Recipe for fun: Get your best friend, take the top down, and inch your way down the 405 to Surf City, USA, aka, Huntington Beach.
Full disclosure, I did some growing up in the not-really-that-immediate vicinity and when someone said the word, “beach,” it was just assumed they meant Huntington. A lot’s changed since then (there’s now an internet, we all have cell phones, Communism ended, Donald Trump was on his first wife), but a lot has stayed the same. That’s as true of HB as it is of the rest of the country.
Huntington Beach was always part real, part idyllic Beach Boys’ ephemera. But even today, when young people are more interested in surfing the ‘net than the ocean, the Orange County city remains a living testament to a once-and-still vibrant way of life. And that way of life is one that is shared with our canine companions.
Next month (Sept. 15 & 16), marks the annual Surf City Surf Dog event at Huntington Dog Beach. Surfing dogs from as far away as Australia, Brazil, and (perhaps even more foreign) Florida will perform on the waves for local celebrity judges. Dogs are judged on their confidence, length of ride, and overall ability. There are also pet adoptions, canine-play zones, and other family-friendly activities.
You and your puppy pal will want to stay close to all the action, steps from the sand and half a block off Main Street, at the pet-friendly Shorebreak Hotel, which was recently ranked as one of Conde Naste’s Top 10 Southern California Hotels.
The Shorebreak epitomizes Huntington Beach, from its open-air patio and fire pits to its surf-shack, pier-view dining at Pacific Hideaway. The cuisine is a fusion of East Asian and Latin American flavors, highlighted by items like tuna poke with Gochujang sauce, julienne scallions, miso shallots, toasted macadamia, sea beans, and grapefruit segments; Chicken Tinga, composed of chorizo, heirloom refried beans, green tomato relish, whipped avocado, and beer cheese; and a duck drumette covered in a decadent kumquat chile sauce, scallion, Fresno chile, peanut hemp crumble, and chives.
The cocktails are equally exotic and masterful. The whimsical Dazed and Confused features Caña Brava rum, Plantation pineapple rum, ginger syrup, and lime. It’s garnished with a smoking rosemary roach clipped to the glass that really does smell like cannabis. The Last Samurai is just as inspired, featuring High West Rendezvous rye, Toki Japanese whiskey, Amaro, Angostura bitters, and served from a smoke-filled chamber.
Huntington Beach is everything I remember and much more. But after a few Samurais (I swear each time that it’s the “Last”), it’s even more than I remember. Cheers.