Sundays are my only day off (I work two jobs). I make an extra effort to have unplanned Sundays. The idea of doing homework even if it is eating is still homework to me, none the less I decided to choose a restaurant that offered more than food. I was looking for an entire day of relaxation and good ambiance, beach and food. Don’t you just love Southern California?

Las Brisas Restaurant

361 Cliff Drive Laguna Beach, CA 92651 949.497.5434

At first glance the restaurant does not stand out from the crowd; in fact you can’t really see it until you turn into a small street. Although it is apparent by the sign that reads “parking lot full” in the valet section that it is popular, especially brunch. This is not your typical Mexican restaurant, it is located in the middle of gringo town, therefore its décor is not that of bright colored wooden chairs with waitresses in extra skimpy tight fighting clothes, and of course no one singing at your table. This is an upscale Mexican restaurant with a cuisine said to be inspired from the Mexican Riviera. But it wasn’t the food that I came for, I came for the view the location of the restaurant (oh and the unlimited champagne). The restaurant is nestled on the top part of the beach with a fantastic view of the ocean. Looking around it’s obvious who they cater to, didn’t see too many brown faces aside from the staff. The restaurant itself is nice; tables are covered in white linen with the usual silverware and champagne glasses (we went to brunch). Fortunately there was no wait time, and although we weren’t seating in the patio (a popular spot to sit) we had a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. The view itself was relaxing and worth the hassle of looking for parking only to end up back at the valet ($7.00). Brunch is a reasonable price $36.00 person with endless champagne (which we took advantage of, making the trip even more fun). It consists of a four course meal, first meal consisting of a fruit salad along with a basket of an assortment of sweet bread. The sweet bread was a pleasant surprise, it is rare that I see empanadas de arroz con leche (my favorite) yet there it was. I refused to share my empanada and immediately called dibs. It was warm and soft with a light coat of sugar. That first bite took me to my childhood. I savored that first bite, the warm gooey rice with a hint of canela; it was heaven in a hot pocket (the Mexican version of a sweet hot pocket).  They had me at an empanada. After my love affair with the empanada ended I tried the fruit salad with a raspberry glaze and that too was delicious. The blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, were bursting with a tart yet sweet flavor.

Second course is your choice of salad or soup. I had the lentil soup. I have never been a fan of lentejas, my mom occasionally would make me eat them as a kid, but I felt adventurous. The soup was warm and it was more of a light stew than a soup.  The soup had a rainbow of flavors that came from the various vegetables, yet the flavor was subtle enough to bring back memories of home. The flavors were in perfect harmony. Unlike the lentejas my mom would make this one had chunks of chicken. Although the chicken was a little over cooked it did not take away from the flavor of the caldo. Third course (the main course) I had the Pescadito Relleno; trout fillets stuffed with jumbo crab, bell peppers and onion, drizzled with a shiitake mushroom-lime butter sauce (amazing!), along with a side of potatoes and vegetables. Upon first glance the dish is mouthwatering. The smell of the butter sauce over the backed fish, and potato chunks mixed with corn and other vegetables heightened my senses. I was eager to try my dish, hoping it wouldn’t disappoint. It certainly did not. The fish was not over cooked, it fell apart easily. The flavors were a perfect combination with the mushrooms and butter sauce. The entire dish flowed from the stuffed fish to the potatoes and vegetables. Ahora para el desempamse, un cafesito negro (to sober up from all the mimosas) y el postre. If a cheesecake and an apple pie had a child the result would be this tasty dessert. It was a cheesecake topped with baked apple and a layer of brown sugar.  Had I not been so stuffed I would have enjoyed it more. By the time dessert came around I was in a combination of a food comma and an inebriated. My taste buds were not analyzing flavor or texture at this point. It all tasted the same, from what I remember it was good. All in all I recommend this restaurant. I especially love the view. The food is good and the prices aren’t too bad. After our lunch we walked down to the beach and enjoyed the scenery, climbed the rocks, and observed the tide pools. It was one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a while.

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About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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