Stuck on the eastbound 91 during one of our recent fires, I remembered that the Blind Pig had opened its second location in Yorba Linda. “My Belinda?” I joked, as I wondered whether it was anywhere near my whereabouts. Turns out, if you’re ever stuck inching forward on the 91 at Imperial Highway, there’s some really great food and drink nearby.
The new Blind Pig sits in a business/grocery center at the bustling intersection of Lakeview Avenue and Yorba Linda Boulevard. It’s so new, in fact, that my first impression of the interior was that it had that new restaurant smell: freshly dried paint and wallpaper and just-opened IKEA boxes.
The eatery is, however, adorable, centered on a large, square-shaped bar. On my visit, it was completely filled with Boomers sipping $6 Round Hill Chardonnay during happy hour. “Could this be the next greatest cougar den since the Foxfire went code blue?” I thought to myself.
The menu is anything but Boomer, however, with kimchi fried rice, kung pao broccolini, and a version of cacio e pepe for around $5 during happy hour (3-6 p.m.). Draft beers and well spirits are a scant six bucks during this magical time, and craft cocktails are a measly $9 apiece. “When I was 21, I could get a goddamn cocktail for less than $8!” I bellowed to bartender Rachel Keeney. She assured me the crowd gets significantly younger as the night goes on. When I’m old, I sure hope there’s a place as cool as the Blind Pig where I can get cheap drinks.
I started with the Botanist, but only because it shares its name with one of my favorite gins out of Scotland. “But this uses Italian gin!” Keeney said with a grin. The concoction of gentian-based aperitif, basil eau de vie and bergamot made for an especially nice refresher after being glued to a car seat for an hour and moving a mere half-mile. The cocktail menu utilizes handy three-word descriptors, something I usually do when taking notes. The Blind Pig said the drink was “tart, vegetal, and herbaceous,” while I scribbled, “creamy, floral, and herbaceous.”
The Italian vibe doesn’t stop there, thankfully. Many of the drinks employ a bevy of amaros and aperitivos to lay the groundwork. If I were to write a Michelin-style guide to good cocktails in Orange County, the Blind Pid would definitely be in there, as it has proper tiki, top-shelf, mid-tier and draft cocktails—hell, there’s even some shots to be had.
My GPS still showed the 91 resembling a blood clot, so I grabbed a food menu. The tasty white nuggets of the roasted cauliflower sit in a warm bowl filled with a browned butter-soy emulsion, tart Granny Smith apples, pine nuts and chives. When properly soaked and drizzled with the comforting broth, the bites achieve next-level veggie satisfaction.
The nice selection of vegetarian options struck my fancy. I didn’t expect to see falafel on a pub menu, but the kitchen nails that perfect chickpea crunch, and the creamy whipped yogurt and chile oil on the side were perfect for additional dredging. Maybe someone can dredge more lanes on the freeway?
The Blind Pig, 4975 Lakeview Ave., Yorba Linda, (714) 485-2593; also at 31431 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 888-0072; theblindpigoc.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening on June 29th in Anaheim!