Celebrating Family, Friends, and Community at Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen
When Roger “Roddy” Browning and his wife and partner Aaron found a building for rent in the coastal community of Oceanside in 2011, they knew the stars had aligned for their new restaurant, Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen. Even curious locals stopped by and offered their help in getting the restaurant opened as soon as possible.
In 2015, much to the delight of a neighboring community, their second location opened in Vista. It not only works, it works well. As Aaron puts it, “That’s why we’ve been in North County for over six years. We support the community and they in turn support us.”
Both Roddy and Aaron, level two sommeliers with years of experience in the food industry, follow the belief that if you “do what you love and love what you do, the rest will fall into place.”
The Flying Pig restaurants are members of the Slow Food movement, a way of living and eating. This global, grassroots movement with thousands of members worldwide links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
Don’t let the name of the restaurants fool you. Far from being barbecue joints offering pub grub, the cuisine is best described as artisanal California eclectic with a southern twist. It’s not just delectable, it’s responsible and sustainable. Instead of an overarching culinary theme, the Flying Pig restaurants are known for superbly crafted dishes that tantalize the palate.
Pigs don’t really fly but the two restaurants soar like their whimsical namesake. Everything here is about family, friends, and great food. Their mantra is “Chef Inspired, Neighborhood Approved.”
Thirty percent of the restaurants’ ingredients come from the Brownings’ own garden in Vista. Employees can even work in the garden if they wish. The remainder of ingredients—from fruits, vegetables, and poultry, to greens and eggs—come from local farms to the maximum extent possible. Availability dictates seasonal menu choices. And farms they buy from are listed daily on a chalkboard titled, “Who’s Your Farmer?”
Roddy says, “We have good ingredients, good people and a recycle-what-you-can philosophy.” Their formula for success is not only appealing and refreshing, it continues to pack both locations with happy patrons.
No surprise the restaurants are popular with the locals and out-of-town business folk alike, who come back again and again. Why? “Because it feels like home,” said a gentleman at the bar. “But, I’ll guarantee the food’s better than home.” Those who come as strangers are guaranteed to leave as friends.
Imaginative cuisine at Flying Pig is always on the menu. Executive chef, Mario Moser interviewed for his job in 2011 by cooking a five-course meal for the Brownings in their own home kitchen. Maximum freedom allows him and chef de cuisine Justin Lappies to create new and innovative dishes.
Soups of the day are made with seasonal produce from the Brownings’ garden or herbs grown in old pots, wheelbarrows, and soda crates. Everything from pasta, pickles, pancetta, and pastries is made in house.
Décor at both restaurants inside and out is made with repurposed materials—dining tables from wood torn from the ceiling during renovation, chairs rescued from old vintage stores and menu covers from 50-year-old record albums. And the kids’ menu was designed by the couple’s daughter at age four.
The wall of the bar in Oceanside was created using salvaged material. Antique chandeliers came from an old home. A hitching post was pulled from a riverbank. Patrons have even donated items.
Roddy says one day when moving tables in their Oceanside restaurant, they happened upon a secret drawer in a rustic tree-cut table that enterprising customers had filled with notes. These witty messages ranged from helpful menu suggestions to funny, inspirational, and sometimes personal messages. One read, “Sit at this hidden table. This is where magic happens. P.S. Order the Brussels sprouts.” The notes remain inside the drawer.
Redwood on an outside deck was likewise repurposed. Recycled scaffolding was used to build a fence. “We don’t buy things that look old, we use old—the things you’d find in a landfill—because each and every piece has a story to tell.”
Whether ordering small plates or main menu dishes, sharing is commonplace because the food is so good and the portions are plentiful.
When entrées are brought to the table, servers bring extra plates.They know items like truffle fries, bacon mac-n-cheese, beef tartare, Spanish-style octopus, Madeira braised pork belly, applewood-smoked sea bream, and Jidori free-range chicken are going to be enjoyed by everyone at the table.
Jovial food lovers excitedly pass items to one another describing them with superlatives like “unbelievable, indescribable, and incredible.”
Walt Disney once said “Whatever you do, do it well.” And from what I’ve seen, they truly are doing it well.
Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen (Oceanside) 626 S. Tremont St. 760-453-2940
Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen (Vista) 230 S. Santa Fe Ave. 760-630-4311