My boyfriend and I wanted to go out for a nice dinner. I like trying new places and he suggested we just drive around until we see something we like. He’s from a small town and didn’t really get that I need some sort of direction before heading out in San Diego. So I narrowed it down to Del Mar. I used to live in Del Mar and had tried most of the restaurants downtown but there were still a couple I hadn’t been to. We drove down Camino Del Mar and I saw Zel’s, this quaint, corner restaurant with outdoor seating (always a plus) that I have been curious about for quite some time. We decided we’d look at the menu and then we would decide.
The menu was printed on a legal sized sheet of card stock. It seemed to be one of those menus that changes frequently according to the season and availability of local produce and mentioned supporting sustainable meats and fish. After a quick look at the menu, we were sold.
The scene was beautiful. We sat in a Spanish style outdoor patio with a fireplace that was lit as soon as it got a bit chilly. There were candles on the table and we were served cucumber and lemon infused water, which only added to the ambiance.
We shared the “Trust the Chef Surprise Platter” as an appetizer. That day, it consisted of: half a braised artichoke with sauteed mushrooms and onions filling the place where the heart used to be, a couple slices of what the waiter simply described as charcuterie (it was some sort of sausage similar to chorizo), arugula with seared ahi and a light, creamy mustard sauce, and two fritters (serrano ham and roasted chicken with a buttermilk sauce, breaded and fried with a slow cooked ragu sauce on top. That was just the appetizer.
I ordered the Locally Grown Vegetable Tasting. On that particular day it consisted of hummus on the bottom of the plate, topped with roasted eggplant, wilted greens, a roasted carrot, grilled shallots with a red pepper dip on the side. My boyfriend had the special that night, a center cut sirloin with gorgonzola cheese along with fried polenta and broccolini. We split a bottle of wine. It was a Cab blend from Alexander Valley Vineyards and it was great. Both entrees were wonderful. Perfectly portioned. The service was exceptional and the view breathtaking. July in southern California is (usually) unbeatable.
I highly recommend this restaurant. There happy hour seemed great too. Tuesday – Sunday 5:00-6:30 pm. They have a deal that is $10 for a burger and a beer during happy hour, among others. The people sitting next to us had the burgers and they looked very appetizing. The happy hour menu is quite affordable. However, the meal we enjoyed was medium priced, but very reasonable for what we ordered and the overall experience. We spent a good two hours and were treated very well and not rushed out after we had finished and paid, we were able to stay and continue our conversation by the fireplace. Great service!