During my recent trip to Southern California, I got to cross something off my bucket list.
When I was in high school, the MTV show Laguna Beach was like religion to me. In fact, during my senior year, I was at a friend's house, when I realized that if I didn't hop into the car and start heading home, I was going to miss the season finale. This was 2002, long before DVR or watching online the next day. Either you watched the show in real time, or you missed it. So what happened? I got a speeding ticket on my street (!!) trying to get back in time. That is devotion.
Fast forward 17 years, and I finally made it to Laguna Beach. As a super fan of the show, the moment we drove into town I felt giddy with anticipation. Would we see LC? Kristin? Stephen? Talan? Would I recognize any of the cafes or shops from the show?
We parked our rental car and headed to a restaurant called The Cliff, which is right on the South Coast Highway. It's part of a small shopping area called Laguna Village. From the street, the plaza looks very touristy, but do not let that deter you!
The Cliff, as the name suggests, is on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean.
This is a very popular spot, so we had to wait 30 minutes for a table. Thankfully, they take your phone number and text you when your table is ready, making it easy to kill time shopping nearby.
When we got the text, the hostess walked us to a table right on the glass, giving us a 180 degree view.
This was the view to the right:
And this stunner was the view to the left:
I mean, what can you even say? It was breathtaking.
To start, we each ordered a strawberry lemonade. My favorite version of this drink is served at The Cheesecake Factory (pro tip), and I was hoping for these to be equally refreshing.
I was disappointed that what arrived looked and tasted like the pink lemonade that gets served out of a giant jug at summer camp.
We decided to share an appetizer and ordered something on the menu called "Have-a-chips." I wasn't sure if that was a funny name given by the restaurant or what, but it turned out to be a brand of corn chips.
It came with salsa and guacamole, and I was super underwhelmed by the guac. California produces some of the most delicious avocados, and this rendition was just meh.
For my main course, I went with the veggie sandwich, which was mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, hummus and balsamic. The sandwich was overstuffed, so each time I took a bite, stuff would fall out the other side!
I wasn't a huge of this brown bread. I wish it had been served on something like rye.
Alongside the sandwich came a generous pile of French fries, which I enjoyed very much.
My bestie ordered the lobster louie salad, which was the unequivocal star of the meal. It arrived to the table and we were both struck by the beautiful and bright presentation.
As she started to dig in, she exclaimed, "There is so much lobster meat! There's a ton of claw meat, which is always the best part, and a bunch of leg meat too. This came with thousand island dressing, which I never order, but I love. I am so excited about the lobster, that I don't even care about all the other goodies!"
While I found the food to be mediocre, it's clear that if you eat seafood, you'll have a much more delicious experience. And let's be real, dining here is all about the epic water views.
After the bill had been paid, we walked across the street to La Rue du Chocolat, a wonderful artisan chocolate shop. Directly next door there was a long line at Gelato Paradiso. We were too full from lunch and candy, but we'll definitely plan to get gelato there next time.
Have you spent any time in Laguna Beach? If you have recommendations for things to do or places to eat, I'd love to hear them.
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