Coronado resident, David Spatafore, one of San Diego’s leading restaurateurs and principal of Blue Bridge Hospitality, has acquired management and operational responsibilities of Coronado Ferry Landing’s most coveted bayfront commercial real estate: the former Candela’s on the Bay at 1201 First Street. The location transaction took place in May of 2018, and over the past four months, Spatafore has quietly transformed this 5,700 square-foot, indoor-outdoor waterfront gem into el Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen — which officially opened its doors to the public on August 15, 2018.
+ THE TEAM | A homegrown success story, born and raised in Coronado, Spatafore is credited for helping to raise the bar on San Diego’s culinary reputation. Having received critical acclaim from national outlets including Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Vogue, Sunset Magazine, Los Angeles Times and more, his hospitality collective was founded in 1998 and today operates the most iconic restaurant locations in the city. From an old-school ice cream parlour and a bayfront barbecue shop, to a swanky high-end steakhouse and a public market paradise, Spatafore is best known for taking innovative approaches to diversifying his portfolio. Blue Bridge Hospitality currently owns and operates: Liberty Public Market, Maretalia Ristorante, West Pac Noodle Bar, Stake Chophouse & Bar, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge, Village Pizzeria, Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q, MooTime Creamery, Crafted Baked Goods, and Coronado Coffee Company. el Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen will officially debut as Spatafore’s eleventh unique concept—a welcomed addition on the heels of Blue Bridge Hospitality’s 20-year anniversary.
Overseeing the research and development for el Roy’s culinary program is Blue Bridge’s esteemed Executive Chef, Tim Kolanko, alongside Blue Bridge newcomer Chris Gallo. A New York native with classic French culinary training, Gallo is a seasoned alum of San Diego’s premier kitchens including Bertrand at Mister A’s, the AAA Five Diamond resort The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and its award-winning restaurant A.R. Valentien. Gallo joins the Blue Bridge team as the executive chef of el Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen.
+ THE CONCEPT | The name, el Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen, is a playful, south of the border nod to Blue Bridge’s first farm-to-table Coronado eatery, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge. At el Roy’s, Executive Chef Chris Gallo finds inspiration in taking tradition-bound Mexican flavors and uniquely applying them as a concept, flavor profile or as part of another complex dish. His style illustrates a growing national trend of chefs exploring Mexico’s forward-flavor cuisine and adopting ingredients as their own.
“We’re not an authentic Mexican restaurant; we’re focusing less on regionality and authenticity, and more on innovation,” says Chef Gallo. “Creating the menu has been a fun process. We’re combining flavors that are easily translatable and already well loved by local palates (because of San Diego’s close proximity to Mexico)—yet we’re exploring them in different forms with outside influences that pair well.”
+ ON THE MENU | The menus meld traditional staples such as Posole (a Mexican soup), Campechana (a Mexican seafood cocktail), fresh hand-pressed tortillas and salsas, with a variety of unique interpretations. For example: the Grilled Pork Chop “Al Pastor” is an amplified play on famous Mexican street food, tacos al pastor, and is served with a chorizo cornbread, chipotle roasted carrots, and pineapple habanero salsa. The Watermelon & Citrus Shrimp Ceviche with tangerine, avocado, cucumber and pickled red onion also emphasizes el Roy’s hybrid approach—a thoughtful mix between a popular Mexican-style summer salad (watermelon and avocado) and the colorful fruit stand staples soaked in a citrus dressing. Chef’s Grilled Skirt Steak is prepared with a carne asada marinade and paired alongside crispy mashed potatoes (pre-roasted with Mexican flavors), chimichurri, and a non-traditional vinegar-based spicy coleslaw. Lastly, a riff on the foundational Mexican dish elote (grilled street corn), el Roy’s Mexican Corn Pudding celebrates the height of sweet corn season with roasted local corn, charred poblano, cotija cheese, chive and chipotle crema.
+ SPIRITS & COCKTAILS |el Roy’s pays respect to the exalted Mexican spirits tequila and mezcal with an extensive, handpicked collection of 90+ specialty options. Guests can sip the artisanal lineup of premium agave-based spirits neat, or sample selections within special flights of three or four. Mirroring the restaurant’s dedication to the Latin American liquor is an assortment of margaritas, such as the Melonrita crafted with Corazon Blanco, fresh watermelon, lime juice and agave alongside El Jefe prepared with Clase Azul Silver, Grand Marnier, fresh lime and orange juice. Rounding out the beverage program, el Roy’s offers sangria, wine, draft and bottle beer, seasonal vodka infusions, and an array of craft cocktails including the Smokey Paloma (mezcal, grapefruit juice, agave, fresh lime juice, soda) and Cucumber Cilantro Gimlet (Old Harbor Gin, fresh lime juice, agave).
+ DESIGN | el Roy’s boasts one of the most sought-after bayfront panoramas of San Diego’s downtown skyline and is located merely steps away from the beach and ferry pier at the Coronado Ferry Landing. The restaurant’s design showcases a fresh, bright color palette accompanied by a one-of-a-kind Calavera (skull) mural from local artist Aleck Christian (of Beautiful San Diego, a volunteer-based organization of local artists). 10-foot tall floor-to-ceiling windows offer unobstructed bay views from within el Roy’s 3,000 square-foot dining room. Alongside a variety of traditional tables and high-tops, the airy indoor space showcases an extensive bar and communal arrangement for guests seeking a more social atmosphere. Outside, a 1,200 square-foot elevated sundeck currently provides seating for 70 guests.
+ TRANSPORTATION | el Roy’s location on the San Diego Bay allows for fun ways to explore the route by water. The Coronado Ferry runs regularly to the Coronado Ferry Landing from the Broadway Pier and the Convention Center in downtown. Guests may purchase tickets at any departure location and may even bring aboard a bicycle free of charge. The 15-minute ride one way provides gorgeous views of the downtown skyline and the iconic Coronado Bridge. San Diego Water Taxi also offers on-call transportation services in the San Diego Bay. For those looking to travel by car, Coronado Ferry Landing provides free and ample parking for all visitors.
MENUS + HOURS OF OPERATION
Lunch & Dinner | menu here
Lunch, Weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dinner, Daily, 4 p.m. to close
Brunch | menu here
Weekends, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Happy Hour | menu here
Daily, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
el Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen is located at 1201 1st Street #115, Coronado, CA 92118. Reservations for el Roy’s are available via the restaurant’s website or OpenTable. El Roy’s is also conducive for private dining and group events. Guests may visit www.elRoysSD.com, follow @elroyssd on Facebook and Instagram, or call el Roy’s at 619.537.0195 for more information.