Grazin’ at Beach Grass is a gas, baby — can you dig it?

I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it, we can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it oh, let’s dig it … Can you dig it, baby? OK, I must credit the group Friends of Distinction who covered Hugh Masekela’s hit in 1969 for this random culinary music interlude. For some reason it popped into my head while I was enjoying sublime Kailua Pork tostados with caramelized red onion and cilantro with a jalapeno cream sauce, one of my favorites at the Beach Grass in Solana Beach.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to restaurant entrepreneur Jaime Osuna’s flagship restaurant which has since expanded to three locations. Osuna also owns Encinitas mainstays Honey’s and Swami’s Café. I’ve enjoyed breakfast and lunch as many have at Beach Grass and until recently was unaware they even served dinner. Note to San Diego: Beach Grass Solana Beach serves dinner and it’s fabulous.
First off, it’s just such a cool space. It is a little hard to see from the street, but once inside, the open, airy space with exposed ventilation is clean, contemporary and inviting with a nice mix of tables and booths.
As mentioned we started with the Kailua Pork tostados and I can’t say enough about these. The pork is moist, the caramelized red onion compliments it perfectly, and the jalapeno sauce on the side gives it a nice little kick. The term Kailua pork is frequently used to describe any pork shoulder butt which is rubbed with salt, wrapped in leaves, and slow smoked. However Beach Grass cooks it they do it right and I will be back for more. We also sampled the grilled pizzetta with buffalo mozzarella and sliced tomato served with a chilled caponata. The buffalo mozzarella was perfectly moist, firm, and full of that subtle flavor that works so well with a fresh, ripe tomato. Caponata is a Sicilian dish usually comprised of a cooked vegetable salad traditionally made from chopped peppers and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, and capers in a sweet and sour sauce. As usual, Beach Grass put their signature on it and it worked perfectly. Starters at Beach Grass range from $5.95 for hand cut fries to $12.95 for the crab cakes with most falling in the $7 to $9 range.
Next up were the spicy ahi noodle rolls which are just that, a roll filled with ahi and thin noodles. These were as good as any rolls I’ve had at a sushi joint and I really enjoyed having them available to mix into our sampling of dishes. They also offer a veggie roll, a BGC roll which includes shrimp, spinach and avocado and a salmon roll. These all come in at $11.95.
For entrées we went with the BBQ beef ribs with grilled corn on the cob and mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes seemed to be the starch of choice on most of the entrées which does not show a lot of creativity but they were delicious I’ll give them that. My dining companion Gabriella went for the fish & chips with the mashed potato cake and homemade tartar sauce and yam chips. The fish was moist and flaky inside and perfectly crispy outside. I’ve also heard great things about the lamb burger, the fat pork chop as they call it, and the Beach Grass Café clam bake which consists of grilled shrimp, crab claw, steamed clams and mussels and spicy Louisiana sausage. Entrées range from $16 on the low end to $24 on the high end, which is all reasonable given the service, atmosphere, and food quality which are all top notch. We had our server pair wine with our choices which went all over the map and she did so expertly.
Dessert was a mixed berry cobbler ala mode that was served with a Hogue Riesling, a perfect way to finish of a really nice meal.
Beach Grass is located at 159 South Hwy 101 Solana Beach. Call (858) 509-0632 or visit www.beachgrasscafe.com for details.

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