Outpost Kitchen in Costa Mesa

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My husband recently had a work conference in Irvine, so I tagged along to explore the O.C. Though the coast of Newport Beach is teeming with good restaurants, go a little inland and you’re surrounded by bad chains and fast food joints. After suffering through the sad breakfast buffet at our hotel, I was desperate just for a decent cup of coffee.

I found a place on Yelp called Outpost Kitchen, off the 55 freeway in Costa Mesa. It had four and a half stars, glowing reviews, and an interesting breakfast menu. And it was on my way down to the beach. Perfect.

I was confused at first by its location: a weirdly industrial neighborhood where you wouldn’t expect to find any restaurants. But there was something charming about Outpost Kitchen. First of all, they play records. That’s right, no Spotify playlists here. There’s a turntable right next to the cash register and a collection of vinyl that would make anyone who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s very happy.

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I knew it was fate when I heard “White Boys Can’t Control It” coming from the speakers. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s a deep cut — we’re talking seriously deep — from Culture Club’s Kissing To Be Clever album.

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Why was this so exciting to me? I was a huge Culture Club fan growing up. Actually, that’s such an understatement that I’ll just show you a picture to illustrate this.

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Holding my Boy George Snoopy before going to a Culture Club concert in 1984.

But for those of you who don’t care about Culture Club or the other records in rotation at Outpost Kitchen, the food and drinks there are fabulous. What I love about their menu is they have many dairy-free choices, but you can still get meat and bread. A lot of places that cater to dairy-free eaters assume we’re all vegan and gluten-free. Not so.

One of their signature dishes is the Aussie Style Scramble. Fresh eggs scrambled with roast prosciutto and spinach, served atop a tangy tomato sauce, with a side of olive-oil infused toasted flatbread in lieu of toast. Oh my goodness. Apologies — it was so delicious I forgot to take a picture of it before I devoured it.

But the main reason I came back the very next day was because they made the best almond milk latte I have ever had. The coffee was strong and flavorful and not the least bit bitter. They use Four Barrel coffee, roasted in San Francisco. The almond milk, Califia Farms, was smooth, creamy, and didn’t have that cloying almond-y taste that many almond milks have.

And to top it off, each paper cup is branded with something funny.

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The unfortunate footnote to this sublime coffee experience is that I subsequently discovered that almond milk — Califia Farms in particular — gives me gas. I put two and two together when I realized I was having terrible gas pains every time I drank it. But alas, this is how we learn what foods do and do not agree with our bodies. It’s a constant practice of awareness.

However, for those of you who can enjoy almond milk without problems, I heartily endorse Califia Farms for its exceptional taste and texture. And if you find yourself in Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport Beach or the like, Outpost Kitchen is, as they say, the bomb.

OUTPOST KITCHEN, 1792 Monrovia Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

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