The first day of summer is today, June 20, which means new menu items and cocktails from some of San Diego's best restaurants and bars. Here's a summer menu guide featuring Café 21, Cat Eye Club, Madison on Park, Solace Restaurants, Tajima and The Blind Burro.
Café 21 in Gaslamp Quarter
Café 21, a trendsetting eatery and lounge with organic farm-to-bar cocktails, has the perfect summer brunch cocktail-- Ol' Yello' Mary ($15) made with house yellow heirloom tomato mix, fresh horseradish, chock full of veggies, and a grilled multi-cheese sandwich skewer. Café 21 has also added new summer menu items featuring homemade dishes that are created with fresh, organic produce, and sourced from local farms. The Summer Toast ($11) is made with house made yeast-free sourdough toast, ricotta, strawberry rhubarb compote, and muddled young grape. Another summer edition is the Lemon Cured Merengue Crepe Cake ($8). For long summer nights, head to Café 21 for the live music series 7-nights per week featuring varying genres of award-winning musicians.
Cat Eye Club in East Village
Tiki has taken over San Diego! Cat Eye Club, a retro Cocktail Lounge and Tiki Bar, located in the East Village across from Petco Park, has recently added new summer cocktails, and expanded their food menu. Inspired by the late 50's and early 60's nightlife culture, Cat Eye Club pays homage to mid-century cocktail trends with an emphasis on classic and tiki cocktails. New summer cocktails include Victor's South Seas Grog ($13) made with cruzan black strap rum, black magic dark spiced rum, white grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and lime juice. A treasure chest enough for 4-6 people called Goonies Never Say Die ($65) made with appleton signature blend, orange juice, lime juice and and grenadine. New food items include a pork machete, a pu-pu platter, crab coctel, ceviche tostadas, salmon poke and a tiki burger.
Madison on Park in University Heights
To celebrate the arrival of summer, cheers with the fresh flavors of cucumber and lemon with University Height's newest hotspot, Madison on Park's Umbrella ($9) cocktail. Made with St. George Green Chile Vodka, cucumber, lemon, and club soda, enjoy the beautiful architecture of the restaurant's outdoor cedar-lined patio, as you sip on this refreshing cocktail. Madison on Park has also launched a new brunch with delicious brunch cocktails, mimosas, and new food items ranging from California inspired dishes to fun lighthearted twists on brunch items like Lamb & Leeks, braised lamb, grilled leeks served with a potato and beet hash, a poached egg and a strawberry feta chile sauce and the Waffled Churro Sticks, cinnamon and sugar coated waffle pieces served with a maple cream cheese sauce and blackberry puree. Brunch cocktail include the Hollyhock made with Tito's Vodka, strawberries, lemon, basil and Champagne and more.
Solace Restaurants - Urban Solace in North Park and Solace and the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas
Chef Matt Gordon incorporates the freshest produce of the season into several new dishes at both of his neighborhood restaurants. Incredibly tender, the Slow Braised Beef Cheek ($26.50) dish comes with house-made Ricotta Gnocchi, Herb Puree, Garlic Butter, Radish & Arugula Slaw. Bright and luscious, the Crispy Skin Sockeye Salmon ($27) is accompanied with a Potato Terrine, Smoked Trout Roe, Pea Puree and Asparagus. A delicious vegetarian option is the Ricotta Dumplings ($23) with Spring Veggies, Pea Puree, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs. Along with these new entrees are several new Summer Cocktails including the Nurse Collins with apricot infused gin, tarragon syrup and lemon; Moonlight Pimms Cup made with house-made Pimms, London Dry Gin, ginger syrup, cucumber and lemon and Playa del Carmen, a combination of Fortaleza Blanco, grapefruit, pineapple-yuzu syrup and brut rose.
Tajima in East Village
San Diego's cult favorite ramen concept, Tajima has recently expanded into the East Village with their fourth location. Although ramen is perfect anytime of the year, Tajima has created new cold menu items that are sure to satisfy during the season's warm days and nights. Their new Seared Albacore Tuna with Yuzu sauce ($7.50) is made with seared albacore tuna with avocado, Persian cucumber, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, kaiware, sesame seeds and yuzu dressing. Another summer special is the Ramen Salad ($10) made with spinach noodle salad, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, 1/2 ramen egg, chicken chashu, corn, kaiware, sesame seeds, sliced seaweed and yuzu dressing.
The Blind Burro in East Village
Specializing in Baja coastal cuisine and spirits, The Blind Burro, has recently added new summer cocktails that everyone is sure to go coconuts over. New drinks include the Coconut Skinny Margarita ($11) crafted with milagro silver, coconut water, lime and agave nectar for only 130 calories and the Caramelized Pineapple Margarita ($12) crafted with El Jimador Silver, triple sec, caramelized pineapple purée and lime. Additionally, they have added new food items including a crab coctel, machete, carnitas taco, seafood enchiladas and steak entree.