The most popular restaurant in Laguna Beach right now isn't 370 Common or Las Brisas or one of Alessandro Pirozzi's Italian palaces, but rather a hallway hidden in downtown. There's always a line extending out of Adonis Mediterranean Grill, mostly because you can barely fit five people inside the restaurant at any given time. But even if the place were as big as the Tustin blimp hangars, there'd be people waiting to chow down on Adonis' sumptuous gyros.
"This is a good spot," I told a pal the last time I went. "Not just South County good, but good good." We don't practice affirmative action at the Weekly, not even in food (that's why we don't do too many South County restaurants, folks; y'all's food is still too designed with Aliso Viejo residents in mind). So that's why I delayed trying Adonis—surely, a gyro in Laguna can't compare to what they make in Little Arabia? But it does. Four spits of meat run at the same time, and there's always at least one worker quickly shaving off petals of just-charred chicken or beef, then placing them inside a gyro smeared with tzaziki. All that's prepared here are gyros and a combo plate, and all ingredients are labeled and praised for their health benefits (even the "presley and onions"). That simplicity draws in the tourists, including someone from the Texas A & M baseball program who drawled on a recent weekday, "Can I have more of that white sauce?" And the good food makes regulars of the locals; right behind the Aggie was a woman in an Angels sweat shirt, zipper pulled down to let guys preview her ample decolletage. She addressed the owner by his name, got an off-menu chicken salad and left.
But the most exciting part about Adonis is also the simplest: a baked potato steamed in tomato juice. I don't know if it's a Middle Eastern specialty or a creation of Adonis, but it's an unexpected delight: flaky and with a light tang; you won't even ask for butter. Best tater since CrissCut fries, fam.
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Adonis Mediterranean Grill, 202 Park Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-4581.