There’s so much to love about Newport Beach, but the dining scene just might be one of the best reasons to visit this seaside town. And if you’re going to be near the water you might as well have a great view to enjoy along with a delicious meal.
Fortunately, Newport Beach is home to dozens of restaurants with views of the Pacific Ocean and some are even right next to the water. Whether you’re in search of fine dining or something more casual, You’ll find it here while having a meal and taking in the sea air.
Bluewater Grill has been a Newport Beach fixture for 25 years and it keeps getting better with age. Located on a small canal in busy Newport Harbor, this seafood restaurant is known for its oysters on the half shell, clam chowder, and fresh fish entrees. In fact, much of its daily fish selection comes from the Dory Fishing Fleet located just a few miles down the road.
The indoor section of the restaurant is cozy and a bit rustic, while the outdoor patio feels like you’re sitting on a large dock. If you’re coming for dinner, be prepared to wait since this is a popular destination. Or you could head into the bar area which is first-come, first-served. Reservations can be made for large parties.
Located next to Bluewater is one of Newport’s highest-rated sushi restaurants, Buddha’s Feast. The atmosphere is casual with a softly lit, romantic patio and a cozy inside dining room. What this place is really known for is its inventive Buddha’s rolls. If you enjoy spicy food don’t pass up the Caliente roll made with spicy tuna, pepper jack cheese, sriracha, and avocado. Or for something milder, try the stinky roll, a California roll topped with garlic butter and a garlic ponzu sauce. If you’re dining with someone that doesn’t appreciate sushi, don’t worry, Buddha’s has hot entrees on the menu, including broiled black cod, teriyaki chicken, and sesame chicken.
This is a fairly small restaurant, so reservations are suggested.
Pro Tip: Street parking is limited in the area of Bluewater Grill and Buddha’s Feast, however, valet parking is available in the lot behind both restaurants.
For a special occasion, consider booking a table at the elegant 21 Oceanfront, located at the base of Newport Pier. The decor is warm and luxurious with red carpet, red-patterned wallpaper, and white linen tablecloths. The menu reflects a traditional steak and seafood restaurant with generous portions. If you like both meat and seafood, try ordering a steak and then top it with lobster or prawns.
Reservations are recommended. If you’re coming with your partner for a romantic dinner, try timing it for sunset and watch the sun dip into the waters of the Pacific.
This is a pricey restaurant, so consider coming for happy hour and sit in the bar — the views are just as good. After dinner, stroll along the Newport Pier for great views of the beach.
Fly-N-Fish Oyster Bar & Grill
Just a few doors down from 21 Oceanfront is a bit more casual eatery called Fly-N-Fish Oyster Bar & Grill. And as the name suggests, this is the place for freshly-shucked oysters. Fresh fish and seafood are brought in daily with a focus on sustainable options. If you’re in the mood for a hot dish, try their cioppino. And for a starter, definitely order the chef’s calamari.
There are a few tables inside the restaurant with ocean views, but the outdoor seating is even better. If you’re eating dinner early, you may not need a reservation, but this place will likely be booked on weekends for later times.
Pro Tip: There is plenty of metered parking for both 21 Oceanfront and FLy-N-Fish, but be sure to pay the proper amount–parking enforcement is taken seriously in this town.
Located in the Lido Marina Village is Malibu Farm, a restaurant that prides itself on serving simply prepared and locally sourced food. Vegetarians will appreciate the large selection of flavorful veggie dishes, but meat-eaters will be equally satisfied. Among the more popular dishes are mustard lemon chicken and vegan coconut curry. Be sure to pair your meal with one of its craft cocktails.
While eating you’ll enjoy views of the harbor along with several large, glamorous, yachts used for private events and weddings. The indoor and outdoor dining areas combine seamlessly, making either a great spot for a view.
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Malibu Farm is a great spot to grab a meal any time of day. If you’re not in the mood for a full sit-down meal, grab coffee or ice cream at the Coffee Bar & Ice Cream Shop. Reservations are definitely recommended on the weekends.
Lido Bottle Works
Next to Malibu Farm is Lido Bottle Works, also known for delicious food made with locally- sourced ingredients. What this place excels at, however, is its expansive selection of beers, both on tap and in the can or bottle. If you’re having a hard time deciding which beer to order, try starting with a flight of four. Don’t worry if you don’t drink beer, there’s also a nice selection of ciders and California wines.
Among its best dishes are the seasonal burrata, LBW burger, and ceviche. And if you really enjoy your beer, consider taking some home. Lido Bottle Works is open most days for lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends. If you’re coming on a weekend, be sure to make an advanced reservation.
Pro Tip: Street parking is limited in Lido Marina Village, but there is a parking structure on Via Lido. Be sure to get your parking ticket validated before leaving the restaurant.
The Lighthouse Cafe is part of a community center and park positioned next to Mother’s Beach on the Balboa Peninsula. This family-friendly spot is popular with weekend beachgoers, dog walkers, and fitness enthusiasts. So it’s no wonder that the Lighthouse is consistently packed, especially during the summer. But in addition to its ideal location, this restaurant also serves tasty food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The large outdoor patio makes for a fun spot for watching the boats in the harbor.
If you’re coming for breakfast and want to splurge, try the lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes. Lunch and dinner items include a variety of seafood dishes like fish and chips, salmon, and lobster mac and cheese.
If you’re coming on a weekend in the summer, reservations are recommended for any time of day.
Pro Tip: The city of Newport Beach rents kayaks and paddleboards next to the cafe. Before or after your meal, spend an hour exploring the harbor on the water while getting a bit of exercise.
Getting to the Beachcomber Cafe isn’t easy, but it will be totally worth it. Located on the sand in Crystal Cove, this bar and restaurant was originally a beachside cottage built in the 1930s. It was transformed into a restaurant 15 years ago and has been serving delicious food just steps from the ocean ever since. As expected, the dinner menu is heavy on fish and seafood, but there are options for meat lovers and vegetarians. Due to the popularity of this restaurant and its small size, reservations are essential.
If you’re not interested in a full meal then try the outdoor bar in the back specializing in tropical and tiki cocktails. If you want to enjoy the beach at night, consider renting a firepit and ordering s’mores from the cafe.
Pro Tip: There is no parking in the immediate area for the Beachcomber Cafe. Instead, you’ll need to park across the street at the Los Trancos lot. From there, take the shuttle to the entrance to Crystal Cove and walk downhill to the restaurant.
The Pelican Grill can be found within the upscale Resort at Pelican Hill, a 500-acre property positioned on a bluff overlooking the ocean. If the weather is nice — and it usually is in Newport Beach — request a table on the terrace and make your reservation around sunset. You will not be disappointed. Braised short ribs are a consistently popular dish at this restaurant that blends a casual vibe with exquisite service. And don’t pass up the breadbasket, which is always loaded with a variety of house-baked treats. The wine list features many of California’s best wineries and throws in a few Italian varietals, a nod to the resort’s architecture.
Pro Tip: The Resort at Pelican Hill is in a section of town known as Newport Coast, which is at its southern border. There is no way to walk to this particular hotel and restaurant, nor is public transportation available. So if you don’t have a car, you’ll need to arrange for transportation like Uber or Lyft.
California’s vast beachfront communities are a natural lure for tourists: