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.
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.
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!
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 Swinging Door Saloon
She started over a decade ago as a bartender
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!
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
Address: 355 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780
Phone: (714) 832-5214
Open daily until 2:00am
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