By David Nelson / Photos by Brevin Blach
Chew on this: despite San Diego's proximity to the ocean, the city's restaurants crank out a whole lot more than just delicious seafood. For more savory beef and game dishes than you can shake a hoof at, check out any of these prime selections for a meal that's sure to be a cut above.
Raising the Steaks
The swanky new kid on the butcher's block, with a sweeping view of La Jolla Cove, Eddie V's serves up premium, hand-cut steaks on a menu emphasizing choice seafood. Spend five bucks extra to parlay the $39, eight-ounce filet into a 12-ounce beauty that-if too hefty for one sitting-will make a most memorable sandwich later. Larger, superbly succulent New York strips and bone-in rib eyes ($46) enjoy the companionship of Chef Bill Greenwood's spectacular sides, like crab-fried rice and sautéed spinach crowned with real Parmigiano-Reggiano.
1270 Prospect St., La Jolla
Tangled Up in Blue
Down the street from Eddie V's, Azul La Jolla offers its own version of classic surf 'n' turf. Go for gold by chasing market-priced, ultra-fresh oysters with a massive cut from a list that boasts big, bold New York and Kansas City strips; filets; rib-eyes; a T-bone and, for those who like some "chew" in every bite, a 10-ounce culotte top sirloin ($27). Craving something more exotic? The generous marbling of Azul's Wagyu steaks ($56 to $76), from cattle raised in Australia, provides exceptional flavor.
Azul La Jolla
1250 Prospect St., La Jolla
Buying the Farm
There's a lot prowling the menu at The Tractor Room: elk sausage ravioli, skewers of pheasant and Cognac-rabbit sausage, venison meatloaf and stews of free-range buffalo and boar made with, the menu notes, "demi-glace, root veggies and love." Unique in San Diego: braised buffalo Sloppy Joe sandwiches with caramelized onions and horseradish sour cream.
The Tractor Room
3687 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest
Gargantuan breakfasts draw the masses to Hillcrest's Hash House A Go Go, but the cognoscenti come for dinner. High among the resto's all-American attractions is a cedar plank-roasted prime rib eye splashed with a Kentucky's Bulleit Bourbon-flavored demi-glace. At $39, it's pricier than Hash House's other offerings, but it's quite a steak-goat cheese, smoked bacon and potatoes mashed with chunks of venison sausage round out the garnishes.
Hash House A Go Go
3628 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest
Ocean Beach's destination for wild boar goulash, grilled quail with jaeger (hunter) sauce and other German delights, Kaiserhof offers an annual fall game menu. One of this year's highlights is a generous serving of delicate roe deer medallions with brandied green peppercorn sauce and chanterelles.
2253 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Ocean Beach
Those who live for the thrill of the grill gravitate to Riviera Supper Club in La Mesa for do-it-yourself steaks cooked on a communal gridiron-making it a natural gathering place for Monday Night Football. The place is serious about quality, but if the steak is over-cooked, you'll have only yourself to blame. While you man or woman the BBQ, the kitchen rolls out salads, spuds and other tasty sides.
Riviera Supper Club
7777 University Ave., La Mesa
Cure for Boardom
La Jolla's stylish Tapenade is especially good at game. The restaurant celebrates fall with civet de sanglier, an abundantly flavored stew of cubed boar braised in boldly seasoned red wine. Earthy and sophisticated, it's an edible triumph typical of professional French cooking.
7612 Fay Ave., La Jolla
Meat Me at the Beach
Specializing in succulent rib eyes, tenderloins, sirloins and strips from top suppliers like Montana's Meyer Ranch and Brandt Beef in Brawley, California, JRDN's Chef David Warner one-ups the Pacific Beach meat market with a 10-ounce rack of wild boar ($38) and a bison New York strip. Add a Maine lobster compliment to any meat selection for 36 clams.
Tower 23 Hotel
723 Feldspar St., Pacific Beach
The roasted elk chop is a top-seller at the Gaslamp's Greystone the Steakhouse. Richly flavored and exceptionally lean, the elk is rubbed with powdered porcini mushrooms and finished with a sweet-savory reduction flavored with coriander and blackberries. Hearty sides of Swiss chard and herb-mashed potatoes should satisfy any hungry hunting party.
Greystone the Steakhouse
658 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp