When we were looking for a place to live in Huntington Beach, the beach and downtown were two of the main reasons we decided on our house. We’re one mile from the beach, and about ten blocks from downtown, so we can easily walk down to the water with the boys in the evening before bed, or hop over to downtown for some live music, farmers markets, or date night (since it’s filled to the brim with restaurants).

My husband often wants to go casual for date night so he can wear sandals and shorts, but every once in a while I force him to put on his jeans and dress shoes and so I can put on a dress and heels. Some of our very favorite spots have been found downtown, so make sure you check out a few of my favorites below!

But first up, what to wear. If we’re going dressy, I always go for a dress. A few years ago I owned only one or two dresses — mostly skirts. But now I have a closet full of dresses and love to wear them at every opportunity. A loose fitting one is my favorite for dates so I can eat as much as I want (plus dessert) and no one is the wiser, and then it’s insanely comfortable for a walk around town after we eat. This gorgeous loose fit Derek Lam dress fits the bill perfectly.

photos by sara walk

And now that you’re dressed, what should you eat?? Here are a few of my favorites downtown!

1. Cucina Alessa. It’s the most darling italian restaurant that’s about five blocks from the water so you’re a little father away from the craziness and busyness of downtown. It’s always full on the weekends, so make sure you call ahead, but their pasta is amazing, and you cannot pass up the baked mozzarella appetizer.

2. Longboards Pub. This is our long time favorite brunch spot. It has outdoor seating that we always request and we love to people-watch and watch all the cars drive by as we eat. For brunch, their omelets are amazing, and for dinner I love the Longboard Sliders (which are technically appetizers, but it’s plenty of food for me).

3. Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking. This spot just opened a few weeks ago and we tried it out for date night last week. We shared the fried pickles and a giant pot of gumbo and they were both amazing. We’ll definitely be going back soon.

4. Sandy’s. This is a pretty little restaurant right on the sand next to the pier. I always say that if you can see the ocean from your table, the fish is guaranteed to be good. And this is for sure the case here. But they also have a really creative menu of other delicious things. I’d definitely recommend the fig, pig, and blue cheese flatbread, and the pan seared salmon, and the mixed grill (Philip about died and went to heaven when he tried the scallops).

5. Wahoo’s. Although we don’t ever go here for date night, it’s a great spot for lunch. Their fish tacos are my favorite, but Philip always gets the kalua pig bowl and raves about it.

6. Zimzala. This is a pretty restaurant inside the Shorebreak hotel just a street over from Main and right across the street from the ocean. We haven’t tried their dinner, but we did a dessert date night with Leanne and her husband when they came to stay with us over Memorial Day last year. It’s on the second floor so it has a balcony full of big comfy couches that you can sit at and eat (and take in the amazing view) but there’s also indoor seating. We shared four of their desserts between the four of us — creme brûlée, breakfast cereal ice cream trio, virtual campfire s’mores, and chocolate ganache with crusty sourdough and olive oil. With choices like that, how can you even choose a favorite? 

7. Bruxie. It’s a fun little lunch spot just a block from the water, and everyones favorite spot to hit up after a morning at the beach. They specialize in waffles, so you can get a breakfast, lunch, or dinner waffle sandwich, and a waffle sandwich for dessert. They even have PB&J waffles for your kids. And don’t forget the waffle fries! Their menu is constantly changing, but everything I’ve tried there is delicious! 

And at the end of date night I can usually persuade Philip to buy me a giant chocolate cookie from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for something sweet to munch on as we walk home. All the more reason to wear that loose fitting dress! 
ray-ban sunglasses via sunglasses shop, c/o (find them here, also loving these)

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Compensation for this post was provided by Neiman Marcus via AOL Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Neiman Marcus or AOL.

  • Such a cute dress. I love it styled with the simple nude heels. So cute and date night appropriate!


  • If I wasn't flying home tomorrow, I'd be mad at you for making me home sick!! Haha

  • Anything leopard print is a win in my books so I love this dress!! Great look girl, XO, D

  • What a cute look!! I love the dress … now lets talk about this bag! Adorable!
    Casually Chic by Monique
    Find me at : bloglovin' | facebook

  • I love this look! You look so pretty!
    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

  • Ooh! You oughtta tutorial a dress inspired by this one! Looks so comfortable AND chic.

  • This dress is amazing! I am in love with the color and print. Great choice!

  • LOVE that pattern! So fun!

    Patterned Love

  • I absolutely love loose fitting dresses like this. They are my go to favorite, especially in the summer! The accessories you chose are perfect and minimalist but still dressy enough for date night. Basically, I am in love with this outfit. 🙂


  • I like a lot your dress, but also your pictures. The background place looks nice.
    Enjoy your day!