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.
(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.
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.
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.
Here is a map link.
And here is a link to
the restaurant's official website.
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.
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 menu.
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.
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 ImaginaryO.C. Restaurants:
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.
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.
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.)