Sunday, July 27, 2014

Food & Lib: Hopscotch Tavern

This month, my sister, Stacy, and her husband are making the big move from Orange County to the San Francisco Bay Area -- more specifically, Livermore.  This weekend was their final push to load up the last of their things and head north.  John and I made the hour drive from North Hollywood to Orange to give them a hand, and after a sweltering day of (mainly the guys) heavy-lifting, it was time for some delicious grub.

Over the past year, I've been hearing non-stop tales of the burger on the dinner menu at Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton.  Known for their selection of craft beer and whiskey (get it?? "Hops" and "Scotch"?), it didn't surprise me that my sister and new brother-in-law had been drawn to this place.  During our visit, we were promised a meal at what she describes as one of the best joints in the O.C.

A block away from Downtown Fullerton (an unexpectedly hip and fun stretch of restaurants, tea shops, and vintage furniture & clothing stores), Hopscotch has plenty of outdoor seating for soaking up the warm summer sun.  This current heat wave, however, had us looking for a spot inside.  Guests enter in the main bar area, where there is plenty of high-top seating and a massive, full bar.  If I could call myself a whiskey fan, I would have been in libation heaven.  Alas, I have yet to grow a taste for the stuff (unlike the rest of my family). 

We arrived just around 5 PM, much earlier than when the normal dinner crowd would be there.  I was told that Hopscotch can get insanely crowded, so if you're looking to snag a [comfortable] table for more than 4 people (as we were), getting there early is your best bet.  Not a problem!  I was famished and ready to get eating!


Their cocktail and whiskey menu was very extensive, and my sister ordered a classic Old Fashioned -- our waiter (not the bartender!) even impressed us with his orange-peel-garnish-singeing abilities right at the table.  Not often you get to see the drinks garnished table-side.  For myself, however, I ordered probably the best glass-under-$10 Malbec I've ever tasted.  I even passed it around for everyone to try.  Approvals all around from the critical crowd.  Without a doubt, I will be ordering a few bottles to serve at home for my next dinner party.

John spotted a plethora of mouth-watering options on the "Smalls" appetizer menu and insisted we try the Blue Crab Tots (pictured, above-left; $9) before tackling our burgers.  These are a meal in and of themselves!  The tater tot mixture doesn't skimp on the blue crab, which was flaky and moist on the inside, and the large portion comes with a flavorful cilantro chimichurri and spicy aioli for dipping.  Highly recommend these -- they would be particularly satisfying when just having drinks.  An full plate for the table will help quell anyone's munchies.

Finally, the moment I'd been waiting for.  THE BURGER.  Specifically, the Bradley Burger (pictured, above-right; $13).  But warning:  This bad-boy is only served on the dinner menu, available after 4 PM.  If you want the burger, be sure to go at the right time.

And man, is this mutha juicy!  Our entire table (6 people) ordered the burger.  The bun was soft and fluffy.  The pork belly was thick and flavorful, and how can you not love a huge portion of pork belly on anything?  Some unique flavors popped up, as well, and it took me some time to figure out what it was.  The burger includes Hopscotch's house-made pickles, which tend to have entire peppercorns.  I wasn't a huge fan of the peppercorns being ON the burger, so I quickly shook them off the pickle and proceeded to devour the rest of my plate.  The hand-cut fries were perfect, as well, and came with a house-made ketchup.

Fullerton is a ways away from Los Angeles, and not a place I had previously considered a "must visit" location.  But after seeing Hopscotch and the surrounding area, I know I will have to come back for a full day excursion.  There is just too much to see, and many of the adorable little shops close at or before 6 PM (so quaint!).  But Hopscotch is definitely a "must" on any visit to Downtown Fullerton -- especially if you're a burger and/or whiskey fan.  Oh.  And they also have a Cigar Patio.  For those so inclined. 

Have any of you been to Fullerton?  If so, where are some places I should hit up on my next visit?

Neighborhood:  Downtown Fullerton (Orange County)
Food:  Yes | dinner menu
Full Bar:  Yes | whiskey | beer | cocktails | wine

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