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Dining Out

Glori Fickling

When you hanker for a taste of the tropics, you need search no farther

than Downtown Laguna Beach where The Cabana Beachside Bar and Grill

awaits in all its Caribbean splendor.


Launched in May of this new millennium, the two-year-old restaurant is

the delicious creation of innovative builder/designer/restaurateur Mark

Holecheck, renowned for the popular Bungalow in Corona del Mar and such

prior successes as The Trocadero adjacent to UCI and Waters on the Lake


in Irvine.

Locals circa 70s and 80s will remember The Cabana as “the place across

the street from the Hotel Laguna,” following that as Brio Mare and later

one-after-another short-lived, fly-by-night fiascos.

Now, the invitingly busy elevated porch entertains diners with the

bustling traffic of Coast Highway, a melange of strolling shoppers and an

always colorful beach contingent.

Inside, a few steps up to the bar, happiness commences as authentic


tropical libations are deftly dispensed. The signature mai-tai, for

example, is poured into a tall shapely glass, a float of Meyers rum,

fresh pineapple and a maraschino cherry crowning the tasty potable. Of

course, those trendy birdbath martinis achieve no less attention from

master mixologists Jessi and Lee who have been here since day one. One

may choose to dine at one of the adjacent tables or gather at a

family-friendly booth next to the immaculate display kitchen.

Genuine hospitality commences here under the guidance of Holechek’s


very lovely wife Cindy, whose gracious presence sets a happy pace for the

enjoyment of chef Javier Flores’ diverse a la carte bill of fare, which

misses no bet from pizzas and pastas to seafood, steaks, ribs, chicken

and some innovatively intriguing appetizers. Succulent potstickers plump

with chicken and veggies come with a drizzle of wasabi and red pepper

aioli, cambazola dipping sauce complements skewered tenderloin tips,

tangy pico de gallo enhances spicy soft tacos plump with rare ahi.

A featured menu favorite is the sizzling seafood platter resplendent

with supremely tender calamari, al dente shrimp and succulent chunks of

assorted fresh fish. Not to overlook mahi-mahi crusted with macadamia

nuts, the grilled swordfish is enhanced with lemon, butter, capers and

Dijon mustard.

Save for fresh garlic/mushroom risotto upon which nestle savory

grilled shrimp, most entrees are accompanied with creamy

horseradish-mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.

Landlubber offerings range from barbecue pork ribs and grilled chicken

breast to a trio of steaks including the generous ribeye cut marinated in

soy, ginger and pineapple juice. Entrees range in price from $12.95 to

$19.95, a small Caesar or house salad included for an additional $3.95.

At lunch, several of these entrees are available a la carte for $8.95 to


There is no dinner price increase for lunchtime sandwiches: blackened

ahi, swordfish, chicken club and burgers served with fries and slaw. Each

less than $10. Prices stay the same for appetizers too -- $6.50 to $10.95

served all day. For $5.95 your sweet tooth will thank you for ordering

the rich Kona coffee mud pie or heavenly banana-coconut creme brulee.


The Cabana Beachside Bar & Grill

WHERE: 440 South Coast Highway

HOURS: Open every day 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m until 11 p.m. weekends Lunch served until 4:30 p.m. followed by dinner. Appetizer menu available

all day.

PHONE: 376-8595