The West Coast Restaurant With Some Of The Freshest Seafood Worth Planning A Trip Around

A sun-drenched pocket of surf, sea, and sand, Southern California is the capital of inventive, culinary inspiration with a bias for aquatic fare. It's hard to wander down a street where lines of surfers aren't swarming the front patios of one-off seafood shacks and taco trucks, whose tantalizing aromas carry down the Newport Beach boardwalk. Seafood is the local remedy for those overtime office hours or a stressful work week. Beachfront dining decks are the place to be, built for sharing weekly highlights over a basket of boiled crawfish or a plate of oysters.

Newport Beach, in particular, is a standout seafood oasis, marked by dozens of local entrepreneurs launching their dreams of connecting land to sea through community-centered dining establishments. With no shortage of quality maritime fare, Newport Beach creates a competitive market among restaurateurs, each fighting for their place in the SoCal spotlight.

And yet, one restaurant stands out. If you've never heard of Gulfstream before, allow us to give an introduction. This culinary masterpiece is the pinnacle of upscale seafood dining in Newport Beach. Located in Corona del Mar, less than two miles from the seashore, Gulfstream embodies the best of Southern California's charismatic maritime cuisine. According to Modern Luxury Riviera, Gulfstream ranks among some of the top-rated seafood restaurants in Orange County, along with familiar big-name favorites, like Bluewater Grill, Chart House, and Bear Flag Fish Co. Its commitment to sourcing high-quality seafood, an elegant atmosphere, and a near-perfect location has allowed this little fish to stand out in an ocean-sized arena.

A little fish in a big ocean

Launched under the Los Angeles-based Hillstone Restaurant Group, Gulfstream has received an outpouring of praise since its opening in 1999. It's not just local surfers and affluent homeowners who frequent the patio of this maritime-themed dining room — it's also a staple among local culinary entrepreneurs, according to OrangeCoast, including Rich Howland, managing partner of SOL Mexican Cocina, and chocolatier Amy Jo Pedone. 

The main draw of this restaurant is, not surprisingly, the seafood. We doubt you'll find other menus boasting True Dover sole flown in fresh from the North Atlantic, or Cedar Plank Scottish salmon — an ode to their seafood-loving crowds. While fresh fish is their specialty, the team at Gulfstream always loves a good surf and turf, matching their quality seafood plates with equally indulgent land-dwelling dishes, like their USDA prime 'The Duke' filet mignon, and their classic cheeseburger, made from freshly-ground chuck steak. A local favorite from the beginning has always been their freshly-shucked North Pacific oysters. According to Newport Beach Magazine, Gulfstream's legendary rosemary biscuits are an essential precursor to your fresh-catch dinner, stemming from their Southern-at-heart mentality. Promptly placed on your plate hot out of the oven, each one is a warm, flaky, and buttery morsel. Let's not forget about Gulfstream's long-running list of handpicked wines, ranging from European reds and whites to bottles a little closer to home, grown in the iconic Napa Valley region. 

Post-dinner exploration

Any dining experience at Gulfstream will surely be the highlight of a trip to Orange County. Yet, why not take advantage of Gulfstream's prime location, blocks from the water's edge, in the stunning seaside town of Newport Beach, that's just a day trip away from Los Angeles? It's the perfect place for an evening waterfront walk, an indulgent sweet treat, or exploring the Newport Beach area. After one too many biscuits, walk off the carbs while getting some steps in with a sunset stroll around Balboa Island. This picturesque island is a dreamy Southern California haven, a brisk two-mile trek from Gulfstream. Summer, especially, draws crowds of hundreds that pervade the island's surf shop boutiques and quirky cafes. Nevertheless, it's a picture-perfect spot for a sunset walk along the harbor and over the bridge that links this island to Newport Beach.

Since you're only a mile from Orange County's premier shopping destination, Fashion Island, treat yourself to a prize or two at this upscale al fresco outlet. Those with an insatiable sweet tooth, this one's for you! If you've never tried the heavenly sweet cream from Salt & Straw, it's time to set things straight. Located on Westcliff Drive, a quick 10-minute drive from Gulfstream, end your night right with a cup of this small-batch, craft-made ice cream. Known for some rather unusual flavors (don't knock it until you try it), you can never go wrong with Arbequina olive oil, honey lavender, or pear & blue cheese ice cream.