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Community Influencers’ NBRW Picks

January 16, 2020
  • Eddie V Restaurant in Newport Beach
  • Great Maple Restaurant in Newport Beach
  • Sgt Pepperoni in Newport Beach

So many restaurants, not enough days. Newport Beach Restaurant Week is in full swing, and this year, the list of participating restaurants is longer than ever. With 73 delicious establishments offering special prix fixe lunch, brunch and dinner menus, there’s a lot to digest. To help us make some difficult decisions, we solicited advice from a handful of influential voices in culinary media—folks who make it their job to sniff out the best local eats. After perusing Restaurant Week menus, they filled us in on everything food-related that’s on their radar during this month’s dining bonanza.

Christopher Trela | Dining columnist at the Newport Beach Independent and the OC Business Journal

“I am thrilled that a record number of restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week this year, and am excited that Brunch menus have been added as an option—who doesn’t love a good brunch? One brunch item that made my taste buds jump: house-made whiskey and brown-sugar-cured wild salmon lox on a house-made English muffin at Provenance. Two restaurants have dared to offer $10 lunch menus: Chihuahua Cerveza and Malarky’s Irish Pub. Both are terrific value!

Teri Williams | Editor-in-Chief at Great Taste Magazine

“First off, I was excited to see that there are older, established restaurants and also new ones on there. You can go to a favorite, or you can go to a brand new one to check it out. Also, the menus are across the board. I was excited to see that there are light dishes, plus seasonal, hardy items. I’d love to check out the chef collaboration with Chef Pascal Olhats and Chef Jessica Roy at Café Jardin at Sherman Library and Gardens. With the courses on that menu, you can kind of make up your own decadent surf and turf with lobster bisque and the short rib and pork belly bourguignonne, which sounds amazing. I also thought Nobu’s menu was amazing—a five-course, family-style dinner. They have fish, which obviously you would think of Nobu, but they also have a tenderloin steak on there. In terms of desserts, Fable and Spirit has a Meyer lemon brioche pudding with blueberry compote. It’s on their dinner menu!” 

Allison Mitchell | Editor-in-Chief at Modern Luxury Orange County

“From their Gin Blossom cocktail to their egg-topped Fancy Pizza, CdM Restaurant has become one of my favorite new restaurants. I can’t wait to try their braised veal ravioli during NBRW! What’s not to love about little pillows of pasta stuffed with tender veal?”

Michelle Fung | Foodie influencer behind @FoodWithMichelle

“I had an exciting time going through the list of 73 participating restaurants and browsing through the available selections! After doing further research and looking at numerous photos, Eddie V’s food and atmosphere caught my eye. I was blown away by their vast dinner menu and how there’s something for everyone. I would order the Maine lobster bisque, 8-ounce center-cut filet mignon, truffled mac and cheese, and “bananas foster” butter cake. My mouth is watering thinking about a four-course meal that includes a balance of surf and turf. Overall, I’m really looking forward to NBRW due to the vast amount of restaurants available, and I can’t wait to explore a bunch of new amazing restaurants!”

Sharon Stello | Group editor at Newport Beach Magazine

“Last year, my boyfriend and I went to The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar and loved that experience, so we’re eager to go back again. Everything is phenomenal—the service, the waterfront setting and, of course, the food. The zinfandel-braised short rib is melt-in-your-mouth perfection. And it’s a great value: $50 for four courses or $75 with wine pairings. During restaurant week, we also enjoy trying places we’ve never been to. My mouth is already watering just thinking about the salted caramel pork ribs and maple bacon doughnut at Great Maple. And dinner at The Alley looks like a great deal at $30 for three courses including a grass-fed New York steak option, as does Muldoon’s with hearty choices like shepherd’s pie and Irish stew among the $30 four-course offering that ends with a hot chocolate sundae or Irish berry trifle.”

Gretchen Kurz | Dining writer and critic at Orange Coast Magazine

“Do you live to dine? Me too. No wonder Newport Beach wears such a deep groove in my dining circuit. Restaurant Week only intensifies the allure, only adds more urgency. My impossible dream is to live inside a restaurant week. After obsessively vetting NBRW’s menus, my fantasy itinerary looks like this. For something a little more fancy, I have my heart set on the house-cured wild salmon lox on Provenance’s brunch menu. For lunch, I’m definitely feeling Andrea’s orecchiette Pugliese, and for dinner, Olea’s duck liver pate. However, if we’re talking laid-back and casual, my wish list reads a little differently. Winners include machaca tacos from Chihuahua Cerveza for brunch and pan-seared sand dabs from The Alley for dinner.”

Sondra Barker | Blogger at Cuisine and Travel, and influencer behind @cuisineandtravel

“I love Newport Beach Restaurant Week and check out all the menus as soon as it launches. This year I can’t wait to visit Olea. Their dinner menu is spectacular and features all my favorite dishes like their fried green tomatoes with burrata, filet mignon with béarnaise and crispy langoustines, and lamb shank. Even their dessert selections are amazing. Their butterscotch apple cobbler is one of my favorite desserts in Orange County. In fact, there are so many great items on their NBRW menu, I’m putting a group together so I can selfishly try everything!”

Tina Borgatta | Executive vice president and editorial director at Sauté Magazine

Andrea’s prix-fixe menu is calling my name! It’s got three of my favorite dishes—the pink lady apple salad (crisp apples and candied walnuts? Yes, please!), seared scallops (always cooked to perfection here) and a serving of The Resort’s fresh-made gelato (if you haven’t had it yet, you don’t know what you’ve been missing). For dinnertime, I’m looking at Bluewater Grill. I’ve long admired proprietor Jim Ulcickas’ commitment to sustainability, and the effort is evident when you order a seafood dish here. (And I can’t get enough of that fresh-baked sourdough bread.) For Restaurant Week, I’ll be ordering the New England-style clam chowder and the cedar-plank salmon. And, of course, I won’t say “no” to the cinnamon chocolate bread pudding for dessert.”

Alli and Bobby Talley | Bloggers at, and influencers behind @travelingnewlyweds

“There’s no better way to kick off the new year than with NBRW, and boy do they have some fun deals this time around! Some of our favorite NB restaurants are participating this year, like Sgt. Pepperoni’s (if you haven’t had their meatball ricotta pizza, GO NOW) and True Food Kitchen (love that their dinner special includes wine)! NBRW is also the perfect excuse to try the new cool spots in town, like Fable & Spirit in the Cannery Village. We’ve heard rave reviews over their fish and chips! We can’t wait to eat our way through our home town!”

Buddy and Tasha Clay | Bloggers at, and foodie influencers behind @foodieoc

 “This year for Newport Beach Restaurant Week, we wanted to try some newer restaurants that we haven’t had a chance to visit yet. The first choice that caught our attention was Chihuahua Cerveza. We love trying local beer, and have heard great things about Chihuahua’s, mainly their self-serve beer wall! After looking over their restaurant week menu, we decided brunch would certainly be the move. Dining on the peninsula, eating breakfast burritos, drinking local beer—you can’t beat that! The next restaurant that we plan to dine at is Helmsman Ale House. Sticking with the theme of trying a new place, and one that brews its own beer, this was a no-brainer. Their $20 menu includes three courses, with varying options for each course. I plan to get the coconut shrimp, French onion burger and apple cider donuts. Also, they are offering $5 beer which we definitely can’t pass up!”

Written By: Mariam Makatsaria

Written by Visit Newport Beach

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