By Evan Da Silva
Since opening their doors nine months ago, MRK Public has been treating San Clementian palates to a diverse and ever-evolving range of flavors, with rotating varieties of $5 craft beer and a healthy wine selection to wash them down all day every day.
“We wanted to do something that presents quality ingredients with everything done in the same fashion as fine-dining, with thought about the food you’re eating,” said part owner, chef and manager Moriah Robison. “It got to a point (in San Clemente) where I didn’t feel like you got to eat anywhere for under $20 with any thought put into your food.”
MRK Public is run by San Clemente High School graduates and brothers Moriah and Kai Robison, with the help of their high school friend, Rayne Frey.
The restaurant‘s moniker originates from an acronym of the three’s first names and “public” gives it the impression of an inviting setting.
Top sellers include the short rib sandwich, Thai beef and ahi salads, the house burger and ahi poke.
The unanimous favorite among customers and owners, however, are the Vietnamese sticky wings. Brined for 24-hours in garlic water, fish sauce, sugar and salt, the wings are par-cooked, lightly coated in corn starch, fried to order and glazed with a flavorful chili, caramel and garlic sauce. All these components work together to create a diverse mix of spicy, sweet and salty tastes. Pickled carrots and cucumbers are served on the side as a palate cleanser in between each savory bite.
Although regular San Clemente customers have been the lifeblood of the emerging hotspot, new patrons as far north as Los Angeles and as far south as San Diego are becoming increasingly more common.
“We’re from this town, this is where we live,” Moriah Robison said. “Our passion and what we do, we do with a lot of pride. Everything here, from our ketchup and mayo on up, we make ourselves.”
MRK Public is located at 1402 S El Camino Real, San Clemente. For more information visit www.mrkpublic.com/mrk, or find them on Facebook or call 949.441.7621.