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Flavor's Up at Surfin Cowboy in Capistrano Beach

The Surfin Cowboy is worth a try for calamari, burgers, pork belly and more.
The Surfin Cowboy is worth a try for calamari, burgers, pork belly and more.
Galen Guseman photo

The Surfin Cowboy

Rating:
Star5
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The Surfin Cowboy will make you forget any of the restaurants that came before it in this Capistrano Beach location. It’s an inviting sports bar for everyone. Call it a sports gastropub! The creative cocktails, large selection of crafted beers and wine are only the beginning. Wait until you get to the food.

As a longtime Capistrano Beach resident, my husband and I have seen restaurants at this location come and go—including the last attempt called Coconuts. The Surfin Cowboy has been open approximately one year and is going strong.

Now The Surfin Cowboy brings a new flavor sensation to the beach town, which is part of the city of Dana Point.

My husband and I stopped in—spur of the moment—on a Sunday around 2 p.m. just as Brunch was wrapping up. No matter. We were treated to one of the best blues and swing bands that we’ve heard in a long time. Let’s hope The Stan Zabek Band become regulars at the restaurant.

First taste

For starters—go for the Crispy Pork Belly ($12). It is one of the stars of the culinary show--three pork belly pieces, seared crispy and spiced with tamarind sauce. It is served with sweet corn fritters. It can be shared as an appetizer or even ordered as a meal. Filling and satisfying with flavors. We will order this often.

Next: Old Bay Calamari appetizer ($12). These are flash fried and spiced, served with piquillo pepper aioli. Not greasy and the serving size was generous for two people. To-go box, please!

Second Visit

We liked Surfin Cowboy so much we went back—again spur of the moment on a Friday after work around 5:45 p.m. It was not overly crowed—just right—as Goldilocks would say. Televisions were on with various sports games. By the time we left, the house was nearly full with a mix of restaurant goers—couples, individuals—men and women—and groups of friends meeting up.

Our sampling:

Garlic Parmesan Fries ($7) as an appetizer for Happy Hour along with a shot of tequila ($5). Fries were seasoned to perfection.

Black & Blue Burger ($12). Served with Bacon Jam, A-1 aioli, crispy shallots and Blue Cheese crumbles, served on a pretzel bun. This was a huge hit with my husband, who begrudgingly allowed me a bite. I agreed with his taste assessment.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($9). My choice. It contains smoked Cheddar, goat cheese, pepper jack cheese and thick cut bacon. Just the right blend of flavors. The bread with a thick-cut, Texas style bread—a little too thick for my taste, but all you have to do if the bread overwhelms you is to eat the second half of the sandwich open-faced. Again, generous serving size.

Apple Fennel Slaw was the side we both selected with our sandwiches. I’m not a true fennel fan. I’ll never say that again. This was a wonderful taste sensation. The slaw mixture was super light on the mayo. Some coleslaw tends to be much too wet. I’d order apple fennel slaw again even as a side dish ($5).

But wait, there’s more

The Surfin Cowboy deserves not one, but multiple visits to try its creative menu. For dinner there are steaks, including Marinated Skirt Steak with Chimichurri ($19) a Watermelon Salad ($10) with lime and agave marinated watermelon, goat cheese and arugula….and it’s gluten free. And, of course, next on the hit list: Brat of the Month $10), bratwurst on pretzel bread with spicy mustard and fried pickles. There's so much more on the dinner menu and so much more to write about.

Of course, there is brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A subject for another visit and review.