What: Crispa Crepe
Where: 3945 Irvine Blvd Irvine, CA 92602
How Much: $3-$9
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Every country has its own unique street food. For America it is the burger; for France, the handheld deliciousness that can be served savory or sweet: the crepe.
I lamented over summer for the closedown of Irvine Spectrum’s CrepeMaker, which had been my long-time favorite place to have quality crepes freshly made. While agonizing over the loss, I saw my friend checking in at Crispa Crepe on Facebook. I decided to give it a try.
Crispa Crepe, opened in May, is a crepe diner located in a quaint plaza at the corner of Irvine Boulevard and Culver Drive, surrounded by neighborhoods like Northwood and Northpark.
The 20 minute drive from Campus to Irvine Blvd made me fairly excited and hungry, building up the anticipation for a decent creperie that would cure my craving.
After parking my car in the large lot, I walked into the empty restaurant at 2 p.m. with a chic and modern décor very different from any restaurant I’ve ever visited in Irvine. The oversized pop art portraits on the walls give the place a vibrant personality. Spacious and clean, the interior also has plenty of seating areas for groups. With the open kitchen, everyone gets to see and enjoy the process of crepe making after ordering. The silver tables and chairs spread out evenly on the right and left side of the restaurant create a sense of simplicity and spaciousness, working well with the paintings displayed inside for the modern feel and look.
The minimalist design also has its touch on the menu, which consists of eight savory items and five sweet choices. Folded in a rectangular shape with grilled chicken breast strips, pesto, tomato sauce, aged Swiss cheese, red onions and fresh basil leaves, the “Italian” crepe is served warm on the plate alongside a complementary salad of organic mixed greens and topped by low-calorie balsamic vinaigrette that tastes powerfully fresh.
Here, you learn to eat crepes with forks and knives. Carefully slicing the stuffed pancake open, I take the first bite with a mouthful of melted cheese and chicken. The herby pesto and slightly sour taste from tomato adds texture and a distinct flavor to the chicken, and so does the melted cheese that binds every filling together with the crepe, which is surprisingly more crispy than usual.
With a plastic knife’s help, it takes some strength and patience to cut a crepe through. Unlike other crepes I’ve tried, Crispa’s crepes tend to have harder shells which resemble the texture of a very thin pizza crust. Eating their “Italian” crepe reminds me of pizza because of its crispiness and stuffing inside. Both my eating companion and I shout out “pizza!” the moment we bite into it. Besides Italian-style, Crispa Crepe also tries to be multicultural by serving an interesting selection of crepes including an Indian crepe that contains curry, Moroccan crepe that has hummus with cumin and Greek crepe with fresh tomato and feta cheese. In addition, vegetarian customers can ask for tofu to substitute meat in the crepe, an option that many restaurants have nowadays.
Having a major sweet tooth, I look at the other side of the menu in search of something sweet. My companion and I share the “Crispella” crepe that has a creamy homemade Nutella spread inside with the option of adding additional fillings such as strawberries and sliced bananas for 75 cents per add on. Another popular sweet crepe, “New York,” includes small mint leaves with traditional fillings like bananas, strawberries and Nutella.
For snack and dessert people out there, there’s also the option of paying a $1.25 more to get a scoop of ice cream on your sugary pancake. And if you’re lucky enough, check the sign on the cashier counter that says something like, “Receive a free scoop of ice cream when you like our Facebook page.”
While the décor and price are good enough for a visit, I still can’t get used to the crepe’s crispy texture, but it sure can be a plus for some.
The quick and casual creperie with a hipster kick is student-friendly and affordable.