Pub Thirty-Two – A Neighborhood Gastropub
Pub Thirty-Two is at its heart a neighborhood gastropub, very similar to the ones in Europe where you can pull up an enjoy pub meal and a pint of your favorite beer. The owner of Pub Thirty-Two is Diarmuid Noone, who grew up working his family’s pub in Ireland, wanted to bring that same experience to his own neighborhood.
Noone leased the abandoned Tijuana Gilles building in the Gateway Shopping Center in Mission Viejo. They spent months and who know how much money to remodel the interior into a glammed up industrial feel pub. The interior is decorated with exposed woods, metal accents, and bell jar accent lights. Pub Thirty-Two feels like a pub that we stumbled upon in Galway last year. The ghosts of Tijuana Gilles last Cinqo de Mayo have been exorcised.
Pub Thirty-Two is located on 23962 Alicia Parkway Alicia Parkway, Mission Viejo at the Gateway Shopping Center. The restaurant is tucked behind an urgent care center and adjacent to the Meat Market. The center does not allow electric signs, so it can be hard to locate from the street.
Local Sourced Farm to Table
Pub Thirty-Two focusses their food on locally sourced ingredients and a “farm-to-fork” menu. Chef Glen Tinsley explained that they have a good relationship with local farms and ranches , providing superior locally grown ingredients. Pub Thirty-Two butchers, cures and smokes their own meats on site and attempts to make their own ingredients as much as possible. Chef Tinsley is also a local to the area, but spent some time working in top restaurants in San Francisco and Michelin rated Antica Fattoria La Parrina in Tuscany.
Since they opened six months ago…
When Pub Thirty-Two first opened in June of 2014, there are a lot of word of mouth buzz from local who watched the former Tijuana Gilles being renovated. When the restaurant opened, the menu featured some dishes that were progressive for the neighborhood, like crispy pig ears. Although the menu has been tamed, I was still very impressed by the food.
I have visited Pub Thirty-Two three times to write this review, by invitation, and twice incognito. I have also interviewed three local residents, who have dined at Pub Thirty-Two multiple times.
What we ate and drank at Pub Thirty-Two
Pub Thirty-Two had 16 beers on top, a solid wine list and a fully stocked bar. I ordered a Tank 7 Saison Farmhouse Ale, it was delicious. I can tell a restaurant that is committed to their bar program by offering such types of craft beer. Since the owner is Irish, “Guinness is always on Tap.”
I found the wine menu to be well-priced with plenty of reasonably priced wines. We shared a bottle of First Press Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa ~$30, based on the Manager’s recommendations. Insiders Tip: Wine bottles are ½ off on Wednesday
The White Salad is made with white endive, hearts of palm, mushrooms, water chestnuts, goat cheese and a creamy shallot dressing. For my tastes, this dish was o.k. The easiest fix would be to add more goat cheese to the salad. Even better, if the chef added crispy lardons to the salad. Crispy and salty lardons would transform the flavor. This is a split portion since I shared it with my wife. This was my least favorite dish.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
The buttermilk fried chicken is served with a saucy Mac and Cheese, bacon gravy and braised green beans. This dish was amazing in every way possible. The portion size was generous and the flavor was amazing. The buttermilk crust was crispy on the tongue and added a nice umami crunch to the juicy chicken meat. I would order this dish again.
Short Rib IPA
I never order short rib off a restaurant menu, as I find this dish easy to make and a little lazy. My exception to this rule is if their short rib is the restaurant’s best dish. When I asked our server, John, what would be his death row meal if he had to pick from the Pub Thirty-Two menu. He quickly responded with the Short Rib IPA; I had no choice, I had to order. I’m glad I did.
The meat is marinated in IPA beer and slow roasted overnight. The short rib is served with green beans, IPA barbecue sauce and crispy onion on top. The meat was extremely juicy and tender. No knife needed with this dish.
I really loved the flavor of the IPA barbecue sauce on the meat, it was sweet, tangy and savory all in one bite. If you are remotely a fan of short rib, this should be ordered. It is one of the better short rib preparations in Orange County.
The sour cream fudge cake was one of the daily desserts the day we visited. It was rich and chocolaty, but the sour cream added creaminess to texture. The bourbon bread pudding was equally amazing. The bread was soft, sticky sweet, with aromas of bourbon essence in each bite.
My Final Thoughts
If you are expecting an extremely progressive gastropub that serves faux shared plates, uni dishes, barrel aged cocktails, standby lists to get a table, then Pub Thirty-Two is not your scene. Pub Thirty-Two, is a neighborhood gastropub that is really good at making upscale pub food and making you feel at ease. Yes there are similarities to Dublin 4, also in Mission Viejo, although the cuisine here much more American electic in style.
I can see Pub Thirty-Two evolving to offer more progressive menu items and developing a craft cocktail focus that would attract folks from surrounding communities. If I were to give my unsolicited advice to the owner, establish your local clientele then go big on experimental dishes and cocktails. Foodies will travel, if the food is worth the drive.