John Greer grew up in Newport Beach and is now the GM of the hottest restaurant in town. If anyone knows the ins and outs of Southern California, it’s this man. NOBLEMAN asked him 12 questions all with the goal of helping you get to know this amazing man and also, get the most out of the amazing coastal city of Newport Beach. If you are a year-round local or just visiting the historic beach town, NOBLEMAN and John Greer have got you covered.
What inspired you to join the Nobu team in Newport Beach, and what do you love most about this coastal city?
I grew up back and forth between San Diego and Newport Beach. While in my 10th year working at Nobu San Diego, my manager approached me about my time in Newport Beach. She said we were opening a brand new location and my name had come up as someone who may be a perfect fit to help open a location. My answer was obvious. What better reason to return to Newport Beach than to open a Nobu restaurant.
Newport Beach is known for its stunning beaches. Do you have a favorite spot to relax by the ocean?
With so much coastline, there are so many beautiful places to choose from, but my personal favorite spot would have to be little Corona Beach in Corona Del Mar. Its stunning views while walking down to the beach and its seclusion once you arrive have made it my favorite spot since I was a kid.
Can you share some of your favorite dishes from Nobu Newport Beach’s menu and the best wine or cocktail pairings for them?
My two favorite dishes would have to be our signature Yellowtail sashimi with Jalapeño and our grilled lamb chops with Karashi-su-miso. For the yellowtail, I would pair it with our Jaded martini. The cucumber in the drink would cool off any heat present in the jalapeño, and the sweet agave flavors from the Casamigos Reposado would balance out the acidity and tart from the yuzu citrus sauce. For the lamb, our Matsuhisa Cabernet would be the one wine by the glass that could hold up to the gaminess of the lamb and the earthiness of the mustard miso sauce.
Is there something off the menu or a secret item that guests can order at Nobu?
Our chefs are always creating special off-the-menu items. My personal favorite is definitely our Toro Carpaccio, with truffled soy, shaved fresh truffle, and a tofu creme fraiche. This is also a favorite for our Newport Beach regulars.
Newport Beach offers a diverse culinary scene. What’s your go-to restaurant (other than Nobu) for a memorable meal?
There are so many great new places, but for my personal favorite, you’ve got to head a little outside of Newport. Himizu Modern Dining on Brookhurst Street is my go-to any day of the week. They’ve got Japanese BBQ, innovative sashimi dishes, and a really cool vibe as soon as you walk in.
Favorite brunch in Newport Beach?
My favorite spot has got to be Breakfast Republic. Great breakfast dishes and an awesome drink menu, and I love sitting on their patio counter facing the street and enjoying the weather.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in Newport Beach?
Over the last few years, I’ve really gotten into golfing. There are so many courses in the area to choose from. Some offer great ocean views, and others let you explore the backcountry of Orange County. I’ve been lucky to be able to play some of the best courses in the area, but that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten any better. Still, a blessing to live in a place where I can play almost every day of the year.
Newport Beach has a vibrant nightlife. Where would you suggest guests go for a fun night out after dining at Nobu?
It really depends on the guest and what type of experience they are looking for. If they just finished a nice meal upstairs, and are looking for something more chill, I would recommend the rooftop bar at Lido House Hotel, but if they had drinks in our bar and lounge and are looking to continue the party, I would recommend heading to a place like Country Club where they would find the awesome DJ group Beat Ventriloquists (who also spin at Nobu on the weekends).
Are there any hidden gems or lesser-known places in Newport Beach that you think visitors should explore?
Pearson’s Port is a family-owned fish market located in the back bay, just under a bridge that brings PCH across the bay. They always have the freshest fish that was caught earlier that day and my personal favorite, the Spot Prawns. It’s just such a cool and unique place to shop for dinner. My family has been going there for years.
Newport Beach is a hub for water sports. Do you have any favorite water-based activities in the area?
Growing up in Southern California, I have always loved being in or on the water. We have an amazing array of wildlife off of our coast, so anything from whale watching, deep sea fishing, and snorkeling in one of the local coves or kelp beds. There’s always something new and you never know what a day on the water can lead to.
Newport Beach has some upscale shopping areas. Can you recommend your favorite boutique or store for men’s shopping?
I don’t go shopping often, but when I do it’s usually something to make me look good on the job. My go-to is David August. He makes custom-fitted suits and casual wear for men. I’ve known David since I was a little kid when my dad was getting suits from him. Their showroom is amazing and you’re treated like a VIP whenever you step in. Kind of the same experience we like to offer at Nobu Newport Beach.
How do you ensure guests have an authentic Newport Beach experience when they dine at your restaurant?
Newport Beach has a mixture of back Beach vibes with a sexy classiness that you don’t find in too many other places. That is hard to replicate in a restaurant setting where you need to combine service, food, and ambiance. I think we do a great job at Nobu of hitting all those marks. You can be at the beach or out on the boat, and within minutes be having a cocktail in our bar and lounge while enjoying the music being played by our resident DJs, or get dressed up for date night and have a full dining experience on our second floor patio with amazing views of Newport Beach Harbor. It’s hard to find all of that in one place.