Irvine Is Pizza and Craft Beer Ground Zero

Photo Priscilla Iezzi
Photo –  Priscilla Iezzi

When I moved to Orange County back in ’89, my new home-away-from-home was a dingy beige dorm room in Irvine. “Club Zeta,” as we called it, was filled with packs of ramen, empty pizza boxes, and enough hollow beer-case boxes to section off sub-bedrooms. I gained my freshman 15 40 with style, grace, and a new appreciation for cardboard packaging.

Fast-forward a couple decades, not much has changed. Irvine is still beige and has pizza places, but fresh and local beer is finally starting to creep into the city thanks to dough, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. If you’re around Irvine, grab a napkin, sop up some grease, and go try a slice and pint at these five great Irvine pizza spots.

First Class Pizza (Irvine Boulevard, Sand Canyon, 133): Definitely the best and most diverse local beer list of the bunch, First Class has poured whales from Bottle Logic, The Good Beer Company, and various other local favorites. When you spot their employees at brewery events and tasting rooms, you can rest assured their finger is on the pulse of what’s great about beer in O.C.

Gina’s Pizza (Near UCI): Mom-and-pop vibe, but Mama Gina makes the pies and dad fills the pints at the cozy back-bar nook. The beer list is mostly West Coast, all of which pairs well with the Sicilian-style pies and sandwiches.

TAPS Irvine (Jamboree & the 5): Sure, TAPS isn’t necessarily known for its pizza, but the happy hour menu has five stone-oven baked pies for a quaint $10. Pair with award winning house beers, and you’ve got a solid dinner plan, for sure.

Pizza:90 (Jeffrey and Alton): Wood-fired pizza? Hand-pulled dough? Hashtags on the wall? Yes, yes, and yes. Pizza:90 will have your custom Neapolitan-style pie to you in about 90 minutes. What? It’s 90 seconds? That would make more sense. Ten taps of local beer are on draft, but be sure to check them out this Thursday as Costa Mesa’s Barley Forge Brewing will be taking over the taps.

Backstreet Brewery/Lamppost Pizza (Culver and the 5): Definitely the old-school spot with bench seats, brick walls, and the aroma of childhood, where going to grab a bite after a little league game meant coach (Dad) would probably smell a little like beer and pepperoni afterwards. Although the beer is no longer brewed on site, it’s made close by in Backstreet’s new production brewery in Anaheim, just a stone’s throw from Angel Stadium.

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