THERE'S SOMETHING COOL about Huntington Beach. And there’s something tremendous about one of Surf City’s best culinary destinations. Pacific Hideaway is the newly designed gastronomic paradise nestled in the swanky, boutiquey Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel. Get ready to feast your eyes—and your taste buds—on the whole crispy snapper, the beer-can game hen and the Laos sausage lettuce wraps.
The space has been revamped and revived from the Zimzala days—it’s more relaxed now, and the menu reflects globally inspired dishes with Pacific influences that scream with bold tastes. Heading the kitchen is JT Walker, a zookeeper-turned-chef. He’s a bright talent, raised right here in O.C., and he’s committed to culinary excellence. His food is craveworthy—a mix of Latin and Asian flavors, with just the right amount of chilies and heat, and whimsical spins on modern fare.
All the team members at Pacific Hideaway seem to know their stuff. Lead bartender and mixologist Casey Lyons, who hails from Fox Restaurant Concepts fame, delivers a dynamic and playful exhibition of cocktails highlighting the mezcal trend, with daring combinations of liquors and textures, and some serious libation excitement. The Active Wear will refresh your palate with gin, sparkling sake, cucumber and ginger. And the I Knew You Were Trouble (fitting for me!) is a brilliantly balanced blend of spiced rum, Xicaru, pineapple, lime and bitters—but be careful, it’s potent! The service is warm and friendly, knowledgeable and gracious, and much appreciated.
You’ll find little butter or cream in the chef’s signature dishes, but peruse the menu and you’ll discover offerings that will give you good vibes. (All of the sauces, pastries and breads are made in-house. And you can taste it.) The crispy calamari is addictive—light, tender and delicious, served with a chipotle honey dipping sauce that produces the best of sweet and savory goodness. The chorizo-stuffed dates are an amazing spin on the traditional—homemade chorizo teamed with manchego and cotija cheese for brininess. Taste the lacquered spare ribs and you’ll notice a slightly odd setup—lettuce leaves with bread-and-butter pickles to wrap the tender, sweet chili glaze. So tasty. The mussels offer a savory curry broth for the perfectly cooked mollusks and a scattering of Fresno chilies for a beautiful balance of heat and Indian sweetness.
The shaken beef salad might be the best concoction on the menu. With luscious layers of flavors from Asian herbs, cucumber for crunch and succulent, caramelized beef, it’s fresh and fantastic. And I love the Laos sausage lettuce wraps (this guy does Asian fusion really well), with crispy coconut rice that I couldn’t get enough of and a bright fish sauce-based drizzle that bites you back. The beer-can game hen is a delight in presentation—juicy bird, black bean puree and a whimsical demonstration of the chef’s artistic aptitude. And the crispy snapper? Wow. It’s a gorgeous display with accoutrements galore—a whole crunchy, scrumptious fish with homemade hot sauce, green-apple kimchee, pickled cucumbers and a papaya salad to cool it all down.
While the desserts may not measure up to the stellar nature of Pacific Hideaway’s savory counterparts, you can always finish dinner with another creative cocktail.
Brunch is impressive too—well-made huevos rancheros and a seriously good banana muffin French toast. I love visiting a hotel for breakfast or brunch, and the team definitely delivers on it here.
Pacific Hideaway does not disappoint. You’ll find an idyllic ocean view out on the patio, a relaxing ether, impressive cocktails and some really delectable dishes. Bring your spicy palate, wear your flip-flops and settle in. Chef JT is waiting to cook for you.
Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel, 500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 714.965.4448
Raw bar, $12-$16; tacos, $10-$14; salads, $9-$16; small plates, $9-$18; large plates, $15-$49
Brunch Mon.-Fri., 7am-2pm and Sat.-Sun., 7am-3pm; dinner Sun.-Thu., 3-10pm and Fri.-Sat., 3-11pm; bar Mon.-Thu., 11am-11pm, Fri.-Sat., 9am-midnight and Sun., 9am-11pm