PICTURED: Clockwise from left: Kick Burger with onion rings, Strandwich with fries, barbecue chicken bacon melt and Greek gyro with homemade potato chips.
Boar’s Breath Grill
719 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Port Hueneme
It describes itself as “an unpretentious joint serving burgers, salads, sandwiches and more,” which is possibly how Boar’s Breath Grill in Port Hueneme escaped my attention. But it’s been around since 2006, using local ingredients (Oxnard produce, bread from Wildflour in Agoura Hills, beverages from Ventura County brewers and wineries) to create an excellent menu worthy of any gastropub. A favorite of folks in and around the naval base, it serves up — as advertised — juicy burgers, gourmet salads, pasta, sandwiches, hot dogs and more. It makes its own potato chips and onion rings, and even has milkshakes.
We stumbled onto this treasure on the corner of Channel Islands Boulevard and Victoria Avenue while looking for some takeout one weekend. With lasagna, a decent selection of specialty salads and gyros on the menu, it seemed like more than just a burger spot. I was intrigued, and placed on order.
For my family of four — including a teenager and a preteen — I went with a burger, two sandwiches and a gyro. To get the full experience, our sides included homemade potato chips, french fries and onion rings. Milkshakes were added as a special treat, although strawberry was the only flavor available.
The first things consumed were the onion rings, which were so tempting that everyone was grabbing for them as soon as they came out of the takeout container. A dark golden brown, very crispy and a bit oily, they were absolutely delicious. I’m not a fan of onions, in general, but these were mild and sweet and dipped in a lovely batter and fried . . . even I couldn’t resist.
Boar’s Breath signature burger is the Kick Burger, so-called from a zesty sauce that gives it a kick. It’s not insanely spicy, but it definitely brings the heat — which I think went well with that rich, juicy patty and the lettuce, tomato, pickle and grilled onions piled into a tender brioche bun.
The Strandwich is another Boar’s Breath signature we decided to try, and it did not disappoint. Fried chicken strips — not just a breaded patty — were combined with cheddar cheese, red onion, ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. Rich, big on flavor and kind of messy, but a hit with both kids. My 13-year-old insists that I order this again.
A little lighter was the barbecue chicken bacon melt, which I snitched a bite of before my husband claimed it as his own. Chicken breast, barbecue sauce, cheese . . . exactly as tasty as it sounds. I also liked the fresh ciabatta bun on which it was served.
Everything so far had been great, but the best of the bunch, in my opinion, was the Greek gyro. Boar’s Breath doesn’t skimp on the meat — big hunks of that lamb/beef concoction seasoned just right and perfectly tender. A hearty portion came inside a thick pita round, generously dressed with creamy, tangy tzatziki and tomatoes. This was a good-sized sandwich, and I would have had leftovers if it hadn’t been so popular with my crew, who were perfectly happy to help Mom with the taste test. The side of homemade garlicky potato chips seemed endless, but we got through them; they were just too good to stop eating.
The thick-cut steak fries were perfectly lovely, if pedestrian in comparison to those wonderful onion rings and chips, and the creamy, thick milkshakes were bursting with strawberry flavor. (I hope to try other flavors at some point.) Our entire order was delicious and, despite the large portion sizes, was eagerly consumed. Easily one of the best burger experiences I’ve had in a while.
Boar’s Breath doesn’t deliver to my area — although they will to neighboring Naval Base Ventura County — but those chips, onion rings and sandwiches are well worth the drive to Port Hueneme. Next time we’re hankering for burgers, I’m likely to give Boar’s Breath a call . . . and keep that gyro all to myself.