By Jim and Marilyn Tortolano
Garden Grove went officially hip last week with the opening of the StreetCraft food hall on Euclid Street near Garden Grove Boulevard.
The cutting-edge outdoor urban eatery collection brought in big crowds in lines that stretched out the door and down the street.
That probably won’t happen all the time, but the success of the new entry into the local dining scene seems assured by the uniqueness of the operation, which has sister locations in Long Beach and Bellflower.
SteelCraft is composed of 10 food and drink spots in repurposed shipping containers. The food is generally outstanding – more on that later – but what adds the whipped topping to the place are the other amenities.
There’s a large common eating area – and a few smaller ones – covered by a barn-like roof. There are games to play, like table tennis and vintage video games, and a huge video screen which offered Monday Night Football on, uh, Monday.
A certain rural vibe recalling Garden Grove’s agricultural roots adds to the mood, with some (artificial) grass area and dirt road patches.
Nine tenants are up and operating with a 10th – a wine bar – on the way. The choices range from hamburgers to tacos to cookies (macrons) to beer and ice cream.
We sampled first the fare from the Penalty Box, a burger-and-fries stand from former Anaheim Ducks star Teemu Selanne. The burgers were first-rate, and the fries close to being the best ever. As with much of the offerings, the prices are a bit upscale; the starter burger is $9. But, hey, this isn’t Jack-In-the Box.
That was on Friday. On Monday we went back for a second look. This trip was a bit disappointing. Three of the eateries were closed with signs promising to open later or Tuesday. We understand that there are often glitches associated with a new enterprise, but we also believe that you only have one chance to make a first impression.
We did get to sample the fare from Barrio: Modern Filipino BBQ. Chicken skewers were moist and tender and the sauce tangy. You have to take some responsibility when ordering, though. Some of the added items like egg aren’t for everybody, and the staff there is glad to customize your meal.
We also bought a half-dozen macarons from Honey & Butter and savored them to the point where we may be never want to buy cookies from a supermarket again.
As evening descended, the place took on a mellower vibe; the Beachwood Brewing stand got very busy and a glance around showed how SteelCraft was attractive to a diverse gathering of ethnicities and ages. There was even a kid’s birthday party going on in the front area of the 20,000 square foot site.
A few minor hiccups don’t dim the luster of this long-awaited and well-designed addition and expansion to Garden Grove’s downtown area. Here’s hoping that it’s just the first of many new attractions to what’s being called the city’s living room.
SteelCraft Garden Grove is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 6 am. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Individual vendor hours may vary.
Categories: Arts & Leisure