Ruby’s is a great diner for kids with delightful options for the determined adult dieter

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

In two weeks’ time myself and 11 other Laguna Beach moms head to Mexico to celebrate one of our party’s “Big Birthdays” – cue many group photographs and postings by a luxurious infinity pool.  

Therefore like most women (those of us who admit it) my calorie intake has reduced and my workout rate has dramatically increased so that I don’t represent a beached whale in Cabo San Lucas.

So imagine my horror when my food report schedule brings up Ruby’s Diner. Not the place (or so I thought) I should be eating at so close to this impending vacation.

Ruby’s Diner is a legacy, with more than 35 years of experience and over 35 restaurants in the USA. This American diner has stood the test of time in delivering a diner inspired vibe and an enormous menu in keeping with that. 

Run on the beach inspires Ruby’s

The idea for Ruby’s Diner was born in 1980 after a run on the beach. Doug Cavanaugh had just returned to his native Southern California after successfully restoring and running a restaurant on Nantucket Island off Cape Cod. One evening he was brainstorming about business opportunities with his father, and remembered that he had seen a dilapidated building at the end of Balboa Pier while jogging along the beach. Although the building was in pretty bad shape, Cavanaugh noticed its architecture really lent itself well to that of a 1940’s diner. With his father’s encouragement, Cavanaugh started to make the restaurant a reality.  The restaurant’s name came from his mother Ruby, as did the logo of the brand.

The location I visited was in South Laguna. It is a bright white and red building (as are all the diners) with an array of vintage vehicles located outside, it reminds me of a scene out of Happy Days, and delights visitors (especially children) daily. In fact, I always make sure that when families visit me from the UK and they have children that this is where we bring them for a true “diner experience.”

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Ruby’s Laguna Beach

For this report, I took along two children, one of whom doesn’t enjoy red meat and one who is burger crazy.

We were greeted by the manager of the Laguna Beach location, Victoria Douglas, who has been with Ruby’s for 15 years (although she doesn’t look old enough!). Victoria took us upstairs to our table, where we had a beautiful ocean view. 

The menu is large and takes some reading, there is a full page dedicated to Ruby’s famous 16 different flavor shakes so obviously that’s where the girls decided to start.

 They chose an Oreo child’s milk shake and a chocolate banana milkshake. Each milkshake is handmade to order, so don’t expect these to be rushed out, but believe me it is totally worth the wait.

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The shakes are great

As I mentioned before Ruby’s menu is vast, there’s a kids menu, appetizers and sides, fresh salads, chilis, soups, shakes, premium burgers, extraordinary burgers, all American sandwiches, big plates, classic burgers, turkey burgers, all day breakfasts and desserts.

As I scoured the menu, I was amazed at all the options and then I felt I had struck gold, Ruby’s really does cater for everyone. There is a full section of DE-LITE-FUL dishes to choose from all under 650 calories! All of a sudden the Mexico swimsuit anxiety lifted.

The children ordered, one child going for the chicken fingers with fries. Ruby’s fries are completely trans fat free and there is an option of a fries refill upon request.  The chicken fingers were tasty, succulent white chicken in a crispy breadcrumb coating. Just to make sure we got our greens that day, we also ordered a side Caesar salad, which was very tasty. 

The other child ordered a kid’s cheeseburger, fully loaded with added Ruby’s sauce, which tastes a lot like a Thousand Island dressing, but has added spices. This was delicious and a large burger for a child. 

I decided to go for the DE-LITE-FUL garden burger, a garden burger patty served on a whole wheat (or gluten free) bun with non fat mayo, half cheese, crisp lettuce and tomato accompanied by a side salad. This was seriously good, and felt much more naughty than 650 calories! 

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The garden burger was less than 650 calories

The children decided not to go for the dessert option, way too full from the shake and the main meal. And I obviously did not want to spoil my healthy momentum. 

Ruby’s Diner is really great, its food is good, the atmosphere great and for children it’s a little bit magical.

The restaurant offers weekly promotions and on a Tuesday evening kids eat free. It really is fun for the whole family and there is an option to be healthy if you’re under a little pressure.

Ruby’s Laguna Beach 30622 S. Coast Hwy, is open 7a.m  – 9 p.m. Call (949) 497 7829 or go to for more information. 

Selanne Steak Tavern’s executive chef is named Culinary Visionary for Flavors of Orange County

Award-winning Joshua Severson, who has served as executive chef of Selanne Steak Tavern since its opening in 2013, has been chosen to be the Culinary Visionary for the 2017 American Liver Foundation Flavors of Orange County gala fundraiser. 

On Sunday, October 15, at The Duke Hotel Newport Beach, Chef Severson and Selanne Steak Tavern will be recognized for ongoing dedication, support and commitment to the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Liver Foundation.

Flavors of Orange County is a special culinary experience that showcases the signature dishes of area chefs who are invited to participate in this distinct evening featuring a cocktail reception and fine dining. Each participating chef will create a unique five-course dinner to be served tableside for one table of 12 guests. In addition, the glamorous evening hosted by celebrity chef and lifestyle expert Jamie Gwen will feature exciting silent and live auctions.

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Executive Chef Joshua Severson

“I am highly honored to be designated as the 2017 culinary visionary of Flavors of Orange County,” said Severson. “And, I look forward to working on this important American Liver Foundation fundraiser. It is my goal to help invite and lead a team of outstanding OC chefs who want to show off their culinary talents to discerning guests. I am pleased to do all I can to promote such an amazing evening of giving.”

Owner Kevin Pratt noted, “From the beginning, it has always been our goal at Selanne Steak Tavern to offer the highest level of food, drinks and hospitality to our guests from far and near. Also, co-owner Teemu Selanne and I always strive to support important causes that affect the health and wellness of children and adults in Orange County and beyond.

“Being a part of the American Liver Foundation’s Flavors of Orange County is a meaningful way we can help others,” he added.

The 14th Annual Flavors of Orange County event takes place on Sunday, Oct 15 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Duke Hotel, Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd.

Ticket cost is $355. To buy tickets, visit

For more information: Visit

The mission of the American Liver Foundation is to facilitate, advocate and promote education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease. For more information, visit

Selanne Steak Tavern, located at 1464 South Coast Highway opened in November 2013 and is owned by Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne and local Orange County businessman Kevin Pratt. Housed in a reimagined 1934 historic home along the Pacific Coast, it’s an upscale contemporary steak house with a downstairs tavern, bar and wine library, a loft upstairs for more intimate dining and two patios for alfresco dining. 

Selanne Steak Tavern is open for dinner only, nightly starting at 5 p.m. For reservations and more information, call 949-715-9881 or visit

Zinc is a vegetarian restaurant with dishes certain to whet the appetites of carnivores too

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Opened in 1988, Zinc Laguna Beach has been a favorite among the locals for more than 28 years.  Zinc Cafe was inspired by the quality food movement initiated by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Since Zinc opened its Laguna Beach location, Zinc has gone from strength to strength, opening in Corona del Mar and Los Angeles. And by that I mean, it really does crush any myths that a vegetarian restaurant leaves a non-vegetarian person feeling less than satisfied. 

Zinc food is beautifully fresh, tasty, with generous portion sizes and adventurous ingredients. It offers and breakfast and lunch menu seven days a week, changes its soups daily and offers fantastic specials. It also serves brunch cocktails, beer and wine. 

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Start with a delicious latte

I decided to report on breakfast (as its one of my favorite breakfast venues in Laguna Beach) and took my best veggie friend Cottie and her puppy Flounder (yes that is right, Zinc is dog friendly).

Our Food Journey at Zinc

When we arrived at Zinc, it was (as always at 10 a.m.) very busy, luckily we managed to grab a table for two.  There is no table service at Zinc, but cold water is available on a self-serve system and there are staff on hand to clear tables and keep guests comfortable.   

Diners are required to go inside the bar to order food, where drinks are made and then you are given a device which buzzes when your food is ready for collection.  

I ordered a large almond milk latte and a Zinc Mimosa, the drinks came quickly. Zinc coffee is great coffee, pretty strong in taste but very smooth. The Zinc mimosa was really delicious, sparking wine, orange juice, peach juice and raspberry puree. It had the look of a sunset and tasted just as sweet.

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Dill’s what does it

It was then onto the food, the breakfast menu consists of an eggs section, specialties section, fruit yoghurt and sides as well as cereal and a selection of baked goods.

My friend Cottie ordered the avocado toast from the specialties menu and it really is special, consisting of smashed avocado, dill, lemon dressed radish salad, chives onion and lemon zest, and she added a poached egg.  This is one of my favorite things on the menu at Zinc, the combination of the dill and chives in the smashed avocado make it so tasty. You can have this with wheat toast or gluten free.

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Breakfast bowl: it’s delicious and fresh

I decided to go for the breakfast burrito bowl, which included delicious scrambled eggs, vegetarian sausage onion sauté, white cheddar, avocado, pico de gallo and fire roasted salsa. This is a fabulous dish and is available as a burrito wrap also. What I love about this dish as it feels like a hearty breakfast and definitely something that you could give the token carnivore that may be in your group. 

As well as a fabulous café, Zinc also has a wonderful take out café and coffee shop for lunch or brunch on the go.  I often buy their full cakes for parties and palm them off as my own (oops maybe I gave the game away..)

There’s a reason Zinc has been busy since 1988 – it’s great quality and value vegetarian food done so incredibly well. I don’t know one person in Laguna who has never visited.

Zinc is located at 350 Ocean Ave.

Need a cure for lunchtime blahs? Head to Okura, perfect for lunch meetings (and dinner conversations)

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Six weeks ago marked the arrival of Okura Laguna Beach’s new manager Chad Abell. Managing restaurants is in Chad’s blood. Originally he hails from northern California, where his father worked in fine Italian dining all of his life before going on to run a selection of Fiore restaurants in the region.  

Chad moved to southern California and began to manage the Marbella Country Club in San Juan Capistrano, before moving onto the St Regis where he obtained his Fine Dining training. A shift in the management of the St Regis saw him leave there and take up a position at Mozambique, where he worked as the banqueting captain for three years before moving to Okura to become the manager of the restaurant.

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Yum, oysters

And Chad has big ideas. Okura is Laguna Beach’s largest sushi restaurant, located where many businesses have sadly struggled, due to the size of the space. However Okura seems to have been ticking along nicely since 2015. 

As with most businesses, there is always room for growth and improvement, especially during the quieter winter months.  Chad is already working on a new cocktail menu, which will incorporate Japanese inspired cocktails such as a green tea martini and an alternative Bloody Mary. They have also introduced happy nights on a Monday and Tuesday, where the regular Happy Hour, which is 4-6 p.m. every weekday, has been extended until closing time. This is one of the best happy hours available in a sushi establishment, with many dishes and drinks being half the price.  

Chad explains that the food in Okura sells itself (more on that from me later): he is eager to focus on the regeneration of the bar area.

The next step is to try and obtain a live music license (pretty please to anyone on city council reading this). It’s surprising that such large space does not have this feature, but Chad is confident and determined to get this passed. Their recent sponsorship and collaboration with our local radio station KX 93.5 means that if and when they do get a live music license, you will be sure to see some great local artists performing there.

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Sashimi and sushi is fresh and delicious

In the meantime, Okura offers a phenomenal lunchtime menu. I regularly use Okura for business meetings and hopefully by the end of reading this report, I will have convinced any business owner out there to do the same.  

As mentioned previously Okura is a large restaurant, with the capacity to seat many big parties, perfect for a large business lunch or meeting. It is also very well arranged, so that the spacing of the tables allows for intimate conversation, should there be just a couple of people.

The tables themselves are also large, accommodating laptops, notepads or any other equipment you may need for a working lunch. The restaurant is air conditioned, which is a must (especially over the last week).

The lunchtime menu is a colorful array of salads, lunch combinations, bento boxes sushi sashimi rolls and specialty rolls. It also offers a wide range of Gluten Free alternatives. There’s truly something for everyone.

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Sushi can be ordered gluten free

During the lunch menu drinks are available at happy hour prices, but this was a business meeting with my other boss Tyler Russell of KX 93.5 FM and I needed to keep a clear head. 

I ordered a surprise, but specified I wanted the gluten free option, eager to see if it would be as good as the rest of the menu. I was not disappointed. I was presented with the shitake beet salad, crispy shitake mushroom, goat cheese, and walnuts with marinated beet. Alongside this was an array of sashimi served of course with wasabi and ginger and tamari (gluten free) sauce. This was light, tasty and felt so incredibly healthy. It was just the right amount of food for me at lunchtime, without leaving me with an overly full feeling.

Tyler also ordered a dish to be surprised but this time not gluten free…in fact, he ordered extra gluten ha ha! He was presented with a variety of sashimi served over sticky rice and colorful special rolls. It was all perfect and a delightful accompaniment to our working lunch. 

Chad then treated us to some Kumamoto oysters, these were the cream of the crop, delicious tasty oysters, with a magnificent kick. I would highly recommend these if you can cope with a little spice.

All in all my experience at Okura was, as always, really great. The food is consistently spectacular and if you take advantage of the weekly happy hours and specials, it can be a cost effective place to eat.  

Okura is available to hire as a private venue and it also offers outside catering. (949) 793-4320 · 858 S Coast Hwy

Laura Buckle’s Restaurant Updates 

Wine Gallery will now be open every day of the week

Exciting news for Wine Gallery Fans – the Wine Gallery in Laguna Beach will now be open on Mondays. That means the restaurant will now be open seven days a week, offering Happy Hour Monday through to Sunday between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m.  


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Photo by Laura Buckle

Delicious burrata

And as if that wasn’t enough exciting enough, The Wine Gallery is also opening for weekend only lunch 11.30 a.m. – 4 p.m. starting Saturday July 23. You can sit in and keep cool or order to-go food (their pizzas are phenomenal) to enjoy on the beach – but remember to pick up your trash… 

The Wine Gallery is located at 1833 South Coast Highway Phone (949) 715 8744.

Laura’s Restaurant Updates

Brussels Bistro is now open for lunch

Exciting news for Brussels Bistro Fans: Brussels will now be open for lunch from 11 a.m. every day of the week.

Thomas Crijns opened Brussels Bistro in 2004 and it has firmly been established as one of the most celebrated restaurants in Laguna Beach, renowned for its authentic Belgium cuisine and of course its huge selection of Belgium beers. It most recently won Open Tables February Diners Choice award, alongside many other accolades since it opened. 

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Photo by Laura Buckle

Lunch is served!

Seven months ago Crijns’ best friend of 40 years, Nicolas Servais, moved his family over from Belgium to partner up with him, a partnership that has only enhanced this already popular and successful bistro.

Lunch fans will find all the favorites from the weekly menu as well as Belgium waffles served daily. 

Brussels prides itself in its weekly evening specials and these specials will also be available on the daytime menu.

For more information, visit their website or call (949) 376 7955.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

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