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1321 Downtown Taphouse Bistro — Torrance, California

Posted by Shannon on 08/07/2011

Getting you a more-complete picture my second visit to 1321 Downtown Taphouse Bistro. The drive is a few miles farther than my typical travel radius, which is the only reason for my belated return. The scene is relaxed, the decor is creative and I particularly like the daily specials/events that change up each day of the week. Thank you 1321, for your Beer & Bacon Fridays and your upcoming Crawfish Boil Wednesdays.

This visit, we saddled up to the bar…per previous article, we started with beer and I was happy with my Duvel, Chimay and Brasserie d’Achouffe McChouffe in particular. The Unibroue  Trois Pistoles was quite thick and syrupy so I actually let that one sit w/o finishing it. (Btw…is that pronounced unibrow ???)

We committed to choosing four dishes we didn’t pick last time. This was difficult given how much I dug the calamari tacos we had previously and my near hangry (hungry spiraling into angry) status. Final dish selections: the claws, shrimp and crab cake, Fire fries and house-made pork sausage w/ sauerkraut and yukon potatoes.

Do most larger cities in the U.S. have gastropubs aplenty? At least two of my gastronomically-knowledgeable friends in Seattle haven’t heard of the small dish/large attention to detail concept, nor how it differs from tapas. Steve and I discussed how a concept so incredibly convenient (particularly for indecisive people like me) hadn’t hit tumescent status nationwide yet. All the while we extracted the flavorful crab meat with the little, silver claw cracker tools provided.

Green sassy sauciness attacked my mouth during this side-skillet. Steak fries with two types of hot chiles plus cheese. Green typically means “go”, and indeed I had the urge to eat these up fast… but my heat-tolerance couldn’t keep pace!  I took breaks in-between with dish #3.

No real way to fancy that ball up pre-photo. Visual imagery does meager justice to the taste encased here. The crunchy layer conceals a smoothly blended dice of the rock shrimp and crab meat. This, while opting out of a heavy-handed dose of bread crumbs, which a lot of establishments toss in to cut costs and give their cakes bulk and substance…at the expense of flavor and an accurate menu description.

Nearing complete capacity, my stomach found a spot for the homemade spicy pork sausage and ham. A cut of either, with a forkful of tangy sauerkraut and/or the crispy-skinned yellow potatoes was a familiar and comforting taste-memory. I had a mental flashback of my many years of Washington state winters. Walking into the house after school to the rich smell that intensified the closer I walked toward the kitchen. Flicking the oven light on, I’d see a huge black dutch oven that held a pork roast, sauerkraut, potatoes and carrots that had been slow-cooking since the early afternoon. Without doubt, one of my favorite dinners as a teenager on a cold-winter evening.

Back to the bistro. My second time was just as enjoyable as the first. I liken 1321 Bistro to the closest thing our neighborhood has to a speakeasy. You want to hurry up and get inside, so you can unwind from your day slowly, and focus on the conversation you’re about to have alongside some stellar food.

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