Las Brisas: Pacific Ocean Views and Rose Gardens

Categories: Day Tripping, Diva-Colored Glasses, Diva-liscious, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Miscellaneous, Mommy Diva, Pamper Me Green
Contributing Diva:

By Angela Rocco DeCarlo

Warning: This is not an unbiased review. I love Las Brisas Restaurant for its incomparable location. The place is quaint, just comfortable enough to satisfy, with flashy rose gardens in seasonal bloom, but make no mistake, it is the ocean which holds pride of place. It sits on a promontory overlooking the sun-dappled Pacific Ocean, with curving Laguna Beach to the south replicating vistas of Italy’s Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, our families’ ancestral home.

For us former Chicagoans, the place, especially in January, represents a fantasy of beauty and breezes (hence the name The Breezes) to which we’ve brought our most beloved family and friends. Our Chicago-born fathers, Mike DeCarlo and Pete Rocco, taking their first plane ride in their 80s, relished the experience of eating in sunshine on a winter day. My sister, Christine, and others have shared our delight in merely being in this sublimely spectacular spot. Native Californians cannot fathom the depth of pleasure experienced by we cold-clime folk, who find ourselves squinting into the winter sun as we munch delicious Las Brisas nachos on the terrace. We can almost feel we’re again visiting fabled Positano, Italy, seated on the terrace of the celebrated San Pietro Hotel. The scenery is that similarly spectacular. Any visitor will respond favorably to the sensual charm of the area.

We are not alone in our devotion to the Las Brisas experience. The Southern California landmark began in 1938 as the Victor Hugo Inn. It became Las Brisas in 1979, and has been a magnet for visitors from all over the world, not just Chicago. Having on-property valet parking is no small thing in a beach town with limited street parking.

Of course the food is lovely, the calamari is particularly delicate and flavorful with a soft garlic lemon butter sauce ($10.25) that is a fine introduction to whatever comes next. On one recent visit we had our favorites on the patio -fish and chips and cheesy nachos -yummy. The patio has its own menu, separate from the inside dining room. Last week the couple seated next to us on the patio were visiting from Naperville, Illinois, a town near our former Downers Grove hometown.Noticing my Cubs bag they struck up a conversation and we had the most pleasant time talking about our rotten-weather Chicago and how glorious is Las Brisas.

Reservations are taken but the promise of a window seat is withheld. Therefore to increase your chances of unobstructed ocean views try going on a Monday when there is more opportunity to snag a window table to catch sight of the pelicans fishing for their lunch or if one is lucky seeing dolphin play dates carousing in the distance. There is an outcrop of rocks off the gazebo viewing area which is home to marine birds and mammals- I think they may be seals.

The place offers Mexican Riviera seafood dishes, as well as beef and chicken entrees for breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and cocktails. My lunch dish of four large sea scallops sauted in spicy chardonnay with garlic butter sauce and wild mushrooms was marvelously fresh-tasting and flavorful ($17.50). I’ve enjoyed the Ensalada de Primavera, substituting romaine for the spring greens but keeping the caramelized walnuts, pear, cranberries, feta cheese with a citrus-ginger dressing. ($6.50). Never having acquired a taste for alcohol I cannot speak for the drinks but I did notice margarita cocktails were priced at $9.50.

For those seeking every opportunity for beautiful vistas it is worth mentioning a small park with gorgeous views reached off Pacific Coast Highway by turning right (if you are driving south) onto Crescent Bay St. Continue to the end of the cul-de-sac and park on the street. The little park provides wonderful views up and down the coastline. The town of Laguna Beach is filled with art galleries and other interesting shops. Begin and end at Las Brisas and you are sure to enjoy it all.

Las Brisas Restaurant
361 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949-497-5434 – reservations online –
www.lasbrisaslagunabeach.com

Angela Rocco DeCarlo, copyright, 2010

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