Years ago, when the Mozambique Steakhouse & Coastal Lounge set up shop in an enormous failed restaurant space at the corner of Agate and Coast Highway, we Laguna residents figured we’d be counting the days of its short existence, too.
But, despite lagging and up-and-down economies and nearby neighborly concerns over parking and live music noise, the Mozambique Restaurant has not only endured, but flourished. (Even better, the restaurant has actually befriended the neighbors, which is no small feat.)
Owner Ivan Spiers and longtime Manager John Meisse have not only created a lavish dining experience on three separate restaurant levels, but have earned a great reputation in town for their wholehearted help with various non-profit organizations in the city’s limits. Additionally, they’ve created what is probably the most consistently “hot” live music venue in its second-floor lounge with international and popular regional bands gracing the stage several nights a week.
Spawned from a boyhood love of South African tropical fruits and Peri-Peri spice, Mozambique restaurant’s many dishes find a way to reflect those South African roots. (Per Manager John Meisse, the Peri-Peri is a mix of Birdseye pepper in a citrus/tomato base. Per my take, it’s a spicy, complex wonder.)
When I say “many dishes” I mean just that – the Mozambique Dinner Menu reads like a multi-page novel. (I’m tempted to compare it to a Cheesecake Factory menu in sheer volume of dishes but, rest assured, Mozambique’s foodie fare resides far above what the Factory churns out.)
Mozambique’s Dinner menu is by far, the most generous offering of assorted meats, fish and vegetarian dishes in Laguna Beach. (Then, of course, you also have large Lunch, Happy Hour and Sunday Brunch menus to choose from, too.) It surprises me that the Mozambique kitchen is able to turn consistently good food across so many offerings, but the restaurant has managed to dial this in to an art form.
A few years ago when the Mozambique restaurant first opened, it seemed the food was a bit inconsistent. This is absolutely no longer an issue. No matter what menu item I try, and no matter what the time of day (Mozambique’s kitchen stays open much longer than most in Laguna Beach), I am happily pleased with the results.
Your most difficult task comes from choosing between more than 20 appetizers, soups and salads, 2o “Mozambique Restaurant Signature Favorites,” and 12 hearty menu items on the Steakhouse Grill side of the menu. Many of these items are also offered in smaller portions for lighter appetites, but I prefer to order the full meal and happily trot home with a “to go” box under my arm – the food is worthy of a second visit the next day!
Even after all these years, I’ve only skimmed the surface of the immense Mozambique menu. I’ve offered favorites in my Mozambique Happy Hour review, but for Dining fare alone, I love the Peri-Peri Prawns … the Seared Tuna Steak with its shoyu mustard beurre blanc … the Filet Mignon with mashed potatoes and asparagus … and the to-die-for New Zealand Lamb Chops with saffron couscous and ratatouille sides. And, when the mood strikes, I can safely say that there’s no better Fish ’n Chips in Laguna than what you’ll find at Mozambique.
(And while we’re on the subject of “mood striking,” be sure to dive into the Mozambique restaurant dessert menu, too. Aside from items like the flourless chocolate ganache and chocolate and banana bread pudding, you simply must try the Portuguese Hot Butter Pudding. Good glory.
Photo used with permission, Mozambique