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Local Insights: Monarch Beach | Fall 2012

Local Insights

Chef Concierge Gundula Reile offers insider advice for the best things to see and do in Orange County this fall. – By Lauren Zakich

The St. Regis Monarch Beach concierge team: (L to R) Gundula Reile, Felicia Gilboa, Shawna Ropp, Marty Koontz, Susannah Fairbanks, Cristina Coury. Not pictured: Paul Goreen.

 Fall is your last chance to paddleboard sans wetsuit and leisurely stroll down the sand in a tank top. Gundula Reile, Chef Concierge at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, will make sure that you don’t miss Orange County’s best places to dine, shop and enjoy the outdoors this season.

Local Flavors

For guests looking for a unique dining experience, from ambience to cuisine, Orange County will not disappoint. Reile recommends MARO WOOD GRILL, a creative restaurant featuring community-based food. “This small, quaint restaurant with almost more seats outside than inside is definitely a secret in Laguna,” Reile says. Its food has been praised in the community and earned the restaurant the Best Burger award from the Laguna Beach Patch. (1915 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; 949-793-4044; marowoodgrill.com)

LUCIANA’S RISTORANTE in Dana Point features authentic Italian recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. This family owned restaurant introduces a new culinary design to Orange County, with its use of fresh pasta and homemade olive oil. “Luciana’s is definitely a neighborhood favorite,” Reile says. “Located in a remodeled single family home, you experience sitting in the fireplace room, the library room, the unique wine room or outside on the patio.” (24312 Del Prado, Dana Point; 949-661-6500; lucianas.com)

Maro Wood Grill, Laguna Beach

Asian culture meets fashion and couture at ANQI GOURMET BISTRO & NOODLE BAR. Owned and operated by the An family, AnQi is a fusion of Asian cuisine, stylistic design, decor and more. “If you are interested in experiencing the unusual, this is the place to enjoy a drink and fabulous food creations, full of unique flavors,” Reile says of the stylish and innovative bistro. One Wednesday a month, guests can enjoy an amazing dinner and a fashion show, blending cuisine and couture. AnQi also has a noodle bar for guests to try the authentic garlic noodles, one of its specialties. Other iconic items on the menu include filet mignon potstickers, AnQi summer roll with lobster, elderflower gelee, compressed mango, Vietnamese herbs and a chili-rose emulsion, and the char-grilled prawns. After dinner, indulge in brulee or a Vietnamese banana fritter, and try one of the handcrafted cocktails, like the lavender mojito. (3333 S. Bristol St., Costa Mesa; 714-557-5679; anqibistro.com)

Discover the Coast

If you’ve always wanted to discover the hidden treasures of Orange County’s coasts and oceans, take a nature tour with OC WILDLIFE AND BEACH TOUR. Cheri Ikerd leads wildlife and beach tours as well as an artists’ tour with optional wine tasting. “Cheri has a wonderful experience with tours and her knowledge about the animals in the tide pools is exceptional,” Reile says. All tours include transportation and provide plentiful information about the beach, wildlife and other hidden mysteries of the coast. (949-500-6981; ocwildlifebeachtour.com)

Revel in California’s warm fall evenings and beautiful sunsets with CHAUFFEURED BOAT. Enjoy being chauffeured around the harbor to see such sights as luxury yachts, mansions, marine life and vibrant sunsets. The voyage will give guests a glimpse into the beauty of the landscape and lifestyle of Newport Beach, while allowing enough privacy for conversation and comfort. “This is also a wonderful opportunity for special celebrations, such as an anniversary and maybe a proposal on the water,” Reile adds. (949-357-3311; chauffeuredboat.com)

 Shopping by the Beach

Lala Boutique

If you’re looking to outfit your feet, Reile recommends TOOTSIES in south Laguna. “Wonderful selection of shoes, yet very reasonably priced,” she says. Tootsies carries a variety of shoes for different occasions, with widespread brands to suit all tastes and styles. On top of carrying high quality shoes, Tootsies also stocks its shelves with handbags, scarves and other accessories. Reile also commends this boutique’s staff: “Very professional information given by the owner of the shop, even offering pleasant recommendations,” she says. (1200 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; 949-715-5151)

While you’re on your shopping spree, visit 11TH MOON, a boutique that will spoil you with its wonderful fabrics. Reile says that 11th Moon has “intriguing modern lace dresses from France, unique leather jackets from Italy,” among much more—including accessories. “It carries modern, stylish shoes with a classy touch for the women who prefer the finer things,” she adds. (1259 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; 949-715-3254; 11thmoon.com)

For lifestyle shopping and inspiring looks, Reile recommends that guests visit LALA, a Kerry Cassill boutique in Laguna Beach. “Lala has wonderful prints for your home decor, your bedroom and a wonderful relaxed colorful clothing style,” she says. Enjoy shopping here if you’re seeking a new outfit or quaint decorations for your home. (1145 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; 949-464-9220; kerrycassill.com/boutiques)

Paddleboard Adventures

 Catch the last glimpse of sun before winter while exploring the world of standup paddleboarding (SUP). An adventurous yet relaxing sport, SUP has quickly become a popular activity in Orange County. “Do it at the Monarch Beach with our MONARCH ADVENTURE TEAM at the St. Regis (bookings through the concierge desk) and paddle out into the open ocean,” Reile says. (949-234-3271; stregismb.com)

For a paddleboarding workout, try WESTWIND SAILING “Stand Up Fitness” training. Reile emphasizes that anyone, even beginners, can take the class at Dana Point Harbor. Westwind’s class uses paddleboarding as an aerobic sport to encourage the development of balance and core strength. (34451 Ensenada Pl., Dana Point; 949-492-3035; westwindsailing.com)

For a more relaxing paddleboarding experience, Reile recommends LA VIDA LAGUNA in Laguna Beach. La Vida offers paddleboarding as a tour through hidden coves and calm waters that make it easy to get out to sea. (631 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach; 949-275-7544; lavidalaguna.com)