Photo credit: Drew and Lisa Matney

We recently visited Las Brisas, a Laguna Beach institution open since 1979. The restaurant premiered a new menu back in April of 2019 and the finishing touches on a remodel were all but complete as well. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in the abundant natural light and also revealed the stunning Pacific Ocean views people come from around the world to experience. Patrons will also be happy to learn that Las Brisas offers a Happy Hour weekdays from 3-6 p.m., as well as live music Fridays and Saturdays from 6-9 p.m. The weekend brunch menu features a pre fixe 4-course meal, which includes Seasonal Fresh Sweet Breads, Salmon Tostada, a Crab Scramble with scallions and your choice of Flan or a trio Sorbet for dessert. Of course, no brunch is complete without a libation and here, Las Brisas offers bottomless Mimosas or “Mary’s” for 15 bucks. 

We started our brunch with two house favorite cocktails, the Spicy Margarita and the Mai Tai. The Margarita, lined with tajin and accented with sliced cucumber, in addition to red chile pepper, really lived up to its namesake. It really kicked! The Mai Tai, made with shaved ice, was almost a piece of art sitting on the table. Red and orange swirled together to create a visual perfectly suited to the Pacific coastline Las Brisas overlooks. Not to be outdone, and recommended by the friendly staff, we then enjoyed “The Dante.” Made with Casa Noble Crystal organic tequila, pomegranate and lime, it comes to the table showing off beautiful magenta coloring. Three delicious cocktails in and we are certainly ready for some food!

We begin with a beautiful Fruit Salad. The fruit is as fresh as it is colorful—a vibrant collection of pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries raspberries and blackberries all brought alive with chopped mint and almond slivers—the perfect refreshing course to go with the sun-soaked afternoon spilling into the restaurant. 

Next up was my favorite dish of the day. The Pozole Verde, a hearty soup with seasoned chicken, tomatillos, hominy and poblano peppers brings a welcome spicy addition to the meal. It got my attention bite by bite without being overwhelmingly spicy. Growing up in the Northeast, soup was always a reprieve from the cold winter weather, but here in Southern California, all it has to be is delicious, and Pozole Verde is just that. 

Las Brisas wasn’t done impressing us just yet, as they decided we needed to try their delectable Pork Ribs. Served sweet and pulled effortlessly from the bone, they offered a gentle spice that comfortably lingered after each bite. The chipotle agave complemented the sweet glaze perfectly and left us more than satisfied. 

Las Brisas, newly renovated both structurally and with regards to its menu, offers a comforting link to Laguna Beach’s culinary past while also offering patrons a well-executed taste of the modern culinary world. Classic cocktails are elevated with fresh ingredients and presented as colorful accents to the pristine coastline and unparalleled Southern California weather. A brilliant fruit salad, fresh fish, a comforting Mexican soup and some wonderfully cooked ribs combined to delight us on a typically warm Saturday afternoon. Head of Operations Howard Gardner and Executive General Manager Michael Gaines have done a wonderful job updating Las Brisas without abandoning the restaurant’s traditional appeal to longtime locals in the community.