O.C.’s Best: Charcuterie Boards

Salty meat and cheese. Wine. Repeat.

The perfect course to graze on with friends or enjoy as a feast for one, charcuterie boards typically entail a combination of cured meats, cheeses, bread, and pickled goods. Here in Orange County, many chefs have taken to curing their own meats to create wonderfully artisanal salumi and sausages. Here are six great places to get your charcuterie fix. 

1 Social
For lovers of Spanish ham, perhaps none is more highly prized than the jamón Iberico de bellota, some of the most expensive in the world. At Social, it’s easily the star of the charcuterie offerings, left, and definitely one that’s not readily found elsewhere: soft, razor-thin folds of deep-red ham are marbled with luxurious veins of fat that practically dissolve on the tongue. Social offers plenty of house-made goods to savor as well, from potted Mary’s chicken liver pâte to pork rilletes (similar to a pâte) served in mini Mason jars. And don’t forget the mostardas (Italian fruit-based condiments), honeycomb, and cognac figs. $5 to $19 per item, 512 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, 949-642-2425, socialcostamesa.com

2 Marché Moderne
Chef Florent Marneau’s charcuterie plate is a thoughtful composition of tastes and textures, from a silky house-made rabbit and foie gras terrine inspired by his Uncle Lucien’s recipe to a tasty dollop of La Quercia Nduja, a spicy prosciutto and speck paste that’s perfect when slathered on the accompanying warm and slender baguette. Aside from the pile of velvety prosciutto and slices of air-dried chorizo and coppa, you’ll want to ration the little side of whipped mustard to go with every bite—it’s divine. $15 to $21, 3333 S. Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-434-7900, marchemoderne.net

3 Pueblo
Guests can build their own charcuterie platter here with a variety of Spanish-influenced meats and cheeses. Don’t miss the duck pâte, the 18-month-aged jamón serrano, and the lomo (a dry-cured pork loin), sliced to order and charcoal smoked in-house. You’ll also find chef specials such as a fatty and flavorful lamb belly, its gaminess tempered with a light smoke and fennel pollen. Just as outstanding are the house-made condiments such as charred fig paste, pickled grapes, and pickled kale. $5 per item, or $30 for a platter of four meats, four cheeses, and the aforementioned accompaniments. 3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714-340-5775, pueblotapas.com

4 370 Common
Get here early to score lengua pastrami, beef tongue that’s smoked in-house and shaved to order. If you love meat spreads, don’t miss the Jidori chicken liver and tarragon pâte—it’s fresh and bright, not as intense as other spreads. There’s also applewood-smoked wild boar salami and a terrific pork cheek terrine. Cheese-wise, you can’t go wrong with shards of Midnight Moon, a goat cheese that’s firm and nutty. Even the seasonal accompaniments are made in-house, such as fig jam, apricot-Champagne jam, sun-dried tomato chutney, and spicy Dijon mustard. $18 to $27 for a selection of three to five items. 370 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, 949-494-8686, 370common.com

5 Taps Fish House & Brewery
This O.C. dining powerhouse does everything big, including its charcuterie. At its new Irvine location, there’s a whole station dedicated to charcuterie and oysters. Choose from a menu of eight meats and eight cheeses. If you love prosciutto, give its smoky cousin speck a try, along with a spicy sopressa—red-wine steeped barolo salami. House-pickled carrots and mushrooms provide a sharp and acidic counterpoint to all that salty richness. $3 to $6 per item; 13390 Jamboree Road, Irvine, 714-619-0404, tapsfishhouse.com

6 Moulin
The charcuterie plate here is not fussy or over-the-top, just a simple presentation of what you might find at a neighborhood bistro in France. Of course, no French charcuterie board is complete without saucisson sec, a classic French dry-cured sausage made with garlic and pepper, sliced paper thin, and perfectly paired with a creamy brie and a selection of rustic pâtes. Fresh-baked baguette slices complete the traditional offerings. $13 to $20; 1000 Bristol St. N., Newport Beach, 949-474-0920, moulinbistro.com


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