25250 La Paz Rd, Laguna Hills, CA 92653, USA
Photo by Amanda Friedman, AFAR Media
Sun 5pm - 9pm
Mon - Thur 5pm - 9:30pm
Fri, Sat 5pm - 10pm
IronwoodWhen this wine country–style restaurant opened in the Laguna Hills in 2016, it was instantly embraced by locals. Maybe it’s the hillside location—no bikinis in sight—that allows diners to breathe easy and indulge. Maybe it’s the warm wood-clad dining room with its lively open kitchen. Or maybe it’s the craft cocktails and 25-plus international wines poured by the glass. Regardless, Ironwood is not the place to come while on a diet. The biggest reason: the house-made giant meatball, served with fresh, made-from-scratch herb pappardelle, spicy pomodoro sauce, and ricotta salata. Limited numbers are made each night, so it’s worth going early (the dinner-only restaurant opens each evening at 5 p.m.). The menu also features American Wagyu burgers, mac and cheese skillets, and pork shanks with fried green tomatoes and fresh burrata—plus colorful, palate-cleansing salads incorporating handpicked local ingredients. When the weather’s good, a retractable roof is pulled back from the heated patio to reveal views of the picturesque Saddleback Mountains. Must-order: the warm fromage blanc brownie with Nutella ice cream.