Hello Chowhounders, West Coast branch,
I've got a pretty specific mission that I've chosen to accept. I'll be out in Orange County from NYC for a wedding at the St. Rege (Monarch Beach) at the end of August. Also attending will be a number of friends from law school, mostly flying in from NYC/Texas, and we are planning a group dinner get-together (there's about 10 of us) for those not going to the rehearsal dinner. Most will be staying in and around Dana Point, while a handful will be coming down all the way from up by the airport in Irvine (I thought Capistrano might be a nice compromise location?).
Any suggestions for a restaurant? Priorities would be "fun" (nothing stodgy, everyone is 25-30, free flowing drinks a plus), character (nothing too generic in food or ambiance, this is on average a pretty adventerous/sophisticated group of eaters), and to some extent price (I think under $20 for an entree would be be fine).
Despite going to college in LA, having a sister in Orange, and a best friend from Dana Point, I'm somewhat at a loss. I thought perhaps El Adobe in SJC? I thought the building looked cool, and they have have some special dining areas for groups, and some of the more reactionary friends in attendance might like the Nixon connection. But how is the food? I figured we could stop off at the infamous Swallow's Inn after, which seems up our collective alley. Looked into this Ramos Point place in SJC that gets raves as well, but seems only open for brunch. Otherwise I've been suggested a few places in Laguna. It seems K'ya has a nice rooftop bar, but looking at the a menu (which is all over creation and includes tilapia piccata and chicken fingers) gave me flashbacks to menus I hated growing up in So Cal. Do I have the wrong idea there? I also looked into Coyote Grill in Laguna, which looked like fun, even if pretty gringo-mex. Thoughts? Anything I'm missing anything? Perhaps in Dana Point itself? Thanks in advance!
Oh, and sub-question: planning on a hangover lunch at El Campeon the next day. Good idea? I have fond memories of the nearby El Molino.
31621 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
31891 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675