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Hidden Gem: Pearson’s Port Seafood Market

Family-owned Pearson’s Port Seafood Market is “Newport’s hidden gem” where those in the know, can find fresh, locally caught shrimp, lobster, crab, shellfish and fish. Visitors can also find a few non-local fresh seafood, but most of it is local and freshly caught.

Pearson's Port Seafood Market

One of the specialties at Pearson’s Port are live spot prawns also known as sweet shrimp. These red crustaceans, which belong to the shrimp family, possess a distinct flavor akin to that of lobster. To preserve their lobster-like qualities, spot prawns are kept alive until cooking. They are typically captured in traps, primarily off the coast of Santa Barbara, although they can be found along the entire West Coast. At Pearson’s Port, it is Tom Pearson himself who personally handpicks these spot prawns from the waters off the Newport coast. Fishermen often dock at the port to acquire frozen bait, while local restaurants and personal chefs flock to Pearson’s for the freshest catch in town. Surprisingly, many locals stumble upon this hidden gem by chance, surprised that they have lived in the area for years without prior knowledge of its existence.

Pearson’s Port is tucked away off the Pacific Coast Highway under a bridge that separates the harbor and the Back Bay. It is the last floating fish market in California and a fun place to visit and explore.

Pearson’s Port

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Hours: Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Mon. – Wed.)
Address: 100 N Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660
 Off Bayshore Drive and PCH, behind a trailer park and next to the kayak rentals almost under the bridge
Phone: (949) 675-6771
Email: [email protected]

Pearson’s Port Menu

The Pearson’s Port menu changes daily depending on the season and availability. Check Pearson’s Port (@pearsonport) Instagram story to check out what’s in season and what’s available each day, including pricing.

  • Live California spiny lobster
  • Live spot prawn aka sweet shrimp
  • Swordfish
  • Sashimi grade local yellow fin tuna
  • Sashimi grade salmon
  • Tuna
  • Whole Snapper
  • Shrimp e.g., Mexican white shrimp
  • Clams e.g., Little Neck clams
  • Scallops
  • Crab e.g., live rock crab
  • Wahoo
  • White sea bass
  • Yellowtail
  • Sole filets
Pearson's Port Spot Prawns

Pearson’s Port History

The floating seafood market was started in 1971 by husband and wife, Roy and Vi Pearson. Vi worked as a machinist during the war and then in the aerospace industry but was a fisherman at heart. Expecting to be downsized in the aerospace industry, Roy quit his job in order to start a fishing business to support his wife and six children.

In February 1971, Roy constructed a modest structure at the far end of the parking lot, giving birth to Pearson’s Port. Initially, the establishment operated as an open-air market, situated a short distance from its current location. Unfortunately, a severe storm caused significant damage, resulting in the destruction of much of the dock and building. However, remnants of the original dock, specifically the pillars, remain visible to this day. Undeterred, Roy made the decision to enclose the market by adding walls, involving the entire family in the venture. With their collective efforts, the market swiftly gained popularity among locals and visitors alike.

After Roy died in 1999, Roy’s son and daughter-in-law, Tommy and Terese Pearson, took over the market. Tom does his own fishing, and local fishermen supply the rest of the inventory, while Terese runs the market.

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Monique McArthur
Monique McArthur is a mother of two, writer, and creator of delicious recipes. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all that Orange County has to offer, traveling, shopping, running with her dogs and spending time with family.