Escape to Orange County: 5-Star Dining

Some of the county’s best restaurants are at the resorts covered in our story

Montage Laguna Beach
A solitary bungalow is the pristine setting for Studio, situated on a promontory. The exemplary location is enhanced by the Cal-French creations of chef Craig Strong, who also integrates the bespoke kitchen garden just steps from the front door. Intense, seasonal flavors also star at The Loft, the easy choice for casual meals that often end with cheeses from the county’s finest cheese larder. 949-715-6420, studiolagunabeach.com

The Resort at Pelican Hill
Michelin-star chef de cuisine Luigi Fineo’s dazzling techniques, along with the finest of goods, guarantee that dining at posh Andrea is a primo culinary experience. An evening here is a splurge to remember. The Coliseum is a sleeper find for relaxed, poolside dining or sunset drinks with a view. 800-820-6800, pelicanhill.com

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
Massive windows at Raya frame the Pacific’s daily spectacle of surfers, dolphins, and seabirds as pampered diners tuck into exciting, worldly dishes from chef Steven Wan, such as lobster tacos or ancho chile-glazed filet mignon. If the seafood-rich menu doesn’t appeal, try EnoSteak for pricey, intimate beef-centric entrees with indulgent sides. 949-240-2000, ritzcarlton.com/laguna

St. Regis Monarch Beach
Stonehill Tavern, Michael Mina’s chic take on a New American pub, is a luxe modern room with a wide ocean vista. Expect dinner classics such as lobster potpie or whole Jidori fried chicken for two, with an upmarket tilt. Downstairs, Motif is a popular pick for its live-music Sunday Champagne brunch and all-day patio supping. 949-234-3272, michaelmina.net

Surf & Sand Resort
Open to the salt air, breezy Splashes is about as close to the pounding surf as you can get without getting wet. The coastal cuisine by chef David Fuñe is ideal for elegant, romantic, or other notable occasions. Or, enjoy the casual fare and ace drinks at the bar that shares the same breathtaking view. 949-376-2779, surfandsandresort.com

For our entire Escape to Orange County feature, pick up our October 2013 issue on newsstands or online here.