Get it your way at La Costa Grill

So no more Crazy Burro. I must admit, I was a sucker for a once a year visit to the bar that made me feel like I was stepping into a place where Disco Stu from “The Simpsons” would feel right at home. But alas, no more crazy nights of cheesy mayhem. The Burro is gone, replaced by a respectable, and more with the times, La Costa Grill.
Owner Mark Jones and Chef Chuck Samuelson have brought their version of an American bistro to the space and it’s working nicely. They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients and moderate prices, a good combination in today’s competitive restaurant landscape.
We started with the steamed mussels, Hawaiian-style BBQ ribs, and the Ahi tuna stack. It was a really strong start with the mussels in a classic white wine and lemon sauce. They also offer it with your choice of red curry or coconut milk and they came complete with the crispy baguette, which was perfect for dipping in the delicious broth. The Ahi tuna stack was a nice layering of avocado, tuna, and tomatoes and though it was a little small for two, at $9 I could not complain. In fact, all the starters are under $10 with most around $7. The Hawaiian-style ribs with a ginger-soy marinade and oven glazed were out of this world and at $7 were a steal. Chef Chuck spent some time on the islands and it shows in these mouth watering ribs. They were out of the JJ Artichoke which was a disappointment being the artichoke freak I am. Oh well, next time.
Soups and salads are also available in the $3 to $7 range but due to our overindulgence in the starters, we decided to save room for entrees. I must mention there is a fresh selection of oysters that I will make it a point to come back for next time.
Entrees are where the “get it your way” part of the equation comes into play. You pick your fish or meat, choose the way you want it cooked (for the fish only), then pick the sauce you want it finished with. It’s a fun way to order though it might help if the server would suggest the best preparation for the fish you select. There is also a full pasta and specialty entrée section of the menu. They do stay true to their moderate pricing claim with the entrée’s starting at $15 and topping out at $21. Nice work guys, with all the overpriced restaurants in North County, it’s good to see one keeping it real. Our dinners were good, though I did not sense much lobster in my lobster tamale that came as the surf with my surf and turf. Our entrées came out a little early, but that’s more of a timing issue than a reflection on quality.
Dessert was really fun and we both ordered the warm cookie and mini vanilla milkshake that was just a hoot to eat and was really, really good. And at $4 an absolute steal. In fact, there was not a dessert on the menu over $5.
There is a nice wine list and a bustling bar scene at LCG as well. I may head back there as I noticed they will be keeping the kitchen open late night.
La Costa Grill is located at 6996 El Camino Real in Carlsbad. They are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday and the bar menu is available from 10 to 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Happy hour is from 4 to 6 p.m. every day and from 9 to 11 p.m. every day. Brunch is served on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., opening at 9:30 a.m. on NFL game days.
For more information, call La Costa Grill at (760) 603-1200 or visit www.la costa-grill.com.

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