The roaring Pacific Ocean will always be the big draw along the rugged Oregon coast. Though the modest towns dotted along the seaside do a fine job of servicing that impossibly massive main attraction. As one of the coast’s largest and most centrally located towns, Newport offers visitors a multitude of lodging options and, more importantly, a taste of the seafood bounty from the ocean.
Sea lions bark and tourists crowd along Newport’s historic Bayfront, where you’ll find many of the region’s best restaurants. None surpasses the blend of same-day freshness and culinary creativity of Local Oceans Seafood (213 SE Bay Blvd), a moderately high-end space filled with hungry customers and knowledgeable staff. Whether you stay in the more casual downstairs area or opt for the intimate beer and wine bars upstairs, don’t miss out on views of Yaquina bay and the coastal mountains or on memorable dishes like the seared king salmon or spicy Brazilian seafood stew.
Canyon Way Bookstore & Restaurant (1216 SW Canyon Way) is the perfect pit stop for a busy day exploring the endless natural wonders of the coast. It is a humble seaside stop with a beautiful patio offering two of life’s greatest pleasures: books and seafood, in one convenient location. Their diverse stores of new and used books are always a pleasure to browse through, and their comforting fishy favorites like fried oysters and decadent clam chowder are the perfect antidote to the biting cold of the coastal winds.
When it comes to harbor views, it’s hard to beat Saffron Salmon (859 SW Bay Blvd) perched on the edge of a pier overlooking the bountiful waters that provide the core ingredients for most of the menu. Their bright expansive windows let you enjoy the scenery while you pore over an extensive list of northwest wine, craft beer and seafood favorites, including the deliciously briny squid puttanesca linguini. Be sure to try some of their equally delectable meats and sweets while you’re there, from the local lamb burger to the marionberry cobbler; an Oregon staple for good reason.
On the humbler side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge lies the equally humble Fishtails Café (3101 Ferry Slip Rd), a no-frills seafood diner that’s nonetheless bursting with modest small town charm, though a lot of that is due to the endlessly welcoming staff. Breakfast is the main event here, as the menu is filled with hearty platters of eggs, hash browns and toast served alongside deliciously prepared fresh catches. Whether you order the clam fritters, the Dungeness crab-cakes or even the marionberry pancakes, you’ll come away from Fishtails with a heavy stomach and a greater appreciation of local ingredients.
For another kind of cuisine amidst the culinary homogeneity of the Oregon coast, stop at Kam Meng Chinese Restaurant (4424 N Coast Hwy) on the way to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Accommodated in a bright green building and adorned with the owner’s own artwork, the best Chinese restaurant in Newport (and possibly along the whole length of the Oregon coast) serves their food in signature clay pots, using regional ingredients to put a Northwest-inspired, vegetarian-friendly spin on staples of Eastern cuisine. Prices are always reasonable, even for specialties as illustrious and delicious as their Dungeness crab platter or sizzling green onion oyster platter.
Asiatico Waterfront Fusion Sushi (875 SW Bay Blvd) takes a similar approach with another popular Asian cuisine, blending flavors of the northwest and the Far East for some of the freshest fusion sushi most of us will ever be lucky enough to taste. There are teriyaki plates and bento boxes galore, but the highlight here is the fusion roll menu, packed with Oregon shellfish prepared as you’ve never had it before, as well as a typically gorgeous view of the Bayfront.
Then again, sometimes good seafood doesn’t need any particularly fancy or exotic preparation. Even when they do cook their fish, South Beach Fish Market (3640 S Coast Hwy) doesn’t do much to dress up their vast collection of local seafood. Instead, they’ve built their name around simplified American classics like fish and chips, burgers and cocktails. Whether you’re buying raw or prepared fish, the no-frills approach allows you to enjoy the delicate, rewarding flavors of each wild catch, from the Chinook king salmon to the Oregon pink shrimp.
Offering an expansive ocean view instead of the more typical Bayfront panoramas, Georgie’s Beachside Grill (744 SW Elizabeth St) is a spacious, casual yet upscale eatery that doesn’t break much new ground with its traditional selection of coastal cuisine. Nonetheless, the staff is endlessly friendly and their roster of familiar seafood staples are all made with delicious aplomb. There’s nothing inherently special about halibut tacos or a clam chowder bread bowl, but Georgie’s preparations are incomparable in terms of sheer comforting flavor.