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.
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.
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).
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.
Solana Beach Fish House's chefs release selections of fresh, made-from-scratch Mediterranean, Mexican, and comfort seafood fare into the food traps of hungry locals. Amid nautical décor such as fishing nets and anchors, dining duos dig into a char-grilled seafood-kebab platter, a mesquite-infused feast of succulent teriyaki salmon, juicy marinated chicken breast, or a combination of both. Guests receive their protein bites fresh from the kitchen on wooden skewers, where each meat takes turns tantalizing taste buds with grilled onions, zucchini, and green peppers. Much like a successful doo-wop act, a trio of side dishes, including sections such as rice pilaf, coleslaw, and red-skin potatoes, backs up the main course with harmonizing flavors and well-coiffed beehive ‘dos. Diners may request a side of sauce, such as Cajun or curry, for an additional dollar and a properly executed secret-sauce handshake.
On a sunny day, salty sea breezes tumble over the sands of Solana beach and through the open windows of Woody's Solana Beach eatery. Chefs complement the ocean-enriched air with fresh catches of the day prepared to diners' specifications and their classic seafood paella with chorizo sausage and saffron rice. The restaurant hosts brunch every Sunday, which, in addition to hot breakfast eats, features such drink specials as bottomless champagne, for which diners can enjoy while watching Sunday NFL games on Woody's eight high-definition TVs. Corrugated metal emulates the texture of water, covering the walls between exposed metal beams and wood paneling. The hammered-tin silhouette of a whale frolics amid the faux waves, creating a playful metallic seascape.
Perched on a cliff in La Jolla, Crab Catcher's sea-foam-green dining room surveys the source of its Zagat-approved dishes: the ocean. Chefs let their hauls of fresh fish speak for themselves, simply accentuating sea bass with mustard-thyme sauce or tossing Mexican shrimp in cilantro-garlic butter. Patrons seated inside at lofty wicker chairs or hiding under the patio's tables complement their meals with wines hailing from vineyards nearby or as far as Australia.