Celebrating its 13th anniversary on Aug. 30, Kim Bryant’s Coyote Grill
is one of those all-too-rare restaurant successes in Orange County.
In 1989 when this devoted restaurateur purchased a worn out little
cafe in South Laguna he redesigned the premises, created an enchanting
menu of Mexican fare and converted the place into one of the area’s most
popular breakfast, lunch and dinner respites.
Bryant’s colorful Baja/Southwestern-style cafe, which boasts an
alfresco ocean-facing deck where once an old rock roof reposed, now
welcomes guests into a South Seas-style thatched-roof bar bustling with a
hip young crowd. Here personable mixologist Danielle and tempting happy
hour prices invite guests to enjoy frosty margaritas, birdbath martinis
and lime-topped cervesas from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays.
Beyond an impressive celebrity clientele attracted to the innovative
menu, this is very much a family place. Visitors are obviously enchanted
with reasonable costs, diversified bill of fare and cute kid’s menu
designed to quiet the small fry with entertaining connect-the-dots fish,
origami instructions and reasonable $4 to $6 dinners.
Bryant’s lovely daughter, general manager Desiree, created many of the
recipes prepared by chef Raoul Torres featuring such delicacies as Manila
clams in a savory cilantro broth, tangy tequila lime shrimp and
superlative ahi carpaccio. More than half a dozen fresh denizens of the
briny are offered daily, prepared blackened or grilled and served with
the option of rice, beans and salsa or a melange of chopped
zucchini/tomato/squash and cream-laced garlic mashed or baked potato.
In addition to 10 appetizers and a wide variety of Mexican
specialties, Coyote Grill is famous for its crunchy beer-battered coconut
shrimp, delicious drunken chicken that “fell into a pot of tequila” and
the predecessor, Cove Cafe’s crispy fried chicken, which has been
retained by popular demand from day one. For a grand finale here order
the four-layer chocolate/mocha nut-crusted mousse, which is delectably
creamy and not too sweet.
As for breakfast, it is no surprise to see long lines of people on
weekends waiting to partake of the bountiful variety of eggs, omelets and
baja specialties priced from $4.75 to $8.95. Lunch aperitivos, ensaladas,
sandwiches and Mexican favorites are primarily in the $8 to $10 range.
Dinners commence with warm tortillas, chunky pickled carrots, salsa and
butter. These start at $8.50 going to $16.95 for the 16-ounce blackened
New York steak and barbecued baby back ribs.
Where: 31621 South Coast Highway
Hours: Open every day for breakfast 7 a.m. to noon; lunch until 5 p.m;
dinner until 9 p.m. until 10 p.m. weekends.