Photo By: Josie Gonzales
Photo By: Josie Gonzales

7 San Diego Restaurants Whose Names Are as Wild as They Are

These SD Restaurants with Animal Names Can’t and Won’t Be Tamed

Written By: Ivan Chung and Tamara Philips 7 San Diego Restaurants 
Photographed By: Josie Gonzalez

From time to time, a simple craving turns into a raging appetite, hunger so fierce you can’t help but answer its call. That’s when your instinct can only be satisfied by dishes whose restaurants are as ferocious as your appetite. Browse through this menagerie of flying pigs,  to find out where that rumbling stomach will best be satiated.

Fish 101

At Fish 101 the team is serious about really tasty seafood, wine and beer. The menu is their interpretation of a traditional West Coast fish house—combining what you’ve come to expect from a traditional fish house with their own unique twists and always serve the freshest ingredients available.

Plates from the Grill: Located on North Coast Highway 101, this local seafood joint is a must-try on our list. The grilled fish and shrimp plates are crowd favorites, served with a choice of two sides—you can pick from fries, rice, black beans, or any of the chalkboard specials. The grilled shrimp and fish tacos are quality choices for a Taco Tuesday craving, served with pico de gallo, avocado and fresh tomatillo sauce.

Plates from the Fryer: Who doesn’t love a great basket of fish n’ chips? This classic is beer battered and served with fries and tarter sauce. And for a gourmet street taco experience, try either the fish or shrimp tacos—or both! Have a Captain Eli’s Root Beer with either of these, and you’ll find yourself completely satisfied after a long day spent out in the sun.

Now Shucking! Fish 101 works with local seafood vendors to bring us some of the freshest and tastiest dishes around North County, and this menu selection will hit the spot after an exhausting surf session by the beach. Of course, this includes the daily selection of fresh oysters—served with mignonette, housemade cocktail sauce and lemon.

Back to School: The name Fish 101 not only comes from their Highway 101 location but also alludes to being back in college. Fish 101 puts an emphasis on the basics and fundamentals of the food just as an intro course would.

Native Knowledge: Happy Hour Special: $1 fresh shucked oysters 4 to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday

1468 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024


The Baked Bear

If you’re any kind of ice cream enthusiast, The Baked Bear will seal the deal for you. Co-owner Rob says that the idea behind their cute sunglasses-wearing polar bear logo is to create a mascot people can relate to when craving ice cream under the hot San Diegan sun. From the cookies to ice cream, they make everything from scratch.

Baked Bear Combo: The superstar menu item is the “Baked Bear Combo, ” with half cookie and half brownie as the “buns” of the sandwich. It’s a melt-in-your-mouth sugary explosion. Choose from any of their fun and unique flavors to smoosh between those decadent cookies: bear batter, birthday cake, soy chocolate chip, strawberry cheesecake, coffee, peanut butter and even more!

Grab a Dozen: Be sure to grab yourself a half dozen cookies to-go while you’re at it—because you can never have enough cookies. There is always a different cookie of the month, funfetti, M&M, red velvet, oatmeal cinnamon, white chocolate macadamia nut, and of course the classic chocolate chip (in gluten free as well!).

Bear On the Move: The Baked Bear first opened in Pacific Beach three years ago and has since expanded to five different locations all around San Diego. They just opened in the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and will soon expand to Arizona in the next couple months.

7610 Via Campanile, Carlsbad, CA 92009


Iron Pig Alehouse

Smoked Oak and Hickory: Coming into the restaurant and seeing the Iron Pig mascot on the menu foreshadows the protein coma you’re about to experience. Every dish is smoked using oak and hickory for hours. The most requested of these are the slow-smoked brisket, rib tips and the unique hickory-smoked chicken wings that come with an option of spicy barbecue sauce. PB locals say they can smell the smoky and tangy aroma from a mile away.

Beers on Tap: With over 40 beers on tap, this is not your standard bar and grill. And these aren’t just any beers; Iron Pig serves the best craft beers in town to pair with barbecue. Some of these include: 2 Towns Ciderhouse The Bad Apple, Boulevard Tripel Julep, Insurgente Berry Brown, Mike Hess Solis Romani and more!

Meat by the Pound: Everything is prepared from scratch, even the catering orders. Iron Pig Alehouse caters for any event. You can order any of their smoky and tasty meats by the pound: pulled chicken or pork, half chicken, baby back ribs or brisket. And if you’re feeling sweet, order the cobbler pan—you’ll want to cozy up in a big chair after this meal.

Texas Meets SoCal: Chef Rick has brought his Texan background into Iron Pig, which offers a fusion of fine dining experience and Texas BBQ flavors.

Native Knowledge: Make sure to try the pastrami sandwich on Thursdays! You can’t get that any other time of the week.

1520 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109


Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen began with the Oceanside location and recently expanded to open a spot in downtown Vista. Both serve a plethora of craft beer options and unique fresh menu items, and of course, some of SD’s best BBQ around. As a restaurant with rotating dishes and locally-sourced food, they always have something new and delicious on the menu. Be sure to ask your server about daily specials to get the latest and greatest.

Braised All Natural Duroc Pork Belly: The honey mustard maderia braise will leave a lingering flavor in your mouth in the best way. Served with blistered shishito cornbread, al dente collard greens and black-eyed peas you’ll be able to sit down, relax, and enjoy the comfort food meal of a lifetime! To complete this meal, pair the duroc pork belly with the parmesan truffle fries: the shoestring fries are deep fried in truffle oil and seasoned with the perfect amount of parsley, salt and parmesan—served with truffle aioli.

Bacon Mac n’ Cheese: With an adult spin on a childhood favorite, this sharp cheddar bechamel cheese macaroni is sure please anyone, beginner and refined palates alike. House bacon is mixed in with the butter and flour base to create the cheesiest perfection.

Green Alternative: The beet salad with pesto and pecans is a phenomenal healthy alternative, served with a creamy feta dressing, roasted baby gold beets, confit blood orange, baby kale, chicory and  pecans. Feeling adventurous? The octopus salad is flavor packed and will give your mouth an exciting change of texture with tandoori octopus, squid ink, black garlic and tamarind vinaigrette, mizuna greens, gremolata marinated radishes and honey onion petals.  

626 S Tremont St, Oceanside, CA 92054


Green Dragon Tavern

This spot not only hosts some of the best beer and meals in Carlsbad, but also has a free admission museum to promote and celebrate our country’s heritage and reconnect guests with the life events and contributions of our founders. You can even cruise the museum with a glass of your favorite craft beer or wine.

Fish n’ Fries: This is a menu classic, served old school on a bed of newspaper. The golden beer-battered cod and crisp garlic parmesan fries won’t disappoint. Be sure to dip these in the sherry aioli that is served with it—you may even want to ask for a second side of it because this stuff is the tastiest dip for both the fish and fries. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top, and voila, perfection!

Pastrami Burger: This is the best version of a burger you can order. With angus beef and pastrami—you’ll be rubbing your belly in delight after finishing. The burger comes with swiss, caramelized onion,  rosemary dijonaise, and of course, the garlic parmesan fries on the side.

Dragon Tavern: A variety of craft beers are offered on draft including: Alpine Duet IPA, Legacy, Sons of Liberty Porter and Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Décor includes a massive brass chandelier, custom built cherry stained tables and American handmade Hitchcock chairs with depictions of Pilgrims and the revolution. The idea of Green Dragon Tavern stems from the historical reference of Boston’s original Green Dragon Tavern, which was demolished in 1854. The building is a re-imagination of the original structure, where the founders met secretly to plan the American Revolution vs. Boston Tea Party.

History Meets Food: If you want to find out more about the background of the restaurant and the American Revolution, make sure to go next door to the museum, which features historic figures like Paul Revere and Sam Adams.

6115 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92011


Monkey Paw

Pulled Pork Roll and Fries: This is not just any sandwich, the pork is drenched in Sweet Georgia Brown BBQ sauce with fresh red onion, served on a soft roll. And for your side of fries, while the classic salty fries are delicious, be adventurous—Monkey Paw has the most loaded options for fries. There’s the Piggyback Fries: topped with tender shredded BBQ pork, melted cheddar and fresh green and red onions. And for a guaranteed food coma, order the Stoner Fries, which is topped with any combo of meat, cheese and veggies—you can even choose tofu as your protein!

The Brews: Located in East Village, Monkey Paw has a huge selection of beers on tap that have won tons of awards in the brewing community, such as the Gold Award in the San Diego International Beer Festival 2014, as well as an award at the 2016 Bistro Double IPA Festival.

Chimpin’ Ain’t Easy: This is the restaurant’s 4th anniversary stout, with an astounding 10 percent alcohol level. Utilizing a pound and a half per barrel of Dane Coffee Chiapas Beans and three roasted malts, coffee dominates the aroma and flavor. Homemade dulce de leche caramel and lactose provide residual sugar and body to back up and balance the bitter roast and alcohol notes.

Another Round: Owner Scot Blair also owns several other restaurants and breweries around downtown SD, such as Hamilton’s, Small Bar and the recently opened South Park Brewery Company.

805 16th St, San Diego, CA 92101


The Smoking Goat

Steak Tartar: Chef Fred has a great kitchen staff to whip up some of SD’s most amazing dishes. Just the appetizers alone will leave you salivating like no other. With the three-course meal, you may choose one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert off the menu. Begin with the perfectly seasoned steak tartar, which is balanced with a creamy remoulade and sharp cornichons, served with toasted bread.

Hidden Fjord Scottish Salmon: With lamb, steak, salmon, scallops, chicken and pork chop as entree options, it’s difficult to nail down merely one. For the perfect portion size, choose the Hidden Fjord Scottish Salmon that is served alongside sautéed kale, herbed cherry tomato, sweet potato beurre noisette and avocado crema. However, any of the entrees are great picks, especially with the fusion atmosphere of fine dining and laid-back character of SD as a backdrop to your meal.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake: Typically quite a heavy dessert, cheesecake can be tough to consider after a savory meal. However, the Smoking Goat’s cheesecake is made with goat cheese, making for a light and refreshing version on the standard dessert. With poached peach and whipped cream, this is the perfect amount of sweet to end your dining experience.

The Joyful Hour: Happy hour specials (5-6 p.m. Monday-Friday) run at $6 for classics such as truffle fries and liver pate.

3408 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

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Tamara is SoCal born and bred with Dutch roots. With an English degree from Vanguard University, she is thrilled to be part of the LOCALE editorial team. She enjoys reading, eating green bell peppers, petting other people's dogs, and cooking/baking while singing into a kitchen spoon to Broadway show tunes.


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