Roadhouse Review: Cook’s Corner, Trabuco Canyon, California

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Roadhouse Review:   Cook’s Corner, Trabuco Canyon, California
Words and Pics:  Tim Monroe
Like the Lookout Roadhouse, Alice’s Restaurant, and The Rock Store, Cook’s Corner is a California roadhouse legend. Cook’s has been around since before anyone can actually remember. In fact, according to their website ( there has been a Cook’s restaurant at this location since 1926. Andrew Jackson Cook owned the land here in the 1880’s, and son E.J. Cook started the restaurant, originally for local ranchers and miners.
The first thing you notice about Cook’s is that it is motorcycle friendly, to put it mildly. On any weekend you’ll find nary a car in the parking lot. Bikes often number in the hundreds here. Cagers have no need for concern, tho, as there is ample parking for cars just a few yards away. 
While it’s mostly Harley-Davidsons and other cruisers, there is usually a nice diversity of rides to be seen. Some of the finest choppers money can buy are found here, including bikes from Chica and West Coast Choppers. Bobbers, low-riders, baggers, vintage bikes, pretty much any kind of V-twin is here. But you’ll also see a number of Japanese and European dual-sport bikes, café-racers, and sportbikes. Several vendors tout their wares on weekends, selling helmets, bandanas, jewelry, and lots of things made from black leather. Perfect for the bad boy biker in all of us.
Cook’s Corner is full of character. Significant renovations were made a few years ago in the interest of accommodating the ever-increasing number of biker patrons, but the basic building hasn’t changed much in 50 years.   While at first glance Cook’s may look like an old “biker bar”, the days of intimidating citizens are long gone. Even the old sign out front declares “Children Welcome”. 
Cook’s has a huge new patio area with dozens of welcoming picnic tables. It’s a very nice place to spend a sunny afternoon. Live music can be heard on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Indoor seating is ultra-casual, with  stools and sawdust on the floor. The crowd is friendly, and the dance floor can get downright crowded at night.
The menu consists of typical roadhouse food. You won’t see duck a l’orange or crepes suzette on the menu, but you will find burgers, omelettes, philly cheese steaks and a variety of Mexican fare. It’s good, hearty food at extremely reasonable prices. And if your date happens to be vegetarian, have no fear, veggie burgers and tuna sandwiches are available.
The roads leading to and from Cook’s Corner are fun but not terribly long or challenging. Civilization looms just a mile or two to the South; the best road is to the North along Live Oak Canyon Road. Live Oak Canyon has a few twists and turns, and a few ups and downs. It’s only a few miles long, but fun and very scenic. The namesake oak trees grow mere inches from the tarmac in some places, so its best to travel at a leisurely pace. At the North end of Live Oak Canyon Road is the Holy Jim Trail, but that’s a topic for another day. To the West lies Santiago Canyon Road, an easy-winding road that seems out of place among the congestion of Orange County. Santiago Canyon will take you past the back-in-time hamlets of Modjeska Canyon and Silverado Canyon, past Irvine Lake and on to the 241 freeway, Irvine Regional Park and finally the city of Orange. 
Cook’s Corner is located at the corner of Santiago Canyon Road and Live Oak Canyon Road in Trabuco Canyon, in the heart of Orange County.

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