West Coast bites into Big Apple

by Antonio Zaragoza

West Coast Tavern’s generous menu doesn’t stop giving until the wee hours of the morning.| Paige Nelson, staff photographer
West Coast Tavern’s generous menu doesn’t stop giving until the wee hours of the morning.| Paige Nelson, staff photographer

West Coast Tavern is nestled in the heart of North Park, within the original lobby of the Birch North Park Theatre. The storefront rests below the historic theater’s sign, with broad windows allowing pedestrians to glimpse its rustic but modern interior.

West Coast Tavern serves as both a bar and a restaurant and has separate areas for casual drinking or dining. Large round booths accommodate groups in the open dining area. An additional spacious square bar in the rear has plenty of space for patrons to relax and not worry about waiting around for a drink. Brick walls, red furnishings and hardwood bar tops give this place a very old-fashioned saloon feel without denying its modern appeal.

The tavern’s friendly and charismatic service further enhances the experience as bartenders are knowledgeable about its wide selection of bourbons and whiskeys. The staff is eager to chat about food and liquors and have great suggestions for first-time patrons.

“Our staff is what sets us apart,” co-owner David Cohen said. “Many of our employees have been here since day one and they have a great sense of pride in West Coast Tavern. We are one big happy family.”

West Coast Tavern has a dense menu with many delicious choices. Appetizers include filet mignon skewers or a triple dip consisting of white bean hummus, roasted red pepper romesco and spinach artichoke dip served with warm flatbread. Dinners range from fresh seafood plates, steaks, chicken, sliders, sandwiches and a savory mac n’ cheese du jour. The chef’s specialties include a Maple Leaf Duck Confit with Okinawa sweet potato puree, fragrant spice, watercress and local organic carrots for about $16. A patron favorite is the Tavern Chicken n’ Waffle, all natural chicken tenders, fried crisp with a bacon waffle for around $11. Late-night partygoers can order from a full menu late into the evening.

“People are always surprised that we serve our full menu until midnight every day of the week,” Cohen said. “We get a nice crowd around 10 p.m. for dinner and it always reminds me of when I lived in New York.”

Assistant General Manager Rick Moralez said West Coast Tavern is a great alternative to the often stuffy downtown scene. On weekends, the bar area is cleared to create a dance floor that is as lively as a Manhattan dance hall.

“On Friday and Saturday nights, we have dancing here with local DJs and people have a great time and there’s always a great crowd,” Moralez said.

West Coast Tavern’s happy hour lasts from 4 to 6 p.m. daily and keeps the restaurant filled with a lively crowd throughout the week. The restaurant also offers a special breakfast brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Great tasting food, intriguing cocktails, friendly service and a terrific price point make this “Big Apple”-style restaurant worthy of America’s Finest City.