Mediterranean Refresh

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zeytoon dips and pita_Ashley Ryan
A number of Zéytoon Cafe’s dips, pita and olives with an Aperol Spritz and wine | Photo by Ashley Ryan

Local favorite Zéytoon Cafe has reopened in north Laguna, bringing with it beloved recipes, quality service and an easy, breezy atmosphere up on the patio rooftop.

By Ashley Ryan

 

Ocean view restaurants aren’t rare in Laguna Beach—eateries all over town offer glimpses of deep blue waves below the sinking sun. But what makes Zéytoon Cafe truly stand out is the tranquil atmosphere found up on the rooftop.

Beloved by locals—especially those nearby in north Laguna—the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant reopened in mid-June, combining everything great about the old menu with contemporary touches. Founders Leon and Sousanna Alexander passed the torch to their longtime friends Ed and Gabbi Patrick, owners of Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Orange and Chaak Kitchen in Tustin, who began renovating the space around the start of this year. The Patricks partnered with brothers Michael and Dave Rossi, former chefs at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim, to bring the venture to life once more.

Zeytoon Spanish octopus salad_ Ashley Ryan
The Spanish octopus salad | Photo by Ashley Ryan

With a small patio downstairs and a renovated rooftop upstairs, there are plenty of places for diners to be seated while enjoying Zéytoon’s fare. Grab-and-go options abound as well, and the interior features retail space selling olive oils, cutting boards, coasters and pita bread warmers.

Also priding itself on its wine selection, curated by the Patricks’ daughter, Bella, bottles can be taken home if not finished on-site. Try something light for summer, like the Casa Jipi sauvignon blanc from Mexico or an Italian rose by Fattoria Corzano e Paterno, or opt for a pinot noir from right here in California, as Zéytoon offers one from Palmer Stone in Santa Barbara.

Zeytoon wine_Ashley Ryan
The restaurant’s interior, which features a wide selection of wine bottles that can be taken to go if not finished | Photo by Ashley Ryan

The rooftop patio is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the breeze on a summer evening, surrounded by fresh fare filled with flavor. The Mezze section of the menu, served with warm OC Baking Co. pita bread, features everything from labneh, a strained Greek yogurt dip swirled with olive oil and topped with shallots, pink peppercorn and mint, to muhammara, in which roasted peppers and chile oil are combined with parsley and hazelnut. Also on the menu is the flavorful baba ghanoush, almost like a hummus but made with pureed eggplant rather than chickpeas.

Speaking of hummus, you’ll find five unique varieties on the menu, including chicken shawarma and falafel options.

For something light to go with all the Mezze appetizers, Zéytoon offers lentil soup spiced up with paprika and cumin or Moroccan carrots, served on a bed of whipped feta cheese and sprinkled with sesame seed dukkah. Another option is the Spanish octopus salad, in which gigantes beans and Castelvetrano olives accompany cherry tomatoes, chopped celery and arugula for fresh flavors this summer.

Zéytoon Cafe’s merguez lamb burger_Ashley Ryan
Zéytoon Cafe’s merguez lamb burger | Photo by Ashley Ryan

A number of flatbreads, small plates (like fried quail) and pita sandwiches also grace the menu, but if you’re looking for something more filling, you can’t miss the merguez lamb burger, topped with a creamy sheep’s milk feta tzatziki and harissa aioli as well as arugula, red onion and tomato on a black olive bun.

No matter the dish you select, you’re sure to find that the flavors transport you to far-off lands while you enjoy some fresh air right here in Laguna.

Zéytoon Cafe

412 N. Coast Highway
949-715-9230; zeytooncafe.com

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