We're Southern Californians raised in the sand and love where things appear to be going when it comes to a bubbling "beach food" movement. Recently, L.A. Times critic S. Irene Virbila declared Son of a Gun some sort of nucleus for "beach shack food," while Roy Choi (already a champion of expressive SoCal cuisine, including the occasional beachy nod) announced he would be endowing Beechwood with a little boardwalk-style beach food himself. While "movement" is maybe too strong a word just yet, three makes a trend and the July 1st opening of The Deck at Laguna Beach's Pacific Edge Hotel finds another chef looking to the surf for inspiration.
The new beachfront restaurant is a 160-seat, open-air affair that looks onto the sea and all its various consorts. Chef Michael Ingrino has put together a menu of beachy classics, accrued while researching various US. seaside towns. To this end, you'll find paella, steamed clams, shrimp ceviche with mango, ahi and crab, mahi mahi tacos, crab legs, and even a clambake. Drinks similarly veer towards the tropical and cooling, with fresh fruit and crisp flavors in pineapple mojitos, guava Bellinis, and summer breezes.
The restaurant is open daily and a menu of the beach-ready options can be found online. A self-aware celebration of beach cuisine here on the coast, and elsewhere, feels ever more refreshing, now that Hollywood and its immediate surroundings have become another sound-staged facade for Gothamites. Oh wait, there was that one wacky attempt by SBE to bring the beach directly to Hollywood last summer.
The Deck, 647 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. 866-932-2896.