Restaurant Review – “Coasterra” on Harbor Island

by on May 25, 2016 · 7 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

Coasterra jc ceviche

Ceviche at Coasterra. (All photos by Judi Curry)

Restaurant Review – “Coasterra”
880 Harbor Island
San Diego, CA 92101

A wonderful friend of mine that has been sick for some time is on the road to recovery and suggested that we go celebrate her wellness by going out to lunch to a restaurant that neither of us had ever been to. She suggested “Coasterra” – the “Modern Mexican” restaurant where the Reuben E. Lee used to be “docked”at the eastern tip of Harbor Island. (Except that this restaurant is firmly planted on the ground; it does not sway with the tide!)

When we pulled into the parking lot the view was breathtaking; and when asked if we wanted to eat inside or outside “ . . . in our heated patio” – we opted for outside, in spite of it drizzling and somewhat overcast.  We never felt cold, and when the drizzle subsided the sun came out and treated us to a gorgeous sight.

We were immediately served salsa and chips, and the only comment both Mary and I made was that the salsa was tasty – not spicy at all. (I, personally, would have liked a little more “kick.”)

Coasterra jc tort soupThe menu for lunch is extensive:  Aperitivos starting at $8 and going up to $16.  It included Ceviche, Calamari, oysters, mussels, etc.

Sopas Y Ensaladas beginning at $8 for either the Tortilla soup or  White Corn soup; and two salads at $9.

Additionally, there are other “specialty salads” (La Vida Sana) that started at $18 for ahi tuna tostada to a seafood ensalada for $24.

The listing of “Especiales De La Casa” started at $17 for a vegetarian huarache or tamale champion to a Filete del Campo – ancho-brown sugar bacon wrapped 8 oz. center cut filet mignon, creamed corn, chorizo spiked potatoes, tomato jam and crispy leeks for $36.

One additional section is Combinaciones Mexicanas, which included enchilada and taco for $18 and a carne asada, quesadilla & tostada combination at $24.

After much discussion, we decided to try their “Coasterra guacamole” for $10.  It was delicious; maybe a wee bit too spicy for some, but we enjoyed the flavor.  The guacamole, coupled with the salsa and chips was a great beginning.

Coasterra jc carneasadaMary ordered the Carne Asada, that came with Mexican rice, Pinto beans, avocado salad and grilled red onions.  The price was $26. It was cooked well; very, very tender.  Everything that came with the meal added to the enjoyment.

I decided to try two items on the menu; the Sopa de Tortilla (tortilla soup) because I enjoy comparing it to the one I make, and it came in a strong second.  Beautifully served in a HUGE bowl decorated with sour cream and fried corn chips.  It truly was very good. The cost was $8.

Many years ago I won a recipe contest put on by the Los Angeles Times and my winning entry was for Ceviche.  When I saw “Ceviche de Mariscos” – Mexican shrimp and bay scallops, pacific seabass, lime, orange zest, roasted tomato salsa and cilantro I knew I had to try it.  It was served in a large “cone shape” and it was also very good.  The cost was $14.

Coasterra jc des menuAlthough there is an extensive bar menu, Mary and I both elected to have lemonade, which also was very good.  Not too sweet; not overly tart; and constantly being refilled by our waiter Abdo.

And let me say something about the service:  It was excellent!  We were seated by one gentleman; answered our questions and those he was not sure about he suggested we ask our server.  Abdo knew everything about the menu we asked him.  He was efficient; friendly; not over-bearing, but checked with us many times during our meal. It is interesting to note that he did not do the actual “serving” but he checked with us after just a few minutes to make sure that everything was ok.

There is also a desert menu but Mary and I were so full that we elected to pass that by.  But we were very tempted; particularly with the coconut flan offer!

As we were leaving I spent a few minutes talking to the new manager – Charles Schmidt –  He was helpful also; the hostess at the desk was delightful; and Mary and I are already making plans to return to “Coasterra” for dinner.

(Just a word about dinner:  The menu is greatly like the lunch menu but instead of 8 appetizers there are 11;  The guacamole is $4 more than at lunch.  There is one additional salad; a new section called “Carnes y Mariscos a La Parrilla”; and one less Especiales and one less Combinaciones.)  Of course the prices are higher at dinner time.

Mr. Schmidt told me that they have a new chef, and there will be some changes to the menu in 3-4 weeks.  If the food is as good as it was today, you can’t go wrong.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

bodysurferbob May 25, 2016 at 11:08 am

juxtaposing this $25-lunch review with the homeless guy and sign was fairly obnoxious, dear editor.


OB Joe May 25, 2016 at 11:09 am

Yeah, but look at the size of that carne asada!


GML May 25, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for the review and the place does sound very good. I’m looking forward to trying it some day. I’m surprised you didn’t mention that it is part of the Cohn restaurant group. This is a good thing from my perspective as I think they almost always offer a high quality of food and service.

What was even more surprising is that you enjoyed this place so much given the high price for “Mexican” style food after reading your review that had some negativity for the prices at Liberty Marketplace. Maybe your expectations were inline for what you would be spending at Coasterra but you were not prepared for Liberty MP? Regardless, thanks again for spending the time (and stomach space) to write this review.


Jan Hall May 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Regarding your choice of soup, Judi, next time try the corn soup as we all, 4 of us, think it is to die for. Love your reviews.


Judi May 26, 2016 at 10:36 am

Thanks Jan. I will try it next time.


PB Resident May 26, 2016 at 1:39 pm

You were lucky the food and service were decent. Both tend to be extremely uneven. When we went there the ceviche and seafood cocktail were so bland you’d think you were in Iowa. The fish was soggy and tasteless and the service marginal. The margaritas were bitter and unpleasant that I was much happier with my second drink, an iced tea.

More than half my friends who have gone there for their generally expensive food have had experiences closer to mine, though some have had positive experiences.

And then, of course, there’s the mandatory valet parking, though that appears to be reduced to evenings only now.

All in all a pricey experience for unbelievably tasteless, unsatisfying food — except for the chips and salsa, which were good.


Susie May 27, 2016 at 6:14 am

I agree w PB resident.
Usually Cohn group has nice niece but food is at best just ok & prices way too high.

Side note: just went to Catamaran for a Lunch & was very dismayed & disappointed.
Mediocre lunch, ugh. Service- C— or a D+.
Salmon patty bland. All very sad too pricy
Left hungry but spent 48.00 w tip.
Yuk double yuk
A+ on scenery tho.


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