I’m not even going to mention the other waffle sandwich place. You know the one. We all know the one.
Located at the OC Mart Mix in Costa Mesa, Iron Press could easily be mistaken as the name of a dry cleaning store. Yet after catching a glimpse of their notice to serve liquor, my interest was more than piqued. Following some serious internet research using Bing (just kidding, I used Google, I mean could you even imagine?), Iron Press rose to the top of my must-try list based on three words: Beer and waffles.
Iron Press was co-founded by friends Leonard Chan and Jeremy Saenz, launching only two weeks ago. Seating is limited: 20-25 bar seats and a table by the windows. The aesthetic is all business — grey cement and steel filling up most of the space. Behind the main bar you’ll see a line of fired-up irons pounding out waffles, while another wall is lined with 30 taps of different craft beers — 28 of which are brewed in our very own Golden State. Friendly servers wearing “I Like Beer and Waffles” t-shirts take your requests down on iPhones, speeding up the ordering process and streamlining service.
The menu is delightfully simple: Scrumptious (waffle sandwiches), Complements, and Toothsome (dessert). While reading the sandwich options, I was hit with a sudden craving for tater tots. Thankfully they had me covered, with the option to have your tots tossed with garlic and parmesan and a variety of dipping sauces. Having skipped my morning cereal, the Breakfast sandwich screamed out at me: fried egg, smoked bacon, and a choice of gruyere, smoked gouda, or cheddar cheeses. One of my friends made the smart choice of getting the Fried Chicken sandwic, with fried-buttermilk chicken breast, coleslaw, and jalapeño maple syrup.
Biting in, I detect that this is no normal waffle. Leonard enlightens me, mentioning that their waffles are made with beer batter. The beer makes the waffles light and crispy, yet firm enough to grasp without breaking it and dense enough to soak up excess liquid (the most important waffle quality). The egg yolk from my sandwich breaks immediately and is effortlessly absorbed and handled by this super waffle, enhancing the richness and flavor of the crispy maple bacon and rich, thick cheddar. As good as this is, I’m still extremely jealous of my friend’s chicken, which has quite possibly the best breading I’ve ever tasted. Jerry offers some of his Mother’s Dragon Lips salsa, which adds a quick bite and a sharp tang that pairs well with the chicken (hell, everything). Tater tots are popped like pills, being superior to fries in every way, especially when smothered with garlic aioli. If you feel the need for dessert, look no further than the Guinness Float, velvety goodness topped with Thrifty vanilla ice cream.
Compared to the competition, Iron Press is streets ahead.
Do I like beer and waffles? More like Love.
Mile-High Club First Class Business Economy
3321 Hyland Ave, Ste E
Photography by Eunice Lee