My husband, T.J. will tell you “I have never had a meal to myself since I met Carri.” That’s because the guy has a penchant for ordering what ends up being the best thing on the menu. Seriously, like clockwork, no sooner than his dish is set down is my fork making its way across the table. This scenario was no different on our trip to Huntington Beach, where we had some excellent spots pegged to eat. And lucky for me, with T.J. in tow, I just so happened to be able to try more of the area’s cuisine as his choices to this famous surf town were spot on per usual.
Here are some of our favorites spots and meals:
The epic-sized portions here will leave you with enough energy to surf until sunset without having so much as a hunger pang. TJ went with the Grilled Sourdough Breakfast Melt and I went even bigger with the Breakfast Pizza, which is far from a personal pan—seriously, it could easily feed two or three people. The pizza is topped with eggs any style, and your choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo or Korean steak. Whatever you choose from the robust menu, it will be easy to enjoy in an atmosphere that is as friendly as it is casual.
Acai bowls are just plain addicting. The Brazilian superfruit worked its way from the Amazon to Pacific Ocean and one of Orange County’s favorite places to eat the purple goodness is at Banzai Bowls. No matter which concoction you choose from the menu, it’s a cool and refreshing meal. You can also find pitaya bowls (made with dragon fruit) on the menu here, which I ended up ordering. The Ala Moana is made with a blend of chocolate hemp milk, bananas, strawberries and almond butter and topped with granola, more bananas cocoa nibs, hemp seeds and honey.
It isn’t just the food that should bring you into Duke’s. Here it is also about history. The restaurant is named for surf legend, Duke Kahanamoku, who won 5 Olympic medals in swimming between 1912 to 1924 and is also credited for bringing surfing from his native Hawaiian Islands to the U.S. mainland.
T.J. and I asked to be seated by a window fronting the beach, where we could watch a surf competition while enjoying our meal. We started with the poke tacos, which were so good I considered ordering a second plate for lunch. But I decided on the fish sandwich, served on Hawaiian street bread and topped with a creamy lemon dressing. TJ ordered the fish and chips served with bok choy macadamia nut slaw on the side.
Another spot that you want to carve out time for is Lot 579, a waterfront food hall that is home to restaurants, a brewery, boutique style shops and a line up of spots specializing in desert. TJ and I snagged a spot at Bear Flag Fish Co., for a late lunch, we were caught up at the Dude’s Brewing Company, which ended up working out to perfectly align with happy hour which is Monday through Friday from 2-6 p.m.
We ordered a spread that included shrimp cocktail, sushi hand rolls and bear flag fish tacos, which were easily our favorite. Panko crusted white fish is topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and a house special sauce. Natural light floods this oceanfront restaurant, making it a cheery atmosphere where it’s easy to come in for lunch and well into sunset.
There is no question Bluegold takes home the blue and the gold as our absolute favorite meal in Huntington Beach.—it is that memorable. Our server, French, did what the best servers do, sold the menu. But not in a bad way: the up-sell to more food was worth it here! We were set on just ordering a main dish after some already heavy meals. But, French let us know that would be a mistake. He told us about their milk rolls served with hazelnut honey on the side and reinforced we would probably order a second round. He was right. French also sold us on the idea of a surf and turf theme — I ordered the pan roasted sea bass and T.J. a Vietnamese style New York Strip Steak. Dare I say it, I almost ran out of stomach bandwidth to even taste it, I was that full. But I couldn’t resist when I saw the presentation of the dish, which was served with tomato salad on the side and bowl of buttered rice. French even sold us on a side of mashed potatoes served up with bacon and roasted garlic gravy that was equally delectable. And if he had already got us this far, we figured we may as well take his recommendation on dessert, which was the Bluegold Signature Dark Chocolate Pave. It was as beautiful as it was delicious, served with candied sour cherry syrup and a side of brandy infused vanilla ice cream.
Another strong contender for dinner is Sea Salt Wood Fire Grill. Billed as a farm to fire grill, the strength here is in both steak and seafood, and this time T.J. and I both focused on the latter. We started with the Tri Tip Nachos that are topped with manchego cheese sauce, cowboy caviar, and Santa Maria Beans. Next, T.J. chose the Smoked Santa Maria Tri-Tip and Linguisa and I went with the Spencer, which is a tender rib eye steak. Both were so full of flavor that no sauces were necessary. Instead, our server brought out some of the housemade finishing salts like a Chipotle Lime Salt, which gave us the option to add a little more flavor. There is a list of farm sides like Bacon and Brussels, a combination I am never tired of.