From the looks of it, the Wild Goose Tavern is just another dive bar, with a dimly lit interior that feels like it hasn’t really been properly scrubbed in years. The only dead giveaway that it’s not quite as old as it looks? The trendy Edison bulbs, which cast a beautiful glow upon a taxidermy goat head and a ratty stuffed goose that appears to frozen in motion as it flees for its life.
Another giveaway is the food, which is more than a step up from standard bar fare. The menu is short, which suits a small watering hole like this. The main focus appears to be a collection of gourmet hot dogs, which are petite but ambitious. The wild boar sausage with Asian slaw and peanut sauce is my favorite. And there’s an outstanding grilled romaine salad tossed with sweet Thai chili sauce and blue cheese. And although it all sounds rather exotic, everything tastes familiar enough to make sense, especially when paired with one of the bar’s artisanal cocktails.
Wild Goose Tavern
Where: 436 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa
When: Daily, lunch and dinner
The best thing here, though, might actually be the simplest: The patty melt. It’s a big slab of ground beef, cooked medium rare, and can barely be contained between two gloriously thick pieces of sourdough bread that have been slicked with butter and beautifully grilled. It’s a messy affair, for sure. Order it with a side of free-formed sweet-potato and goat cheese beignets, which are much better than the standard french fries from a bag, although they have those available too, in case you’re so inclined.