Dana Point is what we name it. The peaceful coastal village of Southern California. We’d pass past Dana Point and see the exit signs on our way farther up the California Coast for years, without giving any Dana Point eateries a try. But it wasn’t until we got the chance to remain there that we realized what we had been missing all this time.
The unassuming, laid-back west coast surf town boasts a beautiful natural port and a great beach feel. It’s a great area to explore, relax, and enjoy yourself, surrounded by stunning cliffs on one side and the turquoise Pacific Ocean on the other.
Dana Points restaurant scene is one to be praised, in addition to the tremendous beauty granted by Mother Nature on this seaside town and its benefit of moderate year-round weather. Its fresh seaside food is to say the least outstanding, and customers may choose from small beach dives to upscale fine dining restaurants. Yet no matter where you eat, you’ll be satisfied.
These are some of our favorite Dana Point restaurants, picked for their breathtaking vistas, innovative chef-inspired meals, excellent service, welcoming environment, and wonderful food.
Not in the mood to dine out tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver right to your door from the greatest restaurants in town.
Visiting other California cities? Check out our gastronomy guides to the cities listed below:
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- 1 7 Must-Try Dana Point Restaurants
7 Must-Try Dana Point Restaurants
Seafood Restaurant Harpoon Henrys
+1 (949) 493-293334555 The Golden Lantern
For those who like a genuine beach town seafood restaurant, the name alone is a siren song. Harpoon Henrys has been sharing its aloha attitude with customers in one of Dana Point’s premier waterfront sites for 44 years. Throw in excellent service and well-prepared fresh seafood meals, and you have a winning combination.
There is indoor and outdoor harborside patio eating options, and every table offers a wonderful view. Breakfast is offered on weekends, while lunch and supper are given every day. Given the high quality of its entrees, we thought the pricing were pretty reasonable.
One of our favorite happy hour spots in Dana Point is this seafood restaurant. It’s lovely sitting on the outdoor terrace, where the sunshine reflects off the boats in the port. The greatest Mai Tais and Margaritas are made by their bartenders.
Our favorite appetizers here are the coconut shrimp and calamari strips, which are fresh, flavorful, and entertaining. Harpoon Henrys is one of the top Dana Point Harbor restaurants in its totality.
The Salt Creek Grill
(949) 661-779932802 Pacific Coast Highway
While this Dana Point steakhouse has five locations (three in California and two in New Jersey), each offers a unique menu.
It’s one of our favorite eateries in Dana Point. What distinguishes Salt Creek Restaurant is its consistency in superb cuisine, service, and environment. The wafting aromas of its mouthwatering mesquite-grilled meals served in a laid-back yet stylish, well-appointed rustic environment don’t hurt either.
Dinner is offered Tuesday through Friday and is open for lunch on weekends and Sunday brunch. While the menu isn’t huge, it’s well-thought-out, with options including appetizers, salads, seafood chowder, sandwiches, burgers, and major meals.
My husband enthused over his perfectly-grilled Coffee Encrusted New York Strip steak with a dash of sweet whiskey caramel and bleu cheese on top.
My favorite meal is seafood. My daily line-caught market fishsea bass paired with butternut squash, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts over mashed potatoes was very delicious! And an excellent option.
Pancake House Stacks
(949) 429-222234255 Pacific Coast Highway
I confess that I am not a big lover of breakfast. Thus, if a restaurant can entice me for a breakfast meal, you know it must be fantastic!
While Stacks Pancake Restaurant has a lunch menu, breakfast is the star of the show, and it is fantastic. The portions here are huge enough to split, and even if you don’t, you won’t need lunch.
Entrees include a variety of inventive omelets and egg dishes, as well as Mexican-inspired meals. There are also crepes, waffles, French toast, and pancakes on the menu.
I adore crepes, and Stacks prepares them in the true French tradition: light and delicate. I went for fresh mixed berries for mine, and it did not disappoint.
My husband, who prefers breakfast, chose a house favorite, co-owner Ovita Nixon’s airy Banana Macadamia Pancakes. It practically doesn’t require syrup when topped with banana slices and vanilla sauce. You may be tempted to lick the dish!
Stacks is the place to go for breakfast in Dana Point.
+1 (949) 240-2000 Ritz-Carlton Drive
We were taken away by the awe-inspiring vistas and romantic candlelight setting of this sophisticated Chef Richard Sandoval restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point the minute we stepped in.
Our table overlooked the Pacific’s emerald waves, and the exquisite dining area, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is ideal for a special event, a date night, or for people just looking for a location with gourmet cuisine and killer views.
Raya specializes on Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine, which is nothing short of outstanding. Entrees here are as fresh and healthful as they can be, made entirely of sustainable seafood, local veggies, and natural and organic meats. This is why the menus vary with the seasons.
Breakfast, lunch, and supper are available, as well as a Sunday champagne brunch.
Every piece of our supper entrée was delicious. Arroz Negro, with Maine lobster, prawn, mussel, calamari, Dungeness crab, and Spanish chorizo over black forbidden rice, is a seafood lover’s dream.
The Lamb Shank Pibil with smoked bamboo rice, sweet plantain, spinach, cotija, and sour orange vinaigrette was fantastic for landlubbers. Are you unsure about wine pairings? Servers here are also excellent sommeliers who can effectively recommend the ideal wine pairing.
Leave room for dessert, as the Chocolate Carmel Mousse Cake with coffee praline crunch, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla bean caramel is an absolutely fantastic and memorable Dana Point fine dining experience.
449-282234091 Pacific Coast Highway
Coastal Restaurant, located in the center of Dana Point in a 1920s structure, is a great option for lunch. A word of caution, though. The eatery is quite popular with the locals and fills up quickly.
With its Southern California beach and harbor-inspired Dana Point setting, the nautical-inspired navy and white decor is a natural complement. The entrees are inventive and flavorful, and the restaurant’s service is second to none.
Given that I seldom have crab cakes outside of the Chesapeake Bay area, the Crab Cake Salad with jumbo lump crab, arugula, Ruby Red grapefruit wedges, and a champagne vinaigrette was a delightful surprise.
And you won’t find a better Cuban sandwich in Orange County. Their red cabbage slaw is a perfect complement.
We had no plans to have dessert, but when our waitress proclaimed their handcrafted Key Lime Pie to be the greatest on the west coast, we couldn’t resist. Yeah, we did, and it more than lived up to the hype. Here’s where you should eat for lunch on your visit to Dana Point.
+1 (949) 240-141634499
The Hicks family has been welcoming customers to their iconic Dana Point Harbor restaurant specialized in mesquite-grilled fish since 1984. As a matter of fact, their restaurants tagline is We know seafood. We wholeheartedly concur.
Bottomless Champagne and Mimosas are highly popular at the laid-back fun and friendly seaside café, which serves lunch, dinner, and a Sunday Champagne Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Breakfast and lunch menus are available to guests. This is another popular neighborhood hangout, so it may become crowded, particularly on weekends.
The Mesquite Grilled Mahi-Mahi Sandwich on a Brioche Bun and the Dungeness Crab Louie Salad with deviled egg, Kalamata olives, English cucumber, wedged tomatoes, and house-made Thousand Island Dressing were our choices. Both were flawlessly cooked, and the quantity of crab in the salad was astounding.
Menu items are moderately priced, and it’s difficult to top delicious cuisine and spectacular harbor views at this Dana Point harbor restaurant, which is surrounded by sunlight, bluebird sky, and soothing breezes.
Orange County Bourbon Steakhouse
Monarch Beach Resort may be reached at (949) 234-39001.
The Orange County Register named this famous Chef Michael Mina restaurant the best in Orange County. Such proof was supplied by a truly delicious supper here.
In the Monarch Beach Resort, this contemporary American steakhouse with spectacular beach views has found the right balance of artistically conjuring up the greatest food with the highest quality ingredients. The end product was a beautiful evening of palate-pleasing delights.
The shared appetizers, such as the Ahi Tuna Tartare, delivered the high-quality experience we anticipated. But it was the Instant Bacon, a decadently rich pork belly with daikon, kimchi, masago arare, and a bourbon-soy glaze, that left us wanting more.
Several entrée are completed tableside, which is a distinguishing feature of this award-winning restaurant. We picked Chef Michael Mina’s trademark dish to find out why these meals are winners. We now know after trying the Maine Lobster Pot Pie, which is served in a fantastic brandied lobster cream with market veggies.
The Hay-Smoked Snake River Farms Beef Eye was highly suggested by our waiter as an appropriate meal from this famous Dana Point steakhouse. Suffice it to say, we’ve never eaten a steak this tasty or tender in our lives.
Are you too stuffed for dessert? What about the sinfully delicious warm spiced mini-beignets with Vanilla Crème Brulee on the side? That was perfect for the job.
The service was phenomenally attentive without being overbearing, which is the mark of a top-tier award-winning restaurant. Overall, it was a very unforgettable dinner experience.
Make time to try any of these Dana Point eateries on your next relaxed beach day.