Lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia is quite possibly the only man who can rock a yellow jumper like a tuxedo, as he led Young the Giant on their final night of touring. It made sense to make them the designated band to launch Irvine's FivePoint Amphitheatre, as it's also their hometown. We were there to cheer them on and see what concessions had in store for us. Those of you headed out there this weekend have a solid lineup to choose from.
From luxe loncheras to craft cocktails, we were on board with everything being offered. On opposite ends of the venue, we discovered a trio of local eats with steady lines. We first noticed the familiar face of Tim Gonzales from TJ's Woodfire Pizza taking orders, while his crew was slinging pies in and out of their flaming oven. Half-sized pizzas of their cheese and pepperoni were up for grabs. Whole pies gave a few more options, like a BBQ Chicken and Rustica (prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, garlic oil and mozzarella). For newbies, we suggest asking for a little extra char; it makes all the difference.
Also in lonchera attendance: Spudrunnners and Barcelona on the Go. If you're a fry fan, there were more than enough potato options, as we quickly learned. For the next round of eateries, these were a fair representation of OC eats. Rice and veggie bowls with tofu, spicy chicken or bbq beef were courtesy of Hanjip, an AYCE concept straight out of L.A. A Korean BBQ Chicken alternative was also served. Cassell's (out of K-town's Hotel Normandie) was right next door with a duo of meat-and-bun creations. We eyed their turkey burger with Swiss, but figured the Classic Cheeseburger blend of chuck and brisket was a solid choice.
Tackle Box's Brian Huskey was elbow deep in assembly when we approached their stand. We came back an hour later to check-in, and found he was genuinely excited about being there. Huskey was already thinking about better ways to streamline the process for future concerts. His entree of choice was a departure from TB's standard menu, but he had no problem when we wanted to taco about it. Tempura Cod, Crunchy Beef and Buffalo Cauliflower versions were available (see photo at very top). A three-cheese nacho option was the only entree our friend Kedric didn't order when we spotted each other.
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Next door, we ordered from The Big Cheese, a regular on the concert circuit. Hot and heavy sandwiches are their specialty, and they did this delicious Cheddar Crust finish (think Puesto tacos) to our modified Bossman of turkey, bacon and avocado (Note: It normally has bread; our friend went bread-less). Vegans will dig the Greener, stuffed with artichoke hearts, black olives, roasted peppers and Chao "Cheese" that was a delicious substitute for the real thing. We noticed that all the stands were able to sell a half-dozen beers and Anthony Hill wines, eliminating the need to jump in two lines for a meal.
We admit, what got us most excited was seeing the banner from Blinking Owl Distillery. Sure, the Tito's with lemonade stands were probably a refreshing combination. But since the Owl recently celebrated their first anniversary, we were itching for a more complex cocktail. Generously poured into Millennial-friendly, plastic Mason jars, we nursed our Aquavit-based Swedish Fish (Cherry Heering, Cocci Americano, fresh lemon juice and yes, a Swedish Fish) for Young the Giant's entire performance. A Santa Ana Mule utilized their orange vodka, while Raspberry Wisdom blended vanilla soda with gin.
If you've read this far, then you should know that the best kept secret at FivePoint has nothing to do with food. Spare yourself a long wait in the main lot and park your car at Irvine Metrolink. From the time you cross the parking area to when you approach the main gate it's a ten minute walk— and that's if you're going slow. We passed dozens of Uber/Lyft customers and were on our way home well before the 4,000 space amphitheatre lot made noticeable progress.
The address listed for FivePoint Amphitheatre is 14800 Chinon in Irvine; www.fivepointampitheatre.com.