If you want to experience the sights, sounds, and sensations of a real Surf City, I recommend you “barrel” on over to The Longboard Restaurant & Pub, in Huntington Beach.

It’s better than a live Jan and Dean concert, who in 1963 were the first to take a surf song to #1 on the Billboard charts. Like the “Barrel” is to a surfer, (the wave that is the be-all-and-end-all of surfing), The Longboard Restaurant & Pub is the place that captures the essence of every surfer’s dream.

Located at 217 Main Street, this quintessential beach scene features sensational food and libations that blend both upscale adult beach charm with youth’s trendy surf culture.  If you love the thrill of the wave, or just hanging ten with friends The Longboard Restaurant & Pub provides casual dining at its finest.

The charm and charisma of this downtown restaurant is a legend on the Huntington Beach scene.  It’s only a few blocks away from the city’s 8.5 miles of white sandy beaches that offer some of the best surf around for both experts and novices.  In fact, the most prestigious surfing competition in the world, the U.S. Open of Surfing and Beach Games, is being held the day I visit, August 1, 2004.  The thrill of watching the world’s greatest surfers compete and ride some of the most famous waves of the summer is only surpassed by my restaurant experience at The Longboard Restaurant & Pub.

It is a day that held every great thing I love about life . . . food, fine wine, fun and great people!   The day’s events also provides one of my all time favorite pastimes — people watching.  There’s something special about the energy of Huntington Beach from the Main Street (where Longboards resides) to the end of the historic Pier.  It’s not only the flavor of an endless summer and the thrill of watching the world’s finest surfers compete for a world class title that’s electrifying but  it’s knowing that The Longboard Restaurant & Pub is always waiting for you with great eats and treats.

The beach and the surfing competition are only part of my day’s thrilling experiences.  I found the eclectic shopping an adventure.  The beach shops offer everything from stylish California fashion to the latest in surf wear.  There’s even a doggy bakery on Main Street with such delectable dog goodies as cookie dog bones, and drumstick looking ice cream cones.  But again it was the Longboard Restaurant & Pub that proved to have the best logo’d surfer tee shirts, hats, and Aloha wear in the city.

It’s a unique restaurant that can boast great shopping, fun people and incredible food and spirits! The minute I stepped near this awesome eatery, I was mesmerized.  The quaint building is an historical site constructed in 1904 by Talber & Leatherman.  It’s the oldest building in the city and was fully restored to its original condition in 1990.

The captivating charm of this old building is enlivened by the friendly atmosphere of their spirited customers.  Good food always brings out the best in people and their sumptuous lunches made the place buzz with good times.

My mouth started to water as I watched the waiters scurry to serve the crowds their delectable lunch platters.  One plate looked better than the next!  We need to find a place to sit and order quick, but the sidewalk café is full.  No one wanted to leave the ambiance of the cool sea breezes under the cobalt skies.

My eyes were green with envy as I watched the vivacious interplay between families, lovers, and friends as they feast from one of the most extensive menus — a wide selection of American cuisine, with everything from Boston corned beef, New England Steamers, Shrimp, Main Lobsters, and New England Haddock.  My girlfriend Leigh, who is a personal friend of the owner, told me the fish was flown in fresh daily.  She also told me that their steaks, chicken entrées and radical burgers are served with the most incredible cut fries she’s ever tasted.

My stomach growls loudly, but the sidewalk café customers are too engrossed in their festivities to notice the rumbling.  They are enjoying their “personal Pipeline” and savoring every minute of the ride.  So we follow our food cravings to the inside of the restaurant.  The bar is just as buoyant and busy.  New comers are greeted with the same camaraderie as the locals.   They even brag about how this is “the greatest restaurant on planet earth as we know it.”

My eyes squint as I readjust to the darkened light, but within seconds I feel comfortably at home amid the longboard surfboards and the casual beach décor. The bar is a custom made 35 foot longboard.  The bartender is pleased with my discovery and proudly announces that this unique bar serves 16 beers on tap, a wide selection of wines, along with a new drink menu that has Han Soju, a Korean Vodka, O' Mar’s Irish Cream, and La Paz Agave Wine.  He recommendes their Beach Cosmo, hand shaken and a local favorite. 

But drinking and eating aren’t the only Longboard pasttimes.  I count 23 televisions filling the bar to the brim with everyone cheering their favorite sporting event.  Luckily, my friends wanted an afternoon of old fashion chit chat.  So we meander through the sports crowd and find our way to a large outside patio.  I am enthralled. There wasn’t a place in this restaurant that isn’t filled with tables of people enjoying the Surf City experience.  The spacious outdoor patio even has plenty of heaters poised to be lit for those cool California nights.  “Nice touch,” I thought.

The festive spirit of our surf’n California day continues.  When we sit down to our cozy table filled with the embracing afternoon sun laced with cool sea breezes I understand why surfers are so happy.  Not only do they have incredible waves to ride all day, but they have the “beach’n fun” of The Longboards’ food and spirits to replenish them.

We start out with the Tempura Calamari appetizers, strips of Calamari, deep fried in the Longboard’s own brew batter and served with chili mayo and cocktail sauce.  It is the freshest and most succulent Calamari I’d ever tasted . . . Yummy!  My good friends, who live in Huntington Beach and who are frequent visitors to the Longboard, encourage me to try the Shore Break Cajun Shrimp appetizer.  The shrimp is sautéed in a rich collection of Cajun and fresh spices and served with garlic bread.  What a chef!  Now I know why surfers are so mellow.  With places like The Longboard Restaurant & Pub providing such pleasurable food, who wouldn’t be in heaven?

The thrill of the wave didn’t stop with the appetizers.  We order a bottle of Talus, a Californi Chardonnay.  It tastes like “California Dreamin’ at its finest.  The Californian wine revolution of the 1960s and '70s was largely initiated by men and women who were not from winemaking families like they are in Europe.  They were investment bankers, professors, pilots, lawyers, and doctors.  Their passion for wine and fascination with the romantic lifestyle of making wine superseded everything; many had never planted a seed before, let alone tended to a vineyard.  Perhaps it isn’t too late for me to learn how to surf?

My California Dreamin’ become real as the waiter places in front of me a scrumptious sandwich, the Get Real Reuben.  My friends inform me that the thinkly sliced corn beef is flown in from back east; it is grilled with Swiss chess, Thousand Island dressing, and topped with sauerkraut on rye bread.  My lunch is so good that I am not envious of my friends’ Jamaican Mahi Mahi entrées, which are grilled light and flaky and marinated in their own special Jamaican spicy sauce. The lobsters are flown in from Maine and are broiled to perfection and served with a side of new potatoes.  I am told it is also the best seasonally priced lobster in Southern California .  We were all “Stoked” (Surfer’s expression for being very happy.).

You don’t have to know how to ride a “Heavy Wave” (surfer term for a big, gnarly, kick ass wave) to experience a surfer’s paradise. Just take the time to visit The Longboard Restaurant & Pub.  You can hang with the locals, watch the “hotties,” and experience an Xtreme eatery.  So when someone tells you, “You should have been here yesterday,” you can smile and say that you were. Visit them online at http://longboardpub.com

By Janice Wilson, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.

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