9 Orange County Must-Try Gastropubs

Foraged mushrooms with slow egg at EATS Kitchen + Bar

When you’re on the quest for the best restaurants in Orange County, get craft cocktails, craft beer and creative cuisine at these nine must-try gastropubs.

Playground DTSA
Owner-chef Jason Quinn, whose Lime Truck won Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, offers New American small plates with a craft beer focus (the beer menu features 15 taps and 60 bottles of rare beer). The team of culinary creatives promise to use fresh, exciting ingredients prepared with skill and passion and to have a constantly changing menu. Order a craft cocktail from OC Weekly‘s 2013 Best Bartender of the Year, Joe Valdovinos, who has plenty of tricks up his sleeve behind the bar. Try the pan roasted wild mushrooms with Carolina cheese grits, scallions and a slow egg or the black sesame churros with kaya, banana cream, coconut sorbet and mint… but hurry, before it’s gone! 220 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, 714.560.4444. playgrounddtsa.com

Wild Goose Tavern
Wild Goose serves straightforward, world-class cocktails, seasonal beers and elevated pub grub in a space that’s cozy and casual with vintage décor reminiscent of a hunting lodge saloon. Enjoy items like the smoked cheddar sausage with pancetta, grilled onions, fennel and sweet and spicy mustard and the sweet potato and goat cheese fritters. Taco Tuesday features gourmet tacos of the week. 436 East 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949.722.9453. goosebar.com

The Crow Bar and Kitchen
Cut-above creative fare and outstanding selection of burgers from James Beard Award-nominated chef John Cuevas. Try craft cocktails like the black label jalapeno margarita with muddled blackberries and jalapenos and menu items like the crow burger 2.0 with horseradish havarti cheese, caramelized onion and bacon jam, beer mustard and hydrocress on a brioche bun. 2325 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, 949.675.0070. thecrowbarcdm.com

This superb spot shares a replica of England’s oldest inn with dining landmark Five Crowns. Artisanal cheese, charcuterie, seasonal plates and world-class brews are a few of the things you can enjoy fireside or on one of the plush couches. The food menu is printed daily to reflect its evolving creativity. Look for the big red key. 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, 949.717.4322. sidedoorcdm.com

Craft cocktails at SideDoor

Haven Gastropub

You’ll find more than adventurous fare and uniquely crafted signature cocktails at Haven Gastropub. Annual releases, brewery collaborations and just plain hard to find beers are featured on the menu alongside a vast offering of hand-selected wines that most have never heard of before. Well-known for the Haven burger, the menu also features classics like deviled eggs prepared with twice-smoked bacon, chives, smoked sea salt and house-made pickles and more out-of-the-box items like fried pig ears with a spicy coconut glaze, sesame seed and green onion. 190 South Glassell St., Old Towne Orange, 714.221.0680. havengastropub.com

Eats Kitchen & Bar
Former Chapter One chef, Jason Montelibano launched a new venue at Hotel Irvine presenting comfort classics and his own creations. With revolving events such as Summertime Wine Series and Sunday Family Supper, you’ll have an excuse to indulge any day of the week (not that you need an excuse). Try the foraged mushrooms with goat cheese polenta, brown butter and a slow egg or the balsamic kale sprouts with cherry tomatoes, garlic, lemon, pine nuts and basil. Sip on craft beer flights or signature cocktails like the rosemary ginger margarita. 17900 Jamboree Road, Irvine, 949.225.6780. eatskitchen.com

Slater’s 50/50
For a fun, laid-back atmosphere and superior brew list (more than 80 craft and local beers on tap), stop by Slater’s 50/50 and try a burger unlike anything you’ve had before. Build your own from an extensive offering of buns, sauces, cheeses, toppings and extras, or try one of their off-the-wall (and delicious) menu items such as peanut butter & jellousy or Fritos crunch burgers. Every month brings a new off-menu burger of the month. 8082 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, 714.594.5730; 24356 Swartz Drive, Lake Forest, 949.460.9314; 6362 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road, Anaheim Hills, 714.685.1103. slaters5050.com

Bosscat Kitchen + Libations
Offering American comfort food combined with Southern flavors and cooking techniques, Chef Peter Petro brings us a menu designed to satisfy all palates. From cornbread madeleines with huckleberry sweet cream butter to Cajun brick chicken and whiskey-scorched okra, Bosscat brings a little bit of the South to Orange County. Choose from over one hundred aged whiskeys, bourbons and scotches (ask for the cocktail and/or whiskey of the month) and visit the private whiskey tasting room. Come for the “Sunday Funday” brunch menu for the sticky bun breakfast burger or fruity pebbles french toast because as Miss Bosscat says, “Calories don’t count on Sundays.” 4647 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, 949.333.0917. bosscatkitchen.com

Chapter One: The Modern Local
Known for spectacular Moscow Mule’s, Chapter One goes far beyond just that. Try the always-changing house barrel-aged cocktails like apple-cinnamon tequila and berry whiskey. Take your taste buds on a culinary adventure with menu items like habanero orange wings and duck fat fries. The local produce and seasonal fare will satisfy your appetite and your imagination. 227 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, 714.352.2225. chapteronetml.com


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