Recently I met with one of my longtime realtor friends Nicole. We wanted to grab a drink and catch up. Of course we needed to hit up one of Costa Mesa’s oldest steak restaurants, La Cave.
For those that have never been, it is on the corner of Irvine and 17th, in an almost strip mall kind of location. Blockbuster, where I used to rent my DVD’s next door has come and gone many years ago, but La Cave still stands. The place has a Scorsese vibe to it, where you go down a dark set of stairs, or take the elevator into a basement. It is very ‘Swingers’ and Don Draper would have loved the place.
In 1957, Cecil and Gladys McVay, who were Costa Mesa farmers originally and got out of the farming business, turned their family home into another Costa Mesa institution- Hi-Time Wine Cellars, as this was its original location. The portion of cellar of the original Hi-Times, was turned into what is now La Cave in 1962 by their daughter, Carol and her husband William Boyer.
Mike Palitz, who owned boutique hotels in Newport Beach, bought the restaurant from Carol in 1999. He kept much of the original feel, but turned the former Hi-Time cellar that was connected to the dining room, into a lounge and incorporated live music acts. Fun fact; many acts have graced the stage since then, including Gary Busey, but Justin Bieber was the biggest one to ever enter. A few years back, he came with his then-girlfriend, Selena Gomez and jumped on the mic and did a few sets with Ernie Halter that went viral on YouTube.
If you decide to go for dinner, the menu is brought to you in a chilled case, presented with a flashlight, with every cut of meat or seafood on ice that you could imagine. Nicole and I came for the cocktails served by Mario. Myself an old fashioned and Nicole a vodka soda! Mario told us that his favorite thing is the homey feel and his customers he has known since working there for the last 12 years!
Nicole, always love catching up and even more at one of Costa Mesa’s coolest establishments! Cheers!!!!