Duck Dive (Pacific Beach)
Shortly after Darren and Michael took in all Pacific Beach Fish Shop has to offer, Jenna and I made our way a little deeper into PB. Along the beachfront are a ton of bars and restaurants worthy of some special attention. Everything from the dirtiest dive to the most elegant cuisine is right here along Mission Blvd. Duck Dive, an open air bar and grill is smack in the middle of both the street and the budget.
A true to form gastropub, they focus equally on the food and libations. The creations from both the chefs and the bartenders are equally impressive. The decor is sleek and comfortable, the music is good and the presentations are enjoyable. Definitely a good choice to meet your friends from some drinks and food by the beach. I’d definitely advise dinner reservations, however, as this place stays busy even on weeknights.
What I like most about this place is they serve food and drinks all day. Breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night menus are all available and slightly different. Further, every day of the week brings something new from extended happy hours to live music. On Tuesdays, a special chef’s menu is available including dishes with ingredients purchased from the PB Farmer’s Market.
Farm-to-table is such an important trend in today’s eating and it’s great to see a bar taking up the practice and making a drink rooted in our backyard. I felt slightly led astray as only a couple ingredients from each dish actually came from that day’s market but any effort to eat locally is worthy of some credit.
I have to say the drink, the Farm to Dive Cosmo Maximato, was absolutely astounding, especially at only 5 dollars. It screams California with fresh bought Hass avocados and limes smashed into an organic cucumber vodka and Cointreau, garnished with a spicy Peppadew. It’s citrusy and smoothed out by the avocado but packs a definite punch in the liquor and garnish. Forgive the corny punchline, but it really is reminiscent of riding a wave in the form of a cocktail. I couldn’t picture a more perfect drink to enjoy right by the beach in SoCal.
The Farm to Dive Tacos come in 5 varieties, all served on a baby corn tortilla and piled high with goodies. Again, the price is just right on these little bad boys. At $2.50 a piece, you could try all 5 and easily satisfy your appetite. We optioned the Carne Asada with Cheddar Cheese, the BBQ Chicken with Crispy Onion and Pineapple and the Chef’s Special Mahi Mahi with cilantro lime aioli.
The Mahi Mahi was outstanding, fresh, well-flavored fish, that soaked up the sauce and the pineapple salsa extraordinarily. The chicken was also really tasty with a superb BBQ sauce and a nice crunch from the onion strings. The carne asada was a little lackluster and was topped with what looked and tasted like prepackaged cheese. We didn’t try the Duck Lettuce Wrap or Panko Crusted Avocado though they have piqued my interest for next time.
I ordered the Farm to Dive Entree, Fetttuccine and Meatballs in Tomato Basil and Garlic Toast. The smells coming off this dish are amazing and the presentation is surprisingly refined. Not to mention its a giant portion, tons of pasta, 4 pieces of toast and two plump meatballs might have been enough for two. The freshness of the quartered tomatoes and stripped basil really made the difference. They created a light, flavorful sauce, perfectly offsetting the hefty pork and beef meatballs that were dense and rich in flavor.
Jenna ordered the DD Trio Steak and Fries, primarily to get a shot at the garlic parmesan fries we had seen flowing from the kitchen all night. The fries are really good, probably a bit heavy on the garlic for some, but just just the way we like them. The steak was of good quality and cooked perfectly to order. Unfortunately, it was doused in a balsamic glaze (so was the side salad) that almost ruined an otherwise excellent cut of meat. I would have preferred the sauce on the side in this instance. Speaking of sauce on the side, if you order the fries, you MUST request the dipping sauce trio, all made fresh and really tasty.
All in all, Duck Dive has the drinks and bar food down to a science. Some of their more complicated options leave room for improvement and I’d like to see a more extensive farm-to-table menu in the future. When warmer weather hits, we will hit up Duck Dive on a Saturday morning for a breakfast bite and a farm-to-table bloody mary before a day at the beach. Special thanks to Robbin over at Alt for arranging our visit and introducing us to Duck Dive!
4650 Mission Blvd
San Diego, Ca 92109