Feed Your Inner Circle During Restaurant Week
In every gathering of close friends, eventually someone will say, “I’m hungry, let’s go out to eat.” It can be a post-surf lunch, a girls’ night out, or discussions on a group text. Newport Beach residents and visitors use restaurants as extensions of our own homes, but with better food and an elevated dining experience. This year, take charge, expand your horizons, and take your inner circle to these nine restaurants for Newport Beach Restaurant Week.
After a day on the Balboa Peninsula, stop in at Fly ‘n Fish on the boardwalk for drinks and appetizers, and stay for dinner: chowder or salad, followed by Cioppino, macadamia- and lemon-crusted halibut, or Dover sole. While oysters aren’t on the Restaurant Week menu, it’d be a crime to go to an oyster bar and not add a few. Finish with a portion of bread pudding.
Deborah Schneider’s Mexican standout is the ideal place for your crew to chow down while chatting: tacos are the ultimate inner-circle food. These are no little appetizer tacos. Carne asada means you get pieces of good steak on your tortilla, and carnitas means rich pork cooked in its own juices. Don’t miss the Mexican chopped salad, though, with dressed up nopales (cactus paddles).
Sipping wine and eating the freshest ingredients al fresco in January is what makes the rest of the country envy Newport Beach, and there’s no better or more Californian setting than in the garden at Provenance. This year, Chef Cathy Pavlos has included a smoked trout salad with horseradish crème fraîche, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with fry bread, and pastry chef Olivia Carbajal’s lemon-tinged carrot cake on her Restaurant Week menu.
PizzaBar, which is famous in Deaf circles for being the first restaurant in California to provide video ASL interpretation at its order counter, has one of the largest Restaurant Week menus available. Choose from any salad and individual pizza on the regular menu, lobster mac ‘n cheese, or a burger, or any of half a dozen other options, thus avoiding the time-consuming negotiations about what toppings to order.
What’s the point of living near the beach without eating seafood? The Rusty Pelican’s waterfront view of the boats at Lido Isle are a reminder of the bounty of the sea, and their Restaurant Week menu offerings are a festival of seafood, from shrimp and calamari to mahi-mahi, lobster, and Sicilian-style barramundi. Maybe just simple grilled fish and let the ocean shine through. Finish with a hot apple cobbler and watch the sun set over the bay.
Corona del Mar’s Summer House, located across the street from the Sherman Library and Gardens, is an easy stop for a group meal. This casual place is modeled after a beach vacation house. Newport Beach Restaurant Week diners can choose from fish, burgers, tacos, or sandwiches, with soup or salad to start and a delectable lemon shortcake, with lemon marmalade and freshly whipped cream, for dessert. Order a beer or a martini with your meal, kick back, and relax.
Were it not for the fact that the rest of Crystal Cove Promenade is visible from the front door of Modo Mio, you could easily think you had been transported to the hills of Tuscany. Modo Mio’s Restaurant Week dinner menu includes tender calamari simmered in tomato sauce, handmade pasta with ragù, and salmon set atop lemony risotto. The affogato, a caffè corretto (espresso and liqueur) poured over gelato, is worth the small upcharge.
Orange County’s favorite Mexican chain has two Newport Beach locations: on the Balboa Peninsula and in Corona del Mar. Both are sponsoring the same Restaurant Week menu: soup or salad, followed by chicken or fajita salad, and then nostalgic fried ice cream or a filled churro for dessert. Don’t forget to order your margaritas or palomas from their full bar.
You have to love a place that allows you to drink your dessert during Restaurant Week. At Cruisers, you can choose a strawberry-and-vodka cocktail instead of the daily dessert. If there are two of you, opt for the Chicago pizza dinner: start with sliders, soup or salad, then choose thin-crust or stuffed pizza, and finish with a cookie dough-stuffed brownie that’s been battered, deep-fried, and served à la mode. (We won’t tell your cardiologist if you don’t tell ours.)