Previously, Orange County, Calif., is not a place I would have recommended for folks seeking craft this and artisan that. I grew up in Huntington Beach, Calif., where I became familiar with suburban strip malls and the corporate restaurants and shops that fill them.
But since I moved to Los Angeles about a decade ago, independently-run shops, cafes, boutiques and restaurants have begun to appear and now thrive throughout O.C. cities such as Costa Mesa and even Newport Beach. My hometown of Huntington Beach, however, seemed slower to embrace the movement.
The city's latest big development — Pacific City, which opened in the fall of 2015 — appeared to only reinforce my perception, with oceanside shopping and eating reserved for corporate shops such as H&M and Tommy Bahama and chain eats such as Lemonade and Simmzy’s.
But on my last visit to Pacific City, I came upon the haven I’ve been long awaiting.
Lot 579, which opened in the summer of 2016, is an indoor annex to Pacific City and differs from the rest of the outdoor mall through its more urban, food-hall aesthetic. A hip and millennial sensibility are also reflected in the businesses that share the space.
Here, a handful of local food-and-drink purveyors have been curated from Orange County’s artisan scene, including my favorite local coffee roasters, Portola Coffee Lab (originally launched in Costa Mesa) and my new go-to florist and champagne slinger, Petals & Pop (originally launched in Seal Beach). There are also Australian savory pies at Pie-Not, craft beers at The Dudes’ Brewing Company Tasting Room, spaghetti-filled grilled cheese at Burnt Crumbs and plenty more to fill an Instagram feed.
Best of all, though, Lot 579 keeps it local with an ocean breeze streaming through the hall, along with easy access to beach views.