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Photograph: Courtesy Marché Moderne

The best Newport Beach restaurants right now

Oceanfront dining, fresh seafood, modern Italian and upscale Mexican all made our list of the best Newport Beach restaurants

Written by
Stephanie Breijo
&
Kai Oliver-Kurtin
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It's hard to resist the allure of Newport Beach, one of Orange County's most charming seaside cities. And while we love its sprawling coastline and harbor, range of local things to do, and not one but two stunning piers, a day in Newport Beach is all about the food —because, come on, what's a perfect day near the water without the right meal? Whether you're looking for the best lobster roll, modern Italian fare, upscale Mexican food, some of the world's finest sushi or a perfect pizza, the best Newport Beach restaurants are sure to deliver (and offer gorgeous scenery to boot). 

With temperatures typically in the 70s year-round, it's almost never a bad idea to dine al fresco while in Newport. You won't have any trouble finding spots to imbibe, and there's no shortage of fast carryout options if you choose to picnic on the beach or grab lunch for your hike. And don't let the locations of some of these restaurants fool you — great local restaurants can be found even within upscale shopping malls like Fashion Island. But no matter where you dine in Newport, just know the surrounding scenery will not dissapoint. 

Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList. You can find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews restaurants here.

Best Newport Beach restaurants

  • Restaurants
  • French

Amelia and Florent Marneau’s beloved French bistro is nestled right near the water. The throughtful dishes here are both classically French and modern. When the husband-and-wife team relaunched their celebrated white-tablecloth restaurant, they sought a mix of old and new: the classic Marché favorites—we’re looking at you, braised short ribs—as well as fresher dishes inspired by international travel. Now, it’s even harder to pick your plates, with brown butter roasted fish, steak au poivre, pork tenderloin, coq au vin at the ready. 

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • price 3 of 4

One of the world’s most famous sushi restaurants stands its ground in the O.C., with one of the city’s sleekest settings. Whether you’re seated in that gorgeous second-floor, wood-hewn dining room or on the patio—which hangs right over the marina—we all know you’re here for the food. Newport Beach’s Nobu location offers more or less the same award-winning classics as the others (don’t skip the miso black cod or the sashimi tacos), as well as a few killer deals you can’t find anywhere else: a bottomless sushi Sunday brunch, as well as a cocktail omakase experience on Thursdays through Saturdays. Beef and booze fan? Head to Nobu for Wagyu Whisky Wednesdays for a taste of the premium meaty cuts.

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A SoCal staple for contemporary Italian food, Cucina Enoteca serves up pizza, pasta and salads, plus must-try apps and hearty main dishes like a whole-roasted Branzino. You can't go wrong with the giant meatball, fried squash blossoms, bucatini amatriciana or any of the rotating pizzas. The cucina burger and burnt Brussels sprouts are also crowd favorites served at lunch and dinnertime. While their Newport location is situated within a shopping center, it still has a neighborhood restaurant vibe that's perfect for date night, happy hour or a buzzy business lunch. 

This upscale Mexican restaurant doesn't spare any expense when it comes to decor and creating the perfect romantic ambiance. With stunning ocean views from their outdoor patio, Javier's is a great place to sip on a margarita during sunset. While you can find your typical enchiladas, fajitas and quesdillas here, you're better off going with the seasonal fresh fish or seafood pasta. Just don't skip the pineapple margarita or flan dessert. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Gastropubs
  • price 2 of 4

In a city of seafood restaurants, the Royal Hen stands above the crowd with a refreshingly meat and vegetable-focused menu. The California gastropub may source much of its produce locally, but it draws flavor from around the globe: red coconut curry mussels, steak tacos on hand-pressed masa tortillas, and beer-battered fish and chips. It’s a cozy, comfy spot—and a welcome reprieve from the more tourist-oriented shops and restaurants on Balboa Island.

  • Restaurants
  • Californian

There’s no shortage of California-style seafood spots in Orange County, but one of the undeniable bests sits within the boutique-y Lido Marina Village. Part bottle shop, part restaurant, part tap room, this beer-focused hub on the water feels like a gastropub—and while the menu sports a burger and Jidori chicken sandwich, you’d be mistaken if that’s all you took it for. Go for the artful, colorful daily Lido Catch or the ceviche to get a taste of local and sustainable seafood and vegetables—and some of the prettiest plating in the marina. Like your eateries to be eco-conscious, too? Lido claims to use local and sustainable ingredients, so you can munch guilt-free.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • price 2 of 4

Nancy Silverton’s iconic L.A. pizza spot may have roots up north, but with nearly a decade under its belt in the O.C., it feels like home to anyone who loves Italian food. Expect perfect handmade pastas, a just-right amount of chew in that wood-fired pizza dough, and house-made cheeses and cured meats from the James Beard Award winner and her team. Can't decide? There's a load of appetizers that are totally worth nibbling on, too, including succulent baked meatballs, fried cauliflower and chicken wings. Keep your eyes on the restaurant’s calendar for upcoming beer dinners, winemaker talks and appearances by the celebrity chef herself.

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • price 1 of 4

Any town can have a deli, but a from-scratch deli with house-made sauces, humanely-raised meats, locally-grown produce, fresh bread, daily rotating soups and even their own bacon? Now that’s something special. A beach eats go-to, Sessions is the ideal California sandwich shop. Try the yogi sandwich, a stack of fresh-baked chicken, avocado, arugula, cucumber, marinated tomato and basil pesto, or the big tuna melt made with albacore, Swiss cheese, garlic pickles and Sriracha aioli. Of course if you’re looking for some calories to replenish a day in the waves, you can’t go wrong with their massive breakfast sandwiches and burritos.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • price 3 of 4

Housed in a historic canning warehouse, this spot has seafood in its bones. We're talking all of your foodie favorites like Chilean sea bass as well as fish and chips and cioppino. The wine list is also pretty impressive – spanning a vast 14 page menu. Of course this is also home to one of the best lobster rolls in town, not to mention sushi rolls, filet mignon, grilled octopus, and Peruvian scallops in uni butter, right on the marina. There’s even a Duffy boat rental experience, where you can dine as a captain while taking a private cruise—or you can take the wheel yourself.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American

The vibe feels a little Twin Peaks inside, where floor-to-ceiling curtains and red leather booths meet a wooden lodge-like ceiling at this 90-year-old restaurant. Executive Chef Robert Gomez’s New American menu is approachable, making it a place you can easily take your date, your parents or anyone you’d like to impress. The handful of house and specialty cuts dips into steakhouse territory, some arriving in massive, rustic skillets, while dishes like the artfully-plated chicken two ways feel much more nuanced and delicate.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • price 2 of 4

Sure, the staggering number of stores is worth a trip to Fashion Island alone, but an even better idea is a meal at Fig & Olive  a Mediterranean gem on the outskirts of the massive shopping center. Settle into the crisp white, French Riviera-inspired setting while snacking on pan-seared branzino, hanger steak or a refreshing crudo or tartare. Perhaps our favorite, the seafood risotto comes brimming with squid, scallops, octopus and shrimp. Brunch here is no joke, and on Sundays, you can catch a live jazz band while you enjoy your Mediterranean baked eggs or lemon and ricotta pancakes.

Ready to plan your trip?

The 10 best things to do in Newport Beach
  • Things to do

Sure, yachts, canals and luxury cars are common sightings in Newport Beach, but so too are whales, waves and pristine patches of sand. The beach town and its pathwork of man-made islands offer a mix of luxury living with some of best beaches in SoCal. Experience a mix of it all with these things to do in Newport Beach.

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