The Surfin Cowboy
34245 Doheny Park Way
Dana Point, CA 92624
Okay, so this is the second straight review that features hamburgers. I had mentioned in the review before that I was a little obsessed. A lot of it stems from the fact that if there is a great burger in OC, and I have not had it yet, I feel a little cheated. When the OC Register came out with their top ten list of burgers, there were four places on that list that I had not been to yet. After our trip to The Corner in Huntington Beach, I am now down to three, and after our visit to the Surfin Cowboy, I will only have a mere two more hamburger Mecca's to hit up. With dreams of great burgers in our eyes, we headed south on the day before the Fourth of July to beat the heat and try one of the reported ten best burgers in OC.
The Surfin Cowboy is located in the Dana Point area known as Capo Beach. I am not that familiar with the south OC beaches, so I have never been to Capo Beach before. Looking at the map now, I can see that we were about three to four blocks away from the beach. This used to be the location of a bar and grill called Coconuts. Looking at that Yelp page, the reviews were all over the place. The Surfin Cowboy took over the place in the Fall of last year. The reviews have been on the more positive side since, and they of course were recognized as having one of the best burgers in OC.
We got to the Surfin Cowboy at about 6PM. They really had a good dinner crowd on this night. The bar area was jammed, but the hostess lead us to a table, right near where there appeared to be a stage, sectioned off by a low wall. This is not a huge place, maybe fifteen or so tables, with some very nice high definition TVs surrounding the room. Half the TVs were playing assorted baseball games, while the other half were playing music videos from the past and present. The group of customers were a little on the older side, and when we sat down it seemed every table was waiting for their food. After our order was taken, we would soon be right with these people, but it did not take too long for the food to hit our table. Let's check out how everything looked.
I was pretty hungry, so we needed to get an appetizer, stat. I have always liked Fried Mac and Cheese ($4.95 at the happy hour price), so it was a natural that we would give the one at the Surfin Cowboy a try. This one was a little different, as it was served in a roasted tomato beurre blanc sauce. The breading on the outside of these were good and crisp, but the rest of this appetizer really let us down. The inside of the mac and cheese ball was devoid of cheese, while the sauce really did not add much flavor. I am not sure if the happy hour portion of this is smaller than the normal $8 price, but I would have been a little miffed if we had only received two of these for $8. On to the entrees.
Specials on Wednesday feature a pasta dish from the mind of Executive Chef, Sima Ganaba. On this particular Wednesday, she offered a Short Rib Pasta ($15) that Katie could not resist. I am a big fan of short rib, and this one was right on point. The meat was fork tender, the flavor was spot on, and there was plenty of short rib included in this dish. Katie felt the sauce overwhelmed a bit, and that the inclusion of a vegetable in here would have been nice. She did feel that the pasta was cooked well. If this was offered on our future visits here, she would not hesitate to get this again.
Now of course the real reason I came to the Surfin Cowboy, the O.G. Burger ($10). What I first noticed about this burger when it was sat in front of me, was the good looking pretzel bun it came on. It was soft, but still carried all of the contents without breaking. The thick patty was topped with a house made rub, caramelized onions, pepper jack cheese, and a chipotle aioli. With all of these big flavors, I had expected more of a pop of flavor. The cheese and the chipotle aioli really kind of got lost here, maybe they were neutralized by the sweetness from the caramelized onions. The meat itself was very juicy, with a good hearty taste to it. The seasoning that they used on the burger was more evident than most other burgers. The fries were pretty basic, even though I paid an extra $2 to make them Parmesan Garlic Fries. The fries were not helped by the fact that they came out lukewarm at best, not that it probably would have mattered anyways.
I was pretty happy with the entrees that we had at the Surfin Cowboy, but the other items did not really shine on the night we were here. I can see why the burger gets people in the door though. On future visits I would probably go for a burger, like their Black and Blue Burger, in which the condiments and toppings will more than likely pop with more flavor than the O.G. Burger that I had. The base of the burger, the meat and bun, provided a very solid foundation, that a lot of other burgers fail to execute properly. The night we were here, service was spotty in some parts of our visit. Maybe an added waiter or two would help, during the dinner rush. I'm glad we could get down to Capo Beach to cross this burger off our burger wishlist. Now only two more to try, until someone else puts out a best burger in OC list.
Out of five seahorses, (because it is natural that a surfing cowboy would ride a seahorse), five being best to zero being worst, The Surfin Cowboy gets 3 seahorses.
For more information about The Surfin Cowboy, click here: http://www.thesurfincowboy.com/