Best Coupling Ever: American Grub and The Swinging Door Saloon

Sweetest bartenders in town!

Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day around the corner, so lets add a little sexy vibe in our step. What do you get when you put together a kickass local bar with a kitchen that puts out really good food? Well you get the best coupling ever: American Grub and The Swinging Door Saloon in Old Town Tustin. One of our all time favorite bars was a former bikini/dive bar, Swinging Door in the heart of Old Town Tustin. MaryAnne has been coming to this local favorite for years with her husband.

American Grub:

A little background to this love story. Kim Conway was a former bartender at The Swinging Door years ago until she took over and became the current badass owner. (Fun fact: She is also the owner of the Salty Dog Tavern in Anaheim!) When a retail space became available four years ago, she and her boyfriend, Gerard Montes, transformed the space into a hip, cozy burger joint. The vibe is definitely hip casual but in no way pretentious.

On a recent visit, we chatted with Gerard, who is really sweet, friendly, and passionate about his food. They compose many of the menu items themselves, often from memories of dishes that they love from their travels together. Gerard gets very excited when he talks about foods and flavors that go well together. They have a great wine list and beers on tap. The house wine that they choose are ones that he says they drink at home (love this!). Also, they have a solid tap, but what we love is that they are featuring a local beer from a brewery down the street, Centro, supporting and fostering a sense of community. Currently, they offer the Golden Ace IPA from Centro. But their tap has a nice selection from IPAs, Blondes, a Pilsner and an Amber. We’ll have to come back for this great selection, but for today, the Bloody Mary was calling our names (isn’t it always?).

On this cold and rainy afternoon, we both wanted burgers. MaryAnne ordered their vegetarian burger with the Beyond Meat patty.

Beyond Meat burger!

And I ordered the pork belly burger, with some jalapeños – a little like a ban mi (Vietnamese sandwich). We enjoyed both our meals. I’m kinda picky about my burger buns, often times, they are just way too bready for me. But these brioche buns are warm, soft, fluffy, and light!

Pork Belly burger was delicious!

The sweet potato fries were perfectly crisped and seasoned. Wanting something a little lighter but just as satisfying? The salads are also quite good. I’ve had the grilled shrimp salad and really enjoyed it. I really love comfy, cozy places, and American Grub is a great destination for a get-together. They have highchairs and welcome families.

To us, family friendly means a relaxed place with great food and great drinks. But this can also be a great spot for a romantic meal. Gerard is working on the Valentine’s Day menu, so check back soon.

The perfect trifecta – Bloody Mary, burger & sweet potato fries!

The Swinging Door Saloon:

After finishing lunch, we braved the pouring rain and ducked next door to The Swinging Door Saloon. Is it just me or do you also get that warm tingly, excited feeling when you walk into a great bar? But seriously, we love this bar and highly recommend coming in to grab a drink. We sat down and chatted with Kim about The Swinging Door’s former dive and bikini bar transformation, into its current laid back and comfortable vibe.

Check out this cutout that leads to the kitchen for American Grub! Do you know what this means? You can get a good meal at this bar!

She started over a decade ago as a bartender herself, but eventually bought the bar. Over time, the women just started wearing less and less clothes, until eventually, they were wearing just bikinis to work. The last several years, as her daughter entered her teenage years and her desire to appeal to more female customers, she encouraged her staff to put on more clothes! Kim also simply felt that her staff should not have to wear bikinis to make a living. Her staff are stable and have been with her for years. On this rainy afternoon, Lauren and JP were our bartenders and we loved them.

JP made us a delicious breakfast shot: a shot of Jameson, a shot of orange juice with a splash of butterscotch Schnapps, and a crispy bacon chaser (I had MaryAnne’s chaser). It was so good: like a pancake and bacon breakfast in a shot glass! It’s got that local vibe: we noticed when we stopped in during lunch that the bartenders knew all the mostly male customers. Although it was a former dive and bikini bar, it definitely feels laid back and comfortable – just somewhere you would meet your girlfriend or your honey for a quickie (yes, I mean a drink), or stay awhile. Sometimes, a girl just wants to saddle up on a barstool and get a drink without being fancy. Cheers!

American Grub

Address: 365 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

Phone: (714) 505-3500


Saturday: 8:30am – 10:00pm
Sunday: 8:30am – 9:00pm
Monday – Thursday – 11:00am – 9:00pm
Friday – 11:00am – 10:00pm

Swinging Door

Address: 355 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

Phone: (714) 832-5214

Open daily until 2:00am

Day drinking, uh, we mean working!

Do you have a favorite dive bar that you’d like for us to check out? Please share with us in the comments below!! xoxo Saranya and MaryAnne