If you’re looking for a spot to watch the big games, Laguna Grill has all the bases covered. It’s also a winner as a family-friendly place, with hearty fare and a great lineup of taps.
Located at what was Laguna BBQ and Brew in the Laguna Village Shopping Center, the restaurant opened in October 2008, after an extensive six-month overhaul that “started just as a small renovation for a bathroom,” said manager Fernando Anguiano.
The ceilings were raised, giving the interior a more open look, and areas previously used for storage and pool tables were captured for more usable space, essentially “doubling our capacity.”
They also ramped up the electronics, installing a 159-inch widescreen projector, and 11 high-definition flat screens around the restaurant. However, Anguiano noted, “We’re wired for 18, so we’ll be putting in more televisions, and some different types of tables, including more outside.
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“Watching the game is what it’s all about,” he said. “On this side of town, there aren’t many places where you can go and watch sports comfortably, in a more relaxed atmosphere. We try to cater to everybody, from shorts to suits, but especially the people in this neighborhood.”
Laguna Grill’s food is “very similar to what was here, we just added to it,” said Anguiano. Burgers reign supreme, weighing in at a third of a pound and ranging from the basic Home Run, to the Pro Bowl Hula with grilled pineapple and teriyaki, to the End Zone Dance with pepperocinis and barbecue sauce, to the Most Valuable Burger — aka MVB — with grilled Ortega chiles, grilled onions and pepperjack cheese.
If you don’t want to put a burger into play, there are several other sandwich options on the roster, such as tri-tip, pulled pork with barbecue sauce, and a few cheesesteak variations.
Of course, the usual lineup of game day starters is available — wings, onion rings, jalapeño poppers, etc. — but Laguna Grill really swings for the fences with its fries. Anguiano admits that because he just couldn’t decide what kind he preferred, you’re the one who has to make the call between beer-battered fries, curly fries, sweet potato fries, garlic fries, wide-mouth fries or cheese fries.
Laguna Grill also lets its patrons decide which beers are featured on tap.
While there are a handful of stalwarts among the 20 drafts, the others have survived at least one “Battle of the Beers,” where customers get to vote the winner between two or three beers of similar styles: porters vs. porters or pale ales vs. pale ales, for example. The concept arose because “there are so many beers out there, and our goal is to have a really unique and changing selection,” said Anguiano.
Since Laguna Grill opened last year, the menu has also undergone some changes in response to customer input.
Originally, there was one salad offered, but now there are six, and any of them may be ordered as a whole-wheat wrap because “that makes them much easier for people to eat on the go, and we do serve a lot of takeout,” explained Anguiano.
In addition, the restaurant “added breakfast (wraps and sandwiches) and we’re going to expand that into waffles, pancakes and some omelettes, and probably expanding dinner into things like barbecued chicken, ribs and steaks. We’re also especially talking to customers about developing more vegetarian items.”
For Anguiano and Laguna Grill, this continual evolution is just par for the course “because as we go, we learn from situations and we learn what people want. You can’t ever stop trying to improve.”