Brunch, Cocktails, and Fresh Fare at Outpost Kitchen

Aussie scramble, steak and eggs skillet, and deviled eggs. Photographs by Emily J. Davis

When jaunty indie Outpost Kitchen expanded to its second location—a sun-splashed spot on Bristol Street—the neighborhood was bustling. Performing arts stages had full schedules, South Coast Plaza stores were logging record sales, and surrounding office towers were full of securely employed workers. That all came to a screening halt within a week in March 2020, and founder Jay Lewis saw his thriving target market vanish while the paint was still wet on the parking lot lines.

Kicking back over jazzy cocktails on the patio dinner in May, I realized the venue’s paused grand opening is actually a recovery now into its third year. At last, dinner is served—a first for this brand praised for clean eats with an Aussie accent. Lewis wowed Westside Costa Mesa in 2015 when locals fell hard for the vibrant chow inspired by his Gold Coast surf town roots.

Expanding on five years of success made perfect sense. Until it didn’t. Surviving the pandemic required both locations take careful steps to reopen with breakfast fare. Now the glossy new site is serving dinner to go with its breakfast, lunch, and brunch. Here is where Lewis and his longtime executive chef David Osborn have the infrastructure to elevate offerings—think lunch burgers, steak dinners, and cocktails all day.

The fried egg Brekky Sandwich I’ve loved for years is even better when joined by a Howling Wolf bone broth bloody mary. The ever-popular blueberry pancakes, feather light and gluten-free, call for a sparkling pear kombucha with coconut bitters. Gunwhale golden ale suits the hearty Glitter & Gold skillet with eggs, potato-spinach mash, and plant-based sausage. Excellent seedy country bread toast rides shotgun—the same bread reappears in avocado toast with feta and sassy peppadew relish.

Lunch choices are mostly variations on a sandwich, such as wraps, tacos, and a burger. Lamb braised 48 hours and sliced into tender slabs is the heart of The Kingswood, a satisfying ciabatta stack with harissa pesto, goat cheese, and arugula. The chicken pesto sandwich is a yawn compared to the sultry Tantra Wrap—plump with curried grilled white meat, cashews, dates, red onion, and umami mayo. Captains Ahi Wrap is winner as well, dressed with lemon, dill, and greens that let the fresh tuna shine. Date Mate salad is an Outpost stalwart because the magical mix of Medjool dates, chicken breast, goat cheese, pecans, and baby kale has no equal in these parts.

“In constant search for the world’s best” is the credo behind Lewis’ insistence on foods that are local, organic, and sustainable. And that’s just the start for a scratch kitchen that goes the extra mile by making every little thing in-house: chutneys, jams, cold press juices, pickles, syrups, and infusions. There’s no freezer here: Everything is fresh, and Lewis reports that deliveries occur twice daily. A dozen creative smoothies, bowls, and juice blends cater to every whim and fancy. If Looks Could Kale wins the eyeroll award for corniest name. But cheeky, lighthearted notes convey the Aussie charm of this breezy operation. Plates are often pink. A printed cocktail napkin has a lip print and “Call Me” scribbled above the logo. A pint glass declares “Nectar of the gods.”

Dinner service was still finding its feet on multiple May visits. The menu is pared down from daylight offerings, though beverage options remain copious. Seasonal cocktails are superb, so consider starting there or with a draft beer from a list that’s admirably 100 percent local. Garlicky hummus under veal meatballs is the best of a four-item appetizers list, unless squeaky fresh oysters are your jam. Enlist the tangy mac ‘n’ cheese side dish for a sly workaround. Buttery Chilean sea bass is deftly cooked, with pan sauce of woodsy maitakes. It’s more flavorful than the Pacific halibut and more delicate than the rich wild caught King salmon. A succulent 12-ounce Kurobuta pork chop with honey-maple sauce bursts with rich flavors. Grass-fed ribeye steak has lean, clean allure. For herbivores, there’s a roasted, center-cut cauliflower steak. Come dessert, a passable apple strudel has one big flaw—it’s the only dessert. Aside from the After Dinner Negroni.

A closeup of Jay’s Burger.

Clearly, dinner is new and the least realized meal here. It’s likely why dinner service was paused just hours before this review went to press. This venue is so promising as an evening destination—especially for pre-show dining now that adjacent stages have so many curtain calls ahead. 

Pandemic recovery is wobbly on many fronts and will progress at a pace unknown. As the South Coast Metro zone reawakens to its next normal, it’s heartening to see plucky Outpost Kitchen has prevailed against formidable odds.

Outpost Kitchen

3420 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-852-3044



Breakfast/lunch/brunch: $9 to $26

Dinner: $12 to $44



  • Blueberry pancakes
  • The Kingswood
  • Date Mate salad
  • Kurobuta pork chop
  • Hummus & meatballs



Corkage is $25.

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