A traditional Hawaiian salad comprised of chilled and chopped raw fish, soy sauce, sesame oil and scallions (among a sea of other variations), poke is making waves on mainland menus these days. Don’t be a slow poke - get caught up in the tasty, protein-packed trend at these 11 restaurants that have San Diegans hooked.
The owner of Convoy Street’s famed RakiRaki Ramen & Tsukemen recently opened a fast-casual poke and sushi burrito spot next door. Chef Junya Watanabe serves only the freshest, highest-quality hand-line-caught tuna, which he marinates in a secret sauce made with a “golden ratio” of ingredients.
4646 Convoy St., Ste. 101-A, Kearny Mesa
Good Time Poke/The Grass Skirt
This fall, SDCM (Firehouse American Eatery + Lounge, Vin de Syrah, Analog Bar, Kettner Exchange) will open Good Time Poke (which, after dark, will feature a secret passageway into the an adjoining, tiki-inspired speakeasy called The Grass Skirt) at the former Grand Avenue location of Good Time Charlie’s in Pacific Beach. Kettner’s chef Brian Redzikowski and SCDM Beverage Director Steven Tuttle will oversee the menus at both venues, creating seasonal poke dishes and island-inspired cocktails to go with them.
910 Grand Ave., Ste. 101, Pacific Beach
Sol Cal Café
The popular East Village eatery (owned and operated by former NFL star Jacob Bell) has broken from its vegan roots to present a collection of fresh poke bowls, which cost only $6 after 4 p.m. Sushi-grade tuna, presented pure or spicy, comes piled atop brown rice or salad with a choice of sauces - teriyaki and ginger miso are among regulars’ faves - and healthy toppings.
910 J St., East Village
San Diego Poke Co.
In 2016, San Diego Poke Co. went from farmers market to brick-and-mortar. Fans will still find market-stand favorites, along with a new build-your-own option and eight specialty poké bowls like the spicy “Off the Hook” bowl made with tuna, serrano peppers, chili flakes, white and green onions, and crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in its Oh No Sauce.
10387 Friars Road, Mission Valley
Hillcrest’s Rolled Up (from the man behind the neighborhood’s popular Project Pie pizza parlor) serves sushi rolls the size of burritos. Healthy and grand, The Pokey is stuffed with ahi poke, Persian cucumber, lettuce, masago (smelt roe), tempura crunch, wasabi soy mayo and ginger Bitchin’ Sauce.
3884 Fourth Ave., Hillcrest
Poké Go brings Hawaiian flavor to Hillcrest, offering poke á la carte (served with seaweed salad and masago, aka smelt roe) or on a platter with rice and salad. The menu includes ahi, salmon, shrimp and tako (octopus) pokes dressed with a selection of five sauces, so there are lots of combinations to try. New locations coming soon to Rancho Bernardo, La Jolla and Pacific Beach.
3614 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest
Yoshino Japanese Deli
This diminutive, cash-only, grab-and-go Japanese deli has a big following in North County. The daily supply of fresh-made sushi and poke bowls sells out quickly.
2913 State St., Carlsbad
This fall, the owners of Carlsbad’s Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar will open a new poke place next door, giving guests that chance to create poke bowls to-go. Seven kinds of fish will make a splash on the menu, as will a catch of the day to go with a selection of bases, sauces and toppings.
2958 Madison St., Carlsbad
It’s Raw Poke Shop
This pop-up poke shop is a traveling favorite, serving fresh-made poke and other Hawaiian dishes several days a week at farmer’s markets in Leucadia and Mira Mesa, as well as at Stone Brewing’s Stone Company Store on Kettner Boulevard and Culture Brewing Company in Solana Beach. Visit the website for locations and schedules.
Bali Hai Restaurant
Enjoy poke with a view of San Diego Bay at Bali Hai, the waterfront restaurant that hosts the annual I Love Poke Festival. Served in a vertical stack, Bali Hai poke is made with ahi, avocado, seaweed salad, masago and crunchy wonton chips.
2230 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island
This new Oceanside spot is doing for poke what Chipotle did for the burrito. The place is BYOB (build your own bowl), meaning patrons move down the kitchen line, choosing a base (white rice, brown rice or salad), fish, sauces and toppings along the way. Don’t leave without a macaron ice cream sandwich.
3480 Marron Road, Ste. 3B-101