10 Essential Newport Beach Restaurants
Last week, Newport Beach's Restaurant Week concluded. But this week, my list of restaurant essentials continues, this time for the city that includes Corona Del Mar, Balboa Island, and the parts of Newport Beach that still feel like Irvine. Some of the listed restaurants participated in last week's discounted prix fixe meals. But there's no reason you shouldn't try them this week also, if you haven't already. Don't see your favorite in there? That's what the comments are for.
As always, this list is alphabetical. And, of course, that means it starts with...
1. A Restaurant
Seemingly stripped of all pretense (not to mention consonants), A used to be The Arches, the legendary Newport Beach restaurant that was strictly for the A-list. John Wayne once ate steaks within these very walls. These days, A is for everyone. The dimly lit dining room feels like a cozy pub and the food comfort are staples like the short rib grilled cheese with bread that'll remind you of Sizzler's famed cheese toast.
Photo by Jonathan Ho
You can take a date to an expensive restaurant with wide booths, grand entryways and a twinkling nighttime view of the city; or you can take that special someone to Basilic, a restaurant so cozy you are required--nay, forced--to get intimately familiar with each other and Chef Bernard Althaus' immaculate French/Swiss cuisine. In what seems like the square footage of a broom closet, Althaus cooks French/Swiss cuisine that is both balanced and exacting, rustic and refined. His menu is full of the classics: coq au vin, steak au poivre, bouillabaisse-all executed with the finesse of Escoffier and Bocuse. Not to be missed are the all-you-can-eat Raclette Nights the first Tuesday during the winter months. But you can enjoy the indigenous Swiss dish of melted cheese as an appetizer any night of the week--and you should.
3. Juliette Kitchen & Bar
Juliette Kitchen and Bar is in every way different from its location's predecessor Pascal Olhats' Tradition. Gone are the stuffy white-linen tables and claustrophobic room dividers. Everything has been stripped down to the foundation and bare wood. The chairs are unvarnished, the seats made of wicker. The whole space now feels breezy and loose. If dining at Tradition felt like wearing an overstarched suit, eating at Juliette Kitchen is the equivalent of putting on an unbuttoned beach shirt. Ask for the smoked ocean trout salad. You'll not have a sharper, more complex plate of food involving arugula than this. The nose-tickling smokiness of the flaked fish, the cloying bent of the stewed cherries and tartness of pickled onions seem initially at odds with one another, but then, somehow, they end up in harmony.