7631 Edinger Ave. #1524
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
It's one of my favorite days of the year. The day that we pick the Ducks games that we will go to for the upcoming hockey season. We split our tickets three ways, and we hold a ticket lottery where we each pick a game until there are none remaining. Unfortunately, due to some crazy circumstances, we did not get a chance to go to any of the preseason games, because we got together too late, but preseason games are pretty lame anyways. As the resident restaurant reviewer in our group, it's usually up to me to choose a spot to meet up, grab some food and drinks, and catch up before the season starts. This year I picked a place I had heard some good things about, Eureka! in Huntington Beach.
I had heard from a guy that Eureka! had some pretty good burgers, and they also have gotten some favorable reviews on some of the OC restaurant blogs that I read religiously. Started in Hawthorne in 2009, Eureka! has since grown by leaps and bounds. The three co-founders have built a pretty impressive chain, which includes 21 currently operating restaurants, throughout six states, with more on the way with their aggressive expansion plan. OC is home to two of their outposts, with the other one being in the University Center in Irvine.
They got their name because they want their customers to feel that they have discovered a fantastic dining experience with great food, craft beer, and artisan liquor program. We arrived at this Eureka located in the pretty popular Bella Terra shopping center, on a recent Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. The restaurant has a very open feel to it, with lots of grays, browns, and exposed wood dominating the very comforting space. There's about a 15 seat bar, with four TVs situated above it, which were showing football and other sports on this afternoon. Our hostess lead us to one of the comfy booths along the right-hand side of the restaurant, where we set up shop to pick our games. We were just in time for Happy Hour, which is every day from 2 to 6, and they also have a late night happy hour from 9 til closing. I quickly made a few selections, as I had skipped breakfast, and was pretty hungry. Let's check out the food here at Eureka!
I really only got these Lollipop Corn Dogs ($6) for the novelty effect, but they were actually way better than I imagined they would be. I think the reason for this was a very light corn breading, along with the surprise that the inside of these contained a polish sausage, instead of the anticipated regular beef hot dog. The spicy mustard dipping sauce was okay with these, but not great. I think we would have rather of had ketchup for dipping these.
Another happy hour item we needed to try were these Osso Buco Riblets ($7). I had pretty high hopes for these sherry braised pork ribs, but they were overcooked, and a little on the dry side. The menu mentioned that these came with a firecracker aioli, but this sauce was a dud, delivering little to no flavor. I'll give these a little credit because they did come with plenty of meat on them, but I'd pass on these the next time I'm here.
Our third and final happy hour menu item of the afternoon were these Smoked Chicken Nachos ($8). The very good and crisp tortilla chip were topped with avocado tomatillo, tomato, jack cheese, cilantro, sliced jalapenos, black beans, chipotle sauce, sour cream, and of course chicken. This was another lackluster appetizer. On the whole, it was fine, but the toppings were used sparingly, with little chicken or cheese to speak of, and they were not layered correctly. Too many of the chips were devoid of any of the toppings on them, and were thus, just plain tortilla chips.
After we had finished divvying up our tickets, we decided to order some lunch, starting with my mom's selection, the Chicken Tacos ($10.50). These visually pleasing tacos came stuffed with plenty of hand pulled chicken, jack cheese, pico de gallo, avocado slices, cabbage, slivered jalapeno, and chipotle sauce. Of course, my light eating mom could only finish one of these, but she really enjoyed the one that she had. She said the chicken was nice and tender, and really enjoyed all of the toppings included here, including the very fresh avocado slice. The tortilla did a great job of keeping everything together, and the sliced jalapenos gave this a little kick. We did think it was odd that the tacos here came with fries, but they were pretty solid.
I guess after being married for over 49 years, my parents have started becoming more and more like each other, as they both got tacos at Eureka!. My dad went the seafood route with these Mahi Mahi Tacos ($10.50). The blackened fish was joined in the tortilla with some avocado tomatillo, cabbage, and mango salsa. My dad enjoyed these but was not wowed by them. The fish had a slight spice to it with the addition of the blackening seasoning, and he liked the way this interacted with the slight sweetness from the mango salsa. My dad did not want fries, so he got onion rings for a dollar up-charge. These panko crusted onion rings were good, with a real thick onion on the inside, and a sturdy coating containing it. We did think it was odd that only three onion rings were included with his tacos, but not any odder than having onion rings and tacos served together.
Katie was in the mood for a sandwich, and this Napa Chicken Sandwich ($12) would be her selection on this late afternoon. This wine country inspired sandwich came with grilled chicken breast, roasted Roma tomatoes, pesto, Havarti, pancetta, and was finished off with some arugula. Katie thought this sandwich had a subtle pleasant flavor, but it did not knock her socks off. She would probably order something else on future visits here.
With all the hoopla I had heard about the burgers from Eureka!, I had to give one of them a try, but it was difficult narrowing it down to one. I finally went with this Jalapeno Egg Burger ($12). This burger had a lot of my favorite things included on this; pickled jalapenos, a fried egg with a runny yolk, cheddar cheese, two strips of bacon, and a spicy chipotle sauce. With everything included on this, I was left a little disappointed after trying this. It was fine, but it was missing something, which was surprising with all of these great toppings. I really liked the sturdy, but soft bun here, but the beef wasn't seasoned enough, and the other toppings did not really pop. I think this burger would have been better with a little more of the chipotle sauce on it, which might have woken this up a bit. The fries were good, and you can tell that they were fresh and hand cut here.
I was a little disappointed with the food that I had at Eureka! on this late afternoon. Nothing was that bad, but it wasn't that great either. I guess you can say it was a pretty average meal, but not memorable in any way. I did feel that the price point here was more than fair. Nothing on their menu comes close to $20 mark, so you can definitely fill up on the cheap, and I was also pretty excited that they offer happy hour every day. Our server, sorry I did not write down your name, was very patient with us, and kept checking on us numerous times during our close to three-hour stay. Even though the food failed to impress, nothing could dim our mood, because hockey is back.
Out of five bathtubs, (because the exclamation Eureka is attributed to Greek scholar, Archimedes, who is said to have said this after making the discovery of volume displacement of the water in his bathtub), five being best to zero being worst, Eureka! gets 2.5 bathtubs.
For more information about Eureka!, head to their website here: http://www.eurekarestaurantgroup.com/