Written exclusively for Lajollabythesea.com by Angie Cobbs
Food is a gateway to culture. SWNS reported on a study on food and its unifying power, and noted that 84% of the American respondents said that food is the key to sharing and experiencing different cultures.
Most people thus travel to different countries in order to try out traditional cuisine. But here at La Jolla, we have our own variety of dining options that will allow you to explore cultures different from your own.
Take a gastronomic trip around the world by visiting the following La Jolla restaurants.
The Taco Stand
Image taken from The Taco Stand Official Facebook page.
Inspired by the taco stands of Tijuana where co-owner Julian Hakim lived until he was 18, The Taco Stand is a go-to place for anyone craving the authentic taste of Mexican food. The restaurant’s attention to detail is evident in its handmade tortillas, guacamole and salsa made from scratch, and traditional meat preparation using a roasting spit. There’s no doubt why The Taco Stand was deemed part of TripAdvisor’s list of highly rated restaurants in the US.
While the Carne Asada Fries are to die for, The Taco Stand’s Al Pastor Tacos are also sure to satisfy your palate. Vegetarians can also try out the Nopal Taco, which has flame-grilled cactus as its main ingredient.
Image taken from Spiro’s Cuisine Official Instagram page.
Journey to the islands of Mykonos and Santorini without having to leave the comfort of La Jolla. Spiro’s serves Mediterranean cuisine that’s sure to transport you to paradise with delectable platters and generous portion sizes. Owners Nancy and Spiro Chaconas pride themselves on inheriting authentic Greek recipes from family and sourcing their oils and spices straight from Greece.
Spiro’s offers an unforgettable dining experience with its must-try gyros, kabob plates, and melt-in-your-mouth pita sandwiches. Complete these meals with appetizers, Greek salads, or falafel and tzatziki for sides! If you have a particularly sweet tooth, then you’ll enjoy feasting on Spiro’s baklava or gelato until sunset.
Image taken from Marisi Official Instagram page.
Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic date night or a delectable dinner with the family, we’ve got you covered. Marisi honors the tradition of Italian cooking by specializing in handmade pastas and hearth cooking. This exquisite spot where the Amalfi and La Jolla coasts intersect dedicates spaces for both al fresco and intimate dining.
As Marisi sources its ingredients from local farmers and fishermen, you’re guaranteed only the freshest and highest quality food. Among the standout pasta dishes are strascinati paired with lamb ragu, spaghettoni al Pomodoro, and rigatoni with stracciatella. You can also indulge in line-caught fish with smoked San Marzanos and lemon—cooked straight from the open kitchen’s hearth. Top off these gustatory delights with a glass of vermouth or a cocktail of your choice.
Image taken from AROI Thai Official Website.
Spice up your dining options with the simple yet sophisticated dishes of AROI Thai. This family-owned restaurant serves a variety of Thai food, from soups and noodles to curries and rice dishes. Lots of vegetarian-friendly choices, too!
If it’s your first time exploring the taste of Thailand, then it’s recommended that you try the spicy and sour tom yum soup or the famed rice noodles with peanut sauce known as pad thai. Those aiming to level up their experience can opt for the spicy Drunken Noodles, the Thai Boat with your choice of meat, and the special sauce of the Panang Curry. Don’t forget to make some room for sweet mango sticky rice and freshly brewed Thai iced tea!
Duke’s La Jolla
Image taken from Duke’s La Jolla Official Website.
You’re guaranteed to have a fun time with family and friends when you visit the sprawling space of Duke’s. Named after native Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku, Duke’s La Jolla is an iconic restaurant serving contemporary interpretations of traditional Hawaiian dishes.
The vibrant spirit of the beach lifestyle is not only palpable from the surfboard decor, but also comes to life through its Poke Tacos, Kalua Pork Sandwich, and Roasted Duke’s Fish. If you happen to pass by the bar, try out their craft beers or the Duke’s signature Mai Tai cocktail to complete the vibe!
Blue Ocean / Harumama
Image taken from La Jolla By The Sea Website.
The last one (or is it two?) on the list is the dual concept Blue Ocean and Harumama, which combines two Asian seaside spots into one. This creative restaurant offers a formal seafood dining experience through Blue Ocean’s sashimi, poke bowls, and sushi rolls—the last of which can be elevated by adding blue crab or freshly chopped wasabi.
Its other side Harumama serves East Asian-inspired ramen bowls with a choice of toppings like kimchi, bok choy, or bamboo shoots, as well as steamed buns filled with pork belly, shrimp, duck, or karaage chicken. Don’t forget to snap a pic of their cutesy character steamed buns for your Instagram feed!
Eat well anywhere
You can also never go wrong with trying out cultural recipes in your own home! Experts and aspiring home chefs alike can try the famous Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat written by Samin Nosrat and illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton. It teaches you to use the four titular elements for flavor and texture, and also allows you to put these culinary principles into action through globe-trotting recipes for short ribs, focaccia, escabeche, scorched rice, and more.
If your kitchen skills aren’t quite enough to sate your culturally curious taste buds, you can also opt to hire private chefs if you have the means for it. As a private chef and co-founder of Bad Boyz of Culinary, Kelston Moore intends to showcase the culinary influences of his Barbados background and to build a community for his fellow African American chefs in La Jolla, which sounds like great news for clients.
With a diversity of culture and cuisine waiting to be explored and celebrated, La Jolla is truly alive!