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Dining out

Glori Fickling

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.

Phone: 499-4033