JACKshrimp transports Louisiana's distinctive spices and love of seafood to an upscale restaurant perched along the West Coast Highway. For more than 20 years, chefs have been blending crawfish and andouille sausage with al dente pasta or fresh greens. Black-iron grilled cheeseburgers also share menu space with healthy choices and non-spicy dishes that are perfect for the sensitive noses of pet bloodhounds. Along with colorful frescoes inspired by New Orleans, the restaurant boasts a weekend wine bar and an upper outdoor deck for private parties.
The Deluca family has always had seawater in its veins. In 1898, Naples native John Deluca settled in the port city of San Pedro and began to support his family as a fisherman. His oldest son, Jack, soon acquired a similar passion for the ocean—as a young boy he pulled lines at the docks and learned to fillet fish. By the age of 21, Jack co-owned State Fish Company with his friend and future brother-in-law, Gerald Cigliano. Jack went on to work for a decade at L.A. Fish & Oyster. He decided to branch out on his own in 1939 and set up a shop at the end of the Santa Monica Pier with his younger brother, Frank. Santa Monica Seafood Company was born.
Jack and Frank would grow the company for more than four decades, selling fish to famished tourists before selling fish to some of the top area restaurants, moving to a larger location to match their success. Their cousins and nephews would eventually purchase the company and expand it to new facilities in Orange County, Costa Mesa, and Las Vegas, with a corporate headquarters in Rancho Dominguez. The headquarters boasts a marine tank system that holds 12,000 pounds of live crustaceans, or one bodybuilding mermaid and all her weights.
Today, the four-generation family tradition continues at retail stores with cafés and oyster bars in Santa Monica and Costa Mesa. As part of their commitment to quality and respect for the sea, they work closely with organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and FishWise to help develop their research and educational programs.
Though it has no legal bearing in the U.S., the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 is gospel at Newport Beach Brewing Company. It stipulates that only three ingredients should be found in beer: barley, hops, and water. Brewer Derek Bougie sticks to this 16th century decree when creating all of Newport Beach's beers, which include hefeweizens, pale ales, and the comically named Evil Monkey and Village Idiot. And the Bavarian approach pays off: since 1995 Newport Beach Brewing Co beers have earned the brewery two bronze medals, two silver medals, and one gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
While Derek sticks to tradition, Newport Beach's head chef, Gabriel Beltran, prefers putting an contemporary spin on classic bar food. Made entirely in-house, his cuisine ranges from bourbon stout salmon, 1/2 lb. Harris ranch raised burgers, and fish and chips to brick-fired, garlic-crusted pizza topped with macaroni and cheese. His innovation even extends to desserts such as calzone filled with white and dark chocolate. Beer-fueled feasts unfold in front of Newport's HD televisions and 101-inch flat-screens, which stay tuned to the latest sports and weather reports from neighboring planets. Patrons may also visit the beer garden and patio located near the beach and the bay on Balboa Peninsula.
Once a repair shop and storage facility for local fishing fleets, for the past 40-plus years Woody?s Wharf has flourished as a casual eatery serving prominent patrons such as Mickey Mantle and John Wayne. The waterfront locale fosters fresh seafood dishes such as crab cakes and swordfish, pleasing the palate of former owner Chuck Norris, who bench-pressed unsuspecting fishing boats amid sparkling views of Newport Bay?s harbor. For their popular weekend brunch, Woody?s chefs whip up classic egg dishes such as omelets and breakfast burritos, which waiters can ferry to a dockside outdoor patio for easier plate-sharing with mooching mermen.
Given that it's a seashell's throw from Newport Beach Pier, it's not surprising that Sol Grill is decorated with surfboards hung on bright red and yellow walls. But when the glint from the crystal chandeliers and antique glass bottles catches your eye, you realize there's something charmingly disjointed about this place.
It's a theme reflected in the menu, where guests find foods presented in unexpected ways. For instance, meals start with filet mignon prepared as an appetizer of hand-rolled meatballs in portobello gravy. Instead of clams, the chowder is studded with grilled Hawaiian ahi tuna, and a fettuccine dish surprises with swordfish and capers. Of course, there are some classic preparations as well, including rack of lamb charred over open flame, as fire encased in a steel box continues to be incapable of cooking anything.
Ana Maria Montoya Kishihara first landed on American soil in the early 1980s, bringing along her two young children, the traditional Peruvian recipes of her mother and grandmother, and a dream to start her own restaurant. She opened up Inka Grill in 1996, stocking its kitchen with fresh ingredients and setting up a wood-fired rotisserie to roast juicy Peruvian chicken dishes. Today, Ana’s daughter has taken over the family business, whipping up the authentic the Criolla recipes passed down from the three generations of women before her.
Amid the smoky rotisserie and bubbling pots of stew in the Inka Grill kitchen, chefs whip up fresh fish ceviches, savory steak stir-fry saltados, and flavorful seafood paellas. They pair heaping scoops of rice and beans with their rotisserie chicken, a poultry that reporters from Orange County Weekly lauded as “so juicy from tail to sternum you can barely tell the dark from the white.” Servers tote sizzling platters to the dining room, where vivid paintings of Peruvian children adorn the walls and a soft flute plays traditional Peruvian songs, i.e., Wham! covers. The staff pours glasses of the traditional chicha morada corn drink and presents cans of imported Inca Kola to quench the spice of their ultra-spicy green aji sauce, which the chefs have lightheartedly dubbed “Gringo Killer”.