Petco Park’s Club 19 has the bases loaded!
Address: Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd., San Diego (Requires Petco Park admission)
Phone: (619) 795-5000 (Petco Park)
The Vibe: Relaxed, upscale casual, intimate
Signature Dish: Lollipop Chicken
Open Since: 2004
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: No
Hours: Open 1.5 hours prior to game time until one hour after the game
By Kelley Carlson
Steps away from the baseball diamond in Petco Park is a hidden gem of a restaurant that is dedicated to one of the Padres’ legendary players. Club 19, which pays homage to Tony “Mr. Padre” Gwynn, is “off the beaten path,” as described by the park’s executive chef, Will Todd. It’s between sections 213 and 215 on the Toyota Terrace, identified by a white neon sign and silhouettes of ball players on the windows.
Inside is a cozy and intimate lounge — a relaxed way to enjoy the game, which is shown on monitors around the restaurant. Some patrons perch on stools at the glowing blue bar; others settle onto couches or in booths around the dining room. There are also several tables on the open-air terrace, which provides views of downtown San Diego.
Many guests take the time to gaze at the Gwynn memorabilia around the room, from awards and jerseys to photos and inspirational quotes. Gwynn, whose jersey No. 19 was retired by the San Diego Padres in 2004, spent his entire 20-year career with the team and won eight batting titles, tied for the second-most in Major League Baseball history. He is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a 15-time All-Star.
While energizing music and crowd cheers from the stadium can be overheard during a game, the restaurant itself is relatively quiet and relaxed, yet still casual. “It’s never too rowdy,” Todd said.
It’s often family-oriented during the day, he noted; the bar crowd tends to come in around the fifth inning to take advantage of special $5 snacks.
As for the food, it’s not your typical ballpark fare. Mainly, it consists of small American-style plates, and incorporates produce grown in the bullpen’s garden.
The signature dish is the Lollipop Chicken (wings covered in classic spicy buffalo and green chile sauces) with a side of carrot and celery slaw combined with bleu cheese, a variation on the standard vegetables sticks. Other offerings include the Baja-style ceviche, a combination of shrimp, mahi mahi, avocado, cilantro and lime that has a slight kick to it; the Sirloin Tips with potatoes, covered in a crimini mushroom demi sauce, caramelized onions and arugula; and, of course, Tony’s Tenders with a side of mac and cheese, created from a recipe by Gwynn’s wife, Alicia.
Dishes can be paired with a variety of specialty cocktails, wines, beers and soft drinks.
The “Lil’ Sluggers” menu features hand-breaded chicken tenders with ranch dipping sauce and macaroni & cheese in a smoked cheddar sauce and bread crumbs, an organic PB&J sandwich with crusts removed (of course) and Sirloin Tips with potatoes and barbecue sauce. Each is served with grapes and apple juice.
During idyllic weather, Todd recommends sitting on the terrace and starting with marinated olives and shrimp cocktail in a chili garlic sauce. For the main selection, order the Bases Loaded Burger, an 8-ounce, smoked cheddar-stuffed patty with bacon and sauteed mushrooms.
Food is served through the seventh inning during weekdays and the end of the game on weekends; the bar is open until an hour after the game ends.
Reservations are not needed at Club 19, guests are seated on a first-come, first served basis. Club 19 is accessible when there are fewer than 30,000 people at a game. However, patrons need a Toyota Terrace ticket when the crowd is larger.
On The Menu Recipe
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This week: Club 19’s Bullpen Strikeout Sauce
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