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Dine Newport Beach

Tasting Notes Blog

July 6, 2017

11 Airport District Hidden Dining Gems

Newport Beach spans a wide vicinity which encompasses the Airport District, serving the areas surrounding John Wayne Airport. There is a wide range of dining options, from fast food and casual, to upscale restaurants. There is no shortage of choices no matter what you’re looking for. Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores will have no trouble finding delicious eats to suit their tastes and needs.

11 Airport District Hidden GemsAVO Bar + Restaurant
If you’re looking for lunch or dinner options, The Duke Hotel’s AVO Bar offers some tasty offerings (breakfast is served at the hotel’s Citrus restaurant) to whet your appetite. Sip on a Signature Bloody Mary or Mango Mojito, and munch on Honey Glazed Chicken Wings, charcuterie, or French Onion Soup to start. Then, depending on your cravings, there is an array of burgers and sandwiches, as well as entrée choices such as a 16oz Porterhouse, Seared Diver Scallops, or Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna to curb those hunger pangs.

11 Airport District Hidden GemsBosscat Kitchen & Libations
Each season, new flavors and recipes are brought into the kitchen at Bosscat, and all cooks on staff are encouraged to brainstorm (and eat) with the chef. This collaborative process is the foundation of Bosscat’s culinary art. Encouraging and fostering new ideas with seasonal produce, meats and spices enable a super fun and fresh menu for their customers. Chef Peter Petro’s southern roots are at the heart of the menu which includes Pulled Pork Hush Puppies, Rock Shrimp & Grits, and a 12-hour Beef Short Rib. While dining, don’t forget to order up one or two selections from the extensive whiskey collection at Bosscat. The house-created cocktails are also a thing of beauty with offerings from a variety of spirits, using fresh ingredients for optimum flavor.

Campus Jax­­­
Campus Jax is a mindful kitchen, brasserie and supper club, all rolled into one. It features a unique blend of food, music, and dance. There is live blues and jazz, as well as food for your mind, body, and soul! The Brasserie offers up libations – especially beer – and a variety of delicious soulful dishes with an emphasis on plant-based and superfood dishes that are optimal for your health. The Southern-inspired menu is Cajun-infused Californian, so every dish is prepared fresh daily with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. By night, Campus Jax transforms into a full service, sit down dinner and Supper Club, complete with a full bar, Happy Hour, small plates, specialty drinks, music and dancing. It’s a one stop spot for all your entertainment needs.

11 Airport District Hidden GemsCitrus
Located on the Lobby Level of The Duke Hotel Newport Beach, Citrus is where classic styles are presented with a bold combination of flavors that celebrate the very best of Southern California. Citrus serves breakfast with a full-on Californian style menu with delightful choices such as Chilaquiles, Traditional Eggs Benedict or California Avocado Frittata. Hotel guests looking for lunch and dinner meals at The Duke will find it at AVO Bar + Restaurant.

Il Barone
Owner/Chef Franco Barone is one of Orange County’s most notable culinary personalities and continues to dazzle and impress diners with his traditional Italian menu. Authentic Italian dishes are prepared to perfection at Il Barone, and there are so many to choose from. House-made pastas like Gnochetti alla Sorrentina, mouthwatering entrees such as Vitello alla Milanese, and any of the hand-made pizzas will undoubtedly whet your appetite. Do not leave without trying Polpettine al Tegamino, the restaurant’s signature meatballs. Il Barone serves fine dining quality food in a relaxed atmosphere where you can sit back and enjoy your meal without the usual stuffiness of a restaurant of this caliber.

11 Airport District Hidden GemsKitayama
Traditional Japanese dining is what Kitayama is all about. Here, you’ll find a classic, yet modern approach to the savory traditions of Japanese cuisine. The freshest of fish is shipped in daily for the wondrous sushi bar, as well as the a la carte menu. In addition to the sushi bar and highly requested sushi chef omakase, Kitayama offers three distinguished dining areas, including tatami, each with a different ambiance. Lunch at Kitayama offers a variety of a la carte selections as well as daily lunch specials. During dinner, you’ll find an extensive menu with a host of Chef’s Specials including Smoked Beef Tongue, Purple Sweet Potato Tempura, as well as Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe Rice.

11 Airport District Hidden GemsJuliette Kitchen + Bar
If you’re looking for a rustic experience, with food inspired by seasonal and local ingredients, then Juliette Kitchen is for you. Chef Daniel Hyatt’s menu focuses on modern and balanced dishes that naturally accentuates the ingredients. The restaurant is attached to a “wine shop” which accounts for the extensive wine list available in the dining room. The menu includes an array of sandwiches, salads with a sprinkling of entrees during lunch hours, while the dinner menu is filled with more substantial plates ranging from Hangar Steak, Braised Lamb Belly, and Roast Duck Breast. The restaurant is also open for brunch on the weekends, as well as Social Hour, Mondays to Fridays with deals on libations and a limited menu featuring cheese, charcuterie and a handful of small plates.

11 Airport District Hidden Gems

Photo Credit: Anita Lau

Moulin
This quaint and charming café has won the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Bask in the sunshine out on the patio, or sit in the authentically French atmosphere that owner Laurent Vrignaud has created for his customers. Indulge in a Croque Madame for breakfast, or if you’re lunching, one of the baguette sandwiches in the display case, with a salad or two, will hit the spot ever so perfectly. Or, alternatively, do what the French do and select one of the meticulously created pastries paired with a cup of seriously good coffee for a Continental breakfast to remember. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the café is open for dinner with a 3-course prix fixe, and steak frites dinner, respectively. Reservations are highly recommended for dinner.

Nana San
This small, humble strip mall restaurant borders the 73 toll road and often has a wait before it opens for dinner. Securing a seat at the bar might take a little bit of patience, but this sushi is worth it. Order off the menu, or simply, allow the sushi chefs to create an omakase (as the Chef wishes) meal for you. Whether you love traditional or American favorites like California or spicy tuna rolls, Nana San will cater to your needs. During lunch, the restaurant is popular and crowed with affordable sushi combos that are a steal.  Raw fish creations are the stars here, however, if you are looking for something cooked, the broiled Chilean miso sea bass with pumpkin mashed potatoes, broiled marinated black cod, and deep-fried flounder are also fantastic.

Ten Asian Bistro
Ten Asian Bistro offers Asian Fusion and a full-service Sushi Bar which has been the go-to hot spot for Asian dishes and stand out sushi. Offering a sophisticated dining experience within an Asian-inspired setting, its Asian fusion menu is emphasized with fresh, unique, and quality ingredients. Their specially trained master chefs strive to bring diners innovative dishes, while Chef Dave Fernandez, better known as “Sushi Dave” – has procured an endless fish selection which will make pescatarians go into overdrive. Start with tuna tataki salad, before moving on to entrees such as soy butter Scottish salmon or miso roasted Chilean. Or, try fragrant halibut sea salt and yellowtail jalapeno sashimi, which are house favorites.

11 Airport District Hidden Gems

Photo Credit: Anita Lau

Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice
Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless, and at Vibe Organic Kitchen, it isn’t! This little spot epitomizes what a hidden gem is, and early risers can start their day off with the myriad of juices and acai parfaits, or, sit down and enjoy a Nutella Waffle, Sunrise Scramble, or the hearty Early Bird Burrito. The vegetarian, vegan, AND gluten-free menu will delight herbivores and omnivores alike. For lunch, try one of the Green Wraps, Bowls, or Burgers made with a black bean and mushroom patty. If you’re looking for something lighter, one of the Toasts might just be what you’re looking for.

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Written by Anita Lau

Anita Lau has been writing about food for more than 25 years both in Asia and the US. She is the author of "Asian Greens”, pens the blog "diary of a Mad Hungry Woman”, freelances for local and international publications, and is also a restaurant consultant. She has appeared on Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen as a guest judge, and also several episodes of Eat Street. Anita is currently co-President of the prestigious Les Dames d'Escoffier (LA/OC Chapter).

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