I have lived in Orange County for nearly my entire life and The city of Newport Beach has always been one of my favorite places to visit. Why, you ask? It’s simple. The Food. Newport Beach is a mecca of small and independent eateries with unique foods and settings. Simply put It is an area designed for the true foodie.
Recently I dined at one of Newport Beach’s newest and finest establishments, Red O by Rick Bayless. Chef Rick is best known for his PBS series “Mexico: One Plate at a Time”. Bayless also competed on Iron Chef America in 2005.
Red O Interior
The entrance to Red O is really dramatic. They have these gorgeous big lanterns on the wall and stunning wooden doors that are complimented with large cactus plants. I remember thinking to myself “If the food is as impressive as the entrance then it’s going to be an awesome night”
Inside the walls of the restaurant are covered in tequila bottles so that is a pretty clear sign that you are going to have a great time. Each bottle is placed on a light that illuminates it giving off a glowing effect.
Speaking of light Red O has these awesome lighting fixtures that look like large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Combines with the vaulted ceiling these lights give the restaurant a terrific flow.
Tequila is found all over the restaurant! Nothing says fun like a well stocked bar. There is also a beautiful outdoor patio.
To start off our tasting we began with some chips and salsa. I am very particular about my chips at Mexican restaurants and If I don’t like the chips or salsa I probably won’t like the entrée. However, Red O’s chips were so delicious. They are light, airy, and not the least bit greasy. They were served with 3 different types of salsas ranging from slightly spicy to really spicy. Bonus-The chips come in a cute bucket instead of a bowl.
The first drink of the night was a Topolo Margarita. This Margarita was very unique in the fact that it was made with house made Limonada. The Tequila was El Agave Silver, served with JDK and sons O3 Orange Liqueur. It was light and refreshing.
It was paired with the probably the best two Ceviches I have ever had. A classic Albacore Ceviche and a Yucatecan Shrimp & Calamari Ceviche. They are served in these whimsical bowls and are accented with a delicious plantain chips. The avocado in the shrimp and calamari ceviche was a great combination and really enhanced the flavor of the fish.
Next up was a cocktail called El Chamuco. I liked this drink because it had grenadine and bitters which gave it a different twist. It was paired with a Dungeness crab Tostadita. Crab is my all time favorite shellfish so I was really satisfied with this appetizer. The crab tasted exceptionally fresh.
Then it was time for a Pepinos Frescos. (not pictured). I only had a few sips of this but I enjoyed it. This drink has vodka, lime juice, organic agave nectar, muddled fresh cucumber & cilantro. It was paired with a pomegranate-Walnut Guacamole. This was my favorite thing on the menu. Toasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds and sun dried tomatoes. It was so delicious and had so much flavor. I could have eaten an entire bowl of it.
Red O actually has 5 different types of guacamole that you can choose from. Click here to see them all.
Up next was the Yellowtail Agauachili. This was my first time trying yellowtail and I enjoyed it. The meat was sweet and tender. It was paired with an organic skinny margarita (not shown).
Before I tell you about my last two pairings I wanted to mention that the service at Red O is impeccable. Anytime our server came to our table and I was in the middle of a conversation he would patiently wait for our conversation to finish before asking me a question. I have only had that happen a handful of times and I find it very respectful.
After that delicious Yellowtail, we sampled an Alacran Margarita which had Hornitos, Orange Liqueur, Veev Acai Spirit, house made Limonada & Serrano Chili Syrup. It was served on the rocks in a Tajin-Rimmed glass.
It was paired with some beef short rib sopes. Certified Angus beef short rib, roasted tomato-green chile sauce, queso añej. Yum! The meat was tender and the sauce gave it a little kick.
Overall I enjoyed dining at Red O immensely. The food was phenomenal, the vibe of the restaurant was hip and the service was very attentive. I am looking forward to going back and trying their Crab & Shrimp Enchiladas Suizas.