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Have you ever wandered around the OC after an evening out with friends or nice date and wondered what to do next? If you are a craft beer or wine enthusiast, then the food and drink options at the newly opened Calivino Wine Pub may be just for you. Located next to Orange County attractions like Disneyland and Angels Stadium, this trendy restaurant has just what the OC needs. With its simple yet tasty food, its menu has a varied twist on the typical American restaurant experience.

Courtesy of Alex Guardado
Courtesy of Alex Guardado

As I walked into this recently opened eatery, I was in awe of the urban vibe and trendy music playing in the background. Everything, from the tables and chairs to the wall art, had a cool retro look. It’s like restoration hardware, but with great food, alcohol and a bunch of young people enjoying the chic ambience. As the server greeted me, I took note of the blackboard listing the rotating craft beer and wine selection. As a craft beer enthusiast, I was instantly sold on this place, but my friend and I were also in need of some filling food to give an overall verdict in this hip new restaurant.

Scouring the menu, I noticed how their ingredients and food are locally sourced, and even their fries and patties are all made in house. Being a burger lover and curious about their interesting selection, I instantly opted for their lamb burger, which is made with a hint of mint, garlic, a sweet onion glaze and gremolata yogurt. My friend got the House Burger topped with fried leek and both were served with a sweet house salad.

I also wanted to go out of my comfort zone of craft beer and try their reasonably priced wine flights. Having some friends that are wine lovers, I wanted to get the most flavorful red wines I could get my hands on. I asked for one of their dark earthy cabernet sauvignons and then inquired for the best selection to go with my food. The head chef and owner, also a wine connoisseur, hand-picked some flavorful full-bodied wines to pair with my burger. Following a few sips of their fine wines, our meals were served in no time.

I started by sampling the tasty vinaigrette salad. Then I finally got to try my mouthwatering lamb burger. I was immediately in awe of how much flavor could be packed into such a small bite. The sweet onion glaze gave the burger a rich texture and complemented the cooked to perfection lamb patty. The chef’s pairing of a Petite Sirah red wine served especially for my meal enriched this even more. My friend’s House Burger was just as gratifying and both can only be described as the best burgers we have ever had.

Too full from the wine and food, I was at a loss for more room to get dessert. Exploring the rest of their food options, the rest of their menu can be best summed up as an eclectic food experience. The owner and sommelier Daniel told us how the menu inspiration came from his time in the San Luis Obispo area, renowned for its small tasty eateries and expansive non-chain food culture. This influence, along with a French twist on pub food, makes the menu delectable, with items like Beignets, sweet crostini, baked Brie and hand crafted short ribs gnocchi.

Without a doubt, this restaurant embodies what Southern California food and drink culture should be. It is reasonably priced with meals ranging from full-bodied selections like a steak salad or burgers at $10 to medium and light bodied items like lettuce wraps and bacon dates at $8. They even have happy hour every Sunday through Friday from 3-7 p.m. (heck yes) with $2 off select meals and drinks deals. Working with other Orange County and local Southern California beer and wine businesses, they have an ever-expanding rotating tap of local craft beers and wines. This selection even ranges from a beginning wine taster such as myself, to wine enthusiast level selections.

Everything about this place amazes and makes a customer feel the great atmosphere. Even the bathroom, with its chic yet retro California bear painting, made me feel at home and relaxed. This stylish and sophisticated craft beer and wine restaurant breaks the boring trend and adds an extra dimension of classy but not over the top food and ambience. Come here after Disneyland or before an Angel’s game and spend your money on some great food and drinks. This is definitely a great date place or hangout spot if you are in the area.

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