Irvine, CA 92618
Listing on Yahoo! Local
Located in Old Town Irvine (same parking lot as the Tia Juana's), Knowlwood bills themselves as a "casual dining hamburger and American restaurant experience." The theme is "anything from early to mid-1900's rural American." They specialize in hamburgers and shakes, but have a number of other items on the menu.
This location looked like it might've been built into an old barn as there is a lot of "set decoration" that appears truly authentic. A clipping from the Irvine World News on their wall confirmed that this location did actually use to be a barn and a blacksmith shop. That would explain why the little room I ate in had sorting boxes with dozens of sizes of nails. It's hard to tell how many of the decorations used to create ambience were originally in place when the building operated as a barn and how many of the items were moved in when the building became a Knowlwood restaurant. Was the metal sign for "Green Arrow Steer Manure" around originally? Who knows? Suffice it to say there's a lot of old stuff in there. And some arcade games. And some pinball machines. And a pool table. And an old 1940's truck that looks like it was used to haul produce to the market.
I ordered the mahi taco combo. They also have cod, salmon, beef, and chicken tacos. The plate came with two tacos with mahi mahi and stuffed with plenty of green and purple cabbage, lots of chips, a wedge of lime, and a cup of salsa made with tomatoes so bland and unripe you'd swear they were stolen from Chipotle. Everything about the tacos was serviceable but they were about as Americanized (unsurprisingly) as the ones from California Fish Grill. Still, it made a good lunch.
For making serviceable Mexican-inspired food when it's not even their specialty Knowlwood gets a three Speedy Gonzales rating:
Read ChubbyPanda's Review