Retro Fun in Newport & Yorba Linda’s Best Sandwiches

Glowing red lamps set the tone at A Restaurant

A RESTAURANT, Newport Beach – PCH-situated A Restaurant in Newport Beach oozes 1970’s, from its shingled roof, red and white exterior, and neon lighting, to its wood-paneled, red-boothed interior. But what shocks is its gourmet inclinations, and heartwarming, retro spirit sans kitsch.

Salads like Fig+Burratta ($13) showcase those two beauties over arugula with Marcona almond duck prosciutto and balsamic drizzle. Steaks, fish, chicken pot pie, strogonoff, the comfort is here, while ingredient quality is high.

I would never have seen a restaurant like this in Orange County in my growing up years or in my early 20’s. The fact that I am now is promising. Here, via photos, are a few highlights from my meal – I will certainly return. They have A Market next door selling gourmet goods, coffee, pastries and boxed lunches.

A Restaurant’s fabulously modern/retro interior

Summer-redolent White Corn Soup ($12) w/ crisp bacon & roasted chili powder

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Buttery Short Rib Grilled Cheese Sandwich w/ caramelized onions, served w/ house potato chips

$12-14 cocktails are better than much of what is in OC but still need work: cherries are of the nasty, fake kind in New Fashion (Old Fashioned w/ Maker’s & St. Germain), while Cucumber Cilantro Margarita is thankfully not sweet but is imbalanced

Classic Steak Tartare ($16): hand-cut filet, truffle, tabasco, olive tapenade

Dreamy Butterscotch Pudding (and I’m not a pudding fan) w/ caramel & salted peanuts

STEFANO’S, Yorba Linda – My brother-in-law used to work at Stefano’s Golden Baked Hams long before it was the sandwich destination it has become. It’s shocking to eat anything this gourmet in Yorba Linda (and believe me, I’ve eaten all over that rich, white folks ‘burb). Yes, the quality of meat and ingredients is high, hams are superb, but sandwiches are hearty, huge, satisfying. Stefano’s makes a mean Cubano, loaded with their smoked ham, which tastes like Christmas, and tender, carnitas-style shredded pork, accented by pickles and plenty of mustard. After trying a few of these over the past few years, I’d vouch for most sandwiches here… and even a special seasonal salad loaded with Black Mission figs, peaches and plums.