Beignets & Breakfast By The Beach
The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove – Newport Coast, CA
Last Visited: September 2020
When we get together with intrepid travel companions and friends Kim and Mary, we try to pick some place half way between our homes. Unbeknownst to us, the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove would become one of our favorite breakfast places and we don’t even mind the hour-long drive (well, as long as it is at the crack of dawn before traffic rears its ugly head).
No cars are allowed (except for handicapped parking), so you have to park in the Los Trancos lot on the east side of Pacific Coast Highway/El Camino Real, and either take the shuttle ($1.50/person) or walk through the tunnel filled with some works by local artists (not exactly Van Gogh’s).
As you walk to the restaurant from the tunnel you’ll pass a number of rental cottages before coming upon the mighty Pacific Ocean.
Waves lap the sand directly across from the large outdoor deck where you can enjoy the soothing ocean sounds and cooling breezes with the seagulls circling overhead.
During the winter the deck is covered and there are blankets available in case it is chilly.
We’ve been there on chilly and balmy days.
You never know what kind of friends will show up and greet you on the beach.
On our first excursion (pre-Covid), we met Kim and Mary on a clear, blue crisp February morning at 8:30 a.m. (restaurant opens at 7 a.m.). Our server recommended we start with the Beachcomber Beignets with maple syrup and powdered sugar ($9.95). Wow! Wow! We thought for sure the plate of 12 beignets would be too much, but they were gone in a flash and for a moment thought about getting a second helping. So fluffy and light! Calmer and skinnier heads eventually prevailed.
Mary ordered The Corn Maiden; two poached organic eggs, polenta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, grilled corn relish, green onions, red bell peppers, served with your choice of Artisan bread ($14.95). Kim went old school with eggs and bacon.
I had the Steak Chilaquiles (another incredibly delicious dish). The “South of the Border” flank steak braised in Guajillo sauce, is served with corn tortillas, Cotija and Cheddar cheeses, sour cream, avocado purée, diced tomato and green onions topped with a sunny side up egg ($16.95). I figured, combined with the beignets, I had already exceeded my daily calorie allotment.
The breakfast menu has a section of drinks simply titled, “The Jars.” While we did not order from that section of the menu (that whole “got to drive home” thing), the table next to us ordered a couple of Big Bad Bloody Marys and let us take a photo … love the crab claw garnish! (Housemade Bloody Mary Mix, Tito’s Vodka, Crab Claw, Jumbo Shrimp and Fresh Vegetable Garden.)
On our most recent outing during Covid, we met friends Rob and Barbara mid-week to avoid the crowds. The tables are spaced further apart on the deck and there are even a few tables set-up on the beach. Masks and social distancing are mandatory. They have added touch-less menus and a touch-less payment system (upandgo.com).
It was a glorious, warm autumn morning and we were able to see dolphins frolicking in the surf from the table (sadly, they wouldn’t pose for us). Rob and I started with a Blackberry Lemon G&T because … hey, it was after 8:30 … why not? It could be the best gin and tonic I have drank outside of Spain. Hendrick’s Gin, blackberry liqueur, simple syrup, muddled blackberries, lemon and mint ($14). Refreshing!
I went the Classic Benedict route; two eggs, spiral cut ham and Hollandaise on an English muffin ($16.95). It is served with a side of the best oven roasted potatoes I have had in quite some time.
On other trips here, we’ve tried the Southwestern Omelet; whole organic eggs, pepper jack cheese, turkey chorizo, onion, bell peppers, green tomatillo salsa and avocado salad ($15.95). Wow, that turkey chorizo is what makes this dish, and I would know, I ate more than I should have from Tracy’s plate. Beachcomber’s delicious, but huge portion, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes; Bellwether Farms ricotta mousse, lemon zest pancakes, warm blueberry chutney and powdered sugar ($13.95) could easily be shared.
The Ranch Skillet; scrambled eggs, bacon, Portuguese sausage, roasted tomato salsa, sautéed bell peppers and onions, and Cheddar cheese ($15.95) round out the great breakfasts we have enjoyed here.
There has not been a loser dish in any of our outings to the Beachcomber. We still haven’t gotten inside to see the original restaurant. Not to mention the lunch and dinner menu looks great so I guess we will have to go back! However you can’t beat this view from the deck.
I recommend the walk to and from the parking lot. It’s a good way to shed the hundreds of calories you have just consumed. For a different stroll back to your car, there are some stairs up to PCH, which affords one last great view of the Beachcomber’s locale.
From there, just walk down to the light and cross PCH to the lot. We hope to return soon as the Beachcomber Cafe has become our favorite breakfast hangout.
The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove
15 Crystal Cove
Newport Coast, CA 92657
Sunday – Thursday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday/Saturday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Breakfast 7 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Lunch 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.mm
Dinner 4:30 p.m. until closing
Parking: $15 (free with Beachcomber validation)
They take reservations but leave room for walk-ins