Crocker's The Well Dressed Frank
211 Marine Ave.
Newport Beach, CA 92662
I never feel like we take enough advantage of our coastline. Katie and I might be nicknamed the pasty posse because we burn within minutes of being exposed to the sun, but we seriously love being down at the beach. Taking advantage of the cool ocean breezes, getting a little exercise, and the general feeling of a mini getaway that the seashore can inspire makes us grateful for being able to call OC home. One of our favorite seaside strolls is around Balboa Island, which also gave us an opportunity to cross Crocker's off of our restaurant wish list.
Crocker's earned their way on to our list when they got a glowing review from who I believe was OC Register Restaurant Critic Brad Johnson for their Chili Burger and their Chicago Dog. I quickly made a note and it sat on our list for awhile.
Crocker's has been open for three and a half years now and is owned by Victoria and John De Frenza, who named their restaurant after Victoria's grandfather, who just happened to be the first paid Fire Chief on Balboa Island. It's this nostalgia that has inspired their menu of pure American comfort food. Burgers and hot dogs headline here, but there are a few sandwiches, sausages, and a couple of seafood options as well. We also hear that they make a pretty decent clam chowder, which we didn't try on this trip, but maybe will in the future when it cools down a bit.
To be honest, this is not the most comfortable of restaurants. Not good for large groups for sure, there's one table for four, one that sits two, and some counter seating facing a wall. If things do get a little tight here, we've heard that you can also order and sit at their restaurant next door, the slightly larger Croker's Abundant Table. Other than those options, it might be wise for locals to do what we saw a lot of people doing, getting their food for takeout. We got lucky and got one of the two tables, so let's see if our luck would hold with a great meal at Crocker's.
I must admit that I was a little taken aback when Katie got the Chief's Chicken Sausage ($9). Not the most photogenic of sausages, this albino looking sausage came with Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing, warmed kraut, and a poppy seed bun. Katie liked the snap of this mellow chicken sausage, which went well with the Rueben feel of this. She also mentioned the bun as a standout.
I was all set to try the Chicago dog before arriving here but switched it up at the last minute to this Wild and Wet Chili Dog ($9). This steamed skinless frank came with chili, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, and a strip of bacon perched on top. This was a very good version of a chili dog. It starts with the bun, which was freshly baked, soft, but pliable, and I have a sneaky suspicion that they might come from Blackmarket Bakery, but I don't have any official confirmation on this. Whoever makes them, they are excellent. The chili is pretty good, not of a spicy variety, but still flavorful. I had wished that the bacon would have been tucked into the bun so I could have it included in each bite, but still satisfying.
As much as I enjoyed the chili dog, I was underwhelmed by George's Patty Melt ($11.50). This half pound burger was seriously underseasoned, and the Swiss, onions and thousand island dressing could not salvage this. The bread was very sturdy, but that's about as memorable as this sandwich gets. Should have gotten the chili burger instead.
Rounding out our meal were these Fries ($5). I rather enjoyed these fries seasoned with parsley and sea salt. They had a great crunch to them, while the potato inside was pillowy soft.
Looking back over this visit, I should have probably stuck with the items that I was gonna try when I first came here, the chili burger and the Chicago dog. Even though the chili dog shined, I'm not sure it was a $9 chili dog. In fact, I think most of the prices were a few dollars too much for the amount of food you get, but you have to consider the high rents in this touristy area. Service was pretty solid, and the food came out in a pretty timely manner. Even though Crocker's did not blow us away, it was great getting out and enjoying Balboa Island, one of our favorite beach spots.
Out of five boxes of cake mix, (because whenever I hear the name Crocker, it always brings to mind the advertising icon, Betty Crocker of General Mills fame), five being best to zero being worst, Crocker's The Well Dressed Frank gets 2.5 boxes of cake mix.
Crocker's Well Dressed Frank does not have a website, but you can check out their reviews by going to their Yelp page, https://www.yelp.com/biz/crockers-the-well-dressed-frank-newport-beach