The team behind super successful Juniper & Ivy in Little Italy opened The Crack Shack right next door in November, 2015. These two popular eateries are typical siblings, Juniper & Ivy has mastered fine dining like any good parent-pleasing first child, while The Crack Shack, the proverbial younger sibling, is all about chilling and relaxing. But don’t worry, the laid-back newcomer has already amassed an explosive following. The restaurant with an open-air feel, has a delectable menu created by Chef Richard Blais and his main man in the kitchen, James Beard Award-winning Chef Jon Sloan. Owner Mike Rosen brings it all together.
This team set out to create magic with the Crack Shack, and they did not disappoint, which is why you’ll find a line along Kettner Boulevard on the weekends. The Crack Shack is all about locally grown ingredients in “world” dishes, and a fried chicken recipe to die for. When you’re looking for fast food that tastes more like fine dining, look no further than the Crack Shack.
Crack Shack Ambiance
The vibe at the Crack Shack is as hip as their menu. It is an outdoor restaurant, and while it’s mostly covered, you’ll still enjoy plenty of San Diego sunshine and cool starry nights. Their communal tables allow you to get to know your fellow diners. With wood beam benches and sleek charcoal tables, it feels very adult summer camp. If you prefer to crack up with just your crew, there are plenty of smaller tables to choose from too.
You can get your competitive juices flowing with your group or challenge a fellow shack goer to a game of bocce ball. Yes, there is a full court at the restaurant. If you’re more of a spectator, take a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs to cheer on your team. The full bar, sauce station, and self-serve soda machine reach the hearts of every patron from families to groups of young adults to couples. There is an eclectic mix at this funky hot spot on any given day or night.
Crack Shack Food
Richard Blais and Mike Rosen are also the dynamic duo behind the Crack Shack menu, an upscale take on fast food eats. With Blais, the winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars, and Rosen, an accomplished investment professional pursuing a life-long dream, you can have high expectations for chicken and eggs! They took these two simple staples and found a multitude of ways to create mouth-watering dishes. These powerhouse professionals have made a menu so intriguing that the Crack Shack is already a San Diego hot spot. Their exploration into the fast and casual dining genre came about, as Blais put it, because “my partner, Mike Rosen loves chicken, I love eggs.”
At the casual eatery, you order off one of three simple menu boards featuring sandwiches, fried chicken, or other cluck, and then seat yourself. Here you get chicken and eggs all day, every day. Choose fried or grilled chicken, schmaltz fried fries, or chicken fried farro (a twist on dirty fried rice), custom-baked bread, and an array of house-made sauces. The sauces alone will have you drooling with Chimichurri, Baja Hot Sauce, Kimchi BBQ, Curry Mustard, Buttermilk Ranch, or Cracksup selections to perfectly compliment any dish.
Start your morning with a Señor Croque – crispy chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and miso-maple butter, on brioche bread. You’ll never have to wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg; just chow down. Pair your fried or grilled sandwich with a yummy slaw. The Border Slaw with jicama, papaya, mango, coconut, chili, and lime is like nothing you’ve had. Keep it healthy with an Anti-Salad Power Bowl – smoked chicken, soft boiled egg, heritage grains, and chato’s salsa. At The Crack Shack you can be very good or super bad, nutritionally speaking. If you’re in the mood to be bad, go for their Mexican Poutine with schmaltz fries, pollo asado, and jalapeño Cheese Wiz.
Crack Shack Details
The Crack Shack does not have a parking lot, so if you don’t luck out on finding street parking, you’ll have to park in a nearby paid lot. There is no wait staff; you order and seat yourself. Since it’s completely outdoor dining, plan accordingly for the weather. The restaurant is family-friendly, and even offers a Little Cluckers meal, however, the clientele is primarily young adults. The Crack Shack is ADA accessible and offers bike parking and free Wi-Fi. They have both takeout and catering, and TV for you sports enthusiasts. Dogs are welcome.
Crack Shack Neighborhood
The Crack Shack is located in Little Italy, a Downtown San Diego neighborhood. Expect Italian retail shops and restaurants, home design stores, art galleries, and European charm. It is one of the city’s most culturally active neighborhoods hosting frequent festivals and events. Little Italy is within walking distance to Balboa Park to the east and San Diego Harbor to the West.
The Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum are blocks away on the boardwalk between San Diego Bay and North Harbor Drive. Maritime Museum ship tours offer an inside look at life on San Diego vessels, including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship. The USS Midway Museum offers self-guided audio tours on the ship with over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft on deck. Docents are often available to tell their own or others’ stories aboard the USS Midway.
If you plan to stay in the neighborhood, DoubleTree by Hilton is a good choice for families looking for clean, comfortable, kid-friendly accommodations. Urban Boutique Hotel or La Pensione Hotel are two great choices for solo travelers or couples.