Answers from Our Experts (3)
Before you head to Disneyland, Catalina Island or any numerous activities Orange County has to offer, go out to brunch and do it the California way—in other words, looking out onto the ocean. Here’s our list of the best spots for brunch:
1. Orange Hill Restaurant. When you’re sitting on the patio at Orange Hill Restaurant, you can see all of the O.C. extending to Catalina Island. What better way to spend your morning than surveying the entire area from above and enjoying Orange Hill’s tasty buffet? On the menu, you’ll find made-to-order pasta, omelets, fresh seafood, carving stations, desserts and more.
2. Las Brisas. For what’s called a Mexican Riviera brunch, head to Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, located alongside the ocean next to cliffs. On Sunday mornings, you can indulge in Mexican pastries or dishes such as crepas de Laguna stuffed with either creamy chicken or a combination of spicy scallops, shrimp and fresh fish and served with scrambled eggs or papas de la casa. Traditional Belgium waffles, eggs Benedict and potatoes are on the menu as well, so you can’t go wrong at this Laguna eatery.
3. Motif in The St. Regis Monarch Beach. Sunday champagne brunch is popular among locals and tourists alike at Motif in The St. Regis Monarch Beach. Executive chef Frederic Castan prepares international dishes with eclectic influences such as lime leaf chilled beet gazpacho or cumin yogurt platter with seasonal fruits and a selection of California berries. Motif also offers ocean views from its veranda, and looks like a no-frills café.
4. Sapphire Laguna. Chef Aziz Ghahreman opened his first restaurant, Sapphire Laguna, in 2007 after having worked as a chef at Four- and Five-Star restaurants throughout the world and winning countless culinary awards. Now, he prepares global market food for the SoCal community in a quaint, fit for Laguna type building offering ocean views. Try eclectic dishes such as spiced pumpkin pancakes with maple orange butter, sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds or Korean style beef, shitake and asparagus “bibimbap” with fragrant steamed rice, fried egg and chili-pepper sauce.
5. Raya. The views out from the floor-to-ceiling windows at Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel are absolutely stunning. Brunch at Raya will set you back $65 a person at least, but the experience is well worth the price tag. You can munch on “Mano de Leon” sea scallops with roast corn, sushi rice, nopalito, char sui pork belly, snaps peas and roasted garlic while you admire the crashing waves and the crystal blue sky in the morning.
For brunch with a view, The Resort at Pelican Hill offers two excellent options. Pelican Grill offers an á la carte Sunday brunch, with favorites like vanilla-hazelnut brioche French toast, eggs benedict or the grilled ahi burger, available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You can choose ocean-view seating on the terrace, a view of the open-concept kitchen in the dining room or a cozy spot in the lounge.
At Coliseum Pool & Grill, a classic buffet brunch complete with a “build-your-own omelette” station is available on weekends. The terrace, lounge and dining room all have beautiful views of the Coliseum Pool, the golf course and the Pacific Ocean beyond.
Another ocean-view option near The Resort at Pelican Hill is the Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove. It’s located in the historic cottage district right on the sand.
Being from the home of the best Sunday brunch in Southern California, I can only say that Motif at The St. Regis Monarch Beach is the winner, hands down. Motif is known for the Sunday Champagne Brunch, which offers unlimited champagne and an array of eclectic, international and traditional dishes, and striking Pacific views for both terrace and indoor dining.