Get Your Poke Fix in Newport Beach
Traditionally — dating back to when Captain Cook stumbled across the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 and probably much earlier — poke was a preparation of cubed raw reef fish mixed with sea salt, limu (seaweed) and inamona (roasted ground kukui, or candlenuts). The word “poke” means “to cut crosswise” in Hawaiian, though it’s possible that the term wasn’t used to describe the dish until about the mid-20th century. This “Hawaiian sashimi,” as poke is sometimes miscalled, was a staple for early Polynesians and now a favorite on the mainland! A variety of restaurants in Newport Beach offer this refreshing dish. Here are a few of the spots where you can try it for yourself!
At Bluewater Grill, you can enjoy ahi poke right by the water, in true coastal fashion! Located on the Lido Peninsula, on the bay in Newport Beach, at the historic former site of The Sea Shanty & Delaney’s, you can pull up to their dock in your electric boat or arrive by bike, car or on foot for an outstanding meal or Happy Hour. Bluewater Grill is the perfect location to enjoy pristine quality seafood, sustainably caught, prepared classically or with a modern twist. If you’re lucky, you may even see the Bluewater kitchen staff hauling in a harpooned Swordfish from their very own harpoon boat, Pilikia.
Bear Flag Fish Company
With locations in Newport Beach and Crystal Cove, Bear Flag Fish Company specializes in the freshest seafood in town. The creation of the company started with the love of the ocean and most of all the love and the knowledge of fresh seafood, making it a “no-brainer” for fresh poke. You can order ahi or salmon poke here by the pound, giving you the option to dine in or stock up if you’re hosting a party.
Bristol Farms Seafood Bar offers a variety of different flavors where you’re welcome to create your own take on the treat. There’s Aloha Poke, made with Ahi Tuna chunks and a blend of Hawaiian seasonings and Ogo seaweed. Try their best selling Spicy Poke, where they add a couple of extra spices, or their new “Albacore Poke”, fashioned after recipes found in Hawaii’s finest restaurants using freshly sliced white & green onions. Add your poke to a bed of steamed rice, on a fresh salad, or as an appetizer served on crackers at your next get together.
Located on Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of Corona del Mar, Summer House is the perfect cottage-style restaurant to soak in the charming atmosphere. Summer House offers an Ahi Poke appetizer, served with wonton chips. Unwind in a comfy booth or people watch from an open-window perch & enjoy a glass of wine, a martini, or a cold beer as you dine with the locals.
Billy’s at the Beach
The “Aloha in the heart of Newport Beach” serves up Hawaiian inspired cuisine daily, which of course includes their own take on poke. Nestled right on the Harbor just off Pacific Coast Highway, Billy’s at The Beach specializes in the freshest seafood, steaks, and cocktails. Sip on a signature Mai Tai while sharing their poke with friends and enjoy the live music showcased there regularly.
Tommy Bahama Island Grille
Tommy Bahama Island Grille features regional, coastal cuisine in a relaxed yet sophisticated setting that features a few different takes on the Hawaiian classic dish. As an appetizer, try the ahi tuna tacos – ahi prepared poke style served in a wonton shell with island slaw and wasabi-avocado crème. Or order the unique Ahi Poke Napoleon with capers, sesame, guacamole and served with flatbread.
Many surfers grab poke after a long surf session, right on the beach at Dory Deli! Drawing inspiration from its beachfront location, Dory Deli displays a nautical theme with anchors and gauges throughout the restaurant. Old-fashioned photographs on the walls are a nod to the building’s long history in Newport. Grab their ahi poke from the Deli Case to enjoy right on the sand during your beach day.
Wildfish Seafood Grille
Poke can even be found at the fine-dining establihsments of Newport Beach. At Wildfish Seafood Grille, they serve their Tartare of Pacific Ahi Tuna – ahi with curry and sesame oils, avocado, mango and citrus. There’s not a bad seat in the house for enjoying the theatre of their bustling exhibition kitchen. Or dine al fresco on the stunning outdoor patio. In either setting, you’ll experience some of the freshest catch of seafood available.