Evans Mission Bay Magazine Issue 2 - Page 14

eat Drugstore Hamburger at A.R. Valentien The Secret’s Out When dining at these San Diego eateries, some of the best dishes are reserved for those with inside information. BY ALINA OROZCO Secret menu items are no longer limited to fast food chains like In-N-Out, where in-the-know customers order “animal style” burgers or fries, opt for a protein-style burger wrapped in lettuce instead of buns, or request a Neapolitan shake. In fact, fine-dining eateries are now regularly offering off-menu specials and classified concoctions. Why all the secrecy? The answer is simple: It’s fun. Uncovering these culinary treasures is like unlocking the door to a clandestine club. And the hidden dishes often prove to be some of the best tasting, as well. To feel less like a tourist and more like a local, try ordering off the menu—no secret handshake required. Read on for a guide to delectable, hush-hush dishes around town. 14 CALI TACO PUESTO This downtown eatery is anything but a typ- ical taqueria: Innovative interiors and from- scratch menu options have made Puesto a local favorite. Some say it has even redefined Mexican cuisine in San Diego. Look like a regular by ordering the Cali Taco. Here, a typical California burrito gets a gourmet twist with filet mignon wrapped in crispy melted cheese, topped with guacamole, fried potato strips, red tomatillo, jalapeno and crema. (789 W. Harbor Dr.; 619-233-8880; eatpuesto.com) PASTRAMI FRIES RARE FORM In East Village, at a modern delicatessen called Rare Form, the secret pastrami fries IN-N-HAUTE BURGER JUNIPER & IVY You’ll likely recognize chef Richard Blais’ name from Bravo’s “Top Chef,” but you’ll remember Juniper & Ivy for its sleek space and globally inspired menu. As a nod to the West Coast’s favorite, not-so-secret menu options at In-N-Out Burger, this hot spot offers its own take on the fast food eatery’s famous “animal-style” patties: meat cooked with mustard and topped with pickles, grilled onions and extra Thousand Island-type spread in addition to the typical lettuce and tomato. The In-N-Haute burger, which weighs in at 7 ounces, is made from ground short rib, brisket and chuck mixed with dry-aged beef fat. The patty and onions are cooked with mustard and served with an “animal-style” sauce, as well as bread and butter pickles on a brioche bun, and a side of thrice-cooked fries. (2228 Ketner Blvd.; 619-269-9036; juniperandivy.com) Pastrami fries at Rare Form are layered with thick-cut house-cured pas- trami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and topped with a special sauce. Created by the restau- rant’s workers for their own indulgent snack, this insider secret was eventually shared with special guests and passed along to other con- noisseurs, quickly becoming a favorite among those lucky enough to try the dish. The spe- cial fries are sometimes highlighted on social media, but remain off the menu. (793 J St.; 619-255-6507; godblessrareform.com)