'Man-wiches' at The Ranch

Laguna Beach Treasure Offers an Authentic and Intensely Local Take on California Comfort Food

Laguna Beach is well known for its majestic beauty—with canyons, coves, seaside bluffs and its picturesque coastline. The city also boasts more than 20,000 acres of protected wilderness, further enhancing the community’s artistic sentiment. The nooks and crannies of such a setting are sure to contain an abundance of hidden treasures. Among the most incredible of these treasures is The Ranch at Laguna Beach. 

The Ranch is a boutique coastal ranch hotel, spa, and golf resort that is the perfect blend of all Laguna Beach has to offer. It is nestled in the majestic Aliso and Wood Canyons—situated on an iconic piece of land where the canyons meet the sea.

With a long and celebrated history, The Ranch at Laguna Beach has been re-envisioned as the home of Southern California’s newest hotel and spa. In addition, it was handpicked as California’s only National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World for its exceptional guest experience and commitment to sustainable practices. The Ranch was also voted among the Top 10 Resort Hotels in California by Travel and Leisure.

Harvest Restaurant at The Ranch, one of Orange County’s newest culinary experiences, is already a locals’ favorite. Fresh-made food and drink are a focus throughout the experience, with many ingredients harvested on the property. What Harvest doesn't grow onsite is thoughtfully sourced. In addition to its diverse menu, Harvest offers an enticing wine list and 18 craft beers on tap.

For this month’s Hot Spot Feature, we decided to give it a try and taste-test the best "man-wiches" and craft brews Harvest has to offer. Four of us headed out to Harvest for a lunchtime experience that we will never forget. 

From the first impression, turning off PCH, there is a feeling you are entering a special space. The tree-lined road winds its way toward the back of the property as glorious canyon and golf course views open up to an arena of serene beauty. The restaurant, bar and private dining room celebrate California's storied history of organic farming, brewin, and oenology. Outdoor patio seating unveils stunning Aliso Canyon and golf course views.

Since there were four of us dining together, we decided to try four different sandwiches and cut each one of them into four pieces for sampling.  We then paired each with a craft brew for our taste test. We chose the Harvest Club Sandwich, Grilled Swordfish Sandwich, Fried Chicken Sandwich, and the Harvest Burger. And we were not disappointed. The sandwiches were generous in size, extremely flavorful and impeccably presented. They delivered a truly satisfying meal for any "man-wich" connoisseur!

The beers were paired by our expert servers: House Beer Lager with the club, Eel River Organic Blond Ale with the swordfish, El Sully Mexican Lager with the fried chicken, and Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale with the burger.

Our experience at The Ranch and Harvest Restaurant was a memorable one. We all agreed we’d return as frequent customers, and we’re certain that you will also.

The Food

Round 1

Harvest Club Sandwich: Roasted turkey breast, black forest ham, swiss, BLT and avocado on sourdough

Brew: House Beer Lager—a bold and authentic premium lager brewed in Santa Monica

Round 2

Grilled Swordfish Sandwich: Apple slaw and hot sauce aioli on a brioche bun

Brew: Eel River Organic Blond Ale—a light, crisp certified organic blonde ale created with delicate malt characteristics

Round 3

Fried Chicken Sandwich: Rocket arugula, tomato, thousand island sauce and pickles on a brioche bun

Brew: El Sully Mexican Lager—a crisp, Mexican-style lager with light notes of spice from Northern Brewer hops

Round 4

Harvest Burger: Eight ounces of a dry-age blend, cheddar cheese, thousand island sauce and a melody of fixings on a brioche bun

Beer: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale—a relatively dry ale with a rich nutty color and palate of beech nuts, almonds and walnuts

The Score

Harvest Club – 4

House Lager – 4

Grilled Swordfish – 5

Eel River Blond – 5

Fried Chicken – 3

El Sully Lager – 4

Harvest Burger – 4

Smith Brown Ale – 4

The Verdict

The Grilled Swordfish Sandwich was our hands-down favorite. For any "man-wich" aficionado, Swordfish is always an excellent choice, thanks to its lean, yet meaty texture and mild flavor. Aside from its health benefits, this “steak of the sea” is satisfying; plus, it takes well to spices and marinades. Harvest prepared our swordfish perfectly. It was moist and tender with a flavor that burst to life through an apple slaw and hot sauce aioli on a brioche bun.

Its paired brew, the Eel River authentic blond ale, was absolutely delicious. Balanced by a very subtle touch of citrusy spice from Pacific Northwest organic hops, and with an exceptionally crisp palate, this ale balanced the light malt with a subtle bitterness that complemented the swordfish perfectly. 

If you have not yet experienced The Ranch, you’ll need to add it to your bucket list. The history of this coastal property dates all the way back to 1871 when some of the first settlers in Laguna Beach built a watermelon farm here known as “the ranch." Inspired by this history, the property owners pay homage to vintage Laguna Beach. But the area also embodies a modern eco ethos.

Bottom line, the overall experience, arrival to departure, was outstanding. The Harvest team offers a masterfully creative and intensely local take on Californian comfort food. 

Reservations are strongly recommended. Please Harvest Reservations at 949.715.1376 to reserve your table.

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