Lucky Fools Pub
75 E. High St.
Moorpark got a lucky break this summer. The Lucky Fools Pub opened in June, taking over the spot formerly occupied by Corrigan’s. With playful décor, quality food and a respectable tap lineup, Lucky Fools is a welcome dose of freshness on historic High Street.
Lucky Fools Pub exterior
When Corrigan’s closed earlier this year, it was a letdown for the regulars who had come to rely on the popular Irish pub/sports bar for a pint and some fish and chips while they watched the game. Luckily, they didn’t have long to wait for a replacement: The new owners reportedly bought the space the moment it became available, and renovations were under way immediately.
One big change was the décor: more Old West than Auld Eire, in keeping with High Street’s late 1800s movie-set-like facade. With a wink toward the pub’s name, some of the tabletops feature hundreds of pennies, burnished to a coppery shine, laid out in neat rows and tucked under lacquer. It’s not an elaborate trick, but it’s effective. (Rumor has it that all the pennies, save exactly one, are placed head’s down. We never did find that heads-up one, though).
Another standout feature of this stylish saloon is the artful graffiti on the walls: jokes, humorous expressions and smart doodles, including an elaborate chalkboard illustration of the beer brewing process. Somebody had a lot of fun with the paint … and put a lot of time and energy into it, too. If a glance at the walls doesn’t put a smile on your face then you, my friend, just may need another pint.
Cheered by the lighthearted ambience, we saddled on up to the bar and ordered a round of beer — Enegren, to be exact. Downing a pint from Moorpark’s premier brewery felt like a real treat, and it was nice to see support for the local boys, whose facility is just up the street. One member of our party opted for a cocktail. Seeing that she was undecided, our server happily engaged, helping her suss out what she might prefer. When the first attempt, a Bay Breeze, wasn’t quite to her taste, he took it back and prepared the alternate, a Lemon Drop, without hesitation (and didn’t charge us for the rejected drink, either). She liked her new drink much better, and we were all impressed by the attentive service.
Sweet potato fries
After dining at places like Barrelhouse, Ojai Beverage Company and Twisted Oak, we were expecting an expansive and creative gastropub menu. Lucky Fools was much more pared down in this department. Burgers, sandwiches and a few meat-and-potatoes entrees … not overmuch, and nothing fancy. But as far as we sampled, nothing that wasn’t delicious, either. We started our meal with a big, heaping basket of sweet potato fries (steak fries and shoestrings were the other options) that were as tasty as they were numerous, and the perfect accompaniment to that first pint. After polishing off drinks and appetizers alike, we ordered another round and started thinking about dinner.
“Smashed” chicken sandwich
The fish and chips — a pub standard — were flawless: crispy golden-brown beer batter, flaky and tender fish inside, an abundance of thick, hearty steak cuts. And as one would expect from the best pubs, we didn’t have to ask for the malt vinegar. The fish tacos were spectacular: fresh and piquant and loaded with salsa, cabbage and crema. Less pub-like was the gourmet-adjacent “smashed” chicken sandwich, which made for a damn fine meal with a pleasing mixture of arugula, tomatoes, red onion and pesto. We were more than merely satisfied with our dinner; we were pleasantly surprised at the quality and preparation of the deceptively simple fare.
Lucky Fools appears to be as popular with the locals as Corrigan’s. Everyone seems to come here for a drink and a bite: young families, theatergoers from the High Street Arts Center, young folk fueling up before a night on the town. A congenial atmosphere, quality food and reliable service are an easy sell for diners of all walks of life; Lucky Fools has those qualities in spades. Toss in a sense of style and humor to up the ante, and Moorpark’s got a winner indeed.