Newport Beach Places to eat
I will be staying in the Newport Beach area and driving to a convention at Disney Land each day for a week. I am looking for a couple of good places to eat that are not too fancy, too expensive or too touristy and are not chains. I am hoping to find a local restaurant with excellent local food. I will be travelling with a couple of guys from work and we are all on a limited budget. I want to stay away from anything Disney. Good seafood or Mexican is a plus. References to a local food specialty in addition to places to eat are appreciated. Thank you, Bostonbeefeater
You can find interesting and great grub in Newport Beach and Anaheim, and at all points in between! Das Ubergeek can chime in with his recommendations (just search for his Explorations on Brookhurst threads for some great finds!).
For extraordinary plebian tasting food you can try Tsuruhashi near Brookhurst and the 405 freeway. Lots of good reviews on that place here on chowhound. It's japanese yakiniku, BBQ at your table with prime and kobe grade beef, yet it's not too expensive.
In Newport Beach, which is where I work, when out of town VIPs come in to visit we will usually take them to Tommy Bahama's, Prego, Bistango, or Houston's. I really like Houston's, they have amazing chicken fingers, a thai beef salad, and also the baby back ribs are great too, in addition to a good French Dip sandwich.
If you're thinking of staying up near Disneyland to eat after work each day, you might consider heading down to Little Saigon for an ethnic Vietnamese adventure. Being vietnamese myself and living in the area, I can give you some great suggestions on where to go (from ordinary places your dining companions would like, to truly adventurous, out there kind of stuff).
When are you coming down, and where in NB are you staying?
Three places to try which will fit your criteria are:
Sage Restaurant (the Eastbluff location, definitely) is a delightful, casual restaurant that never disappoints. It is a local neighborhood jewel whose talented chef, Rich Mead is almost always around. The drinks are great, servers are terrific (ask for Greg if he's available) and if it's a warm evening, do request the patio...but not if it's chilly! The food is American/California cuisine, but with some interesting combinations. They also have a good wine list.
For something a bit fancier, definitely consider Bistango in Irvine. This restaurant has been around for 20 years but remains very modern in decor and concept. They have wonderful steaks and chops, but their fish will definitely not disappoint. Two terrific appetizers are the ahi tartar and the gravlax/cucumber spaghetti (not a pasta, just the appearance).
Another terrific place especially for meat is the Quiet Woman in Corona del Mar. This restaurant has been around for more than 25 years and it is consistently terrific. Two problem however are...no reservations (best to go early) and it does get noisy later in the evening.
If you just want a drink and some bar food (tapas), a fun, new place is the Crowbar & Kitchen on PCH in Corona del Mar. They have terrific charcuterie, cheeses, flatbreads and other small dishes and a wonderful assortment of draft beers and wines by the glass. Fun and casual for a light supper.
100% agree with Sage in Eastbluff rec, although it won't be cheap - not the most expensive place in Newport, but still don;t think I've ever gotten out of there for under $120 couple with a reasonable bottle of wine.
Bistango & Crowbar & Crab Cooker are also great fun suggestions. I think Quiet Woman is more of a scene, as you say, than great food, but if that's what you're looking for...
I'd also add Golden Truffle right up the street in Costa Mesa, and if you're willing to drive to Laguna (which you really really should), all kinds of options.
Mexican - Javier's & Taco Rosa are both small local chains, but excellent.
Seafood - Many disagree, but I think Blue Water Grill on Lido is excellent and if you can sit outside - huge bonus. Fish is super fresh, simply mesquite grilled, spiny lobster season is very exciting, prices are right,... still one of my favs.
Same for Sabatino's
Where are you staying in Newport?
re: torta basilica
Suggest trying the Quiet Woman early on a weeknight or on Sunday. It really is quite nice if you avoid the Thursday/Friday/Saturday peak times...and their food, although not innovative, is good solid American cuisine.
Another place in Newport that hasn't been mentioned is Tradition by Pascal. The original Pascal's on the Bristol St. strip mall was totally redone about 18 months ago, and is a really pleasant albeit not inexpensive French restaurant.
if u want mexican try going to santa ana (somewhat betw nB and disneyland). there's much good, albeit mostly ghetto, mexi places there. scott's seafood in costa mesa (neighbor of nB).. prego and sage are a waste of your money.
sage is a no go. i went there on a date and the seared scallops are one of the worst ive had in a restaurant. i gave them a bit more room for error considering it was busy and a bit late wheni went but the scallops tasted like they had been sitting in the pass for too long and the cauliflower puree was underseasoned.
I eat regularly at Sage in Eastbluff and can tell you that it's quite unusual to not have a good experience. If you were unhappy with what you were served, it's too bad you didn't let them know at the time. They are very accommodating, and I am sure would have made it right. Sage is, in my opinion and in a bunch of regulars opinion, an excellent spot.
I'll also chime in for the Crow Bar and Kitchen. Good grub, great beer, excellent service.
Blue Water Grill is also a favorite of mine, the outside eatting is great in the Lido Bay.
If you want some good Baja Mexican food I would suggest Rockin' Baja Lobster by the Newport Pier. It's becoming a small chain, but don't let that keep you away. You can order what they call the Baja Bucket, a giant bucket of seafood (shrimp, & slipper-tail lobster), carne asada, and pollo asada. Homemade tortillas and rice and beans. It's a great deal.
Billy's at the Beach is good but just been sold, so things might change. Have had so many wonderful meals at Sage, always recommend it. Bistango is superb art gallery/restaurant with fine food and service. Wildfish in Newport Beach does marvelous seafood and steaks (some with Hong Kong and New Orleans accents) at very affordable prices. They also have one of the best desserts in OC, the souffle bread pudding.
Well... our local specialities are really Cal cuisine (which others can point you to, it's usually out of my budget), Mexican, and Vietnamese. Orange County has the biggest population of Vietnamese outside Southeast Asia.
Drive up and down Brookhurst Street or Bolsa Avenue -- you will get way more Vietnamese than you could ever imagine. Specific recommendations, especially if you don't want the usual hole-in-the-wall type place, would be Xanh Bistro (Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley), S Vietnamese Cuisine (Westminster Mall, outside the main mall), Pho Republic (Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim), Quan Hy (Westminster Blvd, Westminster), or Brodard Chateau (Trask Ave, Garden Grove). Or maybe you'd like the Vietnamese "bo bay mon", or seven courses of beef, in which case hie thee to Pagolac (Brookhurst St, Westminster).
You could also go to Boiling Crab in Garden Grove, which is a Cajun seafood boil run by Vietnamese kids. It's a very young, very laid-back vibe. Just don't go in your nice clothes.