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The Prado

The Prado Bar

Dining Room
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So I’m not a big one on crowds these days, or fighting to hear what my table companion is gently whispering to me. But sometimes, it’s just damn worth it and makes me smile to boot! The Prado in Balboa Park is another brilliant invention of David and Leslie Cohn…even more, it’s the reinvention of a decades old establishment that is more charming and delectable every time you step into the depression era courtyard.

There is always a party going on at The Prado. Be it a gathering of art aficionados just fresh from the current Annie Liebowitz exhibit, or play goers preparing to immerse themselves in another gem from The Old Globe Theatre. For countless years the space was a morgue of marginal food and endless weddings known as The Café Del Rey Morro. Now (and hopefully forever) The Prado is an icon in the making.

Bristling with life, fabulous Giluli glass, and situated in charming Balboa Park, The Prado is to be relished often. After a wonderful evening at the San Diego Museum of Art, our party of 8 nabbed a highly desirable round top in the corner. Much to my initial disappointment, the menus brought to the table featured a pre-fix menu with three choices. Soon our server arrived and assured us that the entire menu was available…sweet relief! OK…so guess what? I ordered form the initial menu and couldn’t have been more delighted.

For starters we enjoyed the Prado Ceasar Salad (fresh romaine hearts with herbed croutons, cotija cheese and fire-roasted problano chile ceasar dressing) and Baby Iceberg Lettuce Wedges (maytag blue cheese dressing, diced tomato, smoked bacon and cracked black pepper). Both were plentiful, with the crisp lettuce wonderfully enhanced with the flavorful dressings. We also could not pass up the Panko Crusted Maryland Jumbo Lump Crabcakes (avocado-serrano chile puree, chipotle aioli & chili lime tossed jacama slaw), a menu staple and worth every accolade granted it.

We moved on to our entrees and after much speculation (so many wonderful dishes to choose from, seafood, pasta, soups and fine meat selections) we settled upon our soul’s desires. Arriving at our table in delicious presentations were the Grilled Chicken & Orecchiette Pasta (tossed with pancetta, red onions and toasted pinenuts, in a gorgonzola sauce), which had the most splendid thick linguine pasta in a delectably savory sauce, sheer perfection. Also the Grilled King Salmon (goat cheese whipped potatoes, ruby red grapefruit & fennel slaw, sweet pea puree) that was eloquent in its flavor. The salmon, so soft, quietly flaked away at the forks prodding and, conspiring with the potatoes and puree, a sheer treat.

The remainder of the party indulged in the (if not world famous, certainly a San Diego favorite, recommended by sooo many friends) Braised Boneless Beef Short-Rib (charred asparagus, roasted garlic crushed potatoes & a bittersweet chocolate-expresso demi). The dish exceeded all expectations. The ribs were succulent and seasoned with a smooth sauce that left your lips smacking for more and the meat literally fell off the bone. The accompanying potatoes and asparagus created a grand meal.

We wrapped up the delightful evening with Apple Medjool Date Crisp (bittersweet chocolate streusel, cinnamon ice cream and pizelle press cookie) that delivered a delicately sweet, inviting taste that was marvelous to enjoy. The entire meal was wonderfully extravagant in its simplicity. Great food, prepared magnificently well under the watchful eye of Chef Jeff Thurston.

Chef Jeff Thurston is highly decorated, receiving the 2005 Chef of the Year award from the California Restaurant Association, and trained under the tutelage of Wolfgang Puck. The restaurant itself has been awarded numerous accolades such as, “Four Stars” from the California Restaurant Writers Association, “America’s Best Restaurant Award” from Gourmet Magazine, among others. All are well deserved.

The Prado staff showered our party with splendid and personal service, friendly menu advisements, and all done with cheerful, yet sophisticated flair. The evening was sheer pleasure but how could it not be, with amazing food, spirited décor and welcoming staff. Be certain to visit The Prado, you will be enchanted beyond all measure. Enjoy!

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  • City: San Diego, CA 92103
  • Phone: (619) 557-9441
  • Name: The Prado
  • Address: 1549 El Prado