Central Laguna Beach

4.5
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218 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary American
Located in beautiful Laguna Beach, in the heart of downtown, Central is a gem waiting to be discovered.

Food is so much more than just a meal, it is a sensory experience like no other. It combines all your senses culminating toward the ultimate experience: Delight. Wondermint, bliss, tears, laughter, love passion, and of course, satisfaction.

We aim to create an experience unlike any other. Join us today and discovery what true flavors, unparalleled service, and the best staff in Laguna Beach have to offer. Our partners, Anna, Ingrid, Ana Montoya, and Taylor McKinney are thrilled to welcome you and your family to ours!
What 218 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.6
service
4.4
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
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T
San Francisco
67 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

We were visiting the area and always look for new places to try. The reviews we good do we gave it a try. It was a Sunday night and there was only one other table occupied. It was so dark inside we had to use our phones to read the menu! I asked them to turn up the lights a bit but the seater told me it would ruin the ambiance! I asked if a few of the dishes could be modified to make them dairy free but they told me no it would ruin the dish! One dish the empanadas were frozen inside and needed to be sent back. I would not recommend this restaurant.

OT
Orange County
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was excellent, our server was knowledge and my old fashioned was one of the best ever. Beautiful location as well.

OT
Orange County
1 review
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Bartender Josh makes incredible cocktails; ask for the mezcal old fashion! and was spot on with his recommendations. Server Sherry went above and beyond for us every chance she could! Service is superb and Central's food might be the best in Laguna; which is not to be taken lightly!

RS
Orange County
11 reviews
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Wait staff(Sherry) was very knowledgeable with the menu and helped those in our party who could not decide on a dish. Food was quite flavorful with a good wine selection to boot. Look forward to returning in the near future.

OT
New England
3 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The food was great as well as our waiter. The evening glare from the door consistently opening was the thing keeping us from staying longer.

DJ
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food, excellent staff, wonderful ambiance. My wife enjoyed the cod, while I had a tasty pasta.

OC
Orange County
61 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

This was our first visit and will not return. The food was okay, but way overpriced for what you get. Chicken breast cutlet with a scoop of rice and some steamed broccoli $26. Clumpy risotto with pieces of shrimp $36. Two shrimp spring rolls $15. All of a sudden with tax and tip you have a very unremarkable meal for $100. Feel bad for the staff, they really tried hard, but the menu and food is not up to expectations.

SH
Dallas
2 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food and service! Menu is a nice change to the same/same in Laguna.

KJ
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 2ambience 5

Ambiance is the best part about this restaurant. Unfortunately we waited 18 minutes past our reservation time and still sat at a high bar table with stools. Food is average at best and plating needs lots of help. My wife ordered the scallop and all she saw at first glance was a can of chick peas that were tossed with a few scallops that were over cooked and placed in a bowl drenched in excessive sauce. Surprising how no one has told this chef to make improvements ASAP. Worst part about it was the description of the dish was not well represented once we received it. It took a good 30 minutes to receive two entrees and non of the starters looked appealing. My wife commented on her dish and the waiter brought our “bread pudding”. It was pre scooped and refrozen vanilla ice cream with caramel and squares of fried dough. They have no idea what bread pudding is. Thanks for the thought we appreciate that. Two drinks and a $100 later you’ll decide this place won’t have us returning again.

LN
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Great food and cocktails, friendly welcoming service but the restaurant is small and packed with seating, no bathroom in restaurant (outside, upstairs, needed a key), music was loud and didn’t fit the ambiance of the place and slightly overpriced.
Might go back for the happy hour but probably on a weeknight when it’s a bit more relaxed.

AK
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 4

Like many restaurants I've been to, the appetizers started off very positive and delicious but the main courses were simply not very good - ordered the scallop dish which came with 5 overcooked scallops, 5 pieces of overcooked brocoli and about 200 garbanzo beans that were mushy all buried in a sauce that was not good. My daughter's risotto (one of the signature dishes) was okay but still drenched in sauce so hard to taste the other flavors. On a positive note, my ice tea was very good and the service from the waitress was great - so perhaps come here for drinks and the appetizers but stay away from some of the mains.

U
Orange County
19 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food and service were awesome. We both had the scallops. Great portions and just the right amount of spice!

DF
1 review
Dined on August 4, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Truffle mac and cheese was so good!
It was a little noisy during dinner. The host and waiters were very friendly.

TC
1 review
Dined on July 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very pleased with the service and the quality of food. Quiet location with a nice ambiance. Would highly recommend!!

M
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

Way overpriced. The food was not all that great for the expensive price tag. My salad was 19$ and they forgot the chicken. The size of a small bowl. Would NOT GO BACK

d
Orange County
1 review
Dined on July 26, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Anniversary

KE
Orange County
5 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Lovely quiet place for dinner - so hard to find in Orange County. Food delicious and unique. Fabulous service!

l
Orange County
10 reviews
Dined on July 20, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 3

Risotto with Tiger Prawns @ $32 would be no surprise in Laguna but tiny bits of medium (at best) tossed in were quite the disappointment. Panko Sea Bass nothing special. Ridiculously overpriced restaurant there only to exploit tourists. No locals will go twice. It will be gone next year. 8 better places in walking distance. Service was ok waiter was nice and apologized nicely for delayed service. Tough rent district brutal competition. Better luck next time.

LS
1 review
Dined on July 20, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Food fantastic!!! Presentation And Flavor hands down perfection!
Only downside, you need to request a regular table or booth at time of reservation when less than 4 people otherwise you have to sit at bar top table and this is not so comfortable.

d
Orange County
26 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 3

As a long time resident in Laguna Beach, I always try to get to every restaurant in town over the course of the years. Central is now on my 'favorites' list. Tucked in the corner up a few stairs off Forest Avenue it can be easily missed on a stroll. It is small and the outdoor patio is a bit cramped but the service staff are so pleasant and efficient, especially Josh at the bar and Sherie is such a delightful server. Every meal I have had was well prepared - loved the tuna poke, the empanadas, salmon and steak hash. The bread pudding bites with delicious coconut ice cream yummy. Suggest during the busy summer season to make reservations well in advance, or hold off until the town calms down after Labor Day and enjoy the calmness and easier parking. Central does have four parking spots behind the building but hard to find an open one.

SS
Orange County
2 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

We wanted to have Peruvian food. When we googled Peruvian Central came up. However the waitperson said they removed the Peruvian dishes from the menu. The place is good to get a drink or appetizers. The menu is somewhat limited. Had good coffee and amazing guacamole there.

WW
New Mexico
8 reviews
Dined on July 18, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

The tuna poke and steak empanadas were really good. I generally don’t like empanadas so that’s saying something. The tiger shrimp risotto was well cooked but the seasoning was strange.

OT
San Diego
7 reviews
Dined on July 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

First time...impressed with menu , focused on few great dishes
Quality preparation

d
Orange County
26 reviews
Dined on July 11, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

As a long time resident of Laguna Beach I am always trying each and every restaurant in town - I did venture downtown during the ever so busy festival season to try Central. I was surprised and delighted. I liked the staff very much - not so full of themselves as in some other restaurants in town. The food was very, very good. Overall....it's a 'keeper' for me and my friends loved it as well. I tried for another reservation a week later and they were booked - good for them!!!

RB
Orange County
1 review
Dined on July 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Love their menu. Special twist with a few Argentine items like empenada, burger with added egg and amazing 14oz steak.Tuna tar tar and seviche also yummy. And don’t skip desert!!!

OT
Phoenix
3 reviews
Dined on July 7, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

Appetizers were tasty, but the food was poorly timed, and the server was MIA. Note, the restaurant was slow. When she did finally show up, it was to tell us the kitchen put butter in my husband’s dish, after he was explicit about “no dairy, no pork”. When she brought the remake 15 minutes later, and my food was already eaten, there were large pieces of bacon mixed in. So much for “no pork”. Just a poor service experience all around.

DA
Orange County
2 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of my favorites in Laguna Beach! Food, drinks and service are always excellent!

BL
Orange County
4 reviews
Dined on June 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We absolutely love everything about Central......the new (ish) menu, the ambiance, the staff. Whenever we have friends/family in town, it's our go-to place! It never disappoints!!!

SD
Orange County
1 review
Dined on June 26, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 5

So I went here last night with three other people for dinner. We had walked by this location before and noted that we wanted to come back to try it. The staff was friendly and the ambience was great. We started out with cocktails and I had ordered a premium shot of tequila. We ordered an appetizer that was outstanding followed by their incredible tomato bisque soup. Two of us had entrées and the other to split a dinner. The food was incredible and we had all noted that we would come back for sure. When the check came my attitude completely changed. I was taken back at the total of the bill which was $280. After looking to try to understand why it was so high I realized I was charged $35 for a shot of tequila. I have never paid that much in my life and that even accounts for some of the extreme high end resorts in the area. Reluctantly I paid the bill and asked for a cup of coffee while the others we're finishing their glass of wine. After spending $280 the server came back with a new bill for me which included a single cup of coffee. Those two things really left a bad taste which most likely will affect me ever returning. If you're going to charge such a ridiculous price for a shot of tequila you should tell the customer so that they are aware. In addition if a customer has just spent that much money and they have already closed out their check don't you think you could've given them the cup of coffee on the house? At that point I just felt scammed instead of feeling like a valued customer.

JW
Palm Springs
5 reviews
Dined on June 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great staff amazing food

LL
Los Angeles
17 reviews
Dined on June 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service. Delicious steak salad.

MB
Orange County
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Finding a table using OpenTable was a snap, and the restaurant even called a few minutes later to confirm (loved that because it made me feel as though my reservation was taken seriously). The wait once we arrived was less than five minutes, and the table location we requested using OpenTable was honored. The total bill for one non-alcoholic drink, one appetizer, and two entrees came to around $55, so it was a great value (and yes, the food tasted really good). The waitstaff was very attentive, and our waitperson — Sherie — was great. Food wise... I had the Grilled Chicken Pasta, which was just as Sherie said it was... lighter than a traditional Alfredo sauce. I would go back again in a heartbeat!

TJ
Hawaii
3 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of our favorite places to eat. Wonderful people, and exceptional food and drinks.

CB
San Diego
34 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

We had only a starter and drinks. We like more seasoned food, food with an unexpected twist. This didn't have that. It was good, but a little plain for our tastes. Same for the drinks.

We recommend it for friends who prefer simple, well done foods and drinks.

JN
Orange County
1 review
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

What a great restaurant! Fantastic food, great atmosphere and super-friendly staff. Book now!

k
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on May 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went to Central for my daughters 10th bday. Staff was very accomadating, food was delicious, we had a great time and will be coming back again and again.

T
Orange County
13 reviews
Dined on May 18, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Always a good time and the food is delicious. The space is small enough that you can actually talk to the people you're dining with. Try the grilled avocado!

F
San Diego
4 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We have been to Central 3 times already. Enjoy the outside tables, quiet and open. Food and service has not disappointed!

OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Best ceviche ever!

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b
Austin
3 reviews
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

We had the shrimp croquettes, panko-crusted cod, and tiger shrimp risotto. Every dish was outstanding! The service was a little slow, but it was mostly because our server was also the only bartender for the restaurant. Will definitely go back when we are in Laguna again!

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