This is an updated article from the one I first published a couple weeks ago on Thanksgiving dining options in Laguna Beach.
Last week’s announcement of the dreaded return of “COVID’s purple tier” created its share of chaos in restaurants everywhere. Fortunately, the Purple Tier restriction that closes all indoor dining is not the first time our restaurant owners and chefs have experienced this phenomenon during this year. Like the steadfast troopers they are, they simply turned on a dime and made a new plan.
Restaurants Close Indoor Dining, Outdoor Dining Remains Open
For a handful of restaurants planning to serve Thanksgiving dinner to patrons, it meant ordering more heaters and getting tents in place for a 100% outdoor dining experience.
As usual, most “dine-in, full service” restaurants – meaning restaurants that offer wait staff service – are closed for the holiday. A few hearty souls, though, are offering fabulous prix fixe menus on Thanksgiving Day, while four restaurants – The Broadway by Amar Santana, Oak Laguna, Nirvana Grille and Sapphire Laguna – are offering Thanksgiving take-out options.
Here’s the latest update:
Restaurants Open For Outdoor Dining
With Regular Menu Only
Two restaurants, GG’s Bistro and Rooftop Lounge at Casa del Camino will be providing regular menu fare during their regular business hours.
“We like to say, ‘Save a turkey, eat Turkish instead’ and we’re usually quite busy on Thanksgiving,” says GG’s Bistro owner Francesca Gundogar.
4 Restaurants Serving Thanksgiving Day Menus
For Outdoor Dining
To date, four popular Laguna Beach restaurants are reporting prix fixe only menus on Thanksgiving Day. Listed alphabetically:
3-Course Prix Fixe Menu only. Offering Parker House rolls for the table for starters, guest choose one appetizer option from Roasted Baby Beet and Arugula Salad, Yellowtail Carpaccio, Butternut Squash Soup or Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops.
Then, choose one of three entrées – Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey with all the fixings, Roasted Prime Rib with sides, or Ora King Salmon Filet with sides. Traditional desserts for the table include Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and Cookies. Kids’ can choose from three special menus as well.
Seating: Open-air patio
Hours: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Price: $75 for adults, $19 for kids 12 and younger + gratuity
Driftwood Kitchen Reservations: (949) 715-7700
3-Course Prix Fixe Menu only. Starters include options of Lobster Salad and Cured Duck Breast. Choose from seven main entrées that include Chile-Rubbed Turkey served with traditional fixings, Slow-Roasted Salmon, Shrimp Tampiquenos, Petite Filet of Beef, Lamb Chops, Steak and Lobster Enchiladas and Shrimp and Crab Rellenos. Dessert options include Pumpkin Cheesecake, Apple Bread Pudding, and Chocolate Pot de Crème.
Seating: Open-air patio, outside lawn
Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Price: $80 per person + gratuity
Las Brisas Reservations: (949) 497-5434
3-Course Prix Fixe Menu only. Starters include options of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, House Salad or Herbed Goat Cheese Ravioli.
Choose from three entrées, Roasted Dietsel Farms Turkey with traditional fixings, a 10-ounce Certified Angus Filet Mignon with port wine demiglaze, along with butternut squash purée and portobello mushrooms or Miso Marinated Costa Rican Sea Bass with orange sage butter, caramelized butternut squash and grilled broccolini.
Dessert options include Pumpkin Pie or my favorite apple dessert in town, the Apple Cobbler.
Seating: Open-air patio
Hours: 2 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Price: $72 per person + gratuity
Lumberyard Reservations: (949) 715-3900
The Drake Laguna
3-Course Prix Fixe Menu only. Offering starters of Lobster Bisque or Autumn Harvest Salad, followed by an Organic Turkey Breast Dinner with all the fixings, and a choice of Pumpkin Pie or Three-Chocolate Parfait for dessert.
Hours: Two seatings, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Price: $75 per person + gratuity
Reservations: (949) 376-1000
4 Restaurants Serving Thanksgiving Take Out (Only)
These Laguna restaurants will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but they will be getting plenty of turkey cooking done in advance with pre-ordered “to-go” menus that can be delivered or picked up.
Broadway by Amar Santana
For the record, Chef Amar’s deadline for his Take-Out Thanksgiving Dinner was yesterday afternoon(Monday), but you might be able to plead for just one more order if you call the restaurant quickly. Check out his website for details.
Broadway Ordering information: No promises! Order ASAP at (949) 715-8234.
Schedule pick up is Wednesday, Nov. 25th, 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Broadway Price: Entire Thanksgiving Dinner package serving 8-10 people is $495.
A perennial favorite, Nirvana’s Chef Lindsay is serving up a “Build Your Own Feast” Thanksgiving Dinner to go.
Choose from four best-selling appetizers, five salads, several options of Roasted Free Range Turkey, large and small options of Steelhead Salmon, and even Glazed Maple Ham.
Sides range in giant number from two of my favorites, Butternut Squash Ravioli and Roasted Kobacha & Butternut Squash Risotto to green beans, heirloom colored carrots, roasted brussels sprouts, a fabulous, Parsnip/Turnip and Yukon Gol Potato Purée, and classic options of mashed potatoes and herb stuffing.
Don’t forget to throw in the extras (pan gravy, rolls, etc.) and, for heaven’s sake, choose more than one of the four desserts with options of whipped cream or house-made Cinnamon Ice Cream.
Nirvana Grille Ordering information: Call (949) 497-0027 or speak with Chef Lindsay personally at (949) 637-4708.
Pickup is available Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), Nov. 26th, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the restaurant.
NIrvana Grille Price: Entirely based on the options you choose.
Executive Chef Chris Mahler is offering your entire Thanksgiving Day meal on a platter (or, as it were, several “to go” boxes).
Order the entire meal, from turkey to all the fixings and dessert, too, in one package, or purchase any item on an a la carte basis. If you order your entire meal “chilled,” you receive your order fully cooked and packaged for reheating, or order it piping hot, your choice
Oak Laguna’s “Main Event” includes Roasted Turkey (7-10 pounds or 10-13 pounds, your call) or Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.
Then, choose one salad from three options. Choose three sides from options of Baked Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Traditional Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Brussels Sprouts, Baby Heirloom Carrots, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes or Green Bean Casserole. Chef Chris assures me that you can add additional a la carte items at will, too. Lastly, choose dessert from either an entire Apple Pie or Maple Pecan Pie.
Oak Ordering information: Chef Chris has established a direct Thanksgiving Order call line: (949) 433-6233.
You may begin placing orders on Monday, Nov. 23rd trough Wednesday, Nov. 25th. Schedule pick up or delivery at any time during normal operating hours, but last pick-up/delivery is at 9 p.m. on Wednesday evening.
Oak Price: The entire meal (with family size in mind) includes entrée, 1 soup, 1 salad, 3 side dishes, turkey gravy, 1 dozen sweet rolls and choice of pie for $210.
A la carte pricing ranges by course (i.e., starters or side dishes, etc.).
Sapphire, Cellar. Craft. Cook.
New Sapphire owner Russ Bendel is offering a Thanksgiving Family Meal Box that provides “Everything But The Turkey” for a party of 6.
Created by Executive Chef Jared Cook, the Box of all the fixings includes Lettuce Salad, House Made Mashed Potatoes and Gray, Kale & Sausage Stuffing, Heirloom Vegetables and Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Cheesecake and two bottles of wine, Martin Ray Chardonnay and Angeline Pinot Noir.
And, as a special bonus, you receive a $20 gift card for future dining at Sapphire or for use in its adjacent Pantry. Optionally add in a liter of Pumpkin Old-Fashioned Craft Cocktails for 6 for an additional $50.
Sapphire Ordering Information: Call in advance at (949) 715-9888 to preorder. Modifications are politely declined. You’re encouraged to order by Saturday, Nov. 21st.
Meal boxes will be available for pickup Thanksgiving morning between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Reheating instructions are provided.
Sapphire Price: The meal in a box is $149, including the two bottles of wine.
And, as a neighborly aside: Hendrix
While Chef Reiner Schwarz serves up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Laguna’s Driftwood Kitchen, his Laguna Niguel-based restaurant, Hendrix, is offering both dine-in and “to go” Thanksgiving meals.
Take-out orders must be placed by Tuesday, Nov. 24th with curbside pickup on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Be sure to shop the Hendrix marketplace, too, for added bites and great wines.
Thanksgiving Day at Hendrix offers a prix-fixe menu only between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Call the restaurant to learn more.
Laguna Restaurants Closed on Thanksgiving Day
These restaurants are typically “dine-in” restaurants; “counter service” restaurants such as Slice Pizza, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, etc. have not been queried. As noted earlier, a few restaurants are still getting back to me, but this is the complete list to date for closures:
(The) Cliff Laguna Beach
(The) Deck Laguna Beach
Harley Laguna Beach
Maro Wood Grill
Royal Hawaiian (Mon – Fri, Nov. 23 – 27th)
South of Nick’s