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. Bear Flag Fish Co.

    $ | Seafood

    Expect long lines in summer at this indoor/outdoor dining spot serving up the freshest local fish (swordfish, sea bass, halibut, and tuna) and...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Bluewater Grill

    $$ | Seafood

    Overlooking the ferry landing and the entire harbor, the open-to-the-salt-air Bluewater Grill offers freshly caught fish, savory chowders, and...Read More

  • 4. Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar and Cafe

    $$ | Mediterranean

    This relaxed bi-level Mediterranean spot offers more than 30 wines by the glass, craft beers, and craft cocktails that pair well with the Spanish...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. Duke's

    $$$$ | Seafood

    Freshly caught seafood reigns supreme at this homage to surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku; it's also a prime people-watching spot right at the...Read More

  • 8. Gelato Paradiso

    $ | European

    Each morning this gelato shop makes fresh small batches of artisanal gelatos and dairy-free sorbettos in a variety of appealing flavors. Located...Read More

  • 9. Luciana's Ristorante

    $$ | Italian

    This intimate family-owned eatery serves simply prepared, tasty Italian food. Try one of the homemade soups or gnocchi classico—Grandma's homemade...Read More

  • 10. Sapphire

    $$ | International

    This Laguna Beach establishment set in a historic Craftsman-style building is part gourmet pantry (a must-stop for your every picnic need) and...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Taco Loco

    $ | Mexican

    This may look like a fast-food taco stand, and the hemp blackened burgers and brownies on the menu may make you think the kitchen's really...Read More

  • 13. Urth Caffe

    $$ | Bakery

    A local favorite for organic heirloom coffee and hand-blended fine organic teas, Urth is also the place to go for health-conscious breakfast...Read More

  • 14. Wahoo's Fish Taco

    $ | Mexican

    Proximity to the ocean makes this eatery's seafood-filled tacos and burritos taste even better. The healthy fast-food chain—tagged with dozens...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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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