THE THIRD PLACE
ADDRESS: 43953 15th Street W, Lancaster, CA 93534
My friend Hoang and I continued our exploration of the local restaurants up in the Palmdale / Lancaster area, this time with a spot called The Third Place. He had mentioned that this place had been on his radar for a little while, but he was waiting for me to move out to the area before he wanted to try it.
On my first visit here, we were able to get seated immediately, and the place wasn’t too crowded. On my subsequent two visits afterwards with other friends, however, the place was jam-packed and almost required you to have a reservation to avoid the waitlist. Tough to tell if we just happened to get lucky during my first visit with Hoang, but if you’re interested in giving the place a try, it might be worth booking a spot on OpenTable just in case.
I really liked the overall vibe from the dining area, as it felt modern, but yet comfortable and homey at the same time. The entire area was brightly lit, and the bar was located in the middle of the restaurant. The liquor shelves doubled as a nice decoration, with a wall-mounted TV nestled in the middle if you wanted to watch some sports. The remainder of the dining area featured a mixture of four-person tables, booths, high-tops, and some long tables to accommodate groups as well.
From a food and drink perspective, there is definitely a good variety to choose from. The food options I would describe mostly as New American, including appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and proteins. In my three visits to the place, I have ordered mostly different dishes every time, and all of them ended up being delicious. For this discussion, however, I’ll focus it primarily on the food that Hoang and I tried during our first visit.
Whenever Hoang and I visit a new place, we definitely like to try and get a good variety of dishes to sample from the menu. In our case, we ended up going with two appetizers and two entrées: the Bowl of Mussels, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Swedish Meatballs, and Honey Herb Fried Chicken Sandwich.
The kitchen seemed to be churning out food pretty quick, because before we knew it, our two appetizers made their way over to the table. The mussels had great flavor, with the garlic cream sauce containing strong bacon flavor in it as well. The light squeeze of lemon over the top helped to provide that burst of citric acid flavor to contrast with the heaviness of the cream sauce. As for the shishito peppers, they were good as well, drizzled with a little bit of sweet glaze and served with a lemon aioli. It was a nice sweet, tangy, and slightly smoky flavor combination, although I did bite into one pepper that turned out to be unexpectedly very spicy. (Apparently, only one in ten shishito peppers turn out to be very spicy, so I guess I got lucky on that?)
Our fried chicken sandwich and Swedish meatballs came out next, and I was very much looking forward to that fried chicken sandwich. The chicken breast had been breaded, fried, and then glazed with a honey herb mixture. Harissa aioli, pickled red onions, spring mix, and pickles rounded out the rest of the sandwich construction. It was served on the side with some potato wedges that were dusted with dried kale and malt vinegar powder.
I did need to stretch out my mouth to fit a full bite of the sandwich, since it was stacked so high, but I did get a nice blend of sweet and tangy flavors. The mild aromatics that came from the honey herb glaze were in the aftertaste, but it was the harissa aioli, pickled red onions, and pickles that really provided the tanginess. I initially didn’t know that the dusting on the potato wedges was the malt vinegar powder, but I think it really helped to give them a different depth of flavor that I hadn’t experienced before.
The Swedish meatball dish was something off the seasonal menu, with the pork meatballs served with fried kale, a berry compote, gravy, and (what I believe to be) Parmesan grits. The meatballs themselves were nice and moist, with the berry compote adding a nice punch of acidity to complement the savory and umami flavors from the pork and gravy. The kale ended up providing a nice slight crunch to the bite as well.
When the place was jam-packed during my subsequent visits, I can certainly understand why that is the case. The Third Place offers a great blend of a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere along with great food and drinks. The food options do make it feel a bit more upscale and set the restaurant apart from other places in the Lancaster area. It’s certainly a place that I look forward to continue going back to.
Let’s now take a look at the The Third Place Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Blistered Shishito Peppers **
Shishito peppers served with a sweet glaze drizzle, toasted sesame seeds, and lemon aioli.
** Bowl of Mussels **
Mussels served with a Dijon garlic cream sauce, bacon, shallots, and garlic toast.
** Swedish Meatballs **
Pork meatballs served with a berry compote, fried kale, gravy, and Parmesan grits.
** Honey Herb Fried Chicken Sandwich **
Fried chicken breast tossed with a honey herb glaze, topped with harissa aioli, spring mix, pickled red onions, and pickles, on a brioche bun. Served with potato wedges dusted in dried kale and malt vinegar powder.
** Roasted Cauliflower Tacos **
Roasted cauliflower with caramelized onions, cotija cheese, scallions, and radishes, served on blue corn tortillas. Side of crema fresca and salsa.
** Steak Tartare **
Steak tartare with dill and parsley on top. Served with rubbed garlic toast.
** Ceviche **
White fish, jalapeño, cilantro, oranges, radishes, avocado, and fried quinoa. Served with fried taco tortillas.
** Italian Bolognese **
Rigatoni, beef and pork Bolognese, basil, crème fraiche, and breadcrumbs. Served with garlic toast.
** Falafel Pita **
Squash falafel, hummus spread, tomato, red onions, and tzatziki sauce. Served with potato wedges.
** Meatloaf Sliders **
Beef and pork patties with housemade ketchup, served on a brioche bun.
** Ribeye Sandwich **
Sliced beef ribeye served on a French baguette with horseradish mustard, roasted tomatoes, crispy onions, and spring mix greens.
Served with a berry purée.
And finally, here are my rankings for The Third Place:
Food: 5 / 5
The variety of menu offerings are really solid, with meat, seafood, salad, and sandwich options, no matter what you may be in the mood for. The food feels a bit more upscale and the quality has consistently been great on all the dishes that I’ve tried.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
The overall décor of the dining area really provides that modern, yet relaxed feel. I honestly didn’t feel like I was in Lancaster once I sat down, but maybe in one of the neighborhoods down closer to LA. It’s that vibe that helps to set it apart from other places locally.
Service: 4.25 / 5
Our waitress was very friendly, stopping by to check in on us a few times during our meal to make sure that we were good on our drinks as well as asking about how the food turned out. The kitchen was also able to put the food out pretty fast as well.
Price: 4.5 / 5
Given the atmosphere, type of food offered, and how different it is from the other offerings in the local area, I thought that the prices were pretty reasonable.