10 Welcoming Spots to Enjoy Communal Dining in NB
It’s no secret that communal dining has made its enduring mark on contemporary eating out. The trend even has hit the shores of Newport Beach with such fervor that we’ve gathered 10 choices for your next social excursion. From elbow-rubbing community tables to the growing craze for crowd-wrangling games like trivia, local restaurants are embracing this wave of uniting the masses as modern eating continues its shift from solitary dining to dining in solidarity.
A&O Kitchen is one of the newest additions to Newport Beach’s dining scene, nestled inside the Balboa Bay Resort. This waterfront eatery redefines the gastropub concept with a rustic chic interior, not to mention an awesome view overlooking the harbor for your gazing pleasure as you sip on a cocktail from the full bar. Live edgewood communal tables, a fully loaded outdoor patio, and a share plate menu (equipped with a happy hour selection) up the social ante for this locale.
One of Newport’s most charming fine-dining establishments offers Corona del Mar locals and visitors alike a truly cozy and unique dining experience. Designed after one of England’s oldest country inns, this landmark features a colorful garden, a sunlit greenhouse, and warm hospitality service along with its award-winning menu. Partake in a romantic evening, or even celebrate a joyous wedding – Five Crowns is there for you and your entire group aiming to indulge for a special occasion.
CUCINA enoteca’s menu merges the familiarity of classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist that features sustainable, farm-to-table ingredients, all locally sourced for Californian flair. The Italian kitchen and wine shop embraces a community-centric approach to dining, offering a wide variety of seating including banquet-style community tables and a rustic, sun-soaked patio for a change of scenery, and family-style dishes for when you’re feeling a little generous and looking to share the pasta glory. Disclaimer: Each day of the week features its own special. We’re talking half off pizzas on Thursdays and no wine corkage on Sunday nights. Winos and carb lovers unite.
The Dock offers an exclusive dock-and-dine experience one can only expect from such a place with a $$$ Yelp ticket. Crisp white linens flock an intimately small indoor dining room that extends to the outdoor patio, set on the water for fabulous ocean views. Boaters are welcome to park their water-vehicles front and center for a Continental menu with exceptional crowd favorites like foie gras mousse, daintily piled on toasted crostini and dressed with microgreens, or their popular Sunday Brunch menu, prix-fixe with staples like sweet french toast and not-so-staples like a refreshing albacore tartare. Just be ready for a wine pairing picked accordingly from their extensive selection of domestic and European bottles.
Modern sushi can now be enjoyed with distinctly different seating arrangements at Kitayama to shake up your experience with each visit. Just choose from the bar for front row action, the dining room with private areas equipped with traditional floor pillows to sit atop (and a no-shoe policy,) or an open-air patio with zen garden views to throw you straight into Japanese outdoor aesthetic. A wildly popular Happy Hour menu keeps the crowds coming back for items like tuna tartare and smoked salmon for $6 a piece, all prepared with the freshest fish delivered daily for superior quality.
“When was the last time you truly shared a meal?” Le Pain Quotidien, translated literally into “the daily bread,” has one simple mission: to bring freshly baked breads and farm-to-table offerings to its community tables across the world. Their Fashion Island location flaunts outdoor patio seating perfect for a Sunday brunch, but step inside if you wish to see their organic breads handmade by artisan bakers daily. Baked goods are to be enjoyed around community tables of reclaimed wood, adding to the rustic charm and warm ambiance. Looking to get a little baking cred? Weekly group baking classes are offered to the masses.
When it comes to family-friendly, nothing quite beats a restaurant named after the matriarch of an Italian family with a passion for classic Tuscan fare. Mama D’s primary focus is to make you feel one with the family, and boy do they jump through hoops, whether it’s serving complimentary bread to patrons waiting in line or making sure each team member who touches your table brings their renowned customer service without missing a beat. As far as food goes, whatever you may choose will have been built on Grandma’s timeless recipes, but we’re biased towards anything that comes with their out-of-this-world pink sauce.
Step into this casual, counter service pizza joint for a guaranteed good time for everyone. Freshly baked pies are stacked on long share tables, so be ready to cheers a tall pint of one of their eight local draft beers with someone new. Weekly trivia nights are hosted to bring the whole restaurant together into raucous evenings of delicious pizza, cold brews, and hilarious team names as friends and strangers alike prevail together and fight to claim status as the next winning group. Editor’s pizza pick: the buffalo chicken pizza, a cheesy beast with chunks of chicken, creamy ranch and kickin’ buffalo drizzles.
With a boat-to-table menu offering geared to please the masses, Tackle Box’s approach to seafood shack grubbing is all about bringing people together to enjoy the ocean’s bounty. This beachside brick and mortar’s seating includes four outdoor picnic tables to unite the local diners and beachcombers over unique food offerings like fresh and flavorful salmon poke salad or the pork belly bahn mi, served up with a side of crispy house chips.
Zinc Cafe & Market
Zinc brings a collaboration of “sophisticated eatery” and “retail environment” to Corona del Mar for a unique dining and shopping experience under one roof. Opt for some fresh air on their outdoor patio as you enjoy healthy cafe selections under a billowy tree, like avocado toast with avo mash, heirloom tomato, and a sprig of fresh dill loaded onto toast points. Once you’ve had your fill, step indoors to their neighborhood-feel Market for a selection of curated cheese, wine, condiments, and even take home foods!