When I first glanced at the Nicky Rottens menu, my interest was piqued by their vegetarian burger selection not just one veggie burger, but the option to order any of their specialty burgers with a veggie patty (or chicken or turkey) instead of beef. I am always searching for a great vegetarian burger and was anxious to give the new place a try.
My friend and I headed over around 1:30 on Friday, expecting to get in and out quickly. We sure were wrong the place was packed and didn’t have an empty table on the floor. We only ended up waiting about 5-10 minutes to be seated, but I was surprised at how busy it was for a Friday afternoon. The atmosphere inside is loud and bustling and seems like a great place to meet up with friends and not worry about disturbing others.
The spacious interior is very well designed, with lots of rich wood paneling, high tables, and wide windows lining the perimeter. The window seating and outside dining area have a great view of downtown San Diego. There is also an upper-level dining area that overlooks the ground floor (which is not yet usable but will open soon). The anything-but-intimate space seemed cramped with tables, but our waiter informed us that extra seating had to be added to accommodate the day’s constant influx of diners.
Though there was some initial confusion with our table, service was otherwise very good, considering how busy it was. Waiters were always rushing back and forth assisting tables or running food, and keeping everything up to speed. You are not likely to find poor service here – Nicky Rottens has an advantage in staff and service due to their downtown San Diego location. Most of the Coronado location’s employees have been transferred from the San Diego restaurant and have the specific experience needed to keep things running smoothly.
I ordered the Bruschetta Burger (with vegetarian patty): a burger heaped with parmesan and provolone cheeses, tomatoes, mixed greens, basil, garlic, and pesto aioli. I was not at all disappointed; though their burgers are quite sizable and piled high, I enjoyed it so much that I finished the whole thing! The combination of flavors was very unique, and unlike any burger I’ve had or would’ve thought of creating. The perfectly seasoned veggie patty had the consistency and flavor of meat in fact, it was so convincing that I had to double-check with the waitress to be sure it really was meatless.
My one gripe with the place is that the drinks tasted odd chlorinated, almost. There seemed to be an issue with the fountain/dispenser; we sent our first round of drinks (Diet Coke and iced tea) back and exchanged them for glasses of water, which had the same funky taste. I would’ve loved a big soda with my burger, so hopefully this is only a temporary problem because they sure don’t skimp on filling up their giant glasses.
I spoke with manager Tim, who explained that the response to the Coronado Nicky Rottens was beyond anything they had ever anticipated. When I remarked that I couldn’t believe how busy it was for a Friday afternoon, he excitedly told me, “It’s like this every day!”
Because of the liquor license they acquired from Island Sports & Spirits (previous tenant of the building), Nicky Rottens can only allow entry to persons aged 21 and older. But fret not, families – Tim states that the new, downgraded liquor license application has been submitted, and he expects the family establishment to be open to all within thirty to sixty days. There is also a forthcoming “retail area” (you may have seen the empty central area of the restaurant) where Nicky Rottens merchandise will be sold.
Overall, I really enjoyed my meal and plan to go back to try another of their famous burgers. Though I’d think most people would come for the great food, I can see it as a fun hangout spot to grab some drinks and watch a game. They also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights, which should be something fun to check out as well. Between the two of us two meals and one drink (we ended up splitting a bottled Perrier after the fountain drink debacle) our bill was just over $25.00. A single meal and (non-alcoholic) drink will run you just around fifteen bucks. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re looking for something new on the island!
100 Orange Avenue
Happy Hours (1/2 Price appetizers and $3 drafts, well cocktails, and house wines):