Every town needs a good dive bar. Naturally, Newport Beach has one of the best: DivBar.
Located on Coast Highway in the old Josh Slocum’s spot, DivBar ain’t your daddy’s dive bar.
“When most people think of a dive bar, they picture a dirty, greasy bar where your feet stick to the floor, and if they had any food, you wouldn’t want to order it,” jokes DivBar partner and director of operations Bill Bracken, who spent several years as executive chef at Island Hotel before defecting to DivBar. “We want to be the classic American bar that serves really good food.”
Bracken is being modest, because DivBar has been receiving accolades for its down-home cuisine, which focuses on authentic barbecue, broasted chicken and pizza.
I sampled DivBar’s menu recently with fellow Indy columnist Lynn Selich. Because the restaurant is on the bay, we elected to travel via Lynn’s Duffy boat and tie up at the DivBar dock–a fun way to go to dinner.
Entering DivBar is like walking into a western-themed antique store/sports bar. The interior is decorated with a mish-mash of funky items that somehow suit the restaurant’s theme while exuding a fun ambiance. Numerous large screen TVs are tuned to an array of sports channels.
We sat at a table overlooking the harbor and ordered a variety of dishes, including smoked brisket, baby back ribs, pizza, broasted chicken, firecracker grilled shrimp, duck fries, chipotle fries, and Bill Bracken’s famous truffle mac and cheese.
As good as the barbecue was, and the pizza, it was the duck fries that made my taste buds stand up and cheer. The fries are potatoes pulled into chunks, fried, and topped with smoked duck and roasted shallot aioli.
And Chef Bracken’s mac and cheese was as delicious as I remembered it.
Oh–one more delicious item that I discovered is Chef Bracken’s favorite: the artichoke dip, served with Fritos corn chips.
“It’s such a good dish, I could eat it every day,” said Chef Bracken. “I’ve been adjusting the recipe. It’s perfect whether you’re munching at the bar or starting a meal.”
While enjoying dinner, I learned that DivBar was now serving breakfast on the weekends starting at 9 am. I know how much my editorial assistant, Catherine, loves breakfast, so we returned to DiveBar the following Sunday morning.
We started with a fruit plate packed with apples, berries, grapes and pineapple.
Neither of us had ever tried chicken and waffles, so Catherine ordered the DivBar version: Belgian waffles with broasted chicken tenders and maple syrup. I went with The Dive country skillet: smoked brisket, pulled pork, roasted tomatoes, cheddar cheese, eggs and potato bread, mixed together and baked in a skillet.
Having extolled the decadent virtues of the duck fries, Catherine wanted to try them so we placed an order, knowing we’d be taking plenty of leftovers home.
“I love this,” exclaimed Catherine after a bite of the chicken and waffles. “The waffle is light and fluffy on the inside with a crisp outside, and the chicken is tender and juicy. The combination of the two all smothered in maple syrup is delicious. You have to try some, while I steal a bite of your breakfast.”
“Better hurry–I may inhale this faster than you can say DivBar three times,” I said, shoveling another forkful of the country skillet dish into my mouth.
“I like the dipping sauces, especially the spicy BBQ and honey mustard,” said Catherine.“Who has time for dipping sauces?” I wondered aloud as I scraped the pan clean with my fork.
“I’m so full,” moaned Catherine.
“Me too, and there’s so much more on the menu we haven’t tried yet. Looks like we’ll have to come back.”
“Oh, darn. Really?” said Catherine, smiling.
DivBar starters are $6 to $10. Entrees are $12 to $25. For more information, visit DivBar.com, or call (949) 675-RIBS.