Last year at this time, the State of California moved back in to “purple tier” status, which sent our Laguna Beach restaurateurs scrambling to figure out what to do with all of their Thanksgiving dining reservations. This year let’s hope we’re in for a more traditional Thanksgiving Day as several restaurants are already reporting near capacity for that day’s reservations.
Get the party started Thanksgiving Eve
On the night before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 24th, Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill is ready to take in all those guests underfoot. When your visiting family and friends keep milling about your kitchen and getting in the way of your focused cranberry sauce mixing, shoo them on over to Royal’s dance party with “Iridescent” as their beats DJ from 8 pm to midnight.
Fewer restaurants open, take-out still flying
Fewer restaurants are open this year on Thanksgiving Day than past years, so reservations are filling very quickly. Harvest at The Ranch Laguna Beach is filled to capacity; they’re not even taking any more parties for wait list. Splashes at the Surf & Sand is nearing capacity as is The Drake and Driftwood Kitchen. “It seems like we haven’t even missed a step since the summer months,” Chef Rainer Schwarz told me. “We’re seeing earlier reservation activity this year for Thanksgiving. In previous years, people would wait to the last minute to book a reservation.”
Some restaurants that would usually be open have opted again for take-out dinners, all of which are selling like hotcakes. And below you’ll find a list of all the restaurants closed on Thanksgiving.
Dining room & outdoor dining – Thanksgiving fare only…
Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been able to collect so far. Reports are still rolling in from our Laguna chefs, so be sure to check in at my social platforms @bestoflagunabeach for more updates. (Please note: Tax and gratuity are in addition to any posted pricing. Please tip these people well. They are, after all, working on Thanksgiving Day.).
C’est La Vie – Thanksgiving 5-Course Prix Fixe Menu, noon – 9 pm. $69 per guest, $16 for kids under the age of 12.
With the restaurant’s recent installment of Chef Antonio Roa, I wasn’t surprised to see this 5-course menu appear. Chef Antonio has spent the majority of his 30 years in the culinary field in 5 star/diamond resort restaurants and it shows with his Thanksgiving menu debut. It’s an Amuse Bouche start, Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque and salads for courses two and three, and four entrée options from Crab Meat Salmon Roulade to Diver Scallops, Filet Mignon and Chestnut Sage Stuffed Jidori Chicken Breast. Dessert options from their in-house bakery close the deal. Some a la carte menu items are also available.
Comedor at Casa del Camino – Serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but they’re still finalizing their menu and hours. Check back soon.
Driftwood Kitchen – Thanksgiving Buffet, 1-7 pm. $115 per guest and $19 for kids 12 and under.
No one can top the kind of buffet spread that Chef Rainer puts out. From chilled seafood to charcuterie towers, “Seafood Action Stations” and Carving Stations with Diestel Turkey and Greater Omaha Carved Prime Rib, it’s Thanksgiving and beyond. Kids will enjoy their own Kids Station and the Dessert Station looks like something out of Santa’s Workshop.
Hendrix – Thanksgiving Buffet, 2 pm – 8 pm. $75 per guest and $19 for kids under 12.
For the record, Chef Rainer’s Hendrix restaurant in Ocean Ranch is also doing a Thanksgiving Buffet. It may be a bit more streamlined but it’s still serving up his buffet favorites, with an addition of Scottish Salmon Filet in the Carving Station.
Larsen at Hotel Laguna – Thanksgiving 4-course Prix Fixe Menu, $150 per person, $25 for kids under 10 years of age.
This grand dame has to be overwhelmed with joy to see her people visiting her again. The chef of the newest (and oldest) restaurant in town, Craig Strong said, “Thanksgiving should feel like a Norman Rockwell painting of classic comfort … juicy roasted Mary’s Organic Turkey, stuffing like my mom would make, creamy potatoes and gravy that sings in your memories. Of course, bigger portions are a requirement on a day of feasting.”
Start with an arugula and radicchio salad followed with spiced squash soup. Choose from options in entrées including Sautéed Salmon, Beef Short Rib, Vegetable Pot au Feu or Roasted Mary’s Turkey. Dessert takes you back to Dickens’ days with Date Pudding with Cinnamon Crumble and Toffee Sauce.
Reserve: Go directly through OpenTable for LARSEN
Las Brisas – Thanksgiving 3-course Prix Fixe Menu, $80 per person.
Get started with Red Pumpkin Soup or Lobster Salad before diving into one of five entrée choices, from Chile-Rubbed Turkey to Steak & Lobster Enchiladas or Filet of Beef. Three dessert choices round out your meal.
Lumberyard – Thanksgiving 3-course Prix Fixe Menu, 3 pm – 7 pm, $75 per person.
Owner Cary Redfearn and Chef Primo Tavares are at their creative best again this year with starters ranging from Butternut Squash Soup to Herbed Goat Cheese Ravioli and entrées that include Diestel Farms Turkey, Angus Filet Mignon and Miso Marinated Costa Rican Sea Bass. Desserts includes the traditional Pumpkin Pie and my favorite dessert in town – the Lumberyard Apple Cobbler.
Selanne Steak Tavern – Thanksgiving 3-course Prix Fixe Menu, noon – 8 pm, $135 per adult, $40 for kids between the ages of 4 and 12.
Choose from appetizers such as Kabocha Squash Soup and Caesar Salad and entrées that include Kuobuta Leg of Ham, Prime Ribeye Roast and Mary’s Farm Heritage Turkey. Sides are served family style, and desserts include choices of Pumpkin Tart or Warm Apple Streusel Bar.
Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort – Thanksgiving 4-course Prix Fixe Menu, noon – 8 pm, $125 per person.Choose appetizers and salads or soups for your starters. Entrées include Diestel Farm Turkey, Bristol Scallops and Chef Rons’ famous Braised Short Rib. Dessert options are plentiful, too.
The Drake Laguna Beach – Thanksgiving 3-course Prix Fixe Menu, 2 pm – 8 pm, $xx per person.The first for this immensely popular eatery, Chef Nick Gstrein tells me that the team decided to open for Thanksgiving this year “because the demand seemed to be in place.” They’ve already filled most of the reservations, but a few seats can still be had. Aside from the prix fixe menu (which Nick is just finishing), a few a la carte menu items will be available, too. Live music will, of course, be in play. Reserve: TheDrakeLaguna.com
The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach – Thanksgiving 4-course Prix Fixe Menu, noon to 9 pm, $160 per person. Choose starters such as Kuri Squash Bisque or Truffle Risotto, and choose from three entrées, Diestel Ranch Turkey, Niman Ranch Rib Eye or Local Black Cod. Dessert options, too, of course.
Dining room & outdoor dining – regular menu
GG’s Bistro – As GG’s Co-Owner Francesca told me, “Save a turkey, eat Turkish!” Enjoy the full menu fare from 11:30 am to an early close at 5:30 pm. Reservations recommended at GGsCafeBistro.com
Greeter’s Corner – Holding down the south corner of Main Beach park, Greeter’s is offering its regular menu, regular hours, 815 am – 9 pm.
Henessey’s Tavern – At last! We’ve found at least ONE place that’s airing all the football you can stand (at least the afternoon games). Henessey’s Tavern opens at 11 am at about 6 pm. Regular menu available + a traditional turkey dinner for just $20.
Laguna Coffee – Thank goodness our ladies are open from 5:30 am (for early Thanksgiving chefs). They close early at 1 pm.
Lost Pier – Certainly good news for beach goers, our crafty beach hut at Aliso Creek is open regular hours, 8 am – 6 pm.
Moulin – Just to be on the safe side, you might want to stock up on Moulin’s popular pies and tartlets before Thanksgiving Day hits, but Moulin will be open on Thanksgiving Day for those breakfast pastries (because who’s really counting on Thanksgiving Day?), breads and more. Regular hours are 8 am to 3 pm.
Orange Inn – Rest assured, the ol’ O.I. will be serving up your favorite breakfast and lunch items until 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Thai Brothers – Our popular Thai restaurant will be open, but I haven’t been able to confirm its operating hours on Thanksgiving.
Rooftop at Casa del Camino – While the management is still determining actual open hours on Thanksgiving, they do know that they’ll be open with the regular menu in play.
South Swell Donuts – SoLag’s go-to for the best donuts in town is open Thanksgiving Day until they sell out. The owners will be doubling up on favorites that day and open from 6 am to 2 pm (or closing earlier if sold out).
Zinc Café – Grab your favorite cup of joe and any last-minute needs for your Thanksgiving table (always best to pre-order pies and even salads, though, by calling a day or two in advance). Zinc’s is open from 7 am, closing early at noon.
Thanksgiving To Go
Thanksgiving never had it so good last year when restaurants throughout Laguna Beach participated in the creative endeavor of prepping and boxing up ready-roasted turkeys and all their fixings. It proved such a hit that a few restaurants are reinventing their illustrious take-out menus again.
DEADLINE ALREADY PAST – Broadway by Amar Santana – Order by Thursday, Nov. 18th at 2 pm. Pick up on Wednesday, Nov. 24th between 3 pm and 5 pm.
Chef Amar’s $395 Thanksgiving To-Go package includes a 16–18-pound Roasted Mary’s Farm Turkey, “Santana Famous Italian Sausage Cornbread Stuffing” and all the side dish fixings, including Roasted Squash and Banana Soup and four choices of desserts.
Brussels Bistro – Order by Monday, Nov. 22nd Pick up on Wednesday, Nov. 24th between 3 pm and 7 pm at Laguna Beach or San Clemente locations.In my opinion, the reigning champions of the great and flavorful take-out, Brussels chefs are at it again with a Thanksgiving family meal for four for just $69. It’s roasted turkey with all the fixings and an assortment of desserts (four chocolate mousse, four tiramisu, four macarons). Order Take Out: BrusselsBistro.com (scroll down for their Thanksgiving package)
Harley Laguna Beach – Order by Sunday, Nov. 21st, 8 pm. “Your Turkey & Our Sides” pretty much sums it up. Surprise your guests with a cornucopia of “home cooking” magic, from a dozen fresh baked buttermilk biscuits to mashed potatoes, REAL gravy, stuffing, a variety of vegetables and salads, Winter Squash Soup (one of my favorites here) and homey desserts. Pick up all orders on Wednesday, between 2 and 6 pm.
Order Take Out: HarleyLagunaBeach.com
Nirvana Grille – Order by Monday, Nov. 22nd at 9 pm. Pick up Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25th between 1 pm and 3 pm (designate your pickup window when ordering). Chef Lindsay Smith is, perhaps, the most industrious of them all with three pages of Thanksgiving a la carte options at her website. (You’ll find Roasted Turkey and Steelhead Salmon on page 2). Shop till you drop, and don’t forget the house-crafted desserts.
Order Take Out: NirvanaGrille.com
Hendrix – Order by Monday, Nov. 22nd. Pick up on Thanksgiving Day. Although Hendrix is in Ocean Ranch, there’s nothing wrong with sending our love to Chef Rainer, who also oversees Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck Laguna Beach. This “everything in” dinner – whole roasted turkey with everything from Parker House rolls to pumpkin pie – feeds 8-10 people for $275.
Order Take Out: HendrixOC.com
Restaurants Closed on Thanksgiving (confirmed)
Adolfo’s Mexican Food
Alessa by Chef Pirozzi
Another Kind Café
Asada Taco + Beer
Avila El Ranchito
Broadway by Amar Santana
(The) Cliff Restaurant
Dizz’s As Is
Gina’s Pizza & Pastaria
Harley Laguna Beach
Jan’s Health Bar
Kitchen in the Canyon
Laguna Thai by the Sea
La Sirena (both locations)
Maro Wood Grill
Natraj Indian Cuisine
O Fine Japanese Sushi
Oak Laguna Beach
Pearl St. General Store & Seahorse Lounge
Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill
Ruby’s Auto Diner
Salerno by Chef Pirozzi
San Shi Go
Slice Pizza & Beer
South of Nick’s
2 Sushi Fusion
The Deck on Laguna Beach
Tippy’s Laguna Beach
Wahoo’s Fish Taco