Newport Beach Restaurant Week starts

Several local restaurants will be showing off their most popular dishes during Newport Beach Restaurant Week, which kicks off Friday.

An earlier version incorrectly said that Five Crowns is serving mushroom soup, a gem lettuce and Point Reyes salad and Jidori chicken. The restaurant is serving Mary Alice's pride salad, roasted parsnip soup and braised Boulder Valley shortrib, among other items. Also Bryon Freeze's title is chef de cuisine, not chief de cuisine.

Area eateries will tempt diners with special prix-fixe, multicourse menus that range from $10 to $20 for lunch and $20 to $40 for dinner.

Chef Deborah Schneider of SOL Cocina at 251 E. Coast Hwy. said she sees the event as a way to give back to the community that has welcomed her since her restaurant's launch in 2009.

"We appreciate all their support over the years; Newport Beach really made us welcome," Schneider said. "We've gotten great community support here, both in summer and in the off-season."

Schneider said SOL is a coastal Mexican concept evocative of Baja California, where seafood reigns. The menu is friendly to vegans and vegetarians as well as to those with food allergies and intolerances, and food is grilled rather than fried.

"We like to say we're a different kind of Mexican — lighter, with a street food influence," she said. "People in California just totally get this kind of food."

SOL's menus for Restaurant Week include a $15 three-course lunch with first course options like an avocado Caesar salad or Mexican onion soup; a second course of SOL's Mexx chop salad, a torta or street taco combo; and dessert choices like dark chocolate brownie cake or nachos dulce. The $30 dinner menu offers the same first- and third-course selections, with entrée choices like herb-roasted seasonal whitefish, a street taco combo, pork rib chop or chicken pibil.

For more information on SOL, visit

At the bargain end of the spectrum, Royal Thai Cuisine in West Newport has a $10 lunch special that includes a first course of tom kah or tom yum soups, royal salad or Siam forest salad with peanut dressing.

Entrées are served with steamed white rice or Pad Thai noodles and spring rolls, and include more than a dozen possible selections like crying tiger, several curries or the restaurant's signature snapper dish. For dessert, enjoy fresh banana with white pearl tapioca and fresh coconut milk, garnished with crispy shredded coconut.

The venerable Five Crowns, Corona del Mar's grande dame, will offer a $40 dinner menu that includes first course options like Mary Alice's pride salad, roasted parsnip soup, and an heirloom beet salad; look out for beets on menus around the country as they surge in popularity this year.

Five Crowns' entrées include braised Boulder Valley shortrib, Skuna Bay salmon and roasted prime ribs of beef. For dessert, choose between a seasonal fruit trifle or Meyer lemon crème brûlée.

But if you don't have the chance to eat your way through Newport Beach this week, don't fret — Orange County Restaurant Week begins Feb. 27.

If You Go

What: Newport Beach Restaurant Week

When: Friday through Jan. 29

Where: Dozens of Newport Beach-area restaurants

Cost: Lunch $10 to $20; dinner $20 to $40


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