A strip mall in the heart of Koreatown may seem like an unusual place for an American-style bistro and taproom to set up shop, but it works well for The Halford, Santa Clara’s newest upscale beer bar.

Surrounded by a sea of Korean barbecue joints and chaat houses, The Halford offers something refreshingly different: minimalistic, communal-style seating, an array of flat-screen TVs playing every sport imaginable and a bar large enough to accommodate a whopping 71 beer taps.

The mission is to serve local, community-based brews and bites. The nearly six-dozen beers on tap are impressive, if not somewhat overwhelming, but they provide almost endless combinations with the restaurant’s reinvented bar food menu. With locally sourced meats and produce from Glaum Eggs, Bassian Farms Meats and River Dog Produce, to name a few, The Halford’s high-quality ingredients enhance the overall taste of dishes and beer pairings.

We started off with the Roasted Red and Gold Beet Salad ($7), which included crunchy cubes of apple, walnut and freshly chopped dill as a garnish. The apple cider vinegar and light sprinkling of cheddar cheese contrasted nicely with the sweet beets, setting the stage for the Spice-Crusted Chicken Wings ($10). Garnished with a tangy and refreshing green papaya and carrot salad, the wings were cooked expertly while maintaining a crunchy and flavorful crust that was drizzled in a light habañero-pineapple glaze.

For medium plates, we went for the hearty Bangers and Mash ($12), a classic pub staple that came with a homemade pork sausage, mashed potatoes and a heavy coating of onion stout gravy. While the mashed potatoes were notable, the sausage could have used more flavor.

The Roasted Wild and Exotic Mushrooms ($12) arrived with shiitake cream, toasted farro and fried egg. The generous portion of mushrooms were rich in flavor and cooked to specification, but they sat on top of a cream base that was too oily and salty. The generous side of shoestring fries ($6) came topped with aged jack cheese and parsley with a side of chili aioli that was fairly tasty.

In business only a little over a month, The Halford has made waves for its great variety of beers and laid-back vibe. It will be worth watching how it fine-tunes its food to match the menu’s price point.

The Halford
1494 Halford Ave., Santa Clara.