But if it’s “snooty” you want, nothing tops the Pelican Hill Resort at Newport Coast. A golf course that overlooks the ocean? Puh-lease! That’s only the beginning. Property owner the Irvine Co. is rumored to have splurged a cool half-billion dollars to complete the final phase of the resort, which will include a hotel and God knows what else. What’s there now is a gourmet restaurant and a balcony with a view only lighthouses are privy to. Go there and have a look. They’ll let you. For now. 22800 Pelican Hill Rd., Newport Coast, (877) 735-4226;

Farther south on the coast is the stalwart of outdoor eating. Sapphire cook their meals with locally sourced, organic ingredients, yadda yadda yadda. But check out the patio, and you’ll realize what it’s really about. The area is elevated from the sidewalk, so you won’t be pestered by gawking pedestrians. And best of all, there’s a firepit to combat those chilly evening coastal breezes. Also, it’s a good excuse to cuddle. 1200 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-9888;

We end the list with what many consider the best French restaurant in Orange County. It’s everything everyone tells you it is. And yes, again, it’s about that patio. Who would’ve thought such an oasis of serenity could exist on the third story of a shopping mall? Citrus trees. Cabanas. Sunshine. And yeah . . . the best French food in Orange County. South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Ste. 3001, Costa Mesa, (714) 434-7900.

Ken Morrone's grill outside REI
Edwin Goei
Ken Morrone's grill outside REI
Lisa Thompson Photography

Location Info


Burrell's Bar-B-Que

305 N. Hesperia
Santa Ana, CA 92703

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Santa Ana

REI Santa Ana

1411 Village Way
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Category: Retail

Region: Santa Ana


3420 Via Oporto
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Newport Beach

The Resort on Pelican Hill

22701 Pelican Hill Road S.
Newport Beach, CA 92657

Category: Hotels and Resorts

Region: Newport Beach

Sapphire Laguna Restaurant & Pantry

1200 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Laguna Beach

Marché Moderne

3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626-1873

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Costa Mesa

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