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Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying Orange County 2011 - Raya



1 Ritz-Carlton Drive

Dana Point, CA 92629


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Readers' Choice: Mastro's Ocean Club

You know you're in it for a few Benjamins when you see the view from your table inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel. It is a soaring panorama of the Pacific Ocean to which only cruise ship passengers are usually privy. But the food is also worth the money. If not yours, then someone who's willing to admit it is a better investment in alta cocina fare than anything the Rick Baylesses and Susan Fenigers of the world have to offer. First, Richard Sandoval, the mastermind behind this and other similarly upscale restaurants, is actually from Mexico. Those who think this shouldn't matter need to taste his corn soup, which can be a revelatory slurp akin to the first time you had a perfect rib-eye or seared foie gras. The CIA-trained Mexico City native does it all, beginning with that soup. And he doesn't gussy up Mexican cuisine's indigenous ingredients like oddities just to prove he knows about them. Instead, he uses them as matter-of-fact jumping-off points for his own brand of haute cuisine that just happens to feature a Mexican flavor profile. Herewith is proof that "expensive Mexican cuisine" isn't a contradiction in terms and that huitlacoche does, indeed, work well with braised short rib. $$$$

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Yes very nice view and ambience however, two tablespoons of food is simply not enough for the price. I thought they erred and gave me a tapa portion. When I asked and found out it was a main entree, they immediately sensed my disapproval. But no matter, Ritz holds up to their name and the chef took it off my bill. They aim to please but lets get real here. For the high price, we need satisfaction.