Dining at flying pig pub & kitchen

Contributing Writer & Photographer: Jordan Younis 

Oceanside is the coastal California cradle of “flip flop” fine dining, and Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen may well be the embodiment of it. Just blocks from the beach in the lively downtown, this 2023 San Diego Magazine-rated Best Southern Restaurant is one of O’side’s original staples and a cornerstone of the city’s community of chefs. 

Diners have the option of enjoying the idyllic San Diego weather on Flying Pig’s street patio, inside to the main dining area or the newest addition, East Wing Lounge & Bottle Shop. Warm and eclectic, the restaurant’s frame is a mix of wood, metal and brick adorned with funky flair. Antique chandeliers and lanterns hang from an exposed wood beam ceiling, vintage mismatched mirrors, photos and art pieces line the walls, and a few taxidermy animals sit perched high above, all lending themselves to Flying Pig’s distinctive “industrial country” vibe.

The menu is just as eclectic as the decor. With an emphasis on using local farms, and sustainable ingredients, owners Roddy and Aaron Browning created a wide sampling of elevated Southern American comfort food. Classics like fried chicken, mashed potatoes and bacon-collard greens mingle with shareable dishes ranging from charcuterie, to deviled eggs, to Flying Pig’s iconic (and Instagrammable) cast iron mac and cheese. Tender port-braised short ribs set on a mountain of truffle risotto and black-eyed peas and the menu’s single housemade pasta dish are stars of the entree selection that are not to be missed.

At the bar, a collection of housemade cocktails – or Pigtails – feature classics with a Flying Pig twist. The bourbon-based “Fashionably Late” and “Gold Rush” are the perfect compliment to the southern cuisine, but a simple margarita and mule and a list of California beers are also available. 

Aside from wholesome comfort food, visitors to Flying Pig will discover an element of human comfort nestled into the restaurant’s southern hospitality. And this, perhaps, is what sets Oceanside and its core culinary players like Flying Pig apart: a palpable camaraderie that connects the food community.

With tears in her eyes, Owner Aaron Browning shared a story of when their original Oceanside location was closing before moving to its current Mission Avenue home. In the last two days of being open, their cook left, leaving them under-manned in one of their busiest times. In immediate need of help, she phoned fellow Oceanside chef and friend, William Eick of Matsu, Flying Pig’s former home. Despite the menu being a complete departure from Chef Willie’s modern Japanese wheelhouse, he turned up thirty minutes later to help whip up Pig’s menu items on the fly to keep the operation afloat through the transition.

“Oceanside is its own entity when it comes to the restaurant scene – it is not like any other city. We’re all here to do the same thing, but we don’t compete. We’re a huge family,” she says.

And that familial feel echoed through the Oceanside community is what you’ll find in full-force at Flying Pig and East Wing lounge. From southern hospitality to southern comfort food with a California edge, this neighborhood institution will undoubtedly find its way to the top of your O’side dining bucket list.

Want to experience more of the stories behind Oceanside’s top restaurant first hand? Book a spot on one of Carla and Linda’s Food Tours for a culinary adventure featuring chef-curated selections from Oceanside’s finest. 

Published: November 17, 2023

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