Newport Beach in California is a curious mix of luxury homes, laidback surfer dudes, and refined boating culture. The weather is spectacular and rarely gets above 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.
The sun shines almost every single day, and there are enough outdoor activities available around this exclusive Orange County community that you’ll never want to sit inside. Except when you’re hungry — that’s where Newport Beach shines with its cozy Italian dives, delicious seafood restaurants, and gastro pubs. Good food abounds in Newport Beach, and honestly, most of them offer al fresco dining or keep the windows wide open.
A few years ago, my brother moved out to Orange County, and every time I visit, we dine out a lot. There are a few that are our go-to spots every time, but we always try out a few new places, too, on a quest to find the best restaurants in Newport Beach.
Restaurants and the food they serve are some of the most subjective and contentious topics you can discuss, but you should be able to find at least one place on this list of the best restaurants in Newport Beach to suit your mood, from greasy-spoon burgers to fancy seafood and fine dining.
Best Restaurants in Newport Beach
1. Crystal Cove Shake Shack
Address: 7703 East Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92657
If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat and a spectacular view, look no further than the Crystal Cove Shake Shack on the Pacific Coast Highway. This delicious restaurant is classic Americana with some of the best burgers and shakes in Orange County.
We love to go here for breakfast – the cinnamon roll French toast is my favorite, while others I’ve visited with like the breakfast burrito or breakfast club. For lunch and later, the burgers are the star of the show, and the shoestring fries, too. In fact, if you’re looking for a burger, fries, and a shake, there’s no better spot I’ve found in the area.
You might consider Crystal Cove Shake Shack fast food because almost anything you order is served within five or 10 minutes, but the quality of the breakfast and lunch offerings is far better than most fast or fast-casual spots.
The only downside to one of the best Newport Beach restaurants is that getting a place to park is a beastly challenge. You’ll often see cars waiting on the side of the PCH – so if you’re in a rush, be prepared for that. That being said, I’ve never had to wait longer than a few minutes for a spot to open up.
Once you’re here, you won’t want to leave – the views are the best around. Despite Newport Beach and Orange County, in general, being known for upscale and fancy restaurants with waterfront views, I don’t think any top this little roadside burger stand.
If you want to work off the burger and fries you just ate, wander around Crystal Cove State Park Historic District, or take a run on the beach. Walking along the Pacific is sublime, especially near sunset.
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2. Trattoria Italian Restaurant
Address: 1204, 216 1/2 Marine Ave, Newport Beach
Italian food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about delicious Southern California eats and popular restaurants. However, Trattoria Restaurant on Balboa Island will show you that delicious Italian food is indeed served away from the East Coast at one of the best restaurants in the area.
I stopped into this tiny hole-in-the-wall last time I was staying on the island. It was a short walk from my rental on Onyx, and it was pretty empty on a Friday night. Somehow, this little kitchen gets completely overlooked!
Trattoria is a one-man show. The owner was in the back cooking, and also working as front of house. He sat us, took our orders, explained the specials, and made sure that our every need was attended to – while also cooking up our delicious meals.
I ordered a grilled chicken and fettuccini dish, while my partner tried the chicken piccata. Both dishes were so tasty that we took home leftovers and had them for lunch the next day. We also tried the house salad and a soup to start, and the bread served up was toasty warm.
The restaurant is pretty small, but that’s the case for a lot of the businesses on Balboa Island, which is quite densely populated. The restaurant is an ideal destination whether you’re on Balboa Island for the afternoon and want a reasonably priced lunch special or you’re looking for a delicious and satisfying dinner.
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3. Billy’s at the Beach
Address: 2751 W Coast Hwy Ste 260, Newport Beach, CA 92663-4753
Billy’s at the Beach is a Hawaiian seafood and steak restaurant located right on the edge of the harbor in Newport Beach. The restaurant offers its guests comfortable booths and big picture windows of the harbor and can get super busy during the dinner rush, so making a reservation is a good idea.
The restaurant offers separate menus for weekend brunch, lunch, dinner, and happy hour and also offers special menus for holidays like Mother’s Day.
If you love appetizers, you’re in luck – we always end up with far too many because the selections are too hard to pass up! The Hawaiian cheese bread is a must-try, and though I’m not much of a seafood person, my family loves the coconut shrimp, crab cakes, and fish tacos (the restaurant’s chili aioli is amazing).
The restaurant is also well-known for its “world-famous” mai tai. The specialty cocktails at the restaurant will set you back a few, but they’re so worth it when combined with the Hawaiian-inspired dishes on the menu. Pretty much everyone local to the harbor has a story about a late night with too many mai tais at Billy’s…
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4. Snipe Island Crafthouse
Address: 305 Marine Ave Newport Beach, CA 92662
Snipe Island Crafthouse is another restaurant on Balboa Island with a pretty fantastic selection of craft brews. Try the 805 beer by Firestone Walker if you’re looking for a local favorite (their brewery is along the Central Coast of California up in Paso Robles).
The menu at Snipe Island Crafthouse primarily features heavy burgers, pizza, and sandwiches, so it’s best to come hungry to enjoy its contemporary California regional cuisine.
Even though “pizza” isn’t in the title of the restaurant, the pies are definitely worth a try (get the BBQ pork pizza!). Last time I was in town, I ordered a Margherita pie to share and the Chicken 305 sandwich to bring home for lunch, and both got rave reviews. Happy hour currently runs from 3 pm to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and it’s a great time to visit for beer and pizza.
The restaurant also runs a special on Wednesdays for 50 percent off its bottles. Snipe Island is pretty casual and low-key, so don’t assume you need to dress up because there’s an extensive wine list at the establishment. Just come as you are and enjoy the food, wine, and brews.
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5. The Royal Hen
Address: 311 Marine Ave, Newport Beach, CA 92662
Like a few other spots on this list of the best restaurants in Newport Beach, eating at The Royal Hen requires a trip over the bridge onto Balboa. The Royal Hen is an ideal option when you’re looking for excellent wine and drinks but in a casual environment.
The gastropub atmosphere can get a little loud and rowdy at times, but that’s the price you pay for eating at a popular and trendy restaurant. It’s also difficult to score a parking spot sometimes, so you may need to walk a few blocks to reach the restaurant after finding a space.
The proprietors of The Royal Hen often leave the windows open, which is great for people-watching and enjoying the eternally gorgeous weather and island vibe.
Dishes at The Royal Hen run the gamut from familiar to unusual, with stand-out dishes including the short rib fettuccine, and the Manchego mac & cheese. I’ve been here a few times, and I love the shishito peppers and chicken pot pie.
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6. Marche Moderne
Address: 7862 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, CA 92657
Marche Moderne is a French bistro located near the Pacific Ocean. Owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team, Marche Moderne offers an incredible coq au vin, as well as other mouth-watering French entrees like brown butter roasted fish and steak au poivre.
If you’re a fan of French food, you’ll see several familiar dishes on the menu, but the classy establishment also features some creative small plates.
Marche Moderne is on the higher end of the scale when it comes to price range, and it’s a delightfully romantic restaurant with a classy ambiance. The restaurant offers a 5-course tasting menu that changes frequently, and you can add an optional wine pairing with the tasting. While I haven’t gotten to dine here yet, the tasting menu is on my list for the next time I’m out west.
The menu is seasonal, but some of the highlights according to recent reviews have been the smoked duck breast, roasted bone marrow, and filet steak tartare. Dishes you’ll definitely want to try if you see them on the menu include the brown butter scallops and the charcuterie plate.
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7. CUCINA enoteca
Address: 951 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660
CUCINA enoteca is a super popular Italian restaurant in the Fashion Island area where reservations are recommended, especially for dinner when you can wait up to 90 minutes for a table.
One of the best features of this restaurant (other than its excellent Italian food) is its outdoor seating. On evenings when the weather is just a bit chilly they run the patio heaters, which is a nice touch.
You’ll find a pretty cool assortment of dishes that are both unusual and familiar. For example, the braised lamb pizza with its Scamorza (cheese), taleggio (more cheese), and citrus yogurt is creative and unusual, while the pepperoni pizza with its mozzarella and provolone is familiar and comforting.
If you love seafood, you’ve got to try the Icelandic cod and grilled asparagus. The waters around Iceland boast the best cod on the planet.
The restaurant is also capable of serving gluten-free items, too, so consider the establishment even if you’re allergic to wheat and tend to avoid Italian food and pasta.
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Address: 7832 E Coast Hwy 7832 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92657
Next up is possibly my favorite restaurant in Newport Beach – it’s certainly among the coolest! The vibe and Latin flavor of Javier’s Restaurant exude effortless style, and the fun feel of this restaurant is just one reason why it’s one of the trendiest and best restaurants in Newport Beach.
Javier’s is yet another restaurant where you’ll want to make reservations so you’re not waiting for a table, especially around dinnertime. The restaurant is an excellent destination if you’re thinking about a fun and enthusiastic evening with your significant other, but it might feel a little too loud and trendy for young children.
As far as the tasty food goes, it’s worth noting that Javier’s is, technically, a chain restaurant as it has a handful of other locations around California and Mexico. However, don’t assume that the food is bland or boring because the restaurant is a chain.
Javier’s is one of the best places in Newport Beach to eat when you’re craving Mexican food. You’ll find familiar eats like quesadillas and empanadas, plus interesting seafood dishes featuring shrimp, crab, prawns, and scallops.
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9. Lido Bottle Works
Address: 3408 Via Oporto Ste 103, Newport Beach, CA 92663
After an afternoon stroll around the luxurious Lido Marina village and the marina, Lido Bottle Works is the ideal place to find cool and unusual plates. Enjoy a lovely outdoor patio for lunch or dinner on the marina, or choose one of the comfy places to sit inside. My mom loves the whole Lido area, and this is a place she chooses again and again.
The view during lunch at this wine bar is quite sublime, and the menu is a little different from the dinner menu. The classy ambiance inside the establishment is lovely for lunch or dinner with the fresh seafood and vegetable dishes.
You may find quite a few things on the menu that interest you, which is why we always order a few small plates and get to try different dishes tapas style. Some of the interesting ingredients and features you’ll find on the menu include turmeric pickles, mint yogurt, and Meyer lemon gremolata. The house mustard on the charcuterie plate is a must!
That being said, it’s also the sort of place where you can order a big entree just for yourself, if you prefer to not mix tastes. The restaurant has a pretty extensive selection of wine and beer, and the servers can make recommendations based on your meal choices.
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10. Sessions West Coast Deli
Address: 2823 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Sessions West Coast Deli isn’t your average deli. It stands out with its house-made sauces and local, sustainable ingredients. You’ll find a handful of Sessions West Coast Delis throughout Orange County, and the establishment in Newport Beach is an excellent place for lunch.
Located on the Balboa Peninsula, the deli does have gluten-free bread, so give the shop a try if you’ve got gluten sensitivities.
One of the most delicious items on the menu is the tomato soup, served with a pesto topping and a bag of parmesan croutons. The creamy soup alone will have you coming back to this location time and time again, and you’ll enjoy the fun neighborhood restaurant vibe.
A few times I’ve been in the area during a “cold snap” (which is really just a string of 50-something degree days) and the tomato soup and a sandwich have been the perfect lunch to warm me up.
The restaurant also serves homemade kettle chips called Shakra Spuds, which are delightfully crunchy. The sandwiches are surprisingly thoughtful in their ingredients, and everything on the menu is always super fresh and flavorful.
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11. Nobu Newport Beach
Address: 3450 Via Oporto #101, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Known worldwide for its sushi, every Nobu restaurant boasts incredible food and a beautifully lush environment. For its Newport Beach location, this renowned seafood restaurant offers a gorgeous view of the marina, but those who know head to the restaurant for its food rather than its location.
Nobu is an all-around fantastic experience, whether you’re a discerning foodie seeking an award-winning restaurant or you just adore sashimi tacos. Do try the crispy okra with spicy garlic ponzu if you see it on the appetizer menu (everyone seems to get the edamame; it’s time to branch out!).
If you’ve never been to a Nobu before, the black cod with miso is a must-try as it’s one of the restaurant’s most famous dishes. Although Nobu is mostly known as a sushi restaurant, the establishment excels with its tacos, which can come with delicious components like Wagyu beef, lobster, tuna, and prime rib.
Don’t order without checking the excellent omakase tasting menus: the Nobu Signature Tasting Menu and the Nobu Newport Beach.