Finney’s Crafthouse serves over 30 local beers on tap, plus creative burgers, pizza and more, in a restored historic building.
By Sharon Stello
With brick and distressed wood walls as well as plush leather booths, the new Finney’s Crafthouse on South Coast Highway is warm and inviting. It’s also a lively place to gather with family and friends, thanks to the extensive bar area and multiple TV screens showing a variety of sports games.
A small regional chain, Finney’s takes the place of the former White House restaurant, which was a mainstay in town for a little over a century until it closed in 2019. An extensive restoration of the historic building led to Finney’s opening in March.
Beer lovers will rejoice with 30 mostly OC-area brews on tap in flavor profiles from light to fruity, hoppy, toasty and malty. Thousand Steps, an India pale ale by Laguna Beach Beer Co., can be found alongside GameCraft Brewing’s Otaku lager from Laguna Hills and Left Coast Brewing Co.’s Asylum, a Belgian tripel ale from San Clemente. Craft cocktails and California wines round out the alcohol menu.
When it comes to the food, diners may have a hard time deciding with an eclectic lineup of more than 50 made-from-scratch dishes like tacos, pizzas, salads, hot wings, burgers and sandwiches. The starters menu alone features 18 options, from deviled eggs with candied bacon and Sriracha to mini lobster rolls on sweet Hawaiian roll buns.
The carnitas nachos are a local favorite and it’s clear to see why. The massive serving is more than enough to share with the whole table. The savory meat pairs perfectly with melted cheese, pico de gallo, chunks of avocado and Fresno chiles for tasty bites with a slight kick, cooled down by cilantro crema.
Another snack that will keep you coming back for more is the Buffalo cauliflower. Deep-fried cauliflower florets on a bed of garlic aioli are drizzled with a tangy yuzu sauce and topped with blue cheese crumbles. The flavor combination is a satisfying way to start a meal.
When it comes to main dishes, the most popular item is Peggy’s Crispy Chicken sandwich, complete with a thick, juicy piece of fried chicken, pepper jack cheese, Fresno chiles, tomato and slaw on a potato bun slathered with spicy aioli. The flatbread pizzas are also tempting with varieties like barbecue chicken, sausage and garlic or mushroom and truffle. Meanwhile, tacos come filled with chicken, steak, mahi mahi, crispy cauliflower or Kalua pork carnitas. And hot wings are offered in tantalizing flavors like chipotle barbecue, mango habanero and Nashville hot. Hefty burgers include one topped with a fried egg, crispy jalapenos and chipotle aioli. For the more health conscious, there are also plenty of salads, like the Asian option filled with seared ahi, mixed greens, mandarin oranges, peppers, carrots, onions, cucumber, tofu and a ginger-miso vinaigrette.
For dessert, choose between churros, a brownie and an ice cream sandwich made with cookies. With so many items, it’s easy to come back again and again, while making everyone in your group happy and never having the same thing twice.
340 S. Coast Highway;