Rainforest Cafe: Not Quite Dinner in the Amazon, But Close
Dine in a jungle, brimming with lush, green trees and blue waterfalls. Share your meal with a gorilla or watch giant butterflies flutter while you drink your mai tai. Suddenly lightening and thunder burst out and you feel a gentle mist envelop you. OK, so it's not quite like that, but you'll still have a damn good time at the jungle themed Rainforest Cafe.
Favorite Dish: I love the Volcano, a chocolate, vanilla, and caramel dessert that could easily feed four. The Awesome Appetizer Platter is great to share as well because it features lots of different bitesized snacks like spicy shrimp and avocado egg rolls, spinich-garlic cheese spread with blue corn chips, ginger chicken taquitos and more.
Charlie's Chili: Good Eats at a decent price...
If you can get a front booth, you've done well! There are only 2 and they look out onto the "square" (for lack of a better term) right in front of the pier entrance. Very nice way to have breakfast and sip coffee watching all the joggers, dog watchers, and tourists pass by.
Even if it's cold and rainy, GO. In fact, that's our favorite time to have breakfast here if when it's damp and dark outside and you can sit in your warm booth sipping coffee and eating chili fries watching the rain pound the sidewalk. Not a bad way to start a day.
Favorite Dish: Don't expect gourmet fare. This is a "hole in the wall" place that's been around for over 30 years and made its claim to fame with chili, not foie gras.
It's damn good chili though. Perhaps not the best I've ever had but good.
My favorite things are the chicken-fried steak and eggs for breakfast and the colossus burger for lunch.
The chicken-fried steak is served with 2 eggs, potatoes and toast. Although, I mostly eat low carb so I had them sub in some delicious berries and melon (see pic above) instead. I love this stuff! They serve it nice and crispy and put the gravy on the side. I really like this because it doesn't make the patty soggy!
The colossus burger is big and good. Note, DON'T order their regular burger, it isn't that good; the meat is scrawny. If you want a burger, only get the colossus or order something else.
Many people like their Mexican food too. I don't order that (I have another fav place in Anaheim for Mexican) but I see plenty of people ordering it so you might want to give it a try.
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Blue Water Grill: Great View of Balboa Island at Night
We were sent to this local seafood restaurant by the demo chef at Trader Joe's. He said that it is a local place that most tourists don't find. He was right. It is on Lido Avenue just before you cross the bridge to Lido Island.
We ate on the deck for the great views but most of the locals were bellied up to the bar enjoying conversation and great seafood.
Favorite Dish: The menu was pretty typical of a fine seafood restaurant. We started with a fried calamari appetizer, braised spinach salad (yummy) and had the local fish of the day prepared in a lemon pepper butter sauce. All was well prepared and very good.
- Food and Dining
The Cannery: Fresh Seafood and Sushi!
Off of the water, nice view from outdoor patio, really good seafood
Sushi bar upstairs (we had the rainbow roll as an appetizer downstairs and it was AWESOME)
Favorite Dish: The rainbow roll stood out in my mind, but both of our seafood entrees were also very good
The roll was extremely fresh, perfect temperature, great combination of flavors
Gulfstream: Indulge in Gulfstream
Off (Pacific) Coast Highway and MacArthur Blvd is Gulfstream, an elegant but not so turn-offish posh seafood restaurant nice for an afternoon or evening outing. The main attractions here are the fire pits for cozying up and fried oysters. Though not extraordinary, the service is good enough. This is a restaurant suitable for all kind of groups, including families with children, though especially to romantic couples, those of the Newport local network and those who seek for upscale but not uptight and overpriced.
I came here during a late lunch at the bar which is fairly stylish with dark wooden look like the whole restaurant. Reservations are not very necessary here but are recommended on busy, weekend nights.
Favorite Dish: must try more , just had salmon which was cooked just right
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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Rusty Pelican -: Rusty Pelican -
the striking architecture designed rustic exterior, natural feel throught out, fresh seafood prepared in their unique and innovative ways plus the great view of the beautiful Lido Bay from your table. Everyone who asked me where to take their guests in Newport Beach and tried all loved Rusty Pelican and kept going back.
This pics from their web.
Favorite Dish: Fried calamari steak, the thick pieces are tender and juicy lightly coated and fried just right, with their delicious special honey mustard sauce, I only wish other chef's can copy and improve their fried Calamari dishes.
The Newport Brewery is one of...
The Newport Brewery is one of my favorite places to eat and hang out. They have the finest beer brewed on the premises. Take that coupled with good food, excellent service and people watching and you got an evening of enjoyment.
This place is considered a good hot spot for Newport. The people are friendly and always looking their best. It's a relaxed atmosphere where you can still talk to the girl or guy next to you and have fun.
Favorite Dish: I'm a big fan of the wood brick oven pizzas, Garlic Ranch Pizza being my absolute favorite. I've also heard that their Pasta Caliente is remarkable. I'm not a shell fish eater so I'll take their word on it. Did I mention the beer is great?
Charlie's Chili: If you like Chili
Charlies is a local institution, after the bars close is when this place comes alive, but any time you are in the mood for chili, the breakfast is chili chesse omelet, dinner chili cheese burger combo
Mama Gina's: Great Italian food right on the water!
Mama Gina's had a nice dining room, with friendly staff and a good sized menu.
We were there with our friends and their toddler, and the staff was very accomodating and attentive - definitely child-friendly!
After dinner we grabbed a drink or two in the lounge, which was definitely a mix of tourists and locals, and had some live music going on that evening
Favorite Dish: My girlfriend and I both had gnocchi, and they were cooked perfectly! Not too mushy or sticky. I would definitely tell any pasta lover to try them
Kean Coffee: Espresso from the pros...
The Diedrich family name is well known in coffee/espresso circles.
I was very surprised to find out that thier small capuccino was 12 oz. With only a double shot of espresso in it, this is not a capuccino, it is a latte. This is typical in the western US but was not what I expected from a coffee cafe of such reknown, even if it is located in southern California.
The small capuccino, at 12 oz, was a big disappointment. Of course it would be, containing only 2 1/2 oz of espresso in it at most. Very weak. Best to order an extra shot or two or to instruct the barrista to put it in a 6-8 oz cup so as to get the 1-1-1 ratio of espresso, milk, and foam that a true (to many espresso purists) capuccino should contain. Then it will shine!
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Sabatino's: If you're a fan of Italian food and ole blue eyes.
Not too many people know about this place because it's hidden and out of the main drag on Newport, but look for it, and you won't be disappointed. The walls are covered with a campy type of mural of Venice, but overhead is non-stop Frank Sinatra serenading you and your date. The service tends to be better at night than for lunch. The ambience is also better in the evening.
Favorite Dish: The best item on the menu for me are the eggplant parmesan, the sausages for which they're famous (I always get the spicy variation), and the cioppino.
3 Thirty 3: Seek out Casual Convival 333
Come join the locals at 3-Thirty-3, a quintescential Newport Beach locale to dine. Located off a waterfront along P.C.H, 333 has a chill out atmosphere with sophistication. Expect affordable semi-gourmet entrees and afforadble prices on the menu (One can escape spending $30 for a more than decent meal and drink, alcoholic or otherwise).
Claiming to be "the original home of the gourmet slider", try a choice of pulled pork, filet mignon, angus beef, parmesan chicken or cashew-coconut crusted Mahi-Mahi. Other menu standouts include weekend brunch faves "make your own" Bloody Mary and gourmet burritos. There is a huge variety here with classic American culinary faves (steak, shrimp cocktail, patty melts) with a slight Mexican and Asian influence (street tacos, quesadillas, Japanese seared style Ahi, Thai chicken satay, etc.).
Come here to unwind in casually or have a fancy get-together on a date or with friends. The crowd is usually a mix of poshy, pretentious Newporters donned in their fancy luxury threads and the casual, beachy dressed who are more regular Joes and Joanna folk. 333 is referred to some locals as "Cougarsville" or "Sugar Daddy Central" with its heavily 40-50+ crowd on the mingling prowl for sweet young things, during the evening hours especially. During lunch, one can expect the patrons to be common-day looking dock and people who work shops nearby.
Overall, the look of 333 is country club look, without the attitude. Decor is handsome and well-crafted, with cushy sofas and table seating. Centrally located is a huge, inviting bar.
During my first visit here, i went for happy hour at the bar- and boy, was I elated! I got a good great value in tacos done 3 fancy ways and drink for a great value (under $20)- even better with an unexpectant discount with the bartender! And I swear, I didn't even flirt to get that!
Parking is valet is a bit tight but don't fret- it is complementary valet, so trouble yourself not!
Open 11 AM- 2AM, 9AM- 2 AM on weekends for brunch-dinner-late night dining.
- Food and Dining
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Azar Pizza: Get Fresh at Azar
Azar's Pizza is not run of the mill. Get quality, fresh pizza always- or very filling sandwiches, salads, or typical American appetizers like buffalo wings.
I've come almost exclusively for the pizza, particularly the slices. I get one or two and go to enjoy Balboa by the water. Unlike a few pizzerias close by, wait for about 5 min for a fresh slice. It is worth the time when adding toppings to the slices. The pizza sauce/cheese combination has been to my liking, perhaps maybe more on the cheesy side. Mozzarella is stretchy and thick, crust is toasted to perfection , not too little or cardboard. Service-wise, the staff was nice and accommodating, so no complaints there as well.
Inside the parlor, there is a seating to enjoy a game on TV but consider take out to enjoy especially a pizza in the Balboa Fun Zone
Slices (subject to change):
$2.75 cheese, addional topping $0.75
Full menu is on website.
Favorite Dish: I've tried the pizza slices, and have been satisfied each time. I got basic cheese slice, also cheese with fresh spinach and pesto. Choose from over 25 toppings, typical and unusual- from pepperoni sausage, and mushroom to breaded eggplant, feta cheese and seasoned ricotta.
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Sol Restaurant: Wonderful Patio Setting
We bought tickets for an evening performance of the Jazz festival. There was an option to include dining at the hotel's restaurant which we opted for. This was a buffet that included a variety of bread choices, various salads fixings, a seafood salad, baked potato bar, marinated & grilled flank steak and wonderfully cooked (not overcooked) salmon with a sweet glaze. The dessert table was amazing. Wine selection wasn't great because they were promoting a "jazz festival" edition of wines. So, a couple of whites, a merlot and cab of their brand of wine.
I have to say, this was one of the better buffets I have ever had. Most buffets are usually not so great. The meats are overcooked, cold and not seasoned enough. This one was nicely presented and food was fantastic.
- Food and Dining
The Galley: Classic Diner, Quirky Location (with a view)
The Galley is probably my favorite breakfast spot in Orange County (my old stomping grounds). Not because it was my most frequented breakfast option (it wasn't) or because it has the best food, but because of its quirkiness and the personal memories I associate with the place. Don't get me wrong, the food is very solid, old school diner fare... eggs, omelettes, pancakes, flavored cokes and floats for lunch, etc. (the chili cheese omelette is out of this world). But its the location and ambience that really makes the Galley shine. It basically sits at the end of a residential cul-de-sac, between a very high-end Newport Beach homes and one of Newport Harbor's yacht marinas. The juxtoposition of a family-owned diner that could have been pluck straight out of the 50s next to modern McMansions only ads to the charm. To get to the galley, you have to drive through a residential neighborhood, and it seems like the last place you'll find a greasy spoon. But when you walk into the tiny place and see the vinyl booths and counter filled with a mix of locals who have been coming there for years and people filling up before jumping onto their boat for a day on the ocean, you'll understand why I'm a fan. It can be a little annoying having to line up to wait for a seat (there's no list or hostess), but at least you have a nice view of the water and boats!
No credit cards. Only cash or checks (the fact that they accept checks gives you a hint as to the type of place it is).
Favorite Dish: Chili cheese omelette.
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