Want to dine out in the same places you've seen on The O.C.?

    Well, you can.

    Whether it's the Balboa Lighthouse, the Pier Diner or the Country Club - it's all out there waiting for you,
    if you know where to look.

    A few of the restaurants seen on the show are fake (most notably The Crab Shack), but most of them
    are real. And if you are considering visiting the South Bay to see some of the O.C. locations,
    you should plan to enjoy lunch at one (or more) of these familiar dining spots. They range from casual
    to elegant - the choice is yours.





1. "The Lighthouse" (a.k.a. "The Balboa Lighthouse"): this may be the overall best choice of the various O.C. restaurants. Not only is it a real restaurant (named Venezia Italian Grill), where you can have lunch or dinner, but the producers used both exterior and interior shots at the restaurant. Granted, both the inside & outside of the restaurant have been heavily remodeled since then (no more brick columns inside), but that great view of the boats in the marina remains identical to the times when Sandy & Jimmy used to meet there to discuss their plans to re-open the restaurant. The prices at Harbor Drive are moderate. And the view is Newport nice. (You'll feel more comfortable here if you dress well - save the beach togs for the Pier Diner.) Click here for more details. For reservations, call: (310) 379-2900.






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2. "The Pier Diner": This may well be the most familiar O.C. dining location. It's that small yellow cafe with the blue booths, where the O.C. gang meet all the time to talk over breakfast or lunch. Granted, it's a little rough around the edges (don't expect posh - it's located on a working-class fishing pier), but the food is good, the prices are reasonable (albeit a little higher than you might expect at an informal diner such as this), and the dress is very casual. And if you're lucky, you can sit in the very same booth where Ryan, Seth, Marissa and Summer sat and talked... Click here for more details.












3. The Yacht Club: Since the DVDs of season three haven't been released yet, I can't provide much information about the Yacht Club, but I do know where it is. (And no, it's not really a yacht club.) It's a real restaurant, located right next door (just north of) "The Lighthouse" restaurant. It's called the Bluewater Grill, and you'll find it on the edge of the Redondo marina, at 665 N. Harbor Drive, in Redondo Beach. Only the exterior of the restaurant was used in the filming (plus an aerial shot), but the view of the marina should be very similar to that of The Lighthouse, given their close proximity. (And the prices are similar as well.) For reservations, call: (310) 318-FISH. Lunch MenuDinner Menu. Here is a map link. And here is a link to the restaurant's official website.













4. The Country Club: We've seen the O.C. crowd have their Cotillion here, we've them stage their charity auction for the "Risky Business" crystal egg here, and we've seen the cast play golf here. In reality, it is an actual country club, located atop a cliff in the beautiful area of Palos Verdes. Once it was called "Ocean Trails", but now that is only the name of the street leading into Trump National Golf Club at 1 Ocean Trails, in Rancho Palos Verdes. Yes, that Trump. The Donald bought Ocean Trails and has transformed it into a first-class golf course and resort. And although it will cost you $300 a day to play golf here, it won't cost you nearly that much to have lunch here at one of the club's three different restaurants, ranging from casual to formal. It's a good chance to enjoy the upscale ambiance of Palos Verdes while visiting the other O.C. locations on the hill, such as Wayfarer's Chapel or the Malaga Cove Plaza. Oh, did we mention that when Seth went to that disastrous dinner with Summer's father (and made a fool out of himself), the scene was filmed inside the elegant restaurant here at Trump National? Bring your future father-in-law along and you too can make a fool out of yourself under the same gold "Sistine Chapel" ceiling... For reservations, call (310) 303-3260. Lunch Menu. Dinner menu.












5. The Breakwater: (new name: Baleen Los Angeles) This fine restaurant is located at the Portofino Hotel, on the west side of the Redondo Marina, right across the water from two other O.C. restaurants: The Balboa Lighthouse and the Yacht Club. The most formal of the Redondo Marina restaurants, I mention it last only because it was (to the best of my knowledge) it was only used in one scene on The O.C.: in episode 27 (of season one), "The Ties That Bind", when Seth starts to interrupt the meeting of Summer, her father and her new boyfriend (Zach) at a restaurant, but chickens out at the last moment. We get to see both the exterior and interior of the restaurant in that scene. If you're in the mood for a more formal, Newport experience (and you don't want to drive all the way to the country club), Baleen may be your best bet. The address is: 260 Portofino Way, in Redondo Beach. (Take Beryl Street west past Harbor Drive, and tell the guy at the guard booth that you're going to the restaurant.) For reservations, the phone number is (310) 372-1202. Here is a link to the restaurant's official website. Lunch menuDinner menu.














6. The Balboa Bakery: This is where Theresa worked when she was staying away from her abusive fiancé, Eddie.  It's not a restaurant in the strictest sense of the word, but you can stop here for dessert, or a piece of cake and a cup of coffee while cruising around Redondo. It's actually called Carissimo Bakery, and you'll find it the blue & white building at 1611 S. Catalina Ave., just a couple of blocks from the beach, in Redondo Beach. Click here for more details.





7. Julie's Engagement Shower garden: In Episode 25 (of season one), "The Shower", this lavish outdoor party was supposed to be at the Yacht Club, but since they didn't start using the Bluewater Grill until the third season, this was actually shot at an unusual location high up in the hills of Palos Verdes, an actual outdoor wedding chapel/garden called "The Catalina Room". It was built on the old Marineland site to take advantage of the spectacular ocean views. But when the Lowe's hotel group got permission to develop the empty land into a posh resort, The Catalina Room was forced to pack its bags. So it no longer exists. Wait a few years, though, and you'll find the new Lowe's resort open for business and probably eager to offer the same gorgeous ocean views to wedding parties. Click here for more details. (And in the meanwhile, if you want your fill of spectacular ocean views, try lunch at Trump's.)


    The Imaginary O.C. Restaurants:





    "The Crab Shack": Unfortunately, it doesn't really exist. What appeared to be a charming sidewalk cafe was actually just a temporary facade set up on The Strand in Hermosa Beach. Click here for more details.





    "The Toledo Grill": Seen only once, in Episode 21 (of season one), "The Goodbye Girl", where Caleb and Kirsten dine at an outdoor restaurant overlooking a marina. Unfortunately, it doesn't really exist. The producers simply set up tables and umbrellas on the edge of the Shoreline Marina in Long Beach (providing a view of Shoreline Village in the background). However, you'll be happy to know that there are many real restaurants within easy walking distance of the same Shoreline Village location. Besides the restaurants in Shoreline Village itself, the new Long Beach Pike has recently opened at least three new restaurants just a few steps to the west of the Marina, some offering similar patios (umbrellas and all) with similar views. The Pike restaurants include Gladstone's 4 Fish, The Mai Tai Bar, Tokyo Wako, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Chili's and Outback Steakhouse.


    "Hangin' Taco": In Episode 6 (of season one), "The Girlfriend", the kids go to what appears to be an outdoor Mexican restaurant on the pier, complete with yellow umbrellas and a salsa bar. (It's where Summer has Seth lick picante salsa off her finger.)  It's seen again in Episode 23 (of season three), "The Party Favor". This restaurant doesn't exist. Actually, the producers just set up the tables & umbrellas on the fishing pier right outside the real Pier Diner, added some potted palms and a salsa cart, and had the cast mention Mexican cuisine. (In real life, there are no outdoor tables or salsa carts next to the Pier Diner.)


          
             

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