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. Las Brisas

    $$ | Mexican

    Located in what used to be the Victor Hugo Inn, Las Brisas is now a Laguna Beach landmark restaurant. Sit on the expansive patio to take in...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. Bluewater Grill

    $$$ | Seafood

    On the site of an old sportfishing dock, this popular spot offers a variety of seafood, from Idaho trout amandine and lemon pepper mahimahi...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. The Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove

    $$ | Seafood

    Beach culture flourishes in this Crystal Cove Historic District's restaurant, thanks to its umbrella-laden deck just a few steps above the white...Read More

  • 15. The Cannery

    $$$ | Seafood

    This 1920s cannery building still teems with fish, but now they go into dishes on the eclectic Pacific Rim menu rather than being packed into...Read More

  • 16. The Cliff

    $$$ | Seafood

    Walk through the quaint Laguna Beach artist village to get to the Cliff and its 180-degree views of Main Beach and the Pacific coastline. The...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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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