As you might expect, there are a number of harbors in Southern California. Some are better than others, but the best are full of a series of shops and restaurants. Dana Point has one of those harbors and in fact it harbors a restaurant called Harbor Grill. Most people would expect to get seafood at such a place and that probably would have been a wise decision, but I am not most people.
There can be no doubt that I am a man who loves his poutine. In a lot of senses I am a purist, but when a place gets the right kind of creative I can get behind it. The Kroft in Tustin, Orange County started lighting up my social media feed months ago with some beautiful food pics. It took a while to find an excuse to get down there, but when I did I couldn’t help but make a stop.
San Clemente is a quaint little town on the California coast that is definitely worth a visit. And if you make it down there, you could do a whole lot worse than a visit to H.H. Cotton’s, a gastropub right in the middle of town. We wound up there completely by accident, but then isn’t that the way many great stories begin?
While the little one was distracted by football, I went ahead and ordered The Longhorn, based on my waitress’s recommendation. The Longhorn, by the way, is a burger topped with bacon, chopped brisket, crispy shallots, cheddar and BBQ sauce. As for my side, I opted for fries.
To those in the know (or from Chicago), the city has more food claims to fame than just deep dish pizza. After all, the second city was pretty much the meat capital of the country for the better part of its existence. Out of this rose a place called Portillo’s, serving up Italian beef and hot dogs to match up with the city’s non-meat inhabitants. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Portillo’s growing up and spending time in Chicago, but a year or so ago I had a boss originally from Chicago that loved the place and alerted me about a location of theirs in Buena Park, just outside of Anaheim.
Laguna Beach may be an artsy community, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to fit some upscale restaurants in. And while I’m not usually the upscaliest sort of guy, my wife and I were taking my mom out to dinner for her birthday and we wanted to go upscale. For us, this meant a visit to The Beach House. With a view of the ocean and the feeling that we were literally eating in a massive house, The Beach House was just what we were looking for.
A few years ago, I was introduced to The Beachcomber, a cafe in Crystal Cove, just south of Newport Beach. At the time, I had just eaten and couldn’t even imagine having more food, but I was certainly able to appreciate the setting and my cousins seemed to love the food. My now fiancee and I vowed to return one day and that day finally came over the weekend. While The Beachcomber appears to be a hidden secret, the hour-long wait to be seated begged to differ. Yet, while waiting for a restaurant can sometimes be obnoxious, The Beachcomber is quite literally on the beach and the beach is so nice that I would pay money to use it even if there wasn’t a restaurant.
One of the perks of staying at the St. Regis in Dana Point (or knowing people staying there) is to be able to eat at the Monarch Bay Club. This restaurant was once only available to people who live in the adjoining neighborhood of $10 million dollar homes and those willing to shell out $17,000 a year for membership. Now, though, this exclusive joint is available to anyone willing to stay at the St. Regis and their guests. Upon arrival, I expected high prices and subpar food that is typically endemic of hotel restaurants, but what I found was something a bit different.
The pool area of the St. Regis in Dana Point is like the gardens of Tivoli combined with an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Well except for the all-inclusive part. Food here comes at a premium price, but for most people staying at a place like this and charging the food to the room, that price is pretty negligible. I am not one of those people, but I was fortunate enough to have my food being provided by my future in-laws. Plus, they picked the place, so I surely couldn’t be blamed for the fact that a basic burger with cheddar and a sweet potato bun ran $20.
Yes, you read that right: A First Time for Olive Garden. Somehow this Italian chain restaurant, which finds itself in every big or small city in the country, has evaded me for my whole life. But on Friday that all changed. I found myself at Olive Garden for the first time and I was eager to find out what all the fuss was about. It all started with bread sticks.
Just off of Main Street in Disneyland, there is a little cart that sells corn dogs. But these are not just any corn dogs, these are dogs of corn that personify the Disney difference. Where another theme park might be content to boil up some prepackaged corn dogs, the corn dogs of this stand are battered and boiled in-cart. Although a typical corn dog isn’t nearly enough to fill up this unvegan, I was told these were some heavy dogs and took my chances on just one.