For my visit to Laguna Beach last month, my host had planned a barbecue at home with some friends on Sunday. But the Aliso Fire that broke out Saturday afternoon cancelled that plan. Instead, one of the intended guests called Social in Costa Mesa to reserve the Half Pig Head. Normally 48-hours notice is required, but we scored an order in less time.
To start, we had the Blistered shishito peppers and the Artisanal cheese and charcuterie plate. I especially liked the chorizo iberico and the bread studded with dried fruits.
For more greenery, the Green goddess salad with Romaine hearts, shallots, slivers of radish and a crispy fried egg.
The half pig head was brought to the table on a big board along with accompaniments of guacamole, salsa verde, creamy red salsa, and pickled veggies. The head&#39;s brined, roasted and then fried before service.
Our server carved it at the table, carefully removing the layer of skin. Our friend in the know asked for it to be returned to the kitchen to be crisped up further. I was shocked to learn from the server that most customers do not eat the crunchy skin . . . what?!?
She did a nice job of parting off the flesh and keeping each section separate. That hunk in the lower right corner is the cheek muscle, the most succulent morsel. The firm fat from the head was also a special delicacy.
Thick corn tortillas accompany the pig head feast. I found them a bit bland, but I was told that these are considered high quality by local standards. I mostly enjoyed the meat and salsas without the tortillas.
Social has a rep for being loud and crowded. But at 7:30pm on a Sunday, the place was pretty deserted. I understand that it is very popular for weekend brunch and late night dining.
I was a little late and missed the cocktail round. Other favorites to order here?
512 West 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA