Anna Driggs and Ana Montoya, co-owners of Central. Photo credit: Mike Altishin/Armitage, Inc.

Anna Driggs and Ana Montoya, co-owners of Central. Photo credit: Mike Altishin/Armitage, Inc.

Today’s mail delivered this month’s Modern Luxury magazine and, as I was hoping, it’s all about Orange County’s “50 Finest Restaurants.”

I hustled to my kitchen table and hastily tore through the pages. I figure Laguna Beach has more restaurants per square inch than a centipede has legs, so we’ve got to have several standout entries in play.

Happily, Central Coastal Peruvian takes top honors as the only Laguna Beach restaurant in the “10 Most Exciting Restaurants” list. Congrats to Anna Driggs who believed in bringing a “foreign food” concept to Laguna Beach and has truly struggled over the last couple of years to educate people on what Peruvian food really is (it’s fantastic when you have Anna’s version.)

See my latest review of Central this spring…

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 5.39.16 PMOur beloved Chef Amar Santana also placed in the top 10, but not with the Laguna-based Broadway original restaurant, but his new Vaca at South Coast Plaza. So, I guess you could say that’s honorable mention for Laguna Beach. See my pre-opening column with Chef Amar at Vaca … 

From there, it was a lot of paging through pages, looking in vain for Laguna Beach edifices. And then … at last! Nestled in the “5 Best Desserts” category are two Laguna Beach restaurants, both of whom quite easily take top honors in MY book of Laguna’s most exciting restaurants. Maybe a dessert nod is at least a start in the right direction: Driftwood Kitchen’s Mille-Feuille dessert, and Selanne’s White Chocolate Mouse.

Even Chef Craig Strong’s 5-star taste emporium, Studio, (the only 5-star in Orange County, I might add), was only mentioned for its wine list.

Hmmm. I know we’re awfully far south here for the entirety of Orange County (Laguna Beach is included in the magazine’s “South County” compilation instead of names as its own entity), and I know Orange County is loaded with thousands of restaurants with tons of fantastic talent. Still, I feel a bit like a jilted prom queen somehow.



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