Laguna Dishes Up an ‘a la Carte’ Affair

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This March, Laguna a la Carte: A Food and Wine Experience dishes up food and wine experiences throughout town.-By Hayley Toler

The French phrase “a la carte” translates to “according to the menu,” an appropriate title for the four-day bill of fare that will immerse both local and traveling foodies in the sauces, spices and secrets behind Laguna Beach restaurants. From March 8 – 11, a blend of local restaurants and high-profile chefs and wineries will offer menu items and experiences especially created for this event.

Coordinated by the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau, the second annual Laguna a la Carte: A Food and Wine Experience will present a tantalizing combination of prix fixe menus, chef’s tables and hotel packages designed to allow foodies to dip their fingers in the full experience of lavish wining and dining in Laguna in an affordable way.

“Our goal is to introduce both Lagunans and visitors to additional restaurants they have not seen before and expose the breadth and depth of what Laguna can offer,” says Judith Bijlani, president of the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau. “We have many more restaurants and deals added to the mix than the last year, and this year’s Laguna a la Carte promises to have a wonderfully wide, ethnic and diverse range of restaurants participating.”

Last year, the event drew more than 400 people at the opening night event hosted by Laguna Culinary Arts, followed by a crowd of upwards of 500 at the events held throughout the weekend at the 20 restaurants that participated, two of which were completely sold out. A lineup of guest chefs exhibited their principal menu items, including Craig Strong, Jeff Armstrong, Craig Connole and other big name Laguna chefs. This year, more than 30 restaurants are expected to offer specials from a free glass of house wine with an entrée at OceanView Bar & Grill at Hotel Laguna, to a rum and chocolate tasting sponsored by Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen.

Whether Laguna a La Carte is a vacation destination or a “staycation” retreat, this year the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau has coordinated packages at the Surf & Sand Resort and Spa, Hotel Laguna and the Inn at Laguna Beach, which will offer discounted rooms to event attendees who wish to engross themselves in the entire ambiance of what the city has to offer. “We hope that people will want to come to Laguna, stay the night and have multiple restaurant experiences,” Judith says.

To add philanthropy to the edible experience, the visitors bureau has cooked up an event that will feature 30 wineries and 20 Laguna Beach restaurants on the Festival of Arts grounds. The Signature Event on March 10 will benefit Children’s Hospital of Orange County and allow the expected 1,000 or so patrons to bite into samplings of local flavors while enjoying live music. A seminar on wine pairings will be hosted by Peter Neptune of The Neptune School of Wine, a wine educator and one of only 118 individuals in North America to hold the title of master sommelier. Tickets for the event range from $75 online to $95 at the door, to $115 for a VIP ticket that includes an early 10 a.m. entry.

Laguna a la Carte sprouted from the imaginations of Karyn Phillippsen and the late Claes Andersen. “For me, this is a really exciting time to pull it together, to see it grow. My vision—I see it becoming educational. People who were afraid to try octopus might try octopus now because it’s wrapped in cotton candy,” Karyn jokes about the possibilities for new experiences. She serves as chairman of the board of directors for the visitors bureau and is a committee chair of Laguna a la Carte.

While some dishes may not be as exotic as sugar-coated seafood, the visitors bureau has recruited a range of restaurants that will create an event ripe for ingesting and imbibing delicious flavors that may become favorites for years to come.

For more information on Laguna Beach a la Carte, visit LBM

Special Events

March 8

Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen: Rum and chocolate tasting

French 75: Chef’s table dinner

March 9

Mirepoix at Laguna Culinary Arts: Winemaker Tres Sabores presents dinner

K’ya Bistro Bar at Hotel La Casa del Camino: Private rooftop event

March 10
Signature event benefiting CHOC Children’s Hospital on the Festival of Arts grounds: 1- 4 p.m. VIP ticket option includes early 10 a.m. entry.

French 75: Frank family wine dinner

Mirepoix at Laguna Culinary Arts: Chef’s table dinner

Surf & Sand Resort: Sunset & Savor party on the pool deck

March 11

Tivoli Too: Sunday gospel brunch

The deck: Snack, Sip and Surf CockTail Contest and Taco-Eating Challenge


Restaurant Offerings

March 8

Claes Ovation: Three-course wine paired dinner for $65 per person

Dizz’s As Is: Complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée

Las Brisas: Complimentary glass of house wine with the purchase of an entrée

Watermarc: No corkage fee and three course prix fixe menu $25 per person

March 9

The Cliff Restaurant: Free appetizer with the purchase of a dinner entrée

Dizz’s As Is: Complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée

Las Brisas: Complimentary dessert with mention of event
OceanView Bar & Grill: Complimentary glass of house wine with the purchase
of an entrée

March 10

Three Seventy Common Kitchen: Three-course prix fixe menu for $35 per person
Watermarc: No corkage fee and a three-course wine-paired prix fixe menu for
$25 per person

March 11

Dizz’s As Is: Complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée
OceanView Bar & Grill: Complimentary glass of house wine with purchase
of an entrée

Sapphire Laguna: Prix fixe menu on the patio

Beach House: Prix Fixe Dinner Menu


Hotel Packages

Surf & Sand Resort and Spa: Special rate offer for Laguna Beach a la Carte

Hotel Laguna: Special rate for a village view room during Laguna Beach a la Carte


* This is a partial list. For full information, visit

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