That record-breaking heatwave a few weeks ago was our unpleasant reminder that summertime is definitely upon us. And while we can rattle off deals and festivals like they’re going out of style, it’s just as helpful to chat about new (and a few tried and true) spots to cool off besides home . . . and the freezer section of your grocery store. To narrow down your search, we’ve grouped our findings by city clusters. This time around, we’re spending time in our beach cities. Specifically, those with the word Beach in their description. And away we go!
It’s always better by the water, and where better to start than Surf City USA? We headed towards the pier for some ocean air, but made a quick stop at Jimboy’s Tacos on the windy corner of 5th and PCH for a crunchy taco. That dusting of Parmesan on the shell gives an extra hit of salt we don’t mind. Oh, and their grand opening happens to be this Saturday at 11 a.m.. Off-menu taquito burritos for the first 50, plus their signature beef taco. They’ve also got an app that grants you a free taco, too. 120 5th St., Ste. C-100; www.jimboystacos.com.
We drove up Beach Boulevard for our next stop, but made a detour when we realized we were by the new location for XA Sweet & Savory within 5 Points Plaza. Serving some of our hands-down favorite meals and sweets, we just had to pick up cookies and hibiscus iced tea for the road. If you haven’t been to the deliciousness that is XA, you can go sooner for snacks, or later in the month for a proper meal. 18685 Main St.
We wrapped up our Huntington crawl over at Surf City Still Works. The newest distillery in Orange County, we were excited to sample their trio of spirits: vodka, gin and bourbon. Offering a curated selection of cocktails crafted by Ben Carpenter (@builtbycarpenter), our preferred sip is a refreshing Emerald Compass, utilizing gin, snap pea & celery(??), lemon and cardamom bitters. Ask owners Josh and Elena about their journey, and you’ll learn about how complex it was to take over the former Brew Bakers space, as well as the “fun” they encountered when learning how to make their own gin. We picked up a couple of bottles for our boozy friends. 7242 Heil Ave., (714) 253-7606; www.surfcitystillworks.com.
Summer in OC always means Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters (FOAPOM) in Laguna. Featuring a few food-related scenes to go along with their “Under the Sun” theme, be sure to check out Orange Crate Labels, Cafe Las Ondas, Luncheon on the Grass and their showstopping finale of The Last Supper. In addition, the brand new Terra Laguna Beach is a full-service establishment helmed by Chef Jenny Messing. Taking over the former Tivoli Terrace spot, expect lunchtime fare like a grilled chicken, shaved fennel and zucchini ribbon salad, plus the vegan Laguna burger made with chia and dried apple. Hit them up after strolling Festival of Arts, but before your performance. www.foapom.com.
After a fire forced Central Restaurant to close at the beginning of the year, they reopened at the end of May with not only a restaurant renovation, but a refreshed menu. Of course, they kept a few favorites like dessert. Visit the new patio upstairs and order the scallops and Brussels sprouts to start. We love that they are just steps away from the main drag— great for people watching. 361 Forest Ave., Ste. 103, (949) 715-0801; www.centrallagunabeach.com.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.