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Jul 9, 2001 04:22 PM

Balboa Island query

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I have a friend who's going to be flying with three small children to Balboa Island, which she describes to me as "near Newport Beach", to spend two weeks at a family cottage.

Anything anyone can tell us about places she must go to (which she can take the kids to) or places she must avoid?

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    Carolyn Tillie

    I would avoid Balboa Island. It is a seething pit of tourist traps, money holes, and traffic jams. There are some very decent restaurants in the surrounding area but I wonder if you are looking for places to include the children. The spots I know and like are more adult-oriented.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carolyn Tillie

      She's going to Balboa Island because she can stay in a family-owned place rent-free, not because it's romantic, unspoiled, or historic, etc. The tickets are paid for and she's leaving this Thursday, whether I can find info for her or not.

      It would be a bonus if I could, though.

      1. re: ironmom

        Give Pizza Bakery a ring for delivery. Real NY style pizza, thin crust and all the ingredients are fresh. They have a small delivery area and Balboa Island is in it. Good cheesecake also.
        My second nomination for the area, is Spagetti Bender on Coast Highway, a little north of Balboa Island. Super family friendly, Italian style meals served, very reasonable for Newport Beach. The meals start with a huge pot of Minestroni soup, then a fresh salad that includes slices of avocado, and then your main course, pasta or combos. All family style and large portions.
        The Crab Cooker will be close to Balboa, there is always a wait, excellent fresh fish, you can also purchase from them the catch of the day to cook at home on real plates.
        Have fun, the beach is wonderful for kids, but the Pacific is notoriously treachorous even for good swimmers. Pay attention to the lifeguards.
        There are lots of higher end eateries for splurging, depending upon the taste preference. And if they will have a car.

      2. re: Carolyn Tillie

        Even with those caveats (and I agree with you), if these are younger children, they will enjoy eating breakfast or a burger at Ruby's at the end of Balboa pier. Ruby's is a chain of pseudo-50's diners. Their breakfast menu is good, but the rest of the menu is just passable. Kids seem to love it, though.

        In the area, I like Chimayo (one in Newport Beach and one on the beach in Huntington Beach). A good eclectic mix of southwestern style dishes, brick oven "gourmet" (or should I say "avant garde"?) pizzas, and bbq chicken/ribs. They're kid friendly, especially if you eat on the patio. Dinner or lunch.

      3. There's an ice cream stand on Balboa Island's main drag, Marine Ave, that has "Balboa Bars"--hand dipped eskimo pies with customizable toppings, and frozen bananas. I wish I could remember the name, but this street isn't that big, so they should just keep their eyes peeled.

        Also, if they take the ferry over to the "Fun Zone", there's skee-ball and all that stuff that kids love.
        From the boardwalk, they can walk 2 blocks to a very nice beach.

        Crab Cooker [2200 Newport Blvd Newport Beach, CA (949) 673-0100] was a favorite of mine because they have a stuffed great white shark hanging from the ceiling and jawbreaker jar. They also have a fishmarket and the only Manhattan Clam Chowder I've ever seen in So Cal.

        Not unique to So Cal is The Old Spaghetti Factory [2110 Newport Blvd Newport Beach, CA (949) 675-8654], which is dirt cheap and FUN for kids. The food isn't chowhoundish, but it does the trick.

        Shore House Cafe [801 E Balboa Blvd Newport Beach, CA (949) 673-7726] is a no brainer for breakfast. Standard breakfast fare and omelets.

        Side Street Cafe [1799 Newport Blvd # A105 Costa Mesa, CA (949) 650-1986] has my current favorite chicken fried steak, but there's frequently a wait.

        Mongolian Bar-B-Que Pan Asia [369 E 17th St Fl 12 Costa Mesa, CA (949) 646-4644] is a treat for kids because they choose a meat and add their own veggies and watch the guy wok it up on his giant griddle.

        Hope that helps!

        1. Just thought of another place - Mama Gina's, on PCH at about Superior (where the Jack in the Box is). Italian, great salads and the usual, very informal, and they deliver also. Very reasonable. I particularly like their fresh veggie pasta salad.

          1. Just thought of another place - Gina's, or Mama Gina's, on PCH at about Superior (where the Jack in the Box is). Italian, great salads and the usual, very informal, and they deliver also. Very reasonable. I particularly like their fresh veggie pasta salad.