Four years ago, Roger “Roddy” Browning and his wife and partner Aaron opened a second location of The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen in Vista. The new venue shared both the name and menu of the original Flying Pig in Oceanside, but all that changed in the summer of 2019.
“After being part of the community for four and a half years, it dawned on us the importance of each neighborhood truly having its own unique identity and menu,” said Roddy. “Vista and Oceanside are completely different towns. So, the focus of each restaurant and their food should reflect that.”
In keeping with their original philosophy of “Chef-Inspired, Neighborhood-Approved,” the Brownings lured back Mario Moser, the founding chef of the Oceanside Flying Pig, who returned from Colorado as the Executive chef and partner of the new Vista location.
The Flying Pig in Vista closed on September 1st and nine days later, TownHall Public House opened with a brand-new menu, lounge, patio outfitted with shuffleboard tables, cornhole boards and picnic tables, a walk-up counter, and a kids’ play area.
The goal of the exterior renovation was to create a space to celebrate family and friends in a warmer, less structured environment where everyone would feel welcomed, comfortable, and relaxed.
Inside, a hand-painted cowboy mural now graces the wall, though much of the eclectic and repurposed vintage décor has been retained.
The menu is still built around seasonal, sustainable, responsibly-grown ingredients, and it continues to be California-style, southern-inspired soul food, but the only patron-favorites remaining from the old menu are the fried pickles, bacon mac-n-cheese, and truffle fries.
The shared-plate section of the menu has been expanded and most Chef Moser’s creative dishes are best enjoyed family-style. Handmade focaccia pizzas range from classic combinations like barbecue chicken, to the more unusual, as with the 626, made with curried sauce, garlic confit, salami and goat cheese.
Entrees run the gamut from shrimp meatballs served with piquillo peppers and fried rockfish dressed in a basil buttermilk sauce, to pub favorites like cheeseburgers and pasta carbonara.
The aptly named “Vegan Entrée” features seared seitan served over seasonal vegetable noodles in a romesco sauce. The new dish Browning and Moser are most excited about is their green chili stew, a rich concoction of hatch green chilies, smoked pork, potato, hominy, and fresh cilantro.
Though TownHall Public House’s sign is not yet up, word’s already gotten around that this new gastropub is Vista’s place to be, and locals have embraced the new concept.
On a recent visit, the shuffleboards were in high demand, drinks were flowing, and smiling servers were busy bustling out orders of classic bacon mac-n-cheese and new menu items like grilled oysters and charred octopus.
Like the restaurant that came before it, TownHall Public House is built on a foundation of local sourcing, strong community, and great food. No matter the name, that’s a winning combination.