Historic Murphy Street in Sunnyvale is a slice of Americana. A ramen shop sits across the street from a Thai spot flanked by a Mexican cantina and a pizzeria. Sycamores line the cobblestone street where an old couple strolls arm-in-arm next to a mother scolding her pre-teen for making fart noises with his armpit.

What I’m saying is, it’s not a bad spot to kill time before visiting The Oxford pub. The incandescent-lit watering hole features a rear wall full of British iconography—juxtaposing screen prints of a Mini Cooper and Big Ben with The Clash’s London Calling. The deep red walls surround a dark wood bar, already dulled by the patina of time, yet the pub embraces the food trends of contemporary California.

For starters, and on name alone, I went with the Blood and Glitter ($10). The pinkish-orange concoction mellowed the smoky bite of scotch with orange bitters and house-made spiced cherry concentrate. Three dark-red candied cherries sat perched on the squat glass’s edge, skewered on a thin black arrow and sprinkled with sugar—they were approximately 7,000 times better than the jarred Marsicano variety.

To cut the buzz, I ordered one of their “Little Fellows,” the Chicken Shawarma turnovers ($11). The fried empanada-cousins came stuffed with tender cubes of the spicy street food, flanked by a mint spring green salad and a little bowl of creamy harissa.

Then, I downed one of their Yamato Slings ($10). Garnished with two thick lemon zests, they poured an on-tap melding of gin, sake, vanilla-ceylon elixir and green tea over rocks. The citrus and vanilla complimented the floral booze in a rare, but potent combination.

To close, I dug into a brioche bread pudding ($7) that came brûléed and a la mode with a scoop of slow-melting cherry ice cream—I’m a sucker for summer fruit. Brandy raisins cut the sweetness of the three spongy, egg-soaked cubes with some pleasant bitterness. And the dish came sprinkled with tiny mint leaves and almond slivers that added a nice freshness and crunch.

Other tempting “Little Fellows” included the spicy ahi tuna tartare toast ($11), and oysters on the half shell ($3 each). Among the “Medium Fellows” there’s classic fish and chips ($14) and seared potato gnocchi with melted kale ($15). The “Big Fellows” feature glazed pork spare ribs ($23) and their custom hamburger with homemade pickles ($15).

Combining signature cocktails and the fresh, meticulous California cuisine, the Oxford pub has colonized a distinctly American street. —John Flynn

The Oxford Pub
195 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale.