Saltbox Restaurant & Bar is Hotel Palomar’s trendy gastro-lounge on 5th Avenue a block from the Gaslamp Quarter. The restaurant got its name from the saltbox style homes of the neighborhood’s early days where the street-facing front was one-story and the back was two stories, exempting the home from higher property taxes. Saltbox is under the expert culinary care of San Diego Chef Jerimiah Bryant, who created the restaurant’s New American comfort food menu with a grown-up twist. Saltbox is fairly new to the San Diego restaurant scene, having only been established in 2011, but it has already garnered the attention of NBC San Diego, the San Diego Reader, LA Times, Newport Beach Magazine, and Guys Bite Out among others.
Brick walls, dark wood floors, geometrically patterned tiled pillars, and an open ceiling set the contemporary urban ambiance for Saltbox Restaurant & Bar. The trendy restaurant made the move to casual gastro-lounge in 2013 to establish itself as a neighborhood hangout. A long dark wood bar is lined with deep red leather barstools; the mirrored back wall reflects light from a modern candelabra hanging over the bar. The opposite wall, also mirrored, has dark wood shelves lined with candles above a row of communal tables with comfy blue-grey leather barstools. Diners can also eat al fresco on the restaurant’s streetside patio.
Chef Jeremiah Bryant, a classically-trained graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, has been feeding San Diegans for 13 years. His seasonal menus feature comfort food small plates with simple, fresh ingredients. Guests rave about beef cheek tacos, goat cheese ravioli, and lobster corn dogs. The house burger – beef or turkey – is a brisket-chuck burger served with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, grain mustard aioli, and pickles on brioche and is a neighborhood favorite. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, the Hoisin barbecue chicken flatbread is crazy-good with scallions, pickled carrots, cashews, leeks, cilantro, and fried basil.
For dinner, guests have praised the coffee-rubbed lamb rack with cassoulet, charred spring onion, and blood orange gastrique. Another tasty favorite is the brined and roasted “Mary’s” half-chicken with quinoa Tabouleh and tomato coulis. No matter what you choose for your main event, save room for dessert at Saltbox with mouth-watering sweets like chocolate cherry cheesecake, grilled banana split, or apricot-fig strudel.
Mixologist, Jen Queen crafts unique drinks with the same philosophy as the culinary team – simple and fresh ingredients make the best craft cocktails. A fun and tasty summer favorite is Mezcalifornication with organic artisanal Vida Mezcal, yuzu – an East Asian citrus, simple syrup, and aperol – an apertif made with infusions of bitter orange and other herbs.
Check out the interesting selection of brews too like Delirium Tremens, a Belgium Strong Pale Ale, or Maui Coconut Porter, an American Porter-style beer brewed in Hawaii. Keep it West Coast with San Francisco’s Anchor Steam amber beer, or San Diego’s Mission Blonde. Daily Happy Hour features yummy munchies like Margherita flatbread with burrata, heirloom tomato, basil, and olive oil. Hand-cut fries with fresh herbs served with chipotle ketchup are also a hit, and of course their daily tacos.
Saltbox is open daily from early morning to late night with no closures between lunch and dinner service during the day. Like its parent, the Palomar Hotel, it is not particularly kid-friendly. The restaurant takes reservations and offers take-out, but doesn’t do delivery. There is bike parking available if you happened to check one out from the Palomar Hotel. If you arrive by car, there is valet parking; never fear – the restaurant validates parking – a real bonus where Downtown parking is always at a premium. Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant. The Saltbox culinary team provides catering for events up to 350 people.
Saltbox Restaurant & Bar is the signature restaurant of Palomar Hotel, which is right next door. The Asian-inspired boutique-style hotel is a luxurious oasis of Zen in an exciting neighborhood. On the other side of the hotel is Jurlique, a full-service spa offering luxury services; it’s also a part of Palomar Hotel. One of the best Downtown music venues is three doors down from Saltbox at San Diego’s House of Blues. The venue has great acoustics and a steady mix of concert artists year-round. If you’re in the neighborhood on Sundays, the gospel brunch is a favorite with locals.
With Saltbox Restaurant conveniently located just north of the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s hip and happening neighborhood is a quick stroll away after breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The historic Gaslamp Quarter and next door neighbor East Village combine to create the entertainment, arts, and cultural epicenter of Downtown. Do a little shopping along the Gaslamp’s 5th Avenue, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park in East Village. Explore Downtown’s historic architecture in the Gaslamp Quarter and Core-Columbia financial district. Check out Seaport Village and the San Diego Convention Center across North Harbor Drive in the Marina District.