Come As You Are Beach Bar Serves Spectacular Food & Drinks At Crystal Cove In Newport Beach, CA
The Beachcomber Cafe and Bootlegger Bar in Newport Beach on the Southern California coast is not really a kick-off-the-sandals kind of place.
It’s really a put ON the sandals kind of place, for you’ll likely be coming right off the sand after wandering through the rocks, beach and tide pools of gorgeous Crystal Cove.
What you’ll be met with is a wooden deck with a few tables at the restaurant and open-air bar that’s really a small deck with bar stools. This is a true come-as-you-are beach bar.
But if you’re not expecting much in the way of quality food and drinks, imagining nothing more than a basic beer bar with a menu made up of things like a so-so burger and buffalo wings served in a plastic basket, then take a moment to dust a little sand off your imagination.
The food and drinks at this little shack-looking place that’s right on the sand is of 5-star quality.
Let’s start with the drinks. Naturally.
The Beachcomber Cafe and Bootlegger Bar have a house speciality. And it’s not one you are likely to see on a menu anywhere else in Southern California. It is, perhaps somewhat strangely, a British drink, the Pimms Cup. It’s as refreshing as beach breeze yet also dangerously deceptive, for it’s packed with alcohol.
Not that the 20-ounce mason jar it’s served in doesn’t give you a warning, but be careful about guzzling down these things!
Or, if you prefer and are there to start your day, go for the Bloody Mary ($18). This one will hit you from the very first sip, causing a tingle in your toes that races straight for your senses. It’s strong, it’s spicy and it’s delicious, one of the best Bloody Mary cocktails you’ll have anywhere, anytime. It, too, is served in the 20-ounce mason jar and the rim is loaded with a crab claw and a delicious grilled shrimp.
Another drink tradition here is the raising of the martini flag. It happens twice a day, at 5 o’clock (hey it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!) and at sunset to the recording of a bugle; it is a daily ritual at the Bootlegger Bar. The staff even salutes the flag after it’s raised to the top of the flagpole.
For food, the lobster roll is a local legend that has long-time “Newpoters” talking about it whenever they even hear the words “Beachcomber Cafe.” The Ahi Tacos with the wonton shells, too, are spectacular. So much so that they alone will draw you back to the place as much as the cove itself.
Then there is the pan seared Chilean Sea bass (excellent), Mahi Mahi Spring Rolls (fantastic), Island Roasted Chicken with coconut rice (outstanding) and several other items (watch the video for the full springtime menu) that will have you thinking you’re at the Pelican Hill Resort just up the coast.
But yes, you’re at this little beach bar restaurant and bar!
Add to this 5-star service and you’ll quickly find yourself blown away by the incredible food and drinks paired with this California coastline jewel.
Crystal Cove itself is rustic and is a untouched by development. The 100-year-old cottages (many are for rent) dot the shoreline, the Beachcomber is the only business and you approach it on foot via a dirt path.
Yes, it’s hard to imagine you can get such fantastic food and quality drinks in this basic environment, but it’s just the way they do things at the Beachcomber Cafe.
You park across PCH and either take a shuttle to the beach ($1) or make a scenic and easy 5-minute walk (note it’s uphill on the way back to the parking lot). The Beachcomber validates for three hours; otherwise it’s $15 to park.
Think about that for a moment. If you’re going to Crystal Cove, you can basically park for free by stopping at the Beachcomber or Bootlegger for, say, it’s Mahi tacos or a Bloody Mary and pretty much have free parking.
That’s a hard thing to resist.
Beachcomber Cafe & Bootlegger Bar Location & Information
Address: 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA
Parking: Lot across PCH; light at Los Trancos. Shuttle or walk (5 min) to Beachcomber
Hours: 7:30 a.m-9:30 p.m.
Prices: Food & Drinks in the $15-25 range