1 BOURBON STEAK
It's sheer showmanship at this Monarch Beach Resort newbie from storied chef Michael Mina, where plates arrive with magicianlike presentation. The cast-iron broiled shellfish platter bathed in miso butter is carted out and finished with a sizzle of lemon grass tea while the hay-smoked Snake River Farms ribeye cap arrives under a smoke-filled dome and is sliced tableside. Cocktails are shaken and stirred from the mobile bourbon cart, and a martini version just launched. (Or order a glass of Mina's namesake bubbly and dig into his epic caviar parfait.) Also new: the Caviar and Cadillac Experience, where you'll be toted to and from the restaurant in a Cadillac Escalade as you enjoy caviar amuse-bouche upon arrival and a custom prix fixe menu. Ahh, the good life.
Perched above the bustling beachgoers sits this splendid spot that's coastal-chic from start to finish. Nestled in Laguna's HIP District, at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Oak Street, the neighborhood venue is marked by a wraparound patio and second-floor views, where executive chef Chris Tzorin is pleasing palates with an eclectic mix of modern California comfort food like Nana's Fried Chicken (buttermilk fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes, thyme gravy and sauteed spinach) and Brooks Street classic meatballs that swim in a bath of marinara and mozzarella with brioche crostini for sopping. Stop by Mondays for all-day happy hour (The Rose Gold cocktail remains a favorite), and its weekend brunch menu is best enjoyed alfresco to the tune of live music.