If you like good beer, good food and good times (who doesn't), you will love Yard House at Irvine's Spectrum Center. The sprawling, 533-capacity indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar sets the tone for the fun-focused, upscale mall, with its carousel, giant ferris wheel, 21 movie screens (including IMAX) and comedy club-all open until 11p.m. on weekends.
Yard houses date back two centuries, when skinny, 36-inch-tall glasses called "yards" filled with beer were served to thirsty stagecoach drivers. (It's a wonder the mail ever got through.) At this Yard House, beer is served in 18-inch-tall glasses (Half Yards) and traditional pint mugs.
The draft beer travels to the long, horseshoe bar from halfway across the room, through tubes connected to 600 keg barrels in a long, glassed-in corridor that you can see from the restaurant's tables. This corridor is kept at 34 to 38 degrees, ensuring that all 146 draft beers are properly chilled.
Yard House is not just about beer, though. The Asian-influenced "American fusion" menu offers something for every palate, from salads, sandwiches, pizzas and steaks to Chicken Nachos, Coconut Shrimp and a California Roll so hearty it works nicely as an entrée. There's also a separate vegetarian menu and desserts that include a chocolate souffle and draft beer floats.
There are 28 Yard Houses, about half of them in Southern California. Each has the same menu, similar décor and beers on tap that range from 100 to 250 labels. But the Irvine Yard House is easily among the most popular. Even on weeknights it's jammed with a noisy crowd at the tables and bar, enlivened by classic rock. Warm woods, stainless-steel accents, gallery-style lighting and original art by expressionist/surrealist Jerome Gastaldi lend a contemporary flair.
HelloIrvine Tip: Recently voted "Best Happy Hour" in Orange County, Yard House Irvine offers appetizers at half-price and beer, wine and martini specials from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 p.m. to close from Sunday to Wednesday.
by Bob Cooper, Irvine Reporter for Hello Metro