Although a piece of my heart will permanently reside in Manhattan, and I physically reside in Indiana, I find myself on the West Coast every few months for one reason or another.
During my latest trip to Newport Beach, my husband surprised me with a dinner reservation at 21 Oceanfront, a spot we’d never tried before. If it’s possible for a restaurant to sweep you off your feet like it’s Prince Charming himself, 21 Oceanfront accomplishes it.
By now, you know I love anywhere with historic features, and this steakhouse and seafood establishment delivers in spades. Just look at that wallpaper.
When we walked in — you’ll be asked at the door if you have a reservation, by the way, so make sure you book your table ahead of time — we were instantly escorted upstairs to the intimate second-floor dining area.
We visited in December, so the decor was extra magical thanks to twinkling lights and classic red velvet bows at every. turn.
The service at 21 Oceanfront is impeccable, and you’re in for a truly exceptional dining experience from the moment you sit down. We started with a bottle from the bar’s extensive wine menu — the presentation was beautiful and the wine itself was delicious.
I also enjoyed a bowl of New England clam chowder that rivaled any I’ve had on the East Coast. Sorry, Newport, Rhode Island.
The true stars of the evening, though, were the entrées. I had the baseball-cut swordfish steak, while my husband went with a tried-and-true filet mignon. Both dishes were incredible, and the portions were generous.
While we didn’t try any dessert on this particular occasion, I am looking forward to sampling the after-dinner menu during my next visit!
21 Oceanfront, which has been voted the most romantic restaurant in Orange County, is my favorite type of dining establishment — refined enough to feel as though you’ve stepped back in time and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin could walk through the door at any moment, yet comfortable enough you can sit and talk for hours over cocktails.
It’s also the perfect excuse to pull out your favorite little black dress.
A Brief History of 21 Oceanfront
According to Visit Newport Beach, the McFadden Building was constructed in the 1890s by landowner brothers James and Robert McFadden. At one time, the upstairs rooms were used to house railroad workers from the Pacific Electric line. The train, also known as the Red Car system, used to pass down the street on its route to the end of the line at the Balboa Pavilion.
Directly across the street from the McFadden Building is the Dory Fishing Fleet, a fishing cooperative founded in 1891. Fishermen used to live at The Doryman’s Inn Hotel, a Victorian bed and breakfast that is attached to 21 Oceanfront today.
I was also told by a local that the building that now houses 21 Oceanfront was once a bordello.
I have no proof that this is true but it certainly adds to the lore of the establishment. Plus, what’s history without a little embellishment every now and then?
Have you visited 21 Oceanfront?
21 Oceanfront is located at 2100 W Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA 92663.
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