Pala restaurant rebrands, adds lunch

As part of a massive expansion under way at Pala Casino Spa & Resort, its fine-dining dinnerhouse CAVE Restaurant & Lounge was rebranded this week with a new name, menu and expanded hours.

At 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, CAVE served its last customers. Ten hours later, it reopened as the new Bar Meets Grill, a “California casual” eatery with both lunch and dinner service.

Resort spokesman Jack Taylor said the changes were needed to accommodate dining customers during the resort’s $170 million expansion project. In mid-October, Pala broke ground on a massive building and renovation plan that will include the addition of a new 349-room hotel tower, an enormous swimming pool plaza, an expanded casino floor and a new parking garage.

As part of the project, all of the resort’s restaurants are undergoing some degree of renovation, remodeling or expansion. Both the Pool Cafe & Bar and the Luis Rey’s Mexican restaurant are now closed until June, so Taylor said there was a pressing need for more lunch options in the interim.

CAVE Restaurant & Lounge, which opened in May 2015, was only open for dinner and limited afternoon lounge service.

The 106-seat Bar Meets Grill restaurant, which is overseen by chef Anila Kurti, will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by dinner from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. The wide-ranging new lunch menu features appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and salads. The dinner menu will include popular Mediterranean dishes from the former CAVE menu like Chicken Milanese and Lobster Oscar, as well as pastas made in-house.

The restaurant’s new happy hour, from 3 to 7 p.m. in the restaurant’s lounge, will feature street tacos from Luis Rey’s as well as avocado fries, meatballs, ravioli and flatbreads, among other dishes.

Although the CAVE restaurant is no more, the resort’s underground wine cave, located down an outdoor staircase adjacent to the restaurant, remains open on weekend evenings. It is still offering live comedy and music and pourings from a 480-label wine list.

Demand for Asian cuisine has grown at Pala, so Taylor said both its Noodles and Sushi Sake venues will soon undergo expansion and upgrades. And when Luis Rey’s reopens later this year, it will be doubled in size.

Bar Meets Grill

Hours: 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily; lunch served 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; dinner served 5-11 p.m. Happy hour in the lounge 3-7 p.m. daily.

Where: Pala Casino Spa & Resort, 11154 Highway 76, Pala

Phone: (877) 946-7252

Online: palacasino.com/dining/bar-meets-grill/

pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com

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