The Blind Pig attained regional acclaim in Rancho Santa Margarita for its flavorful twists on classic dishes. Now, Executive Chef Karl Pfleider and Bar Manager Ryan Autry have expanded their knack for new American flavor and artful execution to Yorba Linda, where the restaurant’s second location has been received with overwhelming praise. The place was popping—popping!—on a Sunday night, traditionally among the slowest times for a restaurant, demonstrating that The Blind Pig is satisfying a long-time local thirst for culinary novelty and innovation.
The new dining room is a big step up from the RSM location in terms of capacity, but plays to the same loose speakeasy theme, putting the bar at center stage amidst a surrounding perimeter of chic tables and comfortable booths. Servers have just enough room to maneuver between bargoers captivated by whatever game is playing on TV and high-energy groups reaching for the next small plate on the table. A lovely patio adds further seating and perhaps a quieter environment than the comradery taking place inside.
While the bar is the physical focus of The Blind Pig, Autry and his team have crafted a cocktail, beer and wine program to walk the walk. Pages and pages of artful cocktails, separated by different categories and cleverly labeled with flavor profiles to ensure patrons get exactly what they’re looking for, make up the majority of the leather-bound drink book (yes, it’s more of a book than a menu…quite a good read!). The socialite, made with vodka, aperol, strawberry rose, prosecco and lemon, lives up to its claim of ‘fruity and effervescent’ while the real Vinnie holds distinct sweetness to mask an otherwise potent bite. If you feel like splurging, the high roller cocktails are a fun venture into the unknown, with creations like the billionaire and ‘a damn good margarita’ bringing nuanced flavors.
The food menu is every bit as creative, with items like chicken lollipops and pork back ribs coming out with sauces that play with heat, sweet and tang in a way that holds onto each dish’s flavor foundation while deviating from the norm enough to raise eyebrows and beg the question of ‘what’s in this that I haven’t had before?’ Same goes for the short rib tacos, where Chef Pfleider has perfected the ability to inject every bit of umami flavor into those short ribs and compile them with a mystical combination of creamy, crunchy and hearty additives, served atop a perfectly robust tortilla. Then there’s the hot chicken, a trend that’s sweeping Southern California but one that The Blind Pig can own long after the fad is gone with its just-spicy-enough sauce, excellent crunch and sizeable Texas toast that it’s served on. And whatever you may order, pair it with a side of fries with heavenly garlic aioli or some killer kimchi fried rice.
If you have room for dessert, those melt-in-your-mouth churros served over rich panna cotta are sure to please. Or maybe you’ll cap the night with another one of those intricate cocktails.
The Blind Pig Yorba Linda is located at 4975 Lakeview Ave, Yorba Linda, CA 92886. Open 3 – 11p Mon – Wed, 3p – 12 midnight Thu, 3p – 1a Fri – Sat and 3 – 10p Sunday. Avg. out-the-door price for appetizer, entrée and 2 drinks is ~$90/person. For more information call (714) 485 – 2593 or visit TheBlindPigOC.com/Yorba-Linda
Georgia’s is a breath of fresh air for LA’s food scene. In an age where global fusion, hyper-seasonal menus and quickly revolving food trends have gotten chefs and owners so entrenched in trying to catch ‘the next big thing’ that their restaurants lost their identity in the process, Georgia’s is a place that stays true to its roots. This steadfastness has secured the restaurant’s authentic dedication to Southern comfort and soul food, unaffected by the ever-shifting food tides on the surface. Now with two locations across Long Beach and Anaheim, Gerogia’s has made its name in family recipes served in generous portions at fair prices, paired with some of that amazing Southern hospitality.
Co-Owner Nika Shoemaker-Machado is the type of restaurateur you might see more of in the movies than in real life. What a rare treat to have the owner not just walk the dining room floor, but actually sit down at virtually every table and strike up a conversation with Georgia’s regulars and newcomers alike. Her warmth is contagious and the pride she takes in serving her mother’s recipes should be the envy of anyone in the business. Everyone on staff is much the same, providing unparalleled service for a fast-casual restaurant, and tending more to guest needs than you’ll even find at most full-service restaurants. She must take after her mother, Gretchen, who despite approaching 80 is known to be a hoot and a holler at the table, and of course a mastermind in the kitchen.
Gretchen inspired a broad and delectable menu with the recipes she learned to make with her grandmother. I grew up visiting my grandparents in Atlanta, with soul food becoming a childhood staple and a source of deep nostalgia. So upon biting into Gerogia’s signature fried chicken, where powerfully rich, juicy meat melds with a perfectly light and crunchy cornmeal crust, time stopped. I found myself in a simpler time, a better time, where carbs weren’t a crime and fried wasn’t an F-word. Then, as the clock began to turn again and I reopened to the contemporary world around me, I sought deep relief in knowing that a place like this provides that kind respite 2,000 miles away from where it typically exists.
Nika admitted that while she and her sister did get to grow up with her mom’s recipes served at home, they were only reserved for special occasions and sadly not every-day occurrences. And with dishes like Gretchen’s special jambalaya, red beans and rice with andouille sausage, pulled pork and of course that fried chicken, such a reality seems to be both a crime (for missed opportunity) and a blessing (for arteries’ sake). Dishes like these escalated Gretchen to culinary fame within her social circle, bringing her to cater weddings, business lunches and other events for many years. To this day, Gretchen comes into the kitchen from time to time and cooks almost entirely from memory. Actually getting her recipes written down to execute at scale was a challenge.
It’s safe to say, however, that Nika and team got those recipes down pat. Biting into that heavenly cornbread with a generous slathering of honey butter is the perfect segue into a meal where nutrition just needs to take a back seat. Because after a few of those BBQ pork ribs, velvety mac ‘n’ cheese and thick mashed potatoes, you’ll agree it’s worth it. Yes, you can pair it with beer, wine or even hard lemonade, but I prefer a sweet tea: t’s made quite properly here.
Save room for some sweet potato pie at the end, and maybe another round of cornbread.
Georgia’s Long Beach is located at 4101 McGowen St. Suite 155, Long Beach, CA 92630. Open 11a – 9p Mon – Thu, 11a – 10p Fri, 9a – 10p Sat, 9a – 9p Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and drink is ~$25/person. For more information call (562) 420-5637 or visit Georgias-Restaurant.com.
Farmer Boys has brought back two limited-time items to its menu: the xtreme bacon boy burger and the hog heaven breakfast burrito. These historic crowd favorites each showcase all things pork with indulgent fashion, and are available across all Farmer Boys locations through November 11, 2019.
The xtreme bacon boy burger features two fire-grilled all-beef patties and two slices of cheese, with bacon strips lining the top and a thick layer of crunchy bacon bits on the bottom. The hog heaven breakfast burrito wraps an omelet of 3 cage-free eggs, bacon, sausage, country ham and cheese around hash browns and fresh salsa, nestled inside a warm tortilla. Each creation is decadent in its own right of meaty, cheesy goodness, with rich, crunchy bacon in the spotlight. Pair either one with some always-crispy fries or giant onion rings.
Farmer Boys is fueling these items’ addictive nature with an additional incentive as well. Guests who purchase either the xtreme bacon boy burger or the hog heaven breakfast burrito will get $2 off these items on a return trip if they revisit any Farmer Boys location within two days. Those who are part of Farmer Boys’ loyalty program—the Very Important Farmer (VIF) program—can earn a free breakfast burrito by visiting six times in October and purchasing any variety of breakfast burrito, including the Hog Heaven Breakfast Burrito. In both cases, this leaves you just enough time to recover from the original food coma, and perhaps a stop to your local gym to prepare for the next round.
Each of these two items, as well as the entire Farmer Boys menu, is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Farmer Boys has made a name for itself in the quick service restaurant world by prioritizing quality ingredients, [very] generous portions and exceptional service. With nearly 100 locations across California and Nevada, Farmer Boys continues to expand both its presense across the country and the breadth of its menu with fun, fresh additions. For more information, visit FarmerBoys.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.