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Creative Cuisine in Corona del Mar

March 14, 2014

One of Newport Beach’s most charming enclaves, Corona del Mar boasts trendy and quaint boutiques, upscale salons, a variety of unique shops.

There are also more than four dozen restaurants of every size and style located along the one-mile stretch of Coast Highway bordered by MacArthur Blvd. to the north and Poppy Ave. to the south.

Corona del Mar Plaza is home to several popular restaurants, including Gulfstream and Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille.

Gulfstream is a popular dining spot for lunch and dinner featuring fresh seafood and shucked oysters, and it turns even more popular on weekend evenings when a lively late-night crowd enjoys libations on the patio.

Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille (which also has a retail store adjacent to the restaurant) also features fresh seafood along with steaks and creative cocktails, and it’s the location where new dishes are developed to bring to the other 14 Tommy Bahama restaurant locations. They’re also renowned for their desserts, especially the Piña Colada cake: a vanilla cake with Myers dark rum, diced pineapple, white chocolate mousse, and toasted coconut.

Speaking of desserts, there’s also a Sprinkles Cupcakes in the plaza. Don’t be surprised if there’s a line out the door no matter when you go—it’s that popular, and the cupcakes are that good!

Across the street from CdM Plaza is Ruby’s, a Newport Beach icon. The first Ruby’s location opened in 1982 at the end of the Balboa Pier, and soon more locations popped up throughout OC, including the CdM spot, which features burgers, fries and shakes, served up in an old-fashioned 50’s diner setting.

A few doors down from Ruby’s is Rothschild’s, a longtime fixture in Newport’s dining scene featuring superb Italian and seafood dishes in a classy setting.

Nearby is The Crow Bar & Kitchen Gastropub, which offers lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and has become a popular late-night destination known for a selection of two dozen draft beers plus another two dozen bottled brews, all hand crafted.

A few steps away is another CdM culinary institution, The Bungalow. Known for its prime steaks and seafood dishes, The Bungalow recently added patio dining, and continuously updates its cocktail menu.

Down the street is one of CdM’s hidden dining gems: Café Jardin at Sherman Library & Gardens. Owned and operated by noted chef Pascal Olhats, Café Jardin serves lunch Monday through Friday in a beautiful garden setting. Chef Pascal has blended French and American favorites on his menu, which offers a la carte dining or a three-course, $25 prix fixe menu. The restaurant also serves Sunday brunch, and Pascal’s Tea Garden Creperie is also open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Nearby is Port Restaurant, which serves global cuisine in a modern setting with live music nightly, and offers indoor, patio and atrium dining.

Across the street are several more small restaurants that boast big flavors, including Johnny’s Real New York Pizza (made by a real New Yorker who moved to Newport and brought authentic pizza recipes with him), and Thai Corona del Mar, which packs a lot of flavors into a tiny restaurant.

If you’re craving healthy food options, you can’t do better than Zinc Café. Open for breakfast and lunch, Zinc offers a plethora of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Down the street is The Quiet Woman, which is anything but quiet on the weekends, when locals pack the place for dinner and late night libations. Live music and an excellent wines-by-the-glass list add to the fun. Founded in 1965, The Quiet Woman is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, and dinner nightly.

Across the street is Bandera, another local favorite featuring a popular bar scene and superb cuisine (the tri-tip is a local favorite). The same can be said for Landmark, which recently introduced a new chef and new menu, and is a popular place for late night revelers. Like The Quiet Woman, Landmark often has a line out the door on weekends, but go early and enjoy the prime steaks and creative seafood dishes.

At the end of Corona del Mar is one of Orange County’s oldest and most famous culinary icons: Five Crowns. Built in 1965 as a replica of an English country inn, Five Crowns is renowned for its warm and charming décor and excellent cuisine, including its famous prime rib dishes.

Adjacent to Five Crowns is Side Door, a gastropub boasting a selection of draft beers and creative takes on English cuisine.

Other noteworthy restaurants in Corona del Mar: Gina’s Pizza, Mayur Cuisine of India, Nagisa Sushi, Pain Du Monde, Panini Café, Rendez Vous, Rose Bakery Café (very popular for its baked goods), Summer House, and Vin Goat, one of OC’s top cheese shops.

*Photo Credit SideDoor

Written by Christopher Trela

For more articles on dining out in Newport Beach, see the Off the Menu column in the Newport Beach Independent at NewportBeachIndy.com

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