Sunday, January 9, 2011

California (Day 7)

After waking up on the beach in Santa Barbara, we almost decided to stay another day; but we had more of California to cover! We skipped the free continental breakfast and headed back to State Street to grab a coffee. Always trying to support local businesses, we walked right by Starbucks to Jitters Coffee.

The art work throughout the cafe and eclectic music added to the hip vibe. Jitters Coffee offered a rather unique selection of coffees and teas, which one could definite appreciate. Still full from my burrito the night before, I wasn't really hungry; but was intrigued by Jitters "crack bar". I knew I had to try it as the barista went into detail on its making.

It was an interesting morning treat that got me ready for my our 2 hour drive South to the LA area. I actually only ate half the "crack bar" as it was way to sugary for me. I would definitely check out Jitters Coffee if you're in the Santa Barbara area. You will love the vibe and the coffee!

Our flight home was early Sunday, so LA was suppose to be our last stop; but we passed right by the exit as Laguna Beach sounded pretty sweet. Located about an hour south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is a little slice of paradise as its home to some of California's most beautiful beaches. Laguna has much more to offer than beaches and watersports as the restaurant and shopping scene is on point.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see LC or any of the Laguna Beach cast; but I did get to experience a great little town. The hills of Laguna Beach are unreal, offering some of the most picturesque views of Southern California.

We stopped for lunch at Nick's right across from the beach. Nick's served classic American comfort food and unique cocktails in an intimate, yet artful setting. The 80 seat restaurant featured an exhibition kitchen allowing guest to witness the talent of the kitchen staff. The chic bar was the center of the restaurant offering great cocktails, an extensive wine list, and a nice selection of bar snacks.

Nadine and I couldn't pass up being in the sun, so we sat on the small patio in the front of the restaurant. The seating seemed a little too close as hearing your neighbors conversation seemed inevitable. We started off with Fish tacos--made with Alaskan halibut, crunchy cabbage slaw, mango salsa, and chile crema. The tacos were a great start to lunch as they were very light, yet packed some great flavor.

Nadine got the Citrus and Pecan salad, which she seemed to enjoy. The salad came with chopped greens, avocado, mixed berries, mandarin slices, green onions, blue cheese, raisins candied pecans, and citrus vinaigrette. I got the Ribeye Melt as our server raved about it. Initially, I was going to get the Short Rib sliders, but changed my mind on her recommendation. The sandwich was delicious as it was built on Parmesan grilled sourdough and filled with sliced ribeye, imported Swiss, grilled onions, and a mustard bacon sauce. Although its hard to pass up on Short Rib Sliders, I'm glad I got to try the Ribeye Melt as it was definitely one of the better steak sandwiches I've ever had. The Swiss cheese added upon the layers of flavoring without overpowering the well-marinated steak. The juicy and tender ribeye and onions soaked into the crispy, cheesey sourdough bread. The addition of the mustard bacon sauce made this sandwich unbelievable. I would definitely recommend Nick's for a great meal and some fun, unique cocktails.

After a memorable lunch at Nick's, we met up with Nadine's couch-surfing friend (don't ask). He gave us a quick tour of Laguna, then brought us to a rooftop bar overlooking Laguna's 7 miles of picturesque coastline. The rooftop was located in La Casa Del Camino hotel and offered arguably the best view of sunset.

We started off with margaritas as tequila was definitely needed for the strange situation. I wasn't going to get into it, but I guess I have to. So...Nadine joined this website which puts you in contact with people all around the world and allows you to "meet new friends" you wouldn't have met otherwise. The benefit of such a website is that you don't have to pay for a hotel, you could stay with people if you feel comfortable.

I wasn't sold on the idea of staying with a random dude he met online, but I agreed to meet him and have some drinks. Although I was sketched out, he seemed like a good dude so we rolled with it. We continued to BS as the margaritas continued to flow. We ordered a few appetizers, which were alright--nothing to brag about. We made friends with this guy from Idaho who was there with two ladies. I wasn't sure if he was with both of the ladies, but it wouldn't surprise me as he seemed like a baller. Everyone was so friendly, which added to the beautiful ambiance.

We then witched to a glass of Cab as we watched the sunset. It was definitely an incredible experience as time just seemed to stand still. Drinking the Cabernet was a nice touch (recommended by couch surfer dude) as it added a sense of warmth and tranquility.
We finished up our wine and headed straight to the beach. Swimming in the water right after the sunset was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The sky was turning dark, but was perfectly illuminated--straight out of a photograph. I wasn't sure if this couch surfer dude was going to kill us later on that night, but I was just living in the moment--enjoying every second of it.

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