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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Basilic Restaurant

    $$$ | Balboa Island | French

    This intimate French-Swiss bistro adds a touch of old-world elegance to Balboa Island with its white linen and flower-topped tables. Chef Bernard...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. L'Hirondelle

    $$$ | French

    Locals have romanced at cozy tables for decades at this delightful restaurant directly across from the San Juan Capistrano Mission. Such classic...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Steve's Steakhouse and Seafood

    $$$ | Steakhouse

    Within spitting distance of the bay, this second-floor restaurant keeps hungry diners happy with sizzling steaks and slow-cooked baby back ribs...Read More

  • 11. The Lobster Trap

    $$ | Seafood

    Seafood rules at the Lobster Trap—the restaurant's owner has his own boat and fishes for the catch of the day and, in season, spiny lobster...Read More

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