Home » Restaurant Review » Lemonade Restaurant -Seasonal Gourmet Food + Cafeteria = Win!
Lemonade Restaurant -Seasonal Gourmet Food + Cafeteria = Win!

Lemonade Restaurant -Seasonal Gourmet Food + Cafeteria = Win!

lemonade food 0101One of the more novel concepts to hit Orange County is Lemonade, which combines fresh seasonal gourmet food and a cafeteria line. Yes this combination may sound a bit awkward; although the concept has proven popular in the chain’s 11 other locations in Southern California. After trying it out myself, I was sold and was already planning my next visit. I discovered that Lemonade provides the same high-quality food made with seasonal ingredients that I would expect to find in a high-end restaurants. The only difference is that there was a total of eight minutes from the point I walked in the door, to the time I took my first bite. That was impressive.

Lemonade Collage Exterior and Interior


Lemonade features an open kitchen in the back so that you can see their professional Chefs creating artisan quality food and then moving it to the cafeteria style trays on display. When I walked up to the cafeteria line, I was greeted by a member of the staff and told me I could sample anything from the line before I committed.  I love trying out food before committing.  The pricing is straight forward, either by the portion or by the item. The cafeteria line is broken into different sections:


lemonade Line collage

The Marketplace 

The marketplace which is filled gourmet cold salads, like “Orecchiette, heirloom tomato, perlini and mozzarella salad.” You pay per portion, which is a heaping spoonful. One portion is $2.75 and the prices scales down the more portions you order, for example 6 portions are $12.50

Lemonade Collage Market

I ordered three items from this section:

One of my favorites was the watermelon Radish, ahi tuna, snap peas, black sesame, ginger salad.  This is a very fresh summer salad and fit the warm weather perfectly. I loved the diversity of flavors and textures in this dish from the crisp watermelon radish to the smooth ahi tuna. Even though I ordered this item as a single portion, I could have easily ordered a full plate of this as a meal for $12.50. But variety is the spice of life, so I diversified. I would easily pay $20+ for this dish at a sit down restaurant.

lemonade food 0111


Soba noodle, kimchi marinated vegetables, toasted peanuts – This dish was full of flavors and a pleasure to eat. The kimchi marinated vegetables kept the dish fresh on the palate.

lemonade food 0110


The Land +Sea

The Land+Sea section has freshly made protein items or complex vege based creations. This section is priced a la carte, from $5.50-6/50. Consider these portions to be like a “small plates”. The portions are enough for small eaters, but folks like me would order one of these items , plus some cold salads.

I tried the avocado salmon Louie, which also turned out to be my favorite item. A half avocado is topped with a heaping portion of creamy salmon Louie and garnished with a cumber and slice of smoked salmon. Loved the fresh flavor of the dill spiked salmon Louie. This dish was very filling with the half avocado. 

lemonade food 0105


Another item I ordered in this section was the  tomato, mozzarella and basil stack.  A whole beefeater sized tomato was sliced and then it was arranged in alternating layers of tomato slices, mozzarella, pinenuts and basil! It was very fresh, delicious and filling!

lemonade food 0104


Seared Ahi, served with a tangy mango sauce.

lemonade food 0102



The sandwiches came either made to order or from their daily specials. We ordered the buttermilk chicken sandwich served on a pretzel bun. It was served with pickled cucumbers and melted cheddar cheese. The sandwich also came with a side salad. By its self,  this sandwich was enough for lunch. 

lemonade food 0103


Braises and Sides – They also had a full selection of braised meats like BBQ brisket, a delicious red miso brisket and chicken Basque. They really did have flavors from around the world. There was also a nice selection of hot sides like Mac n Cheese, Chili, and risotto.


The lemonade in Newport Beach has a pizza oven, so they feature a selection of freshly made flatbread pizzas. I didn’t try them, but the fig, goat cheese and arugula pizza looked really good!

lemonade Cafeteria Line 03


lemonade food 0108The dessert case was very impressive. It was filled with a variety of desserts including gourmet cupcakes, cakes and my favorite their macaroons! They featured four different flavors including pistachio, lemon, salted caramel and raspberry. Their macaroons are about 3x the size of a standard macaroon, so they literally were the size of a cocktail napkin

Lemonade Dessert Line Collage


You can’t call this place lemonade without them featuring over eight flavors of lemonade from traditional to my favorite the blood orange lemonade, which has a nice balance of sweet and acidity.

Lemonade lemonad collage

 My Final Thoughts

Lemonade Collage Line 2It is really easy to go overboard with your ordering, as everything looks delicious. As I learned, don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach. We obviously ordered too many items, because we left with to-go containers.

For a full plate of food, two sides, main course and lemonade, I would expect two leave paying under $20 for a full meal. Don’t let the cafeteria format fool you; this is gourmet food that is made with very fresh and seasonal ingredients. Yes it is more expensive than ordering the three item combo at Panda Express, but it is much better tasting and healthier than eating the processed food available at the mall.


Fashion Island

987 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, Ca

Park in the Nordstrom’s parking structure.

Tell: 949-717-7525


Hours: 11am-9:05pm


Lemonade on Urbanspoon

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. Wow, this is a great concept! I love the name as well. Your photos are excellent, these dishes look amazing. I could almost taste the ahi tuna, it’s one of my favorites!

  2. Seems pretty cool… i like lemon on most of my food,so this would be a nice added flavor..

  3. What a great idea. I wish more restaurants did this. I’d love to try a cafeteria style restaurant like this if we had one in our town. We do have one restaurant that serves seasonal locally grown food but they are a traditional sit down restaurant with somewhat high prices.

  4. The tomato stack and the Ahi tuna Look awesome to me

  5. Thanks for the article about Lemonade Restaurant. I would love to be close enough to go there. All the food looks delicious!

  6. I would go crazy up in that place!.. A good crazy hahaha..

  7. Everything looks so fresh.. I love the same as well!

  8. interesting name for a cafeteria style restaurant….the menu sounds and looks refreshing!

  9. Reminds me of a place I used to go when I was a little girl! I just loved it!!

  10. It all looks amazing but I’m a sucker for pretty colored deserts like macarons!

  11. Well at first I was skeptical about the name but after reading your post, I am sold. Great food and in a fun environment with fast service – win win win!

  12. What a great concept and wonderful food! My sisters, brother, and mom live right by Fashion Island…I am telling them about this! Next time I visit, I’m there. Thanks for the great review!

  13. Yay! I really hate mathematical expressions, it makes me dizzy but this one is exceptional “gourmet + foods = win” awesome! You’r blog’s tag line is very catchy. Above all, I’m really craving for their Pizza but I think I may not be able to have an idea about the taste since you haven’t tried it either. Anyway, thanks for sharing such wonderful tasting experience.

  14. WOW! Delicious food with great offer. I loved it.

  15. This is amazing!!! And healthy too why cant there be a lemonade in Florida! !

  16. Oh my goodness, what a place?! That tomato basil stack has my name all over it :)

  17. The food looks spectacular and the atmosphere is lively and clean… Very interesting concept. I like unique places and this place fits the part!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *