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Apr 1, 2010 01:08 PM

Weekend in Newport Beach Report

We arrived in Newport Beach for a weekend visit. One day was for our son to meet up with a girlfriend at the South Coast Plaza and another day to drive down to San Diego for a college tour.

Our first meal was at Kitayama, a branch of a Japanese restaurant. This was our second visit here and noticed some changes to the decor and menu. Service was fine and the food was good although I liked it better on our first visit. We ordered a number of items that we all shared, misoyaki butterfish, California roll, unagi (bbq eel) roll, nigiri sushi platter and the beef shabu shabu. All the food was well prepared and tasty, especially the shabu shabu which surprised us all.

The next morning we drove over to the Galley Cafe. It's at the harbor at the end of a road lined with houses. This was on what used to be the main drag in Newport until the road was cut off in the 60's. It's a great little place, cozy and friendly, a favorite of John Wayne who was a NB resident. You get in line and wait for a seat no matter who you are, including John Wayne. The chili cheese omelet and milkshakes are cafe mainstays here and we saw at least 4 or 5 tables having shakes with their eggs at 10 in the morning. The owner, the grandson of the couple who opened the restaurant asked us how we found his cafe. A definite keeper for us.

Dinner that night was at Il Fornaio in Irvine, a short drive from our hotel. I wanted to try the Pleasant Peasant but was out voted for Italian by my family. Although a small chain, the food, decor and service here was very good and I left quite impressed, having tried other branches in Seattle and Carmel. We started with the rustichella, a baked flat bread with fresh tomato, cheese, onions, olives and basil. Simple and delicious with the flavors of the ingredients coming through. For our main courses we had the pasta bolognese, pasta with shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce and roast chicken. Dessert was fresh berries in a custard with whipped cream. Everything was nicely prepared and delicious, especially the roast chicken which was moist and tender.

Dinner our final night was at the Cheesecake Factory at Fashion Island. After a long day driving to San Diego and visiting San Clemente I just went along with what everyone wanted with no protest. I don't remember what anyone else ate, but my $12 prime hamburger steak with onion and mushroom gravy, mashed potato and fresh vegetables was surprisingly good and filling. I was actually pleased with what I had despite not really wanting to eat here.

Sometimes when traveling you have to go with the flow. Although we only made it to two of the places on my list for Orange County, we ended up eating quite well on this trip.

101 Bayview Pl, Newport Beach, CA 92660

Pleasant Peasant
4251 Martingale Way, Newport Beach, CA 92660

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  1. Glad you liked The Galley. It's been one of my favorites since I was a kid and a hidden treasure. Used to hit it for b'fast on my way home from parties/proms, these days I'm still going-that omelet is just as tasty sober:)

    1. I am so glad to hear that the Galley is still a vital, enduring institution, serving delicious diner food in an unpretentious atmosphere. It was a go-to weekend breakfast place for our family for decades. I hope the hamburgers they serve now are as good as I remember.

      BTW the little triangle of grass across the street towards the harbor is was officially dedicated by the city and named for the founder lady - Myrtle Park, if I remember correctly.

      1. glad this was posted 4.1

        1. Just to note, the Pleasant Peasant closed sometime last year, so you wouldn't have been able to go anyway. The name of the new restaurant eludes me at the moment.

          Pleasant Peasant
          4251 Martingale Way, Newport Beach, CA 92660

          2 Replies
          1. re: Wonginator

            Found it. The name of the new restaurant is Il Barone, run by the former chef at Antonello's. Nancy Luna wrote an article on her Fast Food Maven blog.


            1. re: Wonginator

              Thanks for that information, I wasn't aware they had closed. Too bad, I had always wanted to eat there, now I have to cross it off my OC list.

            2. Heading out for a long weekend in Newport Beach..
              Road Tripping in from San Diego.
              What's not to miss for breakfast/lunch/dinner?
              Taco Maria is on the list for dinner and Love Break of Dawn for breakfast.


              10 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                Taco Maria is a must! Settebello is a worthwhile spot for lunch or dinner. Really gorgeous space.

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  I don't think you can beat either one of those. I finally got in to try Taco Maria on Friday night. It was amazing. Better if you have a travel companion who doesn't mind sharing so you can sample the entire menu. Also in that center is Pueblo, which is great for small plates.

                  If you're heading further north, Early Bird in Fullerton is a must-try for breakfast.

                  Is there any particular type of food you're looking for?

                  1. re: OCSteve

                    Thanks OC and set!

                    Going with friends for a long weekend in a couple of weeks and we see that Taco Maria on Saturday night, has the prix fixe menu only..but it is a must try...hear that the brunch isn't all that.
                    Staying in Newport.

                    Would love a Thai or Vietnamese place in Garden Grove area.

                    Back in the day, after seeing relatives in Lido/Balboa, we'd hit up Woody's Wharf and then dance it off at the Rueben E. Lee...LOL

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      I agree with your take on Taco Maria. Make sure you get the wine pairings with dinner.

                      As much as I enjoy Vietnamese, I haven't had the opportunity to really delve into Little Saigon, so I will defer to others on that. Thai Nakorn in Stanton is great. Stick to the Northern Thai dishes.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        The food at The Cannery has been great since Nick Weber has been there.

                        Pueblo across from Taco Maria is serving super legit tapas and ST Patisserie in the same quad is the real deal. Spend some time BEFORE 6pm to browse the OCMartMix before many of the shops close. They're all unique. Or stop into Pirch if you don't have one nearby.

                        Have heard good things about Social in Costa Mesa, but haven't been yet. Hear it gets loud.

                        They've added to the menu at Pizzeria Mozza and added the burrata bar there.

                        With the weather warm again, I think the patios of OCMartMix are calling our names.

                        1. re: revets2

                          I went to Social right when it opened and it was more or less terrible. Maybe it's gotten better but I highly doubt that it tops the OCMart places

                          1. re: set0312

                            I've heard mixed reviews on Social, but people that I know and trust have been there and liked it. It's on my list of places to try, but I agree with you RE: The Mix.

                        2. re: Beach Chick

                          Brodard Chateau, just off the 22 on Trask, offers a nice combo of a more upscale atmosphere and good Vietnamese fare. For Thai, yThai Nakorn remains the best option in the area (two locations, Stanton and Garden Grove--I prefer the latter).

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            Dinner at Taco Maria is a must...absolutely wonderful, and unique! Pueblo in the same center has been getting very high marks on their tapas menu. Also in OC, if you want something a bit fancier, the dinner tasting menu at Marché Moderne is excellent.

                            I've never been a big fan of Break of Dawn, but others like it a lot. Consider breakfast at the Beachcomber Cafe in Crystal Cove. It's not necessarily the food that's the big draw (although it's quite respectable)'s the amazing setting literally right on the sand! As you can imagine, it's very busy on weekends, but they do accept limited reservations, and you'll be very hard pressed to beat the experience of having Bloody Mary's or mimosas along with a good breakfast just a few feet from crashing waves!

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              Have not been, but Thai Nakorn in Garden Grove has gotten very high praise from CH's whose opinions I trust!