Slater’s 50/50 is everything you could wish for in a burger bar. Unreal burger concoctions, compilations and custom combinations. Dozens of craft beers on tap. TV’s everywhere and a festive, upbeat crowd that gives the place just enough of a sportsbar vibe to stray away from snobby gastropub, but not so much that you’d rather be at one. Oh, and yeah…bacon!
It’s important to know that bacon is so sacred to Slater’s 50/50 that it’s in their title. The restaurant’s signature patties are half ground beef, half ground bacon. And while that may be the end game at other institutions, Slater’s 50/50 prides itself on stellar ingredients used in imaginative ways across the board, providing something for anyone who walks through their doors.
The custom burger experience is second to none here. Burgers range from ‘true quarter’ [read: weight after cooking] to a full pound, patties made from turkey to bison, and dozens of toppings from house made beer cheese to Guinness bacon chili. Healthy eaters will have more than their fair share of choices, with veggie patties, fresh vegetables and salad options readily available.
Slater’s 50/50 definitely walks on the wild side when it comes to their house favorites, which can be embodied no better than the peanut butter and jealousy burger. You guessed it—Angus beef, thick-cut bacon, and a generous slathering of creamy peanut butter and strawberry jelly. But wait, it doesn’t stop there: his burger is best served a la mode. A yolo moment in a honey wheat bun…this is a ‘you’ve gotta try it’ kind of experience, and yes it is awesome.
The list goes on with more impeccable burger combinations, as well as an equally enticing list of hot dogs and ‘non-burger’ sandwiches. While the one complaint is that burgers are served a la carte, it’s imperative to note that the fries and onion rings her are spot on and totally worth it.
If you’re not already stuffed to the gills with burgers and beer, the milkshakes at Slater’s 50/50 are another home run. The maple bacon milkshake isn’t just a trendy-sounding novelty here, it’s executed with a harmonious balance of sweet and salty, and a overwhelming sense of sweet and rich that milkshakes lovers embrace worldwide.
This is the kind of place that’s tough to visit just once. Food this fun at a price point that embarrasses the snobby gastropub warrants many trips ahead.
Slater’s 50/50 has locations across Southern California and Texas. Hours vary. Average out-the-door price for burger, fries and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$42/person. For more information visit Slater’s 50/50 online.
Butternut squash soup with bacon marshmallows. Lobster rolls piled high with fresh seafood. Endless choices of high-end wines coupled with cooking demonstrations from some of the most acclaimed chefs in the country. The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival saw a successful year indeed. Hosted over the final week of September, the festival welcomed fall in gourmet style with a festive party in tow.
Two days of grand tastings at the Newport Beach Civic Center highlighted the weekend, whereby a collection of acclaimed chefs showcased their restaurants’ creative approaches to modern dining. Live music energized a fun-loving crowd that sipped to their hearts’ content [albeit maybe beyond their livers’], with perfect weather rounding out an OC-foodie’s dreamland.
Award-winning Chefs Hubert Keller, Richard Blais, Lorena Garcia, Melissa King and Brooke Williamson were among the many big names to showcase their skills live on stage. Highlighting the cooking demos, however, was the duo of Amar Santana and Katsuji Tanabe, two Top Chef alums whose humor and banter was almost as fantastic as their kitchen skill. On the wine side, four master sommeliers led tastings and wine education lessons. Given that there are less than 150 master sommeliers in the entire US, The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival recruited one heck of a lineup.
Dozens of eateries came to play, and a few certainly stole the show. Nobu was an unsurprising standout with a steamed cod that melted in your mouth. Selanne Steak Tavern’s braised short rib with white polenta and bleu cheese foam was a huge crowd favorite, as was their butternut squash soup noted above. Broadway’s Lamb Confit and Driftwood Kitchen’s prime, farro and roasted corn griddle cakes continued the momentum, as did The Winery’s pork belly over risotto and Puesto’s tacos.
Wineries included Ancient Peaks Winery, Barlow Vineyards, Mondavi Family Wines, AIX, Duckhorn, Dearly Beloved, Navarro Vineyards and Roadhouse Winery among many others. Stella poured from three separate stations, ensuring everyone got their beer fix. Duke’s and Johnny Walker brought an interesting presence to the festival, as well as Blue Marble’s ‘ultra premium’ pre-mixed canned cocktails.
Dessert was surprisingly missing on day one, but made a beautiful appearance day two thanks to Mozza’s butterscotch gelato and Aven Table + Bar’s honey syrup doughnuts with pork belly. It was joined with plenty of sweet drinks, such as Bass Note Sangria and Tatratea, a Slovakian tea-based herbal liquer that packs a punch like you wouldn’t believe.
Numerous VIP events surrounded the grand tastings, such as a champagne and caviar tasting by Moet Hennesey and Petrossian. A panel of four master sommeliers, caviar expert Christopher Klapp and Chef Alan Greeley led guests through five pairings of labels such as Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot and Moet Chandon with some of Petrossian’s top caviars. Petrossian, for those who don’t know, is the Moet Hennesey of caviar.
More VIP events, private dinners and late-night parties allowed the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival to effectively take over Orange County’s restaurant scene for the weekend, adding a great spark to celebrate the region’s sprawling foodie presence.
Guests may spend the next year visiting the restaurants they sampled over the weekend, but before you know it the 2018 festival will be fast-approaching. For more information visit NewportWineAndFood.com
While establishments have popped up across Venice to showcase new-age, sophisticated cuisine, few have dared to border the iconic boardwalk. Surfside is that brave soul, challenging the typical grab-n-go shacks that define the area’s otherwise lowbrow dining scene. This loud, high-energy restaurant rises above the riffraff, but does so with a smile on its face, letting the food speak for itself with just the right touch of Venice pizzazz.
Surfside’s menu is inventive, worldly and delicious. An American comfort food base layered with Korean and Mexican influence produces works such as their top-selling Korean fries, covered in bulgogi steak, melted cheese, sriracha mayo and kimchi. The LA street corn is something truly special, genius in its simple approach to crushing cotija cheese into the corn to get the most decadent bite, every bite.
The mac ‘n’ cheese is something else here. Surfside nails it with the exact kind of indulgent creaminess you’d hope for. Burgers are a staple, as are bowls and salads for a healthier approach. The Mexicali bowl is an absolute favorite, made all the more special with rich chipotle crème. Surfside is a seasonal restaurant, so the menu will change frequently, but expect the execution of Head Chef Jesse Gutierrez to remain excellent.
Portion size lands in the guest’s favor here, a rare find for food this good in a prime location. Just be sure to navigate the menu the right way. As great as it is, Surfside can’t afford to stay in business by giving away expensive ingredients…another way of saying that if something has lobster in it, it may not fill you up as much as would a burger or bowl.
A fun cocktail list rounds out the culinary experience, but a visit to Surfside is capped off with some spectacular people-watching. The price point is in a sweet spot—high enough to keep out most of the ‘I don’t shower’ crowd, yet reasonable enough to attract some very interesting personalities. Sports may be playing across the restaurant and bar, but all eyes tend to focus on some of the characters that walk through Surfside’s doors.
Surfside is located at 23 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291. Open for food service 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sun – Thurs, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Fri/Sat. Bar open until 2 a.m. Mon – Sun. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$56/person. For more information call 424-256-7894 or visit Surfside online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.