We are living in a time that is moving much too quickly. Technology is always one step ahead of us, and the gathering and processing of information comes at us from all directions, pretty much non-stop. Our outside environment, controlled by corporate chains and the money people, is creating an acceptance of homogeny. It is easier to built 5 identical clone restaurants, than to put originality into one unique one. I know on some level we all see this, all feel this, although we get caught up in convenience and frequent the clones, because it simplifies things. I think that is why there is such a love of vintage restaurants. It is not only nostalgia, but on some level our own soul’s rebellion. My mission with Offbeat L.A. is to highlight originality right here under our noses, to showcase what is available to visit today. These are things we might lose if proper attention is not paid. These are things that are special and should not be left to chance.
Old World Village in Huntington Beach is one of those special places. It was built in 1978, as Orange County’s answer to Torrance’s Alpine Village, a European-styled collection of shops and a German-themed restaurant which opened a decade earlier. Old World Village was the realization of a dream by German immigrant, Josef Bischof, who had settled in the United States in 1952, deciding to recreate the quaint architecture of his homeland. Bischof created 50 shops with a Hansel and Gretel romanticism, including a church, a hotel and a rather large and impressive restaurant. Picturesque cobblestone pathways were laid to lead visitors through a 9-acre village of Bavarian-style boutiques, all with living quarters above them. Imported lanterns and 70 painted murals were installed to reflect a fairytale vision of Europe once upon a time…
The hub of social activity is definitely the restaurant, and it is quite impressive. It is downright labyrinthian, with multiple rooms, a massive banquet hall with stage, an authentic pub featuring a large selection of German beer and an outdoor beer garden, including shuffleboard tables. Extremely popular starting in September for the Oktoberfest season, its kitschiness extends all year round with monthly Dachshund Races held on Sunday afternoons. Serving a healthy selection of German dishes, including bratwurst, sauerbraten, red cabbage, potato pancakes, wiener schnitzel and apple strudel, their German beer selection is also top notch. Live entertainment is often featured, and, of course, OomPah Pah bands during the Oktoberfest season. During July and August there are special festivals including German Heritage Day and Plum Fest. Check the Old World calendar for dates. The original owner, Josef, still resides at Old World, though the village is now run by his children. Make a point of visiting this cool and authentic piece of Southern California. It is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon with the family or for a fun adventure with friends.
Old World Huntington Beach: 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647; (714) 895-8020.