Answers from Our Experts (3)
In Orange County, the beach is always minutes away and we can’t think of a more romantic setting than that. Here’s our list of the five best romantic spots to share a meal:
1. Studio at Montage Laguna Beach. Housed in a cozy arts and crafts cottage overlooking the ocean, Five-Star Studio at Montage Laguna Beach is a study in understated elegance. The menu features contemporary California cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients. Settle in for a supper made up of divine dishes such as pan-seared John Dory with baby fennel, cipollini onions and caramelized cauliflower and madras curry. The wine cellar features more than 2,200 bottles with plenty of California selections and wines available by the glass.
2. Stonehill Tavern. Famed San Francisco chef-turned-restaurateur Michael Mina’s urban bistro, Stonehill Tavern, located in The St. Regis Monarch Beach, is a sleek, intimate spot designed by Tony Chi with comfortable couches, glass-enclosed booths and a large terrace. The menu at the Four-Star restaurant includes Mina’s signature appetizer trios — three different preparations of one ingredient, such as tuna, lobster or duck, as well as twists on American classics (think fried chicken with mascarpone polenta and a root beer float for dessert).
3. Andrea. With an elegant interior of natural colors, lush potted trees and a covered terrace providing unparalleled views of the ocean and golf greens, you may think you’re in Tuscany when you’re dining at Resort at Pelican Hill’s Four-Star Andrea, and that’s before the fresh northern Italian dishes and unique pastas made in the restaurant’s own temperature controlled pasta rooms even hit your table. Pasta is not the only item that gets special billing here, however, as all meals should end with a scoop of the artisan gelato.
4. Raya. Located 162 feet above sea level, Raya — located inside the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel — provides a spectacular oceanside view. This restaurant by acclaimed chef Richard Sandoval with chef de cuisine Greg Howe at the helm features pan-Latin coastal cuisine using sustainable seafood, local produce, grass fed meats and vibrant Latin flavors. Dinner includes starters such as a ceviche tasting and lobster tacos, while entrees feature dishes such as miso blad cod. Be sure to save room for some of the churros at the end of your meal.
5. Ti Amo Ristorante. Laguna Beach is home to some wonderfully understated, hole-in-the-wall type boutiques and eateries, and Ti Amo Ristorante is no exception. If the name of the restaurant is any indication, love is in the air at this romantic spot. Plus, it’s located in South Laguna, which is considered secluded and out of the way for some, and perhaps that’s why they see a lot of celebrity diners. Helmed by chef Juan, the fusion of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine produces dishes like linguine ai frutti di mare, which includes linguine pasta, shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari and fresh fish in a spicy, tomato broth.
Orange County is an incredibly romantic location, set against a backdrop of ocean, coastline and endless blue skies. One of the most romantic restaurants in Orange County is Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach. The romantic ambiance offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience, with modern American cuisine that features seasonal ingredients and contemporary twists on classic tavern dishes. Other romantic dinners can be enjoyed in Laguna Beach at French 75, Starfish, Tabu Grill and Sapphire.
The Resort at Pelican Hill’s signature restaurant, Andrea, has been recognized as one of America’s Top 10 Most Romantic Restaurants by GAYOT and Southern California’s Most Romantic Restaurant by Los Angeles Times readers. Couples love Andrea for its heated ocean-view terrace, sophisticated yet understated ambiance, cozy booths with lumbar pillows, live guitarist nightly, seasonal Northern Italian cuisine and exquisite selection of Italian wines.