OC's industrial-park restaurant genre has dramatically improved in the decade-plus I've reviewed restaurants for this infernal rag. It was almost universally smelly delis and stale burrito joints at first; now, you have everything from hidden Persian meals at Le Cafe near South Coast Plaza to Egyptian hookah delights at Rose Cafe in Anaheim to Irvine's Vishnu to the wonder that is Rick's Atomic Cafe on the other side of John Wayne Airport. And with county office drones realizing fast food is not their only option and restaurateurs willing to experiment with location, expect even better restaurants of this type to pop up in 2015.
Pig and Parsley Deli is the latest, greatest entry, even if its aesthetics underwhelm at first glance. It's too big by half, has a couch near a pseudo-lounge and a design scheme that resembles a frat-house office. The snacks on the counter are of the M&M kind—hardly inspiring. But take your time here; the dive makes sandwiches worthy of braving 405 lunch traffic. Here is a classed-up torta worthy of a SanTana lonchera; the pastrami is as great as any in the county, all folds and tart mustard and sauerkraut's zing. The tri tip gets enlivened with chimichurri and cotija; a sirloin steak sandwich not only tastes like Brooklyn circa 1948, but also has a sharp provolone out of a Mario Batali store. These and other sandwiches (pulled pork outta Dixie!) make up the standards, but keep visiting to see what's the next daily special. And always get a salad, as they might contain anything from pickled green beans to edamame to pepitas or even aged white Cheddar—a United Nations of roughage. Though the flavors might be gourmet, they'll also please any working stiff, leading to lunchtime crowds of preppy hipsters and Cal Trans schlubs.
More is coming. Pig and Parsley hosted pop-ups for Naugles, the legendary Mexican fast-food chain that just might make a comeback (details to come . . .). On one of those afteroons, the owner let me taste some of his house-cured ham—brilliant. Around Pig and Parsley is bland offices—may they knock down a wall or two, expand, and lead OC's industrial-park restaurants to greater, tastier heights.