places along the beachfronts—seafood takeout, taquerias, burger joints—that won’t mind if you wear flip-flops. Reservations are recommended for the nicest restaurants.

Many places don’t serve past 11 pm, and locals tend to eat early. Remember that according to California law, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas.

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  • 1. Eric's on the Pier

    $ | American

    This little snack bar has been an Avalon family–run institution since the 1920s. It's a good place to people-watch while drinking a draft beer...Read More

  • 2. Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant

    $$ | American

    Cordelia Knott's fried chicken and boysenberry pies drew crowds so big that Knott's Berry Farm was built to keep the hungry customers occupied...Read More

  • 3. Studio

    $$$$ | Modern American

    In a nod to Laguna's art history, Studio has house-made specialties that entice the eye as well as the palate. The restaurant occupies its own...Read More

  • 4. 3-Thirty-3

    $$ | American

    This stylish eatery attracts a convivial crowd—both young and old—for midday, sunset, and late-night dining. A long list of small, shareable...Read More

  • 5. Cedar Creek Inn

    $$ | American

    Just across the street from Mission San Juan Capistrano, this restaurant has a patio that's perfect for a late lunch or a romantic dinner. The...Read More

  • 6. Descanso Beach Club

    $ | American

    Set on an expansive deck overlooking the water, Descanso Beach Club serves a wide range of favorites: grilled burgers, street tacos, clam chowder...Read More

  • 7. Napa Rose

    $$$$ | American

    Done up in a handsome Craftsman style, Napa Rose's rich seasonal cuisine is matched with an extensive wine list, with 1,500 labels and 80 available...Read More

  • 8. Ocean at Main

    $$$ | American

    Set in a handsomely renovated former bank from the 1940s, Ocean at Main’s dishes are artfully presented and feature the best of California produce...Read More

  • 9. Shake Shack at Crystal Cove

    $ | Diner

    This Southern California landmark sitting on a bluff off the PCH is the perfect spot to get a quick breakfast or to sample a tasty Cove burger...Read More

  • 10. The Ramos House Cafe

    $$$ | American

    It may be worth hopping the Amtrak to San Juan Capistrano just for the chance to have breakfast or lunch at one of Orange County's most beloved...Read More

  • 11. The Rooftop Lounge

    $$ | American

    Another popular sunset cocktail and light dinner venue in South Laguna for its views. Located at the top of La Casa del Camino, be sure to make...Read More

  • 12. Zinc Café and Market

    $ | American

    Families flock to this small Laguna Beach institution for reasonably priced breakfast and lunch options. Try the signature quiches or poached...Read More

  • 13. Lou's Brews & BBQ

    $ | American

    You won't find any frills at Lou's Brews & BBQ—just barbecue pork, smoked chicken, and a lot of beef. There's a choice of hearty sides from...Read More

  • 14. Pacific Whey Cafe

    $ | American

    The ovens rarely get a break here; everything is made from scratch daily. Pick up a BLTA (a BLT with avocado) for a picnic across the street...Read More

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