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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Culinary Tours in Laguna Beach


Get a taste of Laguna Beach’s history paired with the town’s delectable delights, on a tour with Flavors of Laguna. 
Recently I had the opportunity to go on one of the wildly popular Flavors of Laguna tours.  We started off the 2.5 hour tour at a local favorite, La Sirena Grill. Here we sampled fresh homemade salsa, guacamole, chips and chicken taquitos. All the ingredients at La Sirena are organic and you are guaranteed that every dish is made FRESH to order because there is no room for a freezer at this walk-up eatery.  The freshness lingered down to the very last lingering morsel of salsa and guacamole. From La Sirena Grill, we took a short walk up Park Avenue where we learned about the historic Cope Family home built in the early 1900s. It is still owned by the Cope family and is the only home in Laguna that is still on its original foundation. Walking a bit further up the hill, we stopped at the St. Francis by the Sea cathedral. At only 1,008 square feet this is the second smallest cathedral in the world. The cathedral was built from the rubble of the devastating 1930 earthquake in Long Beach. Most of the building materials came from salvaged wood and supplies from buildings and churches. The cathedral is open for services every Sunday.



The next stop was a stroll down Forest Avenue, Laguna’s main street. We learned that Forest Avenue received its name after the city made a declaration that in order to obtain a building permit on that street, one had to also plant a tree. This rule was made after the hillsides had been stripped of trees for their lumber to build the growing town. Today you will find a wide variety of trees lining Forest Avenue…eucalyptus, fichus, birch and many more. About halfway up Forest Avenue, we stopped in at Sundried Tomato, another local’s favorite. Here we sampled the Sundried Tomato Bisque, the house specialty. The creamy soup is not your typical tomato bisque. It’s layered with rich flavors that both satisfy and soothe the body and soul…a true comfort food.



Following Sundried Tomato, we stopped at the Lumberyard Shops, also on Forest Avenue. The Lumberyard Shops are on the grounds of what was the longest running company in Laguna Beach, The Laguna Lumber Company (they still hold that record, open from 1910 to 1985).  In the 1970s, after the Lumber Company was relocated to the canyon, the structures were converted into the retail and restaurant space that you see today. Also located on those grounds is the Lumberyard Restaurant which opened its doors in 2008. They stayed true to the original integrity of the 1912 building, leaving the office of Joe Jahraus, owner of The Laguna Lumber Company, intact as part of the restaurant. Inside no detail has been left to chance with custom booths, a horseshoe-shaped bar, artisan woodwork throughout and a beautiful 12,000-piece mesquite wood floor entrance. The only thing that upstages the elegant décor, is the food.  We sampled a vegetable frittata that was paired with a crisp and dry Torrontes white wine. The frittata was full of flavor and yet still light with the white wine being a nice compliment.  It would make a perfect lunch treat on a hot summer day.





Next we made our way over to Ocean Avenue where we stopped at Ocean AvenueBrewery & Restaurant, the only microbrewery in Laguna Beach. Here they
handcraft their own beers focusing on Pale Ales, Malty Amber Ales, German Style Weissbiers, Chocolate Porters and Black Stouts. For an additional $3, we were able to sample the Pale Ale, the Weissbier and the Chocolate Porter. All three had bold aromatic flavors that I certainly wouldn’t mind having a full pint of. The brewery offers indoor bar and table seating as well as outdoor patio seating. The casual atmosphere and traditional American dishes makes Ocean Brewery an ideal spot for post beach dining.



After finishing our beer tasting at Ocean Brewery we made a stop at the number one photographed spot in all of Orange County, the historic lifeguard tower at Main Beach. Built in 1926 as the offices for the Union Gas Station across the street, the tower was eventually abandoned after the filling station went out of business. In 1929 the city decided to move the tower over to the beach side of PCH and made it the official headquarters for the Laguna Beach lifeguards. With the crystal blue water and white sand as a backdrop, the historic lifeguard tower screams out to be photographed. 



Our two final stops on the tour were to grab a slice at The Pizza Lounge and to try a cup of gelato from Gelato Paradiso. The Pizza Lounge is located literally steps away from Main Beach on PCH. You can order pizza by the slice and either eat in the restaurant or on one of their outdoor couches, or better yet, you can have your pizza delivered to you on the beach! How cool is that?

Next we headed over to Peppertree Lane just opposite and a bit south on PCH from The Pizza Lounge. Peppertree Lane is a hidden pathway that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of PCH and transports you to a peaceful oasis. The brick pathway is lined by two historic buildings with shade provided by a canopy of giant Peppertrees. The buildings house Watermarc Restaurant, Gelato Paradiso, La Rue du Chocolat and other retail and shops.



Our Flavors of Laguna Tour ended with a stroll through the Wyland Gallery with a photo opp on the back deck of the gallery that overlooks the always stunning Laguna Beach coastline.  With Laguna’s seven miles of coastline being a protected marine environment, it is fitting that one of the most famous marine life artists, Wyland, has his homebase right in the center of town. On the outside of the gallery building you will see one of his first “Whaling Walls” (there are now more than 100 around the world) that he painted in the ‘80s not more than 100 yards from the very place he’d seen gray whales as a child.

The Flavors of Laguna tour in a MUST DO for both locals and visitors. Along with the fantastic food you get to sample around town, you receive a mini history lesson of one of the oldest cities in Orange County. Each tour is different and Flavors of Laguna will gladly customize a tour for your group.

Visit the website for booking or call (949) 464-8830
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By Anne-Marie S.


2 comments:

  1. Wow, that was pretty interesting. Inspiring, as well. Thanks for sharing such inspiring experience with us. Great blog, congrats!

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  2. I got a great increase in my knowledge by knowing that the tour of Laguna Beach can be that adventurous and memorable. I will also plan to pay a visit there as soon as it is possible for me.

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