A week from now, Newport Beach will be ablaze with spotlights and movie stars. Cinephiles will find their way to the Triangle, Big Newport, Lido Theater and Fashion Island for indies, documentaries and everything shorts under the sun. At some point, though, you’re going to get hungry. Then hangry. We’re dedicating this week’s guide to moviegoers searching for a meal as worthy as the money they just forked over for a cool flick.
Utilizing half a dozen screens, the theater at the end of the 55 freeway is flanked by a handful of casual sit-down joints. However, drive less than a mile down Newport Boulevard, and you’ll discover more options than you thought possible. Take, for instance, Toast Kitchen & Bakery. Plating all three meals, a full bar, and killer desserts (and we haven’t even mentioned the mochi doughnuts next door), it’s hard to go wrong here. Warm service in a well-lit dining room is ideal for those post-movie discussions. 1767 Newport Blvd., (949) 873-5057; www.toastkitchenbakery.com.
Swing a left onto 17th Street, and you’ll stumble upon a staggering number of places. Among the masses is Playa Mesa, helmed in the kitchen by Roland(o) Rubalcava. If you search our archives, you’ll see quite a few features on chef– and for good reason. Talented and knowledgeable, he brings an authenticity to the Mexican menu. Of course, you’ll also find a few modern twists, such as honey mezcal dressing in their house salad, or confit oyster mushrooms in the vegetarian tacos. A surreal amount of bar seating means there’s a space for everyone. Enjoy the modern setting, suitable for families and friends alike. 428 E. 17th St. (949) 287-5292; www.playamesa.com.
Continue on Newport Boulevard, and you arrive at another featured venue for NBFF. A single-screen destination, you’re right across the street from Lido Marina Village. Besides the coffee shop, every other eatery sports a patio with views of the water. Lido Bottle Works is where we’d head for a proper sit-down meal. However, we recently found ourselves at Zinqué for a casual bite. Ordering at the bar, taking a number and finding a table to our liking was all part of the process. Their mostly French menu is chock full of quiche, steak frites and tartines. We appreciated the low-key vibe and parking validation. 3446 Via Oporto, (949) 612-7259; www.lezinque.com.
Take a stroll, and in under 10 minutes you have your choice of good eats. Alta Coffee is for your caffeine fix. ARC Butcher & Baker is perfect for picking up a meal to enjoy at home. We headed upstairs at The Cannery Seafood of the Pacific for their bustling lounge. Sushi and a locals vibe mean laughter often reaching the downstairs portion. A full-service dining room specializing in all things ocean means a solid place for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Hang at the Snug Bar, their secondary watering hole, before or afterwards for a craft cocktail. 3010 Lafayette Rd., (949) 566-0060; www.cannerynewport.com.
Both Edwards Big Newport and THE LOT are in the island neighborhood. You have your choice of chain establishments, but we craved eats from Sushi Roku. In addition to katana robata skewers and Japanese specialties, they recently launched an omakase specifically for vegans. A kale salad and tofu tobonyaki are savory and worth the coin. Be sure to stretch your legs and explore the mall afterwards. 327 Newport Center Dr., (949) 706-3622; www.innovativedining.com.
For off-site deliciousness, drive to Roger’s Gardens on the corner of MacArthur and San Joaquin Hills. Their dedicated restaurant, Farmhouse, is like a desert oasis. Serious farm-to-table cuisine, there is normally a wait. Wait at the bar for a drink to tide you over. Their fresh approach to dining rivals many of the surrounding eateries. Note: During inclement weather (Read: rain) Farmhouse may close. 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Corona del Mar, (949) 640-1315; www.farmhouse.org
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.