Off the Menu: Historic Dining at Bowers with Tangata

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By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

 We usually stay close to the greater Newport area when it comes to dining, but we heard that Patina Group’s Tangata Restaurant at the Bowers Museum just reopened with a revamped space and a new menu from Executive Chef Donald Harris that features Pacific Rim influenced dishes.

And after we learned that Harris most recently worked at Leatherby’s Café Rouge’s Catering Division as sous chef to Chef Ross Pangilinan (one of our favorite OC chefs), we had to try Tangata.

“I like to keep my food simple, letting the ingredients speak for themselves,” said Harris.

“Donald is a perfect match for Tangata,” added Pangilinan. “His food is clean, with a Californian influence. He has great experience in catering and in the restaurant, and his organization and multi-tasking skills will definitely be the keys to his success.”

After dining at Tangata, we agree with those comments. We tried several items, including the crispy calamari appetizer

Shrimp salad
Shrimp salad

($10) with fresh Monterey squid, and the Laughing Bird shrimp salad ($18) with gem lettuce, mango, avocado, cucumber, green papaya, and passion fruit vinaigrette.

For dessert we shared the chocolate fondant ($8). All dishes were perfectly prepared, and offered a lighter-style lunch before wandering through The Bowers Museum, which has several fascinating exhibits on display, including one called “The Red That Colored the World,” which delves into cochineal coloring and its uses over many centuries.

Tangata has a clever beverage program with a cocktail list divided into “North America,” “South America,” “Far East,” and “French Polynesia” sections.

Chocolate fondant
Chocolate fondant

Los Angeles-based interior designer Heather Ashton has re-imagined the space with a clean and modern aesthetic that honors the architectural style of the museum itself.

The main dining area is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows, along with skylights, to allow ambient light to illuminate the room. For our visit, we dined al fresco with a view of the Bowers courtyard.

For more information, visit and

Make Mine Squash

True Food Kitchen is holds a unique spot in Newport’s culinary world. It seems like a casual yet upscale restaurant that boasts a comfortable patio with fire pits, and cuisine that’s as decadent, fresh and creative as they come.

Well, that’s all true, but True Food is perfect for those who want to eat healthy but not sacrifice flavor. Their menu runs the gamut from meats to fish, with myriad vegan and vegetarian options.

Our favorite season item, which happens to be vegan, is the squash pie, which is back on the menu through the holidays. This dairy-free alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie, is made with naturally sweet butternut squash, topped with coconut whipped cream and a graham sesame crust.

This sweet treat is $7 and worth making a special trip for, plus whole pies can be ordered for your holiday party.

Call (949) 644-2400 or visit


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