Unique dishes to pique interest in San Diego Restaurant Week


The financial break of a January San Diego Restaurant Week not only comes at the perfect time (post-holiday spending insanity), but allows folks to check out restaurants in new neighborhoods they might not usually venture to.

In the kitchen, Restaurant Week is an opportunity for inventive and out-of-the-box thinking chefs to showcase some ideas that might not be on a restaurant’s regular menu. Much to the palate pleasure of adventurous taste buds everywhere, these chefs offer up dishes that make you think about culinary creativity in a delicious new way.

So grab a pen and paper, and mark down a gameplan for trying some of these unique dishes this San Diego Restaurant Week, which runs through Jan. 27.

Banker’s Hill Bar + Restaurant

Known for its inventive cocktails and consistently impressive food, this local hotspot offers an unusual first-course choice of charred carrots with eel sauce and beet powder. Sounds a little bizarre, but definitely intriguing? Agreed. Dinner $40.

2202 Fourth Ave., Bankers Hill, 619.231.0222,

The Blind Burro

When someone says “hold your tongue” here, they really mean it. On both the lunch and dinner menus are the Lengua Tacos with grilled beef tongue, salsa macha, pickled vegetables and spiced candied peanuts. Lunch $15; dinner $20.

639 J St., downtown, 619.795.7880,

Cafe Gratitude

On the flipside of the culinary coin is the L.A.-based hotspot with the lockdown on unique ways to eat vegan. Ever thought of a pulled mushroom sandwich? A twist on pulled pork, try it with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and spicy cashew aioli. Or go coastal with raw Pad Thai kelp noodles (yes, that’s noodles made with that stuff on the beach, kelp) served with Thai almond sauce, carrots, red bell pepper, kale, toasted almonds, and sprouts. Lunch $20; dinner $30.

1980 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.736.5077,

The Marine Room

Taking the prize for most unique appetizer with ingredients people probably don’t know is the Rooibos Tea Spiced Baja Prawns. Served with tuxedo barley (seriously, a black and white grain, no bow ties or tails), Peppadew jam (made from South African piquante peppers), sea grass (yes, grass from the ocean), poppadom (or papadum, the Indian flour crisp), and pomegranate. All kidding aside, The Marine Room is still one of San Diego’s finest restaurants, and sitting right on the ocean can’t be beat. Dinner $50.

2000 Spindrift Dr., La Jolla, 858.459.7222,

Ballast Point

Beer cheesecake anyone? That’s right, you heard it here. Ballast Point Kitchen at Miramar is serving up two beer desserts for its Restaurant Week dinner, including a Sour Wench cheesecake with vanilla crème anglaise and fresh berries, and the Victory at Cereal panna cotta with milk crumbles and toasted Mars. Dinner $30.

9045 Carroll Way, Miramar, 858.790.6900,

Cucina Urbana

This San Diego staple is offering up a lemon and pistachio adorned pizza for you to consider. Wait...a pizza with lemon wheels and crunchy nuts all over it? If the idea of biting into that particular combination makes your mouth pucker in a firm no, just hang on. The Bianca pizza also comes with mortadella, rosemary ricotta, bechemela, and pecorino. And, for the record, the lemons are Meyer, which means they are sweeter and pack a softer punch than the average lemon. They are also sliced super thin, giving a refreshing kick to each creamy bite. While at Cucina Urbana, don’t forget to try another unique dish, the squid ink radiatore with shellfish and green garlic for a distinctive aromatic experience. Lunch $20; dinner $40.

505 Laurel St., Bankers Hill, 619.239.2222,