Acclaimed Dallas Chef John Tesar Imports His Meaty Steakhouse Knife to Dana Point

After a heralded opening in Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Dallas chef John Tesar has decided to flip the seafood-focused Outer Reef into a West Coast branch of his beloved steakhouse Knife. Called Knife Modern Steak, the menu here in California should differ from Tesar’s Texan steakhouses, weaving in some seafood dishes that may have been more apt for Outer Reef once it opens on June 22. Tesar originally opened Outer Reef as a coastal version of his eleven-year-old restaurant Spoon Bar & Kitchen.

Tesar made his reputation serving a variety of dry-aged and exotically-sourced steaks at Knife, and given its popularity, Tesar decided to go with a more familiar brand name for Orange County diners. A rep tells Eater that compared to the rougher cuts typical of a Texas steakhouse, Knife in Dana Point hopes to be more refined and upscale in presentation. Expect dry-aged steaks — some as long as hundreds of days, burgers, fresh seafood, and salads — dishes meant to satisfy instead of challenge the typically conservative south Orange County dining crowd.

Outer Reef opened in April 2022 but closed in May for a quick interior refresh that should include ample blue agave plants. Otherwise, the relatively straightforward hotel restaurant interior should give way to an expansive outdoor patio looking out toward the coast. As for the restaurant team, most of the staff has been retained, including chef Jayro Martinez and sommelier Georgi Stoianov.

Tesar’s Orlando restaurant Knife & Spoon was recently awarded a Michelin star for serving polished steak and seafood with Creole and Gullah influences at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes. Given his success with surf and turf, and the Michelin guide’s coverage in California, maybe it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Knife Modern Steak bring Tesar another coveted star.