The long wait is finally over, as this weekend Blue Bridge Hospitality will open the doors to its new restaurant, The Islander, at 1015 Orange Ave. This is the place to be if you are in the mood for delicious food or a creative drink concoction, with everything from on-tap beer offerings to fiery volcano drinks and the gallon-sized Molokai Party Mule designed to share.
It’s been an arduous journey for David Spatafore, who conceived the new concept after he decided to close Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge. Mix in the pandemic, with all the delays and turmoil it created, and he looked like a proud papa at the recent soft opening for friends and family that we attended. Spatafore was involved in all aspects of the restaurant, from fiber-glassing the bamboo beer taps in his garage, installing the rattan ceiling, to adding the bamboo to the bar front, and so many other details. He even collected the numerous surfboards that adorn the ceiling.
Many may remember the iconic gold monkey from West Pac Noodle Bar days, and it’s back as the TJ surf monkey, watching over the impressive new 21-seat bar. Ten televisions are strategically placed, to accommodate every viewer’s taste, throughout the 120-seat restaurant. With a love of travel and good food, Spatafore created a menu to reflect an array of Pacific Ocean food, from surf hubs like Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and of course Southern California.
We enjoyed great service and explored the offerings finding Pupus to start, including sampling the Island Fries with volcano ketchup, which had a nice kick. A few other starters include the Black Sands Hummus with veggies and taro root chips, Lava Flow Nachos, and Kalua Pork sliders. The Pupu Platter is an easy way to sample the sticky ribs, chicken satay skewers, Black Sands Hummus, the much-loved West Pac Egg Rolls, and spicy cucumber salad.
The menu continues with four Ceviches, from Baja Style Fish to Tahitian, or taste all four with the Island Ceviche Sampler. Da Sweet Greens features five themed salads, from Rincon Beet and Citrus to Hanalei Hippie, and Todos Santos Tostada. We tried the delicious North Shore grilled shrimp tacos and the grilled fish tacos, which come with flour or corn tortillas, black beans, and chips. They also offer the popular Poke tacos, Achiote Sweet Potato Tacos and Chili Crunch Fried Chicken tacos. The Tasty Waves section offers burgers, a Salt and Pepper Shrimp Roll, the Island Fish Sandwich, which was scrumptious, and more. We are happy to report that the OG Leroy’s burger is on the menu and better than ever. Entrees include grilled skirt steak, market fresh fish, coconut seafood curry, fish and chips, and pineapple fried rice ~ which looked amazing served up in a fresh pineapple.
Be sure and save room for dessert! Options include the tropical Da Moon pie, the Bonfire S’mores Cookie (which we thoroughly enjoyed and scarfed down), Ube cheesecake, or Hula Bula pie, highlighting MooTime Macadamia Nut Cream, Oreo Crust and ooey, gooey fudge. We can’t wait to return and try more of the tasty dishes, while soaking up the island ambiance.
For early risers, The Islander also features a Dawn Patrol window, open seven days from 7 am to 11 am, serving coffee and espresso drinks like Ube lattes and Mexican mochas, featuring local and award-winning Bird Rock coffee. Breakfast sandwiches, a double-fisted breakfast burrito, assorted flavored beach buns, and more will be available to savor. Another highlight will be the weekend brunch from 9 am to 3 pm, on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The Islander will be open daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 am to last call. The Islander welcomes walk-ins, with no reservations needed.
It’s hard to miss the prominent, welcoming bar, which was handcrafted out of maple and mahogany by a wood craftsman in Barrio Logan. Belly up to the bar for an array of Beach Buzz drinks, with an extensive menu including exotic creations with names like Staycation, Navy Jetpilot, Lava Flow, Bikini Martini, Booty on the Beach, Spicy Margaritas, Mai Tais (which got rave reviews from our table), and other South of the Border offerings. The real fun is in the group sips, which are concocted for sharing. The gallon Molokai Party Mule is designed for four, filled with Ocean Vodka, Fever Tree Ginger Beer, mint, and pineapple. The Fiery Scorpion Bowl features light and dark rum, vodka, pineapple and lemon juice and orange. There is a vast array of on tap-beer offerings as well as champagne and wines. Flavored lemonades like Maui Wowie Lemonade and Papeete Punch, which I found refreshing, are great non-alcoholic options.
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A long-time resident and community supporter, Spatafore aptly named The Islander in part as a nod to his CHS years, where he met his wife Jenni, and where his three kids, Vinny, Gianna, and Tony graduated from. He is the principal of Blue Bridge Hospitality, which runs a diverse collection of Coronado eateries including Michelin bib-rated Little Frenchie, Stake Chophouse & Bar, Village Pizzeria, Village Pizzeria Bayside, MooTime Creamery, and Liberty Public Market in Pt. Loma.
1015 Orange Avenue • Coronado