Vivo Rooftop Lounge proves that the view from the top is spectacular. The open-air lounge overlooks a stretch of waterfront park along the Pacific Ocean from a fourth-floor perch. It’s the perfect spot to catch the sunset over cocktails, especially since Vivo specializes in classic manhattans and the treetini, a mix of Veev açai spirit, pomegranate liquor, lime juice, and Sprite. In an effort to promote environmental sustainability, the restaurant will plant one tree for every treetini served.
A selection of gastropub dishes—available after 5 p.m.—rounds out the menu. Diners can enjoy burgers, pasta, and grilled seafood on plush, outdoor couches while roaring fire pits and patio heaters keep chilly ocean breezes and confused snowmen from Antarctica at bay.
Mario's By The Sea serves a menu of Italian specialties including more than 20 pasta options and a long list of entrees starring chicken, veal, seafood, and veggies. A combination of chilled melon cloaked in imported Italian prosciutto ($10) and a hot, crispy calamaretti fritti ($13) combines cool and warm fronts to prepare stomachs for a pasta downpour. The veal tortellini champagne pasta ($14–$19) employs a bubbly infused cream sauce to help diners celebrate recent purchases of full-sized yachts constructed carefully in bottles.
Cannons Seafood Grill, perched atop a picturesque cliff overlooking the Dana Point Marina, has delighted diners since 1972 with its menu of fresh, savory seafood. Dive into meals such as the signature lobster bruschetta, a layer of melted blue cheese covering fresh tomato, tarragon bruschetta, and pieces of lobster clinging to one another atop a grilled-sourdough-bread dance floor ($12.95). The grilled swordfish steak Mediterranean brandishes red and yellow tomatoes, sweet red peppers, and artichoke hearts ($25.95), and the sizzling New York sirloin arrives tableside ready to be seared and sporting a rakish derby (29.95). A wide selection of cocktails, such as the Thin Mint, made with Absolut Vanilla, Bailey's Irish Cream, and DeKuper Green Crème de Menthe ($11.50), helps ease first-date jitters.
Stacks Pancake House’s extensive menu teems with specialty omelets, syrupy french toast, and hearty sandwiches. Diners can dig into a fluffy three-egg meat-lover’s omelet bursting with bacon, ham, and portuguese sausage ($8.50), or the loco moco, a hamburger patty served on top of rice and crowned with gravy and two eggs ($6.95). Or put an exotic twist on a morning tradition with an omu-rice omelet, stuffed with japanese fried rice ($7.50) and teamed with a tasty tower of pancakes with topping varieties such as macadamia nut, blueberry, and strawberry ($1.00–$2.00). A decadent plate of Nutella s’mores french toast ($6.95) charms sweet teeth with slices of hawaiian sweet bread stuffed with graham crackers and gooey marshmallows for easy adherence to a dining partner’s forehead, while belgian waffles fill their battery compartments with crunchy add-ons such as pecans ($5.50), oreo cookies ($6.95), or 5-franc coins.