Where Fireside Dining & the Seaside Meet
The warmth that comes from a fire doesn’t exclusively derive from scientific properties. A flickering flame dancing in a pit, hearth, or other pyro-containing vessel produces internal comfort, happiness, and contentment. These emotions help sustain us through the holidays and the messy aftermath that is January, when shiny baubles and good tidings are once again shelved in favor of the normal daily grind’s harsh realities.
Newport Beach is stocked full of restaurants that use fire to evoke contentment. Some of the flames are strategically deployed – it does get chilly by the ocean – while others use the element to enhance the overall ambience. Perhaps more importantly, the places mentioned here feature bites or sips that pair perfectly with a fiery presence, thus making the concept of warming up by the fire even more appealing.
A&O Kitchen + Bar – Few dishes are more soul-soothing than a loaded pot pie. One bite is all it takes to produce a keen sense of downhome goodness regardless of where the bite takes place. So when you gather around the rectangular outdoor fire tables at Balboa Bay’s Resort’s gastropub and dig into their Chicken Pot Pie, expect to experience a touch of country comfort as you gaze out at the yachts cutting through the adjacent Newport Harbor. You can also expect to enjoy a bounty of mushrooms, peas, and carrots along with the star protein, all contained underneath a Parmesan crust.
Bandera – The comfort of fire at this Corona del Mar mainstay doesn’t start at the sight of the fireplace. All you have to do is drive by the place and take a whiff of the flame-induced wood smoke resonating from its kitchen to feel all warm and fuzzy. Once inside, the venue’s roaring fireplace provides the perfect backdrop as you indulge in their Iron Skillet Cornbread. While the dish doesn’t originate from the venue’s famous rotisserie, its slightly sweet flavor and subtly crispy texture makes this a moot point. The fact that it practically overflows from the pan also adds a smidge of warmth.
The Cannery Seafood of the Pacific – No Newport Beach restaurant walks the fine line that separates the refined and the eccentric better than this Balboa Peninsula eatery. Case in point: they rock a lovely indoor table that just so happens to have a fire pit in its center. It’s a little kitschy, a little elegant in a slightly old-school way, and it’s the perfect table to enjoy their loaded Fisherman’s Stew. This bowl of goodness is jam-packed with an All-Star lineup of swordfish, Hawaiian prawns, and Ipswich clams, ensconced in a sinful smoked paprika broth. If you’re looking for the perfect dine-and-dock culinary scenario after a frigid day on Newport Harbor, look no further.
The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – The call of the Pacific Ocean doesn’t stop ringing when the temperature drops. When you have to accept the charges, it’s highly recommended that you stop by this Crystal Cove venue, rent a portable fire pit, and use it to roast s’mores or simply chill out along the shoreline within Crystal Cove State Park’s undulating confines. Afterward, retire to the restaurant’s bar and indulge in their classically burly Mad Men Manhattan cocktail to keep the fire’s warmth going.
Gulfstream – Once the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, it’s important that you take the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy life in a manner that doesn’t involve hanging out at a relative’s house after a three-hour slog in traffic. The exquisite outdoor fire pit and cigar bar at this iconic PCH spot is the perfect antidote to family-induced chaos. When the madness ends, we recommend descending upon the patio with three of your friends and pairing cigars with a Bottle of Caymus 2014, the exquisitely bold Cabernet Sauvignon made by legendary Napa winemaker Chuck Wagner. Doing so will not only turn the chaos of the holiday season into a fleeting memory, it will also allow you to enjoy joie de vivre in its most distilled form.
Port Restaurant & Bar – Coffee and a fireplace. It’s a combination that fits as well as peanut butter and jelly or Lennon and McCartney. Of course, this excellent coupling can be made even better with a divine cup of joe, which is why stopping by this Corona del Mar venue and reserving their fireside table should be on your seasonal to-do list. Once you’ve secured your seating, order up a glass of their Cointreau-infused Seville Coffee, and let the warmth of the moment cover you like a down blanket.
Javier’s – Desserts near a fire tend to feel a little extra naughty. We’re not sure why, although we may think it has something to do with combining something sweet and something hot. Whatever the reason, there may be no better place to dip into such sensuousness than this Crystal Cove venue, whose legendary sense of caliente is enhanced by a stone-centric outdoor fire pit. The samba of its flames is somehow even more alluring when you’re enjoying the venue’s Fried Ice Cream. The dessert alone is sinful, as corn flakes, nuts, and honey join forces to coat a rich scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Having the fire in the background may fill you with the urge to go to confession afterward.
Sapori Ristorante– Enjoying pasta in the presence of a roaring fire makes a whole lot of sense. After all, a plate or bowl of Italian-inspired noodles tends to deliver a certain level of comfort to most people. This acclaimed Italian restaurant just north of Balboa Island provides this comforting vibe in all caps, as their massive fireplace tends to warm the heart just by looking at it, even if there isn’t a flame inside. This sense of warmth is furthered by digging into a heaping helping of their Penne Otero, where penne pasta is drenched in a rich vodka-kissed tomato cream sauce and topped with bacon bits and fresh tarragon.
Sol Cocina – What’s the best way to make the heat of a fire even hotter? Why, eating something that can set your taste buds aflame, of course. If you need proof of this axiom, get down to this Newport Harbor restaurant, secure a spot by the bar near its fire pit, and order up a Viper Taco. This bad boy doesn’t mess around, as the grilled chicken that’s stuffed in the tortilla is surrounded by melted cheese and a ghost chile-chipotle salsa. You may want to make sure you’re dressed in layers.
The Village Inn – A restaurant’s fire feature doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. For instance, the fireplace found at this Balboa Island staple is about as basic and unpretentious as it gets. Yet it’s perfectly designed when you take the tiny man-made island’s causal, laid-back nature into account. The fireplace’s unfussy nature is also ideally personified through its Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. The zippy nature of the crispy chicken sandwich is uniquely delivered through a one-two punch of buffalo sauce and garlic aioli. It’s straightforward yet a little bit surprising all at once.