Today's Groupon dresses you like a crabber and puts a stick of butter in each hand. For $20, you get $50 worth of Cajun food and drink at Auggie’s House of Crab, a restaurant unrelated to Auggie’s Crab Inn, Auggie’s Hostel for Crabs, and Auggie's Crab and Cabin Builders. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Outside The Beach House – Cardiff by the Sea, waves crash and ocean breezes blow as diners enjoy their meal on a patio that sits beside the Pacific Ocean shoreline. The feast for the eyes is only matched by Executive Chef Michael Ingino’s menu of seafood, steak, and fowl entrees. To ensure meals are as fresh as possible, the selection of these entrees changes daily, depending on the season and whether any new vegetables have been invented lately.
Though he didn't work in the restaurant industry, the very first time Rick Covert set foot in The Sand Crab Tavern—established in 1988—he knew that one day it would be his. Some 22 years later, he finally bought it, and though he's made a couple of changes, Rick has maintained the restaurant’s defining traits. A primary change was the addition of Rick's Black Pearl, a twice-weekly spread of raw oysters on the half-shell. What he hasn't changed, though, have been some of the faces customers have gotten to know before he took the helm: cook Lucy has been boiling crawfish at the tavern for more than 15 years, and server Kim has been doting on guests in the lantern-lit space for more than 19 years.
Perhaps almost as important as The Sand Crab’s food and faces are its surrounds. Dangling in the net that’s suspended from the ceiling, like delicious constellations hover starfish, shells, and realistic crabs. And, mimicking the barnacle-coated sides of a whale, the walls are encrusted with sepia-toned photos, nautical memorabilia, and navy patches. Wooden booths host enough dunking of Maine lobsters and king crabs into melted butter to be considered basketball courts. The Sand Crab Tavern hosts live blues music during Sunday brunch, but that's not the only time musicians visit. They're a common sight and sound in the warmly lit dining room, where guests can fill their ears while grabbing frosty bottles of beer sourced from local microbreweries.
Dominic's fresh, authentic Italian cuisine, served at lunch and dinner, pairs with a countryside wall mural, vines creeping down grotto-like archways, and red-and-white-checkered table cloths for a charming dining experience. For lunch, diners can partake in traditional plates, such as cheese ravioli ($8.75) and Ma's breaded chicken breast ($9.95), share a 12-inch pepperoni pizza pie ($9.95), or two-hand a classic muffaletta piled with ham, salami, cheese, and garnish galore ($8.99 for a whole sandwich). Dinner dishes support hefty helpings of lasagna ($12.95), chicken parmigiana ($14.95), and veal piccata sautéed in lemon-butter sauce ($19.95), like a tightrope supports a tightrope walker carrying a refrigerator, and can be paired with wine, such as a glass of Santa Cristina sangiovese ($5).
Oceanside eatery with steaks, seafood, and a bounty of gluten-free options.
Where to Sit: To make the most of this beachside experience, try snagging a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Pacific.
When to Go: Head in between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. for happy hour. Jake's specials extend beyond the typical drinks and appetizers into the realm of fresh seafood at persuasive prices.
While You're in the Neighborhood
For date night: Just next door, Powerhouse Park (1658 Coast Boulevard at 17th Street) sports an outdoor theater and palm-tree-studded lawns ideal for a romantic stroll.
For flying solo: About 3 miles away, the Del Mar racetrack (2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard) hosts summer-long thoroughbred-racing events, inviting guests to place bets on which steed will win the race and which jockey will be named Best Dressed.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: For a taste of Jake's at home, whip up the restaurant's breakfast potatoes using this recipe.