Best New Restaurants 2021: Sapphire in Laguna Beach Sparkles Anew

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Bad timing muted its rollout last spring, but even with pandemic protocols, Sapphire sparkles anew. It’s the fourth production by Russ Bendel Jr. and the veteran team behind Vine, Ironwood, and Olea.

The iconic terraced patio on Coast Highway is packed for weekend brunch. Executive chef Jared Cook concocts terrific sweet and savory dishes such as griddle-hot waffles beneath fresh berries and lemony crème fraîche. Or roasted Kurobuta pork belly Benedict with vegetable hash. Lavish diner eats include house-made duck meatballs or wild Alaskan halibut with fava beans. When only steak will do, the 24-ounce bone-in ribeye with smoked blue cheese mashers is a reliable hero. When allowed, you’ll find an intimate room and bar with a superb face-lift, though the spiffed-up pantry next door is already open for morning coffees and beachy grab-and-go chow.  

1200 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-715-9888

Orange County’s Best New Restaurants of 2021

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