It’s weird to think all the way back in 1851 there was a utopian community in New York called Modern Times, where the founders and builders based its ideals on individual sovereignty and equitable commerce.
A few years later, the city of Anaheim would be built by a similar forward-thinking community of poets, vintners, and ragtag artists…soon to follow with spitoon-filled saloons, breweries, and hotels lining Los Angeles Boulevard where the Packinghouse and totally new Modern Times Leisuretown sits today.
Not much has changed in Anaheim since then, aside from prohibition, Disneyland, a couple sports teams, and now a dozen or so breweries. Modern Times is finally open after a few years of city planning and other hot-button projects that took priority. But here I am, sitting amongst an atrium of trees in a seventy’s-ish kitchy swoop chair…a fat drippy plant-based cowboy burger in one hand and a sweaty LICE in the other (Lime and salt ICE Lager that’s fresh and delicious.)
The burger fits my bright green cowboy bandana facemask drooping around my neck. We are, after all, in the thick of a pandemic in one of the most densely affected cities in Orange County. This is the first time I’ve been out of the house for a beer in four months, but I still feel the nerves. Check-in was meaningfully thorough, which put me at ease. It included a verbal health check, ID check, a credit card swipe, and I was in. Ordering beer requires ordering food, and the menus are available via a simple phone barcode scan. The space is wide open outdoors with areas to safely distance.
Yes, there’s a pool. There’s also a completely refurbished craftsman bungalow that isn’t open yet. Oooh, and there’s a brewery on-site, which I can’t wait to check out. The inside wasn’t signed off on yet so it was off-limits. I’ll do a follow-up.
The kitchen, led by chef Kody DeNike, is all plant-based, but don’t let that turn you off. As a carnivore, the cowboy burger ($14) was a serious endeavor that almost needed a hydraulic press to get it within mouth-girth range. Its beefish Beyond patty, crispy house pickles, perfectly fried onion rings, and a coconut-based cheese that actually oozes and tastes like the real deal make this burger a new fave. The menu draws inspiration from far and wide, with items like a chorizo burrito, token Nashville hot, Coney Island dawg, and the must-get Munch Wrap filled with beyond, pico, crema, and “gas station cheese,” I can’t wait to go back and try everything.
Modern Times Leisuretown is at 555 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim. Limited parking. Ride share and FRAN friendly. Opens July 28, 2020! noon-8 daily, check their website for details.
(Update: Open Tuesday July 28.)