Friday, April 19, 2024

Restaurant Review: Tent City Restaurant

A Blend of History and Fine Dining

DATELINE CORONADO: One of the more popular dining experiences in Coronado can be found at Tent City Restaurant, located at 1100 Orange Avenue. The footprint is small, with limited seating, but the menu is consistently exciting.

The young and pleasant staff at Tent City is always eager to make recommendations, and their honesty is refreshing. This lively group of servers and food preparers won’t hesitate to point you in the right direction. As Kennedy Perry, lead day server at Tent City says, “It’s always in our best interest to help customers make the best choices possible. If the halibut is fresher, we’re going to tell you that.”

Tent City serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They open at 8 a.m. daily for breakfast and serve until 11 a.m. The morning menu offers a variety of omelets and house specialties, or you can choose from one of the tasty Benedicts.

Waffles and French toast are big with the kids, but my favorite is the Huevos Rancheros smothered in a delightful ranchero sauce and lined with sliced avocado. If I think no one is looking, I’ll add a side of sausage.

Lunch is an entirely different experience. I can tell you unequivocally that the chicken pot pie rivals the old Chicken Pot Pie Shop meals of the ’70s, but the real sleeper is the chicken tortilla casserole – shredded chicken cooked with green and red chilies and layered with a rich sauce and cheddar cheese, and lightly covered with tortilla strips.

The menu presents a full selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, wraps and a daily quiche. A popular local favorite is the turkey pesto panini, which comes with salad and a side dish.

The traditional soups include chicken tortilla and New England clam chowder, but look for head chef Kasey Chapman to add a third soup on a daily basis that might be spicy albondigas, rich seafood bisque, or a number of other soups pulled from his recipe book.

As the sun sets, Tent City takes on an entirely different aura. The historic building is up-lit from the outside and the menu takes on a completely new definition of the term “culinary experience.” A full bar is available, but the noise level is low and there is a distinct family ambience throughout.

From 5 p.m. until closing, chef Leo Teran and his talented kitchen crew present some of the most delectable and aesthetically pleasing meals to be found anywhere on the island.

The Tent City menu offers fresh salmon, halibut, ahi and shrimp. Traditional meat and poultry dishes round out the entrées and I recommend the beef tournedos – two tender cuts of meat topped with crab meat, béarnaise sauce and crumbled bleu cheese, cooked to your liking.

Located in the center of Coronado’s historic downtown, Tent City’s greatest asset might just be the affordable pricing.

Tent City’s décor is based on its namesake, which flourished just south of the Hotel del Coronado from 1900-1939. The walls are lined with old Coronado images and reflections of our history that pay an elegant tribute to the city of tents from a century past.

Local restaurateur Ron Chapman, along with his family, own Tent City and sister restaurant, the Coronado Brewing Company. The latter is located at 170 Orange Avenue. Their micro-brews are extremely popular, with Orange Avenue Wit currently leading the pack.

For more information on Tent City Restaurant visit or call 435-4611. They are located at the corner of Orange Avenue and Park Place.

As a special offer, mention this article and receive a “buy one entrée, get one free” deal with the purchase of two drinks for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This offer is not valid with other offers or coupons, but can be redeemed Sundays – Thursdays through April 15, 2010. One per family please.

-Joe Ditler


Breakfast server Lauren Logelin peeks at morning specials before the breakfast crowd arrives at Tent City Restaurant.



Kennedy Perry prepares to pour some of the quality micro-brews on tap, brewed by sister restaurant, the Coronado Brewing Company.


Molly McCathran is serving the Mediterranean Platter, which includes hummus, artichoke hearts, dolmas, and Greek olives served with pita bread.


Kathy Justice (left) and Rachel Smith enjoy a working lunch at Tent City Restaurant, although not a whole lot of work transpires at these gatherings.


Customer Vicki Carson is caught contemplating light or dark brew in front of the large mural depicting one of Coronado’s first schools a century ago at Tent City.


Kennedy Perry prepares to serve three very popular lunch items at Tent City – from left, the popular crab stack, chicken potpie and quiche of the day.


NOTE: Coronado boasts so many restaurants it can be a daunting challenge to visitors looking for just the right meal and ambience. In the end, if you want the real skinny, consult the locals. Joe Ditler has been a local since 1966 and has lots of first-hand experience with area restaurants, having worked at Chart House, Brigantine, McP’s, Tent City and the Coronado Brewing Company; and past island eateries such as Krishna Mulvaney’s, Le Onion and Joey’s Italian Restaurant. To contact him for restaurant reviews call 619.435.0767 or write [email protected].

Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler
Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call [email protected], or (619) 742-1034.

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