Westside Cafe opened way back in 1956, when hot rods and pompadours were all the rage. Though trends have certainly changed in the decades since, the diner still stakes its reputation on classic breakfast and lunch dishes. Perennial favorites include the Elvis french toast, three-egg omelets, the American club sandwich, and the south-of-the-border chorizo and huevos. Guests can treat themselves to a decadent breakfast experience by combining eggs benedict dishes with cool slices of homemade ice cream pie. It's just one more thing that makes Westside unique, along with baked-from-scratch desserts and the million-dollar check hidden under one of the restaurant's seat cushions.
Boasting Michelin stars and three decades of culinary experience, executive chef Patrick Ponsaty pilots a team that creates upscale seafood and contemporary gourmet fare. Ponsaty’s colleagues include young chefs Gianina Dicicco and Mike Reidy, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and the New England Culinary Institute. Dishes with modern, imaginative flavors include squid-ink risotto, veal cheeks with orange-blossom mousse, and hibiscus-pomegranate consommé. Each creation is a work of visual art, too, with colorful spices, marbleized sauces, and carefully stacked ingredients arranged to resemble Rodin’s The Thinker.
Just walking into El Mariachi Mexican Food feels like a fiesta. Bright yellow walls make the room feel sunny, with Mexican artwork scattered around the space. Tablerunners bring the colors of a Mexican blanket to each table, along with equally colorful mismatched plates that carry dishes such as heaping burritos and enchiladas with special guajillo sauce. One of the eatery's specialties, Platillos Garibaldi, melts mozzarella atop grilled meat and onions, served alongside cactus and fresh warm tortillas.
The folks at New York Bagels & Café make bagels the old-fashioned way. They're boiled in a kettle, then baked to keep them moist and chewy. No preservatives are used, so customers can be assured that the ingredients are natural and ephemeral. In addition to serving bagels and bagel sandwiches, the shop offers freshly brewed coffee from Seattle's Best.
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.
The concept of the South in evidence at Luc's Bistro is expansive, including not just down-home American comfort foods but historical influences from French, Creole, and Cajun cuisines. In an airy room that's a little fancier than the location tucked away off busy Poway Road might suggest, servers deliver plates accented with spicy touches such as paprika mayo or peppered bacon. Breakfast bites include Cafe du Monde beignets and eggs benedict with ham and homemade hollandaise. For a lighter lunchtime offering, diners might try the crab-cake sandwich or simply suck the helium out of a balloon. Dinner entrees range from Atlantic salmon to old Southern standbys such as country-fried steak and shrimp and grits.