The Nike US Open of Surfing® kicks-off next weekend in Huntington Beach and runs from July 28th to August 5th. For the past week, the golden sand north and south of the pier has been covered with stacks of steel that rise like a phoenix transformed into a gleaming modern spectator area emblazoned with the signature Nike swoosh. Yesterday, the highway was lined with utility trucks running the lines that will power the massive tent city and broadcast this mega event to the world. After an unprecedented showing last year (half a million reportedly), attendees are in for what has become one of the most anticipated surf, music and lifestyle events of the year. Title sponsor Nike – along with presenting sponsors Hurley and Converse – continue to elevate the event which is expected to attract over three quarters of a million fans and onlookers (yikes) along the 14-acre stretch of sand on the south side of Huntington Beach Pier, showcasing the best in surf, skate, music, and art.
In the past, we’ve negotiated our way to the Pier early in the day to catch some of the action, but this year we’ll be able to witness the mayhem from our doorstep…. all day and into the night, I’m sure. But nevermind that – as a local of twenty-five years I decided to give a shout out to a few of the restaurants that I like to frequent. Downtown Huntington has much to offer in the way of breakfast to fuel the appetites of regulars and visitors and replenish calories burned after a morning of shredding the waves or popping ollies – venture from your Starbucks routine and try one of the organic hand-roasted brews at Sertino’s Cafe instead, or savor an espresso and pain au chocolat at the artisan bakery Baguetier on 5th Street, or try the Keppler’s Special at ever-popular surfer hangout Sugar Shack further down on the main drag, or treat yourself to Huevos Rancheros on the patio at Zimzala’s daily brunch or the legendary Sunday brunch at Duke’s.
Sertino’s Coffee Cafe – no lines (OK, during the Open it’ll at least be a shorter line) as well as a better view and croissants, pastries, and bagels, or, if you slept in and its lunch time, premium deli-style, hot toasted Panini sandwiches and healthy salads. 1590 5th Street, (714) 969-4888.
My personal fave are the fresh, made-daily in the French tradition, sweet and savory pastries and tarts of Baguetier. Chef Joel Reno, formerly with Patina Group, offers a surprising variety for a small patisserie and you won’t find any better, this side of Paris!
Pain au chocolat
Ham and Gruyere muffin
Brioche Cinnamon Crumble
Don’t leave without a loaf of their artisan bread or a melt-in-your-mouth baguette for dinner and a few delectable macarons or cookies for a treat at the beach 🙂 120 5th Street (714) 317-1814
Over the years, I’ve watched Huntington Beach’s endearingly quirky downtown area become the epitomy of the Southern California sun & surf lifestyle brand. One place has remained a constant during those decades of change: the Sugar Shack. Regardless of the glitz that the surfing world has attained, no trip to Huntington Beach is complete without a visit to the iconic Sugar Shack. Owner Michelle Turner is famous for “sponsoring” post-practice breakfasts for the Huntington Beach High School surfing team, something she’s done since her two sons, now professional surfers, were team captains. The old-fashioned breakfast and lunch spot takes its name from a 1963 song by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs (“There’s a crazy little shack beyond the tracks/And everybody calls it the Sugar Shack”). Its walls are covered in memories: autographed photos of surf legends past and present, clippings from surfing magazines, competition medals, obituaries of local kids who died in the waves, and a plaque of their March, 2010 feature in Saveur magazine.
The most popular dish on the menu is the Keppler’s Special, a breakfast dish of scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, avocado, and hollandaise on an English muffin. Everything on the menu, from the generous omelettes to the vegetable beef soup and turkey platters has a simple homemade appeal and is always served with a smile. If you’re an early riser and can get there at 6 a.m. when they open, or soon after, you can avoid the crowd and inevitable wait list. But it’s worth the wait, and even if you have to wait – there’s always the ultimate show parading along Main St.
A closer look at Keppler’s Special (I get the half-order since I’m not burning massive calories from surfing)
The 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing will run from July 28 to August 5. All events are free and open to the public and can be viewed live daily at www.usopenofsurfing.com. We welcome visitors and hope you have a spectacular time! Please respect the local businesses and help us keep our beaches clean 🙂