Wine & Dine
Affordable lunches are as common as tornados in Laguna Beach—to honor our fifth anniversary, here are five of our affordable favorites. –By Jason Sanford
It’s been five years since we started publishing Laguna Beach Magazine, and we’ve discovered quite a few things about this town we call home. It has an unbeatable location, it’s home to some of the most talented, welcoming people in the country, and it’s a great place to enjoy some of the region’s very best meals. Minor detail: Laguna’s food—while some of the most sumptuous you’ll find—isn’t necessarily the cheapest cuisine on the map, which makes a great deal for lunch even that more valuable for those looking to loosen their belt a bit while keeping an eye on their pocketbook.
Here are five of our recommendations of where we like to have an affordable lunch; heck, you might just spot us the next time you go—feel free to come say “hey” and pick up the tab.
House of Happy Hour
Grab a late breakfast or a light snack mid-morning, and hold tight till 2:30 when House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer rolls back its prices and offers assorted happy hour plates for $2.30 each, including ribs, flatbread salmon tacos, sliders and chicken bowls. If you come at 3:30 though, everything goes up a buck to reflect the time.
Wings are a great deal too at 25 cents each; shrimp are priced similarly by the piece and oysters are just a buck a shell. Food can’t be taken to go, so don’t try it—just come hungry!
Laguna Feast is off the beaten path, and by “beaten path,” we mean more than two blocks from the ocean—don’t be discouraged though, because the food is well worth the strenuous, herculean task of walking to the corner of Glenneyre and St. Anns Drive for lunch. Once inside, hungry patrons will be delighted at sub-$5 options with either fresh carne asada, carnitas, chicken or shredded beef to fill their generous sized burritos. Other menu items are also under $5, and their fresh salsa bar is dynamite.
Yes, we know how you feel about chain restaurants. Yes, we’ve seen the line out the door around lunchtime, but yes, we also know about your love of sandwiches. Subway will give you a foot of your favorite one for $5, which is convenient for taking to the beach and getting sand in your sandwich. There are, of course, 6-inch sandwiches for even cheaper, letting you grab a bag of chips or a cookie instead. Go ahead, we promise we won’t tell … especially if you buy us a cookie.
Off the Menu
In a similar fashion to everyone’s favorite SoCal burger joint, La Sirena serves up a bean and cheese burrito that isn’t listed on the menu board of its original location downtown.
The little-known bean and cheese burrito comes with cabbage, guacamole and rice upon request, and is perfect as a lighter bite for one of your vegetarian friends. Pair it with some pico de gallo and the free tortilla chips, and you’re in business.
Bagel sandwiches, wraps and bowls are the lunch item specialties here, with different ingredients, including spreads, rice, lentils and bountiful fresh veggies. They are most renowned for their frozen yogurt by the pound, which is also a perfectly fine lunch when you top it off right with some fresh fruit and granola. Active Culture is a great option for “health nuts” or anyone that just wants a break from burritos or traditional sandwiches, as their ingredients are good for you and won’t make you snooze through your afternoon at work. LBM
Deals, Deals, Deals
Save these around-$5 deals for special occasions or after you sell your vintage ukelele:
The Stand—a vegan paradise: sandwiches, wraps, salads and other leafy greens galore.
Asada—Taco Tuesday: beginning at 3 p.m. their artisan tacos sell like crazy, as they drop to $2 – 4 each.
Sundried Tomato—Every day beginning at 2 p.m., Sundried Tomato offers menu items starting at $6, including filet tacos, chicken spring rolls, sweet potato fries and others. Must be eaten at the bar.
Adolfo’s—Burritos just above and below five bucks, with many other authentic Mexican favorites to enjoy, including a mighty tasty salsa bar.
Wahoo’s—Fusion-style Mexican food with Asian influences, Wahoo’s has tacos, burritos and tasty fish everything. Try their beer of the month too.
Hennessey’s—Every Tuesday, diners at Hennessey’s can enjoy two-for-one burgers all day long, reason enough to bring (or make) a friend.
Avila’s—Tuesdays offer a $5 all-you-can-eat taco bar with deals on Mexican beers to go with the hearty offerings.