As we embark on this farewell tour of Orange County, we’re going to need some energy, so first things first — let’s eat! When it comes to eating out, my daughters and I are predictable creatures. We frequent the same places (Mimi’s Café, Corner Bakery) and order the same items off the same menus, because, well, it’s familiar to us: decent food, close to home.

But one out-of-the-ordinary Sunday, we ventured beyond our safety zone and went to the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove for breakfast.  The Beachcomber is a remodeled-cottage-turned-restaurant that sits in the heart of the Crystal Cove State Park Historic District surrounded by 13 other restored cottages that were built in the 1920s during the silent-film era.

If you’ve never seen this eatery in passing it’s because it’s not visible from Pacific Coast Highway. It’s literally a hidden treasure on a 3.5-mile stretch of historic beach. To get there, you have to park across the street and ride the shuttle in – and that’s your first clue that you’re in for a lot of fun. The Beachcomber serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and doesn’t take reservations, but therein lies the good news. While you’re waiting for your pager to buzz that your table is ready, you and your family can chase a few waves and romp on the beach within a one-half-mile radius of the restaurant. My girls and I had so much fun acting like goofballs, we almost forgot that we were hungry.


We ate breakfast on the outdoor patio with a commanding view of the ocean. It reminded me of the al fresco dining that is ubiquitous in Hawaii. (Every chair has a soft blanket draped over it to spread across your lap when it’s cold and cloudy.) And true to this new adventure, I tried a dish I’d never heard of before: Filet Mignon Chilaquiles, corn tortillas layered with filet mignon, roasted tomato sauce, avocado puree, sour cream and a sunny-side-up egg. Incredible! My daughters had the Apple Cider Spiced Multi-Grain Pancakes and we shared (rather, grabbed greedily) Billy’s Beignets — fried puffed-pastry balls sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Take my word for it, eating at the Beachcomber is an experience you won’t soon forget. If you go, bring your appetite for savory, satisfying food and postcard-perfect scenery. Most important, don’t forget your camera!

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove
15 Crystal Cove
Newport Coast, California