You’re stoked to be at the beach in Huntington Beach, California, aka Surf City USA, for the US Open of Surfing and looking for some good eats. Here are some recs on where to eat during the US Open of Surfing from a local discerning eater and food writer.
It’s that time of year again when Huntington Beach fully realizes its name of Surf City USA and its reputation as the epicenter of surf and skate culture. South of the pier is transformed into a popup city populated by your favorite action sport industry brands and the beverages that fuel it. The 2019 Van’s US Open of Surfing runs from Saturday, July 27 through Sunday, August 5th. As anyone who has ever lived in downtown Huntington Beach knows, it’s a love/hate relationship, but there’s no denying the boost to the local economy that Huntington Beach gains from spectators here to watch the world’s greatest surf competition. Nearly 1 million people will visit Huntington Beach during the two week period and these people all have to EAT!! So let’s see some recommendations on where to eat during the US Open of Surfing.
Chef Driven Cuisine & Craft Cocktails in Huntington Beach
East Meets West: LSXO
LSXO is a “love letter to the culture, heritage, and lineage of Vietnam”. And the proof is in the
pudding photo! Tin Vuong, chef-partner at Bluegold and LSXO, concentrated on the fundamentals while attending California Academy of Culinary Arts. Years later, he and Blackhouse Hospitality Group partner Jed Sanford, made a splash in Orange County with Bluegold, a coastal eatery featuring elevated farm-to-table cuisine with a global approach along with every culinary technique learned and mastered at their other restaurants. With its panoramic view of the Pacific and multiple areas (a hot bar, raw bar, wood and charcoal grills, and even steam kettles) within the larger open kitchen, Bluegold delights the senses with a creative, constantly evolving, menu focusing on flavor and Orange County’s vast array of fresh ingredients from the land and sea. But there’s more!
The true star is LSXO (little sister extra ordinary), with its exciting speakeasy vibe and “straight-up, home-style Vietnamese cuisine”. A complete sensory experience of sweet, sour, bitter, tart, and umami; the stylish dishes at LSXO reflect Chef Vuong’s roots and LA upbringing. Served in the sultry ambiance of expat Saigon against a Pacific Ocean backdrop with an OG rap soundtrack, foodies do not want to miss this one. Run, don’t walk, but be sure and make reservations far in advance.
Spirited Beach Shack: Pacific Hideaway at the Shorebreak Hotel
Chef Wyatt Lash heeded the siren’s call to the shores of Huntington Beach to helm the kitchen at the surfer-chic after developing The Commoner, the hottest restaurant in Pittsburgh. At Pacific Hideaway, the hotel’s polished “surf shack” hangout, culinary and design inspiration comes from favorite global surf destinations around the Pacific Rim. The menu is a fusion of Latin American and Asian flavors such as the Pork Carnitas Sope, Pad Thai, and Veggie Curry – best enjoyed on the pier-view patio accompanied by one of lead bartender Casey Lyon’s creative cocktails.
The cocktail above was featured on Liquor.com. As with the dining menu, Casey’s creations are seasonal and constantly evolving, so don’t be disappointed if this is not listed in the Bar Book. You’ve been warned!
At Huntington Beach’s Pacific Hideaway, bartender Casey Lyons designed a drink you’ll want just after leaving the gym. The bright, herbaceous Active Wear, made with Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, sparkling sake, lime and cucumber juices, and ginger syrup, is a play on a London Mule, but served in a ceramic sake mug and garnished with chopsticks and a cucumber skin to evoke a sushi roll.
Embracing the surf culture of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Latin & South America, Pacific Hideaway serves up food meant to be shared with friends after a long day in the sun and sand. The fully scratch kitchen makes everything, from condiments to bread, for both restaurant and banquet dining. Chef Wyatt’s goal is simple: “create food that is inviting to the surfer, the well-traveled foodie, and the locals”.
Must Have Pizza During the US Open of Surfing!
A Slice of Rome in Huntington Beach: ZeroZero Pizzeria
Francesco Zaza is the gregarious personality behind ZeroZero39 Pizzeria — the best pizza in Huntington Beach, and arguably all of Orange County. He and his wife Carlotta arrived in HB five years ago with a dream culinary project in mind: to open the first “pizza al taglio” (classic Roman-style pizza) in Southern California. Why Huntington Beach? “Because it was our summer holiday spot for the past ten years and we always said it would be a good business to have a Roman-style pizza cafe downtown.” The authentic rectangular pies feature fresh, mostly organic ingredients on a focaccia-like crust made with ultra fine double zero flour — the inspiration for their name. Fast forward to 2019, and ZeroZero Pizzeria has been open for over four years, and you can still find Francesco and Carlotta working the store with the same enthusiasm that made them the darlings of the surf community and mainstays of the downtown business community.
All ZeroZero’s recipes are original from Rome, and their tomato sauce is imported from Italy. Zaza adds that “thanks go to their chef from a local pizzeria in Rome who taught them the secret of Roman pizza — the dough is the most important thing of Roman pizza because it must do a slow rise for over 70 hours”. For slices, long trays of gourmet pies such as Truffle Porcini, Rustica and Gorgonzola, along with more traditional combinations, are displayed behind glass as they are at sidewalk pizzerias in Italy. Generously sized sandwiches on house-made rolls, salads, calzones, and a selection of pastas and homemade lasagna round out the menu.
Where to Eat During the US Open of Surfing
More Dining Recs:
For more about what it takes to host the estimated one million sun, surf, and skate fans that descend upon Huntington Beach for the US Open of Surfing – the world’s largest festival and surf contest and a must-attend event in action sports and youth culture: Countdown to the US Open of Surfing.
Note: I am a Huntington Beach resident of 30 years. I was not compensated by any of the above-mentioned establishments, but have dined at each and every one personally, and on my own dime. I am a contributing writer for the Huntington Beach Visitors Bureau and penned the dining articles in the Huntington Beach Visitors Guide in 2016, 2017, and 2019.