Calling all Newport Beach diners: grab a fork and get ready to dig into Orange County Restaurant Week – presented by the Orange County Restaurant Association – that runs March 6-12.
Nearly 150 restaurants throughout the OC are offering terrific deals for diners, including 30 in Newport Beach. That’s a far cry from the dozens of local restaurants that used to participate in Newport Beach Restaurant Week, but with last year’s demise of the Newport Beach Restaurant Association, Newport’s Restaurant Week – normally held every January – was canceled.
So now’s your chance to savor sensational prix fixe menus ranging from $15 to $25 lunches to $25 to $45 dinners. There’s even a luxe dinner category ($60 to $120).
This year, the Restaurant Week website has arranged menu options in a variety of categories, including Family Night, Date Night, Vegetarian Dining, a Dessert Spotlight and options for the entire Squad.
And what would Restaurant Week be without cocktails? This year, the featured spirits are Grey Goose, Maker’s Mark, Hornitos Tequila, Chambord and Licor 43.
Participating restaurants, menus, cocktails and more are listed online at www.OCRestaurantWeek.com.
“OC Restaurant Week has been a highlight for Southern California foodies for 14 years,” says Pamela Waitt, founder of OC Restaurant Week and President of OC Restaurant Association, Inc. who noted that there seems to be pent up excitement this year because last year’s Restaurant Week focused on takeout options, which meant no luxury menus.
“People seems to want unique experiences this year,” said Waitt, who explained that the OC Restaurant Association reviewed previous Restaurant Week data to see exactly how guests experienced Restaurant Week. “Everyone does it a little differently, whether it’s date night or lunch with co-workers. People are going to have a lot of fun with these menus.”
Naturally, said Waitt, everyone has different budgets for lunch and dinner, which is why there are some great value price points especially during lunch.
For example, how about a two-course lunch for $15 at Dory Deli near the Newport Pier. The deal includes bacon clam chowder or a house salad, and then a choice of three options including the Dory Burger.
Or how about a three-course lunch for $20 at The Jetty in Corona del Mar. You get your choice of five different entrees including a shrimp po boy or an albacore tuna melt, plus a choice of sides, and dessert. They also throw in a free beverage. This might be the best lunch deal in town.
Or check out the $25 lunch at Lighthouse Café on the Balboa Peninsula. Choose from seven starters including Newport Nachos with chicken or steak, then decide between eight entrees including the lobster roll, fish and chips or shrimp tacos.
Dinner options are also impressive. How about $25 for a two-course dinner at Billy’s at the Beach in Newport Beach that includes one of Billy’s famous Mai Thai cocktails?
If it’s options you want, go to Rockin’ Baja Lobster near the Newport Pier. They have lunches for $20 or $25, and dinner menus for $25 and $35. They even have a terrific Date Night deal for $99 that includes two Purple Cadillac margaritas, Caesar bowl for two, date night bucket for two with a whole lobster, skirt steak, Baja-style shrimp, grilled chicken and grilled corn on the cob. Add all you can eat ranchero beans and citrus rice plus dessert, and you have an impressive feast for two.
Several restaurant have notable $45 dinners, including Fig & Olive, Fly N’ Fish, Gracias Madre, Lighthouse Café, Muldoon’s, Taco Rosa and The Beachcomber. Enjoy the Bungalow’s $50 dinner menu with a choice of three starters, five entrees (including the Chilean sea bass and Scottish Salmon) and two desserts. Lobster tail is available for an extra $10, or bone-in rib eye for a $15 supplement.
You can also go luxe with $60 to $120 dinner menus, many of which include wine or cocktails with dinner.
Restaurateur Russ Bendel has a terrific $60 dinner menu at his Olea restaurant on Westcliff Drive. Start with soup or salad, then select from Zinfandel Braised Napa Lamb Shank with tapenade potato puree, Braised Prime Beef Shortrib with smoked blue cheese crushed potatoes and farmers market vegetables, or Wild Caught Alaskan Halibut with herb roasted fingerling potatoes. Add a dessert and you’ll leave happy and full.
Even City Cruises Anchored by Hornblower is getting into the Restaurant Week festivities by offering an $80 dinner cruise on Sunday March 6 or Saturday March 12 that includes a three-course menu.
Other Luxe menus can be found at Billy’s at the Beach ($60), Fable & Spirit ($60), Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens ($60), Five Crowns ($60) Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar ($60), Great Maple ($65 for two), Lido Bottle Works ($65 per person or $130 per couple), Lighthouse Café ($85), The Beachcomber Café ($60), and The Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub + Kitchen ($60).
Beyond the decadent deals and creative cuisine, this is the perfect opportunity to dine out and support our local restaurants, many of whom barely survived Covid and are ready to welcome donors with open arms—and plates full of delicious culinary delights.