320 Main is on an important mission: to bring cool, hip, New York-style drinks and food to the notoriously behind and gaudy Orange County scene. While technically in Seal Beach, this restaurant is leaps and bounds ahead of the standard Mexican and diners that are scattered up and down the PCH. With that being said, it’s not exactly on the edge of the New York curve, either.
Here, the main draw isn’t exactly the food, and it isn’t exactly the artisanal and interesting cocktails, though it is a little of both; it’s the happy hour. At 320 Main, the happy hour consists of $4 craft cocktails (a menu shows off with one interesting cocktail for each main spirit), $4 draft beers with high-class names such as Stone Brewing, and $4 appetizers such as duck-fat fries sprinkled with bits of pulled duck, the taste of which is obviously amazing.
The cocktails at 320 are very interesting, especially for the West Coast, and seem to tap into some of the new East Coast staples, such as infusing Earl Grey into vodka and mixing maple syrup into their happy-hour whiskey cocktail. While East Coasters can point up their nose all they like, however, the drinks still come up skillfully made each time, and are leaps and bounds ahead of what you usually find in the area. From the menu it is very plain to see that the bartender here, Jason Schiffer, cares very much about his drinks, both the new creations and the old standards, which are executed with precision here, from the Old Fashioned to the copper-cup-clad Moscow Mule.
The food here follows an almost zen-like chase for simplicity, from the burgers to the long list of steaks available, with a more relaxed feel missing any pretension. The burger, topped with bacon, caramelized onions, and an egg, doesn’t shoot for highbrow and hits wholly satisfying instead, as do most of their cuts.
This bar is definitely a place that any true cocktail enthusiast in the area should stop by to see, if only to view how a majority of these older cocktails are done right, and with the happy hour, they can even bring all their casual cocktail lovers with and still have plenty to spend the next day. This bar, I would venture to say, is the closest to the New York drinking experience you’re going to get in Seal Beach, with a much better price.