365 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
Getting dinner before a Ducks game is a juggling act for Katie and I. I usually look up places on Yelp that are on our way, but by the time she gets out of work, and with traffic, we almost always end up just driving thru somewhere, and eating in the parking lot at Honda Center. This is not the case with games that start at 7:30, instead of the usual 7 pm starting time. With that extra half hour traffic dies down, we can eat a decent meal, and still make it to the game before the national anthem has been sung. On one recent game day, we had the extra half hour and spent it at American Grub in Tustin.
I'm sorry to admit that American Grub had escaped my restaurant radar until this point of time. I'm usually pretty good with keeping up with restaurants, especially ones that feature great shots of their burgers on their Yelp page. American Grub is situated in Old Town Tustin, right next door to the Swinging Door, which of course I have never been to, (okay a few times, but don't tell my secret).
I guess you could call American Grub a sister restaurant to the Swinging Door. After talking to Owner, Gerald Montes, who prefers to be called, G, he told us that his girlfriend is the manager next door, and they offer their menu to the hungry patrons of that bikini bar through a window directly from their kitchen. There would be no visit to the Swinging Door on this evening, we were here for a quick bite before the game.
The inside of American Grub resembles the Pinterest website brought to life. There's an American flag made out of discarded license plates, mosquito netting used as lighting covering, and lots of other repurposed items used in unique ways. Lending to the slight hipster vibe in this former antique store location is the exposed beams in the ceiling, the wonderful brick walls, and the mismatched tables and chairs, which give AG some good character.
The menu at AG includes a good amount of burger options, even more sandwiches, and is rounded out with some salads, sides, and a few grill items. Most prices hover right around the $12 mark. Ordering is done at the counter and the food is brought out to your table. Let's see if the food tastes as good as it looks in the pictures on Yelp.
Out first was this tray of Cajun Fries ($3.95). These were simply crinkle cut fries that were sprinkled with cajun seasoning, but they were still pretty solid. Frequent readers of this blog know about my love for crinkle cut fries. Not only do they remind me of being a kid and having them at Carl's Jr., but I believe that they hold whatever you dip them into better. The ketchup or ranch clings to the crinkle nicely, which allows for more flavorful fries. These fries had plenty of flavors included with the addition of the slightly spicy cajun seasoning. There was definitely enough fries included here for more than two people, so order accordingly.
As if we needed anything more than the fries before our meal, we also got the Onion Rings ($4). I liked that these onion rings were dusted with parmesan cheese, but I thought that the breading was too heavy on these, and really let the onion underneath down a bit.
I was here for a burger, but Katie wanted to give this Turkey Melt ($8) a try. This was a pretty simple turkey melt, which was done well. The toasted sourdough bread provided a nice crunch, while the insides featured creamy Swiss cheese and a decent amount of turkey. Katie liked the simpleness of this sandwich, but ordered a side of mustard to go with this to jazz it up.
I was so torn as to which one of the thirteen burgers to get here, but I finally decided to get the Guilty Burger ($12). It was a good choice, and there was no guilt by me for having this burger. This burger was a souped up version of their breakfast burger. It comes with swiss, cheddar, and pepper jack cheeses, a fried egg, bacon, and one of the better versions of a chipotle mayo I have had. This burger was delicious and really got me excited for this place. The yolk was nice and runny, the cheeses were so good on this, and the chipotle mayo actually had some spice to it. Definitely, a burger made for my tastes. The beef patty was a little overshadowed by the condiments here, but I'll definitely get a double the next time to make sure it's more prominent the next time I have this very good burger. I also want to highlight the buns here, which were soft, but still structurally sound, even with this runny burger. The burgers and sandwiches come ala carte at American Grub, but you do get a small side of their homemade potato salad, which is both creamy and chunky at the same time, which is the way I want my potato salad.
When G came over and talked to us, he mentioned that he was making some soup for tomorrow, and asked if we wanted to try it. I did not get a chance to catch the name of this soup, but it was scalding hot when it came out to us, and we had to let it chill for a bit before tackling it. Once it was cool enough, we could tell this was an Asian-tinged chicken noodle soup. I thought G said this was jute, but not sure after I looked up what that was online. Whatever it was, it was very good, and you should be on the look out for specials when coming to American Grub.
American Grub was a real solid find on this evening. Not only did we get in and out quick enough to make the game, but we also got to experience one of the better burgers I have had in some time. I really enjoyed that burger, and look forward to coming back here again to try some of their other ones soon. Service on this evening was friendly and welcoming, and we enjoyed hearing G's story about opening this place, and the passion that he has for the food here. Finding restaurants like American Grub is one of the main reasons that I write this restaurant review blog. They obviously do not have one of the big PR companies working for them, and they are kind of like an undiscovered place, that people need to know about. Hopefully one of my three readers of this blog will give this place a try. We will definitely be back, and not just before Ducks games.
Out of five palm trees, (because after a little internet digging, I found out that G was an extra on the TV show, "Hawaii Five-O", and that show has lots of palm trees in the background as well), five being best to zero being worst, American Grub gets 3.5 palm trees.
For more information about American Grub, head to their limited website here: http://www.americangrub.net/home.html