We’ve always associated California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) with having a horrible atmosphere. Sure, they always managed to serve up some awesome pizzas and ice-cold beers, but the vibe was never something that made you want to hang around for that extra cocktail or sweet dessert.
Well, things have changed.
CEO G.J. Hart had this to say about the renovations:
We are upping our game with this transformation. We’ve taken the best of our history and soul, and innovated to make it current for today’s sophisticated guest. The new look, menu and experience create a space to relax and unwind in a welcoming neighborhood environment.
The Mission Viejo, California, location was one of the first in Orange County to revamp their look and feel. Everything from the tables to the menus to the decor has been swapped out to give the restaurant a rustic ambiance. The open air design is inviting and relaxed.
Although the signature pizzas have stayed put, the selection of new main plates, Lunch Duos with pairing combinations, and handcrafted drinks definitely do not disappoint. Oh, and get this, CPK is also debuting happy hour, suitably called “Let’s Get Happy.” Monday through Thursday 3:00 – 6:00 pm, and from 8:30 pm – close, special menu and beverage items will be offered to guests at a great price.
We just had the opportunity to visit the Mission Viejo location to experience the new design and menu. After meeting with General Manager Maria Borja, we indulged in the best the restaurant has to offer.
Some of the highlights from our visit include:
Have you ever had a drink that was made with fresh avocado? Neither had we until we tried the California Roots. Made with Svedka Vodka, fresh avocado, mint, agave sour and a fennel salted rim, this is seriously one of the most refreshing takes on a drink we’ve ever tasted. It was so delicious that we were forced to order two each.
Another great cocktail is the California Crush — Absolut Mandarin, Absolut Citron, muddled mint, fresh orange and fresh lemon. This is the perfect drink to enjoy on a hot summer day or night. It is Absolut-ly refreshing!
A meal at CPK isn’t complete without ordering a few appetizers, especially the Avocado Club Egg Rolls and Spinach Artichoke Dip. These two items are musts. Just make sure you don’t fill up on them so you can enjoy your main course, such as the Roasted Garlic Chicken or Pear + Gorgonzola pizzas. New, globally-inspired dishes like the fire-grilled rib-eye and oven-baked roasted halibut are to-die-for.
The “Next Chapter” makeover has certainly transformed the chain. From its rustic décor, sustainable materials, and open-air space, this is a place we could see ourselves hanging out at after a long day at work.
It doesn’t matter if you visit all by yourself for happy hour, bring a date, or a party of 20, the wait staff are always incredibly attentive, friendly and on point.
Don’t forget to download the CPK app and become a rewards member — who doesn’t enjoy a free appetizer? Also, if you want to bring in your own bottle of wine, the corkage fee is only $5.