Gastropub is the word used for restaurants and bars that pair food with beer, which began in London in the early 1900s. It started with using an existing pub, hiring a gourmet chef, serving food that was above the traditional pub food and then suggesting how to complement that food with beer. Gastropubs are fairly new to Orange County, but listed below are some of the best spots to check out.
Big Fish Tavern
540 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
When it comes to delicious seafood, this gastropub knows what they’re doing. And, the locals come in droves for the food, and tasty cocktails. A favorite among Laguna Beach residents, guests dine and drink either on the indoor or patio seating with great views of the water. The menu here features unique seafood favorites like their Ahi Poke salad, King Crab Cobb salad, and other tasty dishes like fish tacos, a grilled filet mignon and more. So, whether you’re on the look out for great seafood, craft beers, or unique cocktails with sweeping views of the water, this gastropub has it all.
3801 E. Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
The SideDoor gastropub, housed within the Five Crowns Restaurant in Corona del Mar, resembles a cozy pub in an English countryside. From appetizers to dessert, the restaurant pairs the eatery’s small-plate delicacies with each of the 12 imported and domestic draft beers and 18 bottled beers. These brew options are changed on a two- to three-month cycle to provide customers with new tastes. Diners can order the chunky avocado dip with a citrus mixture topped with black lava salt and fresh chives. When paired with the Franziskaner Weissbier, rich and malty with a biscuit-like taste, the beer brings out the toasty components of the pita chips and the citrus in the avocado dip.
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Haven Gastropub Orange
190 S. Glassell St.
Old Towne Orange, CA 92866
Opened in September of 2009, The Haven Gastropub has grown to be voted among the best gastropubs in Orange County. The Haven serves freshly-prepared food including steaks, seafood, pork, rabbit and prawns at reasonable prices. Each dish is perfectly paired with a unique selection of craft and bottled beers that include cider, IPA, lagers, sour ale, stouts and porters, as well as imported beers. Make sure to stop by for happy hour with discounted drinks and food!
512 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Set in a modern-rustic setting, SOCIAL serves Southern gastropub dishes with a modern twist. Add in their craft cocktails and late-night bites, and you have the recipe for an Orange County favorite. Locals love the trendy design, friendly staff, ingredient-focused foods, weekend brunch, and thoughtfully curated dinner menu. In addition to the tasty food, the unique mixologist team creates one-of-a-kind craft cocktails using only housemade syrups, Cordials and bitters.
2325 E. Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
Attracting a 30-something crowd, This rustic Corona del Mar gastropub provides various ways of pairing food and beer to make the dining experience more enjoyable for the clientele. The gastropub offers brunch, lunch, dinner and even late night eats for guests up until 2am on Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s. But, every other night of the week, they’re open until 11pm, so you can get your fill of delicious menu items like a pan seared mahi mahi, or avocado toast for brunch. The menu is extensive and impressive, as is their hand-crafted cocktail menu featuring items like the “newport coast” with parrot bay passion fruit rum, grand marnier, fresh lime juice, and pomegranate juice, as well as their “grapefruit ginger margarita” with casamigos agave azul reposado, cointreau, fresh lime juice, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, and ginger beer.
220 E. 4th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
This gastropub-style restaurant in downtown Santa Ana went from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar dining place. The Playground is an American, small-plate restaurant with a focus on interesting combinations of food with rare beer. It is one of the only restaurants that has a beer expert on staff, ensuring only the best brews are offered. Servers are also beer certified and they offer tastes to help diners decide which beer they would like to choose from the 15 that rotate on draft and the 60 on the bottle list.
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