It's hard to resist the allure of Newport Beach, one of Orange County's most charming seaside cities. And while we're partial to its sprawling coastline, range of local things to do, its harbor and its not one but two piers, we're all about the dining—because come on, what's a perfect day at the beach without the right picnic fare? Whether you're looking for the best lobster roll, waterside dining, some of the finest sushi in the world or a perfect pizza, the best restaurants in Newport Beach are sure to deliver.
Best restaurants in Newport Beach
Amelia and Florent Marneau’s beloved French bistro is back, and in its second home, it’s right by the water. The food’s also gotten an upgrade, which somehow feels more modern and more classically French all at once. 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 scallops, foie gras ravioli, prawns, coq au vin and lamb couscous at the ready.
One of the world’s most famous sushi restaurants finally slid into the O.C., with one of the city’s sleekest settings. But 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 offers more or less the same award-winning classics as its other locations (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. Beef and booze fan? Head to Nobu for Wagyu Whisky Wednesdays for a taste of the premium meaty cuts.
There’s no shortage of California-style seafood spots in Orange County, but one of the best undeniably 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 small plates like Jidori chicken wings, you’d be mistaken if that’s all you took it for. Go for the artful, colorful daily Dory Catch, or the ceviche or the tuna 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 claim to use local and sustainable ingredients, so you can munch guilt-free.
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 squash blossoms with ricotta and octopus with cucumber, avocado and fennel. Keep your eyes on the restaurant’s calendar for upcoming beer dinners, winemaker talks and appearances by the celebrity chef herself.
Housed in a nearly century-old canning warehouse, this spot has seafood in its bones. We're talking all of your foodie favourites, like wild, line-caught fish as well as chicken and salads. 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 shrimp pot pie, steaks, lamb, and Peruvian scallops in uni butter, right on the marina. There’s even a boat rental experience, where you can dine as a captain takes you on a private cruise—or you can take the wheel yourself.
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: citrus and spiced Jidori chicken swims in red mole, Pekin hen rests atop dashi risotto, seared lamb rump lightens up with charred plums and fennel. It’s a cozy, comfy spot—and a welcome reprieve from the more tourist-oriented shops and restaurants on Balboa Island.
Brian Huskey’s beach go-to humbly bills itself as “a local grub shack,” but Tackle Box is so much more: The Corona del Mar mainstay serves a diverse breakfast menu—perfect for a pre- or post-surf fuel-up—with items like chilaquiles, avocado tartines and almond butter-smeared French toast. But what you’re really here for are the spill-out-of-the-bun gourmet rolls, stuffed with Maine lobster, grilled shrimp, fried catfish, pork belly, falafel and more. Closer to Costa Mesa? No worries - there's an outpost there too, so you'll be feeling full in no time.
The vibe feels a little Twin Peaks inside, where floor-to-ceiling curtains and red leather boots meet a wooden lodge-like ceiling, but the food is anything but strange: Executive chef Jonathan Blackford’s New American menu is limited, approachable and comfortable, and a place you can easily take your a 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 sous vide duck feel much more nuanced and delicate.
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: You’ve got unique flavor combinations with a healthy dose, of, well, health. Try the Yogi, a stack of fresh baked chicken, avocado, arugula, cucumber, marinated tomato and basil pesto, or the Pirate Coast, made with jalapeño-dill albacore tuna, cucumber, sprouts and sweet peppers. Of course if you’re looking for some calories to replenish a day in the waves, you can’t go wrong with their massive burgers or breakfast sandwiches.
Sure, the startling number of stores is worth a trip to Fashion Island alone, but an even better idea is a meal at Fig & Olive, the Mediterranean gem on the outskirts of the massive shopping center. Settle into the crisp white, French Riviera-inspired setting while snacking on roasted vegetables, grilled steaks, refreshing crudos and, perhaps our favorite, the seafood paella, which comes brimming with squid, scallops, mussels and shrimp. Brunch here is no joke, and on Sundays, you can catch a live jazz band while you enjoy your truffled mushroom scramble and avocado toast.
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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.