California Pizza Kitchen (Solana Beach)


The California Pizza Kitchen in Solana Beach is one of the first in the country to undergo what they call the “Recipe for Reimagination.” Not only is the design updated from the decor to the seating arrangements, but there are also new menu items, including seasonal options.


It was the first time I’ve been to the Solana Beach location, and immediately I noticed it had a much more open feel to it. They are rolling out these changes to their other CPK locations and are removing many of the booth style tables, replacing them with regular tables to give them more flexibility with different party sizes.


The normal options are still available ranging from salads, starters, and pizzas.


But the largest change seems to lay in the main plates and seasonal selections. I don’t remember any time in the past I went to CPK and didn’t order a pizza, or at least have a slice of someone else’s pie. As I was reading the new menu options I almost thought I was at a Seasons 52 for a second. With all of these fun new things to choose from, we might make history and not order a pizza from CPK.

Our drink of the evening was in the form of a Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler. There was a little ginger in there to spice things up and yet it remained light and not overly sweet.

DSC_0039While we were perusing the menu they put in an order for the Shaved Mushroom and Spinach Flatbread. This was the perfect size to appease hungry diners before their main entrees arrived. It was thin, slightly crispy, cheesy, and fulfilling. 

We tried to do our best to order seasonal and new menu items so you get a better sense of how CPK is evolving. The Harvest Kale Salad was one of those seasonal items. It blended the ingredients of baby kale, red grapes, toasted farro, cranberries, goat cheese, and the housemade citrus vinaigrette nicely. The kale on its own can be quite bitter, but the fruits and goat cheese mellow out any potential bitterness you might encounter along the way. Dressings can steal the show and drown out great flavors. The citrus vinaigrette was very light and hardly noticeable. It didn’t try to dominate the salad and allowed the other ingredients to shine on their own.


Anh got the Roasted Garlic Chicken and Seasonal Vegetables from the seasonal selection. There were fingerling potatoes, heirloom carrots, and cauliflower accompanying the chicken which was made with a lemon garlic sauce and other herbs. They did a commendable job cooking the chicken and ensuring it soaked up a lot of the sauce, lending to a very juicy and flavorful bite. It floored us with how well they executed the dish. Would this change how we order at CPK from this point forward?  

I got the Fire Grilled Ribeye made with Pinot Noir and topped with a blue cheese butter. The ribeye is a new item in their main plates selection. It also came with roasted fingerling potatoes and a lemon garlic arugula salad. The size looked larger than the 12 oz. listed, which is fine by me! We ordered the steak medium but it came out with parts of it being rare. That wouldn’t really be a huge deal normally as long as the taste was there. But unfortunately it came out slightly chewy. There was one side on the outer rim that came out perfect and if the entire piece of meat tasted like that, it would have been an entirely different story. Anh loved the arugula salad and she may have enjoyed that more than the baby kale salad. DSC_0061

We ordered another new item, the S’mores dessert. When they brought it out to our table they also brought out their Butter Cake. We were fairly stuffed at this point, but never defeated. The S’mores left something to be desired. When I think of S’mores I think of a hot, melt in your mouth ooey gooey mess of chocolate and marshmallow with graham crackers. This lacked the melted chocolate component, which is kind of a big deal for me. The flavors seemed to be there, but texture and nostalgia is key for this dessert to be a success in my mind.

We were so glad they brought out the Butter Cake. This is not a new item, but for many things in life if it aint broke, why fix it? I don’t think I’ve ever tried their desserts before. Why have I not tried their Butter Cake!? Wasted years of dessert bliss flashed through my eyes. Many people say if they could go back in time they would change this or that. My top priorities for time travel would probably all include some sort of food mission. Try this or that, again and again and again until I tried it just right. So back to this Butter Cake! It made me feel like the sweetest grandmother on the planet made the cake just for us. And much like the fictitious grandmother figure in my mind, the cake too was warm, sweet, and packed with personality. Combined with the vanilla ice cream, I almost melted along with it as I consumed my second reaffirming bite: THIS is the dessert to order at CPK. Our waitress Elysabeth said that she likes the Butter Cake more than the Chocolate Lava Cake and I laughed inside. If a restaurant serves a molten chocolate lava cake, how could any other dessert on the menu stand up to it? This is how. 


If lunch is more of your thing then you can try their lunch duos, which offer either a pizza and a soup or salad or a half sandwich and a soup or salad.

We rediscovered California Pizza Kitchen thanks to their “Recipe for Reimagination” transformation. I’m so glad they are updating their design and menu across all their locations. It appears that they have found the recipe for keeping us all engaged and interested in what’s next for CPK in the future. Special thanks to Cassy over at Lippin for the invitation, and the CPK in Solana Beach for smiling and stuffing us silly!

California Pizza Kitchen 
437 S. Highway 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
California Pizza Kitchen - Solana Beach on Urbanspoon

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About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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