Dining with Sea lions • Newport, Oregon

On my fourth day, I had an unplanned afternoon and was staying near Newport, Oregon. One quick text to a good friend inquiring about where go eat, she suggested I shouldn’t miss Clearwater, and she was absolutely right!

Located on the Yaquina Bay, in Newport’s historic bayfront, Clearwater Restaurant is a fresh bright spot next door to the historic Undersea Gardens, which, unfortunately, is scheduled to close for good after an impressive 50-year run.

Opened in 2016 and quickly recognized as Best Restaurant of Newport in 2017, Clearwater has come to town and made their mark. Or should I say, returned to town, as one is the owners, Janell Goplen, once was a Newport High Cub. Go Cubs! Janell returned to her hometown with her husband, Hans, two children, and a dog, and the community is ever grateful. Leaving the hustle of California for the Oregon coastal life was a decision quickly and easily made.

The restaurant sits on the water, offering 180-degree views and a sophisticated yet casually inviting vibe. Excellent use of warm greys, whites and wood decor offset the ambiance and complement the carefully crafted cocktails and dishes being plated and delivered from the kitchen.

Huge picture windows give the diner every feel of the outside on a drizzly day, but for those who dine al fresco on a sunny day, on the deck, those diners are in for a treat… and a concert. Sea Lions!!

Just below the deck, on little docks made just for them, sea lions bask in the sun, bark incessantly at each other, position and flop around falling into the water and sing. Is it singing? I’m not sure, but it was constant and it was beautiful as only screeching and screaming sea lions can sound like. The show didn’t end. One sea lion swam around spinning and flipping in the water, rolling in circles like we used to do as children to impress our friends. Other sea lions swung their tiny fins up and around to their backs scratching while others wiggled on their backs to hit just the right spot.

Lunch was simple for me, and an easy choice, starting obviously with wine, a crisp glass of Illahe Viognier. I followed with a crab cocktail, clam chowder and a small portion of French fries, because, if you’re not dipping fries into your chowder, you’re doing it all wrong. I went with the regular fries and saved the Parmesan truffle and sweet potato fries for a future visit.

My Oregon coast visit has been filled with the discovery of Clearwater, adorable sea lions, sun, rain, perfect sunsets, and hey, I have three more days left!