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May 29, 2008 02:15 PM

Family-friendly in Newport Beach

We're taking the kids to the Balboa Bay Club for the weekend. I know nothing about Newport Beach or surrounding areas--anyplace close by for a good, simple, casual dinner? The kids love fish, burgers, pasta and we love anyplace that's tasty with a full bar. Thanks.

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  1. Definitely go to the Beachcomber Cafe in Crystal Cove (Newport Beach). It is right on the sand, and thus has great views. It serves good food and drinks, is super casual and because of it's outstanding location on the sand, the kids are sure to enjoy. It's a bit of a walk to get there, but there is also a shuttle. Only problem is that it is very popular and takes no reservations, so be prepared for a wait...but being on the beach, the wait can be fun. Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Check it out at

    1. Bandera in Corona del Mar (just south of the BBClub on PCH): Hearty American, sharp service and a quality bar.

      Ruby's on the Balboa Pier: More for the kids, but perfectly good burgers, shakes and other basics.

      Don't know your kids' ages or temperment, but Tommy Bahama's (also on PCH in CdM) can work if they're not too rowdy...lovely outdoor venue. Very tropical, lots of fish (on the menu), steel drums, etc. Good drinks.

      Wilma's Patio is a classic family-friendly diner on Balboa Island that gets lots of locals. Best at breakfast or lunch.

      The Beachcomber Cafe on the sand at Crystal Cove State beach is good too. No rezzies... but plenty of shoreline to wander while you wait for your beeper to alert. Not fancy. Fare is good, not great. Decent cocktails too. Killer view.

      Full disclosure- I don't have kids. But I would be willing to take them to the places I've listed. I'm sure other 'hounds with kids will soon offer their more seasoned picks.

      4 Replies
      1. re: OCBites

        Definitely second the recommendation for Bandera...a member of the Houston's chain. Excellent cocktails, great service and very dependable and good food. Actually all four Houston's brands are in the Newport Beach area, and all good spots. Bandera, Gulfstream and R&D Cafe are in Newport Beach, and Houston's is nearby in Irvine. You can check out the menus at

        I'm not crazy about Tommy Bahama's restaurant. Very mediocre food and service...but if you want a "tropical" environment, Roy's in Fashion Island isn't bad (but it's not great either).

        1. re: josephnl

          I was going to suggest Gulfstream - full bar & great fish. If you're ever there on a Tuesday night, their BBQ Shrimp special is to die for... A little bit further is Wildfish or, if you want to stay on the water, Blue Water Grill is good & more casual.

        2. re: OCBites

          I have no kids either, but: Ruby's and Wilma's are sans full bar...actually, I'm having trouble thinking of many places with full bars that I would take kids to. I suppose it depends how old the kids are...I have much difficulty eating most places with my 4 year old nephew. He likes the Old Spaghetti Factory, and we have one of those here; in fact, it has the cheapest bar in Newport.

          1. re: sunnyand72

            I think any of the Houston's restaurants (see above posting) would be fine for kids...and they do have a full bar and serve great drinks.

        3. We ended up at Bandera for dinner. We had a very good steak, good cornbread and mac and cheese, and mediocre leg of lamb (sliced very thinly and not much flavor) and pork tenderloin covered with a red sauce. Good service and the kids enjoyed it too.
          Also, Beachcomber Cafe for Sunday lunch. What a great, local place.

          Thanks to all who responded!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Mandy

            Glad you had a good weekend. Too bad the leg of lamb at Bandera wasn't that good. I've had it several times, and it's usually quite tasty. Well, you can't win them all. Bet the drinks at Bandera were pretty good!

            Good that you made it to the Beachcomber...hope you didn't have to wait too long!