10 Best Restaurants in Newport Beach, California in 2016
Newport Beach is a picturesque seaside city located in the western part of Orange County in California. Bordered by Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine, the city is known for Newport Harbor and Newport Bay, a historic harbor and bay dotted with artificial islands, which are now home to some of the most exclusive communities in the United States.
Because of the concentration of wealth and style and the area’s popularity as a watersport destination, the city has attracted chefs and restaurant owners from the around the world with its California coolness and the prime access to some of the freshest seafood in the country. Today, the city is home to hundreds of restaurants serving a wide variety of global cuisines and local cuisines and food hubs are located in Cannery Village, Fashion Island and Balboa Village.
Known for line-caught seafood and sea-view dining, the 400+ restaurant dining scene presents a culinary experience for every taste.
Here are the top 10 best restaurants in Newport Beach, California:
CUCINA enoteca is an Italian restaurant located at Fashion Island in Newport Beach and is the fourth installment in a collection of CUCINA restaurants.
The restaurant opened in the summer of 2014 and offered the local area a new restaurant available for all kinds of dining experiences including large group and communal dining as well as intimate small party experiences. The venue itself is 8,000 square feet and features a dedicated communal seating area, a bar area and a large patio for dining in the fresh California air.
The man behind the stove is Chef Cesar Sarmiento. Chef Sarmiento has carefully curated a brunch, lunch and dinner menu for the restaurant based on fresh local ingredients. The inspiration for the menu can be traced back to Italian cuisine; however, the menu itself offers a Californian twist on many classic dishes. The menu includes antipasti, pizza, pasta, piatti, vasi, giardino and dolce.
CUCINA are best known for their extensive wine list, which includes 250 varieties from both America and Europe. The emphasis on Italy is present here; however, the restaurant also prefers small-batch bottles. Customers report that they love the wine selection at the restaurant because the establishment sells wine at retail price with an $8 corkage free, which many customers consider to be a steal, particularly on rarer bottles.
The Cannery is a seafood restaurant located in a beautiful and historic building in Newport Beach. The history of the restaurant began in 1921 when the first fish cannery was built in the modern restaurant’s current location. In 1966, the cannery closed its doors as an industrial building but its prime location and charm made it the perfect place for retailers and restaurants to gather by the sea. The Cannery, the restaurant, was opened in 2000, by Jack Croul, a local resident hoping to preserve the history of the area for future generations.
The menu at The Cannery focuses primarily on fresh seafood. The kitchen also offers up steak, chicken and vegetarian meals. Regardless of whether it swam or walked, the chefs are careful to only use premium meats, including line-caught, wild fish.
Popular dishes curated by executive chef Nicolas Weber include raw oysters, scallops, fried calamari, lobster rolls and a sushi burrito. Entrees include a variety of fish including salmon, halibut, sea bass and a cod served up as a classic fish and chips. A full sushi menu is also available as a part of the lounge menu.
Customers love the view that the restaurant has preserved and enjoy the eccentric building and looking out over the harbor as they dine. They also enjoy indulging in the lunch menu while seated on the patio.
Oak Grill is a contemporary restaurant with an emphasis on Californian cuisine. The restaurant aims to provide both exciting menu and elegant atmosphere. The venue offers a large dining room, two private dining rooms, a deck and fire pit for guests to enjoy.
The restaurant offers menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as two special menus for Sundays, including a brunch and dinner menu. The breakfast menu boasts healthy favorites like quinoa granola, oats and a fruit plate as well as more indulgent dishes like a pancake soufflé, cinnamon roll French toast and eggs benedict.
The lunch menu is full of fresh and light dishes including contemporary takes on classic foods like pizza, salads and sandwiches. The dinner menu offers hearty meat options served with light sides and specials like the Maine lobster chopped salad, roasted Chilean sea bass and bucatini Bolognese.
On Sunday’s from 5 PM to 9 PM, the restaurant offers Slow Smoked Sundaze and a menu filled with classic back patio barbecue foods from deviled eggs to ribs and brisket. It also includes a choice of classic American sides and a dessert.
The menu also includes an emphasis on craft beer and Californian wine and provides a wine pairing for every dish available.
Guests recommend Oak Grill’s patio for dining and locals make it a favorite because of discounts available for area residents.
SOL Cucina is a Mexican kitchen with an emphasis on Baja Californian cuisine. The restaurant offers a casual dining experience with an upscale Mexican menu that is full of authentic Mexican flavors and fresh ingredients.
The lunch menu at SOL consists of typical south-of-the-border tortas including the Carne Asada Torta, Grilled Fish Torta for meat lovers and the El Veg and Grilled Garlic Eggplant Torta for vegetarians. The restaurant uses a variety of fresh ingredients and homemade sauces with unique flavorings including tequila and mescal.
Dinner at SOL offers far more choice with appetizers, classic lunchtime sandwiches and a soup and salad menu. The restaurant also offers classic Mexican cuisine in the form of platillos and specialty tacos that include a classic Californian flair. Taco plates, burritos and quesadillas are also available for more casual experience.
Patrons staying for dessert can indulge in the restaurant’s dulce menu which includes American favorites like nachos dulces with uniquely Mexican touches, like the cajeta envinada (a caramel sauce flavored with resposado tequila). Guests can also taste a variety of specialty tequilas and mezcals.
SOL’s drinks menu is full of classic margaritas as well as some more Americanized versions like the Pumpkin Spice Margarita and the Organic Slim Margarita. The menu includes a full list of tequilas in blanco, resposado and anejo styles.
Families love SOL Cocina’s casual atmosphere and the waters views. They find the Mexican flavors refreshing and appreciate the Baja twist on classic dishes. They also enjoy the variety of food and drink specials offered all week.
Wildfish is a relaxed, contemporary restaurant with a location in Newport Beach as well as sister restaurants in Scottsdale, AZ and San Antonio, TX. The restaurant is home to a large bar, prominently placed in the center of the restaurant, and an outdoor patio for guests to enjoy. Both the bar and the patio are home to the restaurant’s happy hour between four o’clock and seven o’clock every evening. The happy hour features appetizers as well as drink specials on cocktails and wine.
Wildfish is open for dinner every night of the week and offers an expansive menu focused on seafood as well as steak. The restaurant features an oyster bar with market oysters, sashimi, crab, shrimp, ahi tuna and a shellfish tower priced at market rates.
Main courses include halibut, sea bass, ahi tuna, swordfish steak, scallops, Icelandic cod and South African lobster tails. Guests can also indulge in three different cuts of beef and those who cannot choose between the two can order a filet mignon and a lobster tail.
Homemade desserts are created daily by the pastry chef. They include classic American favorites like Wildfish’s personal take on s’mores, which is a dish served with dark chocolate, crushed toffee and toasted vanilla bean marshmallows. Other popular deserts include a bananas foster butter cake, a butterscotch panna cotta and a crème brulee.
Wildfish also offers an extensive wine list including wines from all over the globe by the glass and by the bottle.
Guests love the patio and locals make Wildfish a regular spot for happy hour. It is also a popular spot for celebrating.
Gulfstream is a classic American seafood restaurant located directly off the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. The restaurant features a large dining room with plenty of space for guests as well as two outdoor patios. One patio is an intimate space for romantic dining and the other is casually decorated with lounge chairs for gatherings of friends.
Gulfstream is open for both lunch and dinner every day of the week. The lunch menu includes light appetizers and features oysters by the half or full dozen. It also features classic sandwiches and salads like the ahi tuna burger and the crab cake, grapefruit & avocado salad. The dinner menu features classic lunch favorites and an expanded list of entrees like barbeque shrimp, fried shrimp, crab cakes, ribs and a rotisserie chicken.
Gulfstream offers three deserts: a hot fudge sundae, tres leches and lemon meringue pie.
The restaurant also features a curated wine list with California wines.
Visitors love the classic food and the cool atmosphere, which includes a ban on cell phones in the dining room. The location is in a popular shopping area, which makes it a convenient lunch and dinner stop for business meetings and dates.
Just off East Coast Highway in Corona Del Mar is Sidedoor, an English gastropub located in a historic building influenced by Tudor style. The historic building housing the restaurants, Five Crowns, was built as a replica of the oldest inn in England, Ye Olde Bell.
The building’s history dates back to 1935, which was a period where the city was virtually empty. In 1935, Matilda MacCulloch, whose husband was a Scottish nobleman, bought the land for pennies on the dollar and recreated a part of the scenic countryside of her husband’s homeland right in Orange County.
The restaurant began as the Hurley Bell and operated as a bed and breakfast right on the beach. It quickly became the perfect hideaway for the film stars working and playing in Hollywood. Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were all frequent patrons of the Hurley Bell. Unfortunately, the glitz and glamor of the time faded and by the 1960s, the building was under new ownership and the Five Crowns was born.
Today, Sidedoor plays on traditional English pub food while indulging in the recent trend towards changing the shift in pubs away from drinks and towards hearty but interesting food that is filling but still full of flavor. Chef Ryan O’Melveny and the rest of the kitchen staff cook up light bites, soups, salads, sandwiches and hearty mains. Some of the refreshed pub favorites include fish’n chips, jidori chicken pot pie and steak frites with truffle fries.
Sidedoor is open for dinner every day from 4:30 PM to 11 PM and offers a Sunday brunch menu every Sunday afternoon. The restaurant does not take reservations and offers an open seating plan, which follows traditional British pub style.
Javier’s has become almost as infamous for its unique aesthetic as for its traditional Mexican food. Locals and celebrities alike visit this unique venue for lunch, dinner drinks and special events. The restaurant features a spacious main dining room, several patios and several private dining rooms.
The restaurant aims to recreate Mexican family favorites in the hearth of Southern California using high quality and sustainable seafood. The restaurant serves Dungeness Crab, Maine Lobster, White Mexican Prawns and U-10 Scallops as a sign of their commitment to the freshest and healthiest products available.
The lunch and dinner menu includes Latin American favorites like ceviche and empanadas, taquitos and nachos. The menu also includes a selection of salads and seafood specials like the enchiladas filled with shrimp, crab or lobster. The menu also includes Angus beef steaks and lighter lunch portions featuring a combination of Mexican favorites like tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas.
The drinks menu at Javier’s includes an impressive array of tequilas available for customers to try. The list contains silver tequilas (unaged tequila) special silver, tequila resposado (aged in oak for a few months), resposados especiales and both aged and specially aged tequilas. Those who are not interested in drinking their tequila straight or on the rocks can indulge in one of the restaurants hand crafted margaritas created with top shelf tequila.
Diners love the ambience of the restaurant and enjoy the view of the ocean. The restaurant is recommended for first dates and adult groups and more than one past guest vows to return if only for the people watching opportunities. The restaurant is often crowded and it can be difficult to get in without a reservation but once inside, the crowd and the atmosphere make it a fun dining experience.
Javier’s has locations in Newport Beach, Irvine, Las Vegas and Los Cabos, Mexico. The Newport Beach location is open every day of the week for both lunch and dinner.
Bandera is another Pacific Coast Highway eatery that is popular with locals and road-trippers alike. Unlike other area restaurants, Bandera has left the wealth and glamor of SoCal behind for the atmosphere of a laidback neighborhood bar that can be found on any street corner in America.
The restaurant is open plan and the kitchens are located next to the main bar so that diners can watch and learn from Bandera’s team of culinary experts as they whip of classic American favorites with their own southwestern style. Bandera is famous for its jalapeno iron skillet cornbread, which plays on the classic southern dish and adds in a southwestern kick.
Bandera’s food is centered around a classic and simple dish: rotisserie chicken. However, like all classic dishes, the rotisserie chicken done right is a transformative yet comforting experience. Bandera takes so much pride in its recipe and cooking style that it puts its rotisserie chickens on display as they roast over the open fire in the restaurant.
The menu is small and simple and includes typical American starters like cornbread, grilled artichokes and tortilla chips and dips. The rotisserie chicken is served up in several forms including in a salad or on its own with several sides.
The restaurant also offers classic sandwiches including a simple cheeseburger, prime rib French dip and crispy chicken sandwich made with buttermilk fried chicken. Entrees include enchiladas, barbecue salmon, ribs and several cuts of steak including the famous Kobe-style Tri-Tip, which comes with an enchilada platter.
Those hungry for dessert at Bandera can choose from a banana cream pie, brown or a house-made Oreo ice cream sandwich.
For guests that want to dive into classic American grub but have to hit the road, Bandera offers a food to go option and a deal on what it calls the Flying Chicken. Guests can walk out with a whole rotisserie chicken for only $18.
The venue also has sister branches in Brentwood, Chicago, Sacramento and Scottsdale.
Bandera is open every day of the week for dinner and drinks. Guests love Bandera’s relaxed atmosphere for dates and family dinners and the place is popular with local diners and those just passing through.
1Mastro’s Ocean Club
Mastro’s Ocean Club is an infamously glitzy and glamorous place to have dinner any night of the week. Located in a prime space with a direct view of the ocean, the only thing guests love more than the view is the food.
The extensive list of appetizers includes classics like shrimp or lobster cocktails as well as crab legs and crab claws. The restaurant also serves lavish first courses like caviar and beef carpaccio. House specialties include the Ocean Club Crab Cakes and Mastro’s Signature Seafood Tower, which allows guests to create their own selection of favorite seafood dishes served on an iced seafood tower.
The restaurant also includes an extensive sushi collection which was developed especially for the restaurant by the executive chef of Nick-San in Cabo San Lucas, Angel Carbajal. The menu includes Ahi Tuna Tostada, Seared Albacore with Black Truffles, Clear Lobster Roll and Jalapeno Tuna Sashimi.
Soups and salads on offer are seafood themed and Mastro’s offers a Boston clam chowder and a lobster bisque alongside classic salad options like the Caesar salad, chopped salad and wedge salad.
Mastro’s also offers a steak menu that is difficult to beat with several cuts of high quality steak for beef lovers and a roasted chicken and rack of lamb for those looking for something different. The seafood menu is extensive and includes anything a guest could dream of include lemon sole, Scottish salmon, Pacific swordfish, scallops, tuna, king crab legs, mahi mahi, lobster tails and a broiled live Maine lobster.
Drinks at Mastro’s is a classic affair as the bartenders use premium liquor to craft up classic cocktails for guests. The drinks list also includes craft beers and a wide variety of California wines.
Mastro’s Ocean Club is a part of a chain of restaurants called Mastro’s Restaurants with locations in Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New York and Washington D.C. The Newport Beach location is open for dinner only and the lounge is open from 4 PM until 1 AM every day.
Mastro’s is a high-end restaurant with a classy atmosphere and guests arrive with credit cards in hand. However, most people in Newport Beach agree that it is the place to see and be seen and rate its food, service and ambience as the best in the area.
Newport Beach is home to hundreds of restaurants and in most cases it is difficult to narrow the list down to only a handful of the best. However, some of the area restaurants are so outstanding that naming them on a top 10 list is simple. The restaurants on this list are loved by locals and visitors and those with big bank accounts and small budgets. Regardless of who you are and what you are hungry for, Newport Beach offers something for everyone.