333 Pacific makes the most of its oceanside views
By Kelley Carlson
It’s not difficult to find 333 Pacific. Named for its location — at 333 N. Pacific St., just across from the Oceanside Pier entrance — the restaurant is a standout in North County for its views, vodkas and viands. Part of the Cohn Restaurant Group, 333 offers fine dining that draws everyone, from couples on romantic outings to friends seeking an evening of fun.
“The guest experience is our No. 1 goal,” Executive Chef Brian Hyre said.
As patrons enter through the glass double doors, they find themselves in the dimly lit Vodka Lounge, which is often vibrant with activity due to the daily happy hours and specials, and upbeat music.
The casually dressed guests gather around the backlit community tables (which cast a blue glow) and socialize. Some of the visitors focus on the vodka selection, and with 115 varieties, there’s always something new to try. Others take advantage of the themed specials (from Sushi Sundays to 3-Way Thursdays) featuring deals on wines, brews and spirits, often paired with hors d’oeuvres and appetizers. The lounge is open until one hour after dinner service ends.
While the lounge is trendy, the dining room presents more of an upscale casual atmosphere. Candles flicker on tables draped in white cloth, and mirrors along the wall reflect the glow. Here, diners settle in for some serious meals, from the $33 three-course prime rib dinner on Primetime Sundays, to a three-course menu created specially by Hyre on Mondays and Tuesdays.
If dining space is needed for overflow, or for parties or meetings, patrons are ushered into the Ocean Wine Room, containing rows upon rows of vintages along the walls and enough seating for 36 guests; or the Pacific Board Room, with a long boardroom table that can accommodate up to 16 people.
But it’s the intimate Ocean View Terrace that has the most coveted spots, and where Hyre recommends sitting. The focus is on the landscape — the waves and the surfers attempting to ride them, and the visitors strolling along the wooden pier. The windows are often open, allowing the ocean breeze to pass through.
Whether patrons are in the lounge, dining room or terrace, the full menu is available to them, ranging from sizable steaks to fresh seafood. The most popular item happens to be one of the “Beginnings,” the Sweet Chili Calamari, which is fried until crispy and tossed with a sweet-and-spicy sauce.
People also gravitate toward raw bar and sushi offerings such as Pacific Oysters in a half shell, and the Steak & Sea Roll, a savory combination of tempura shrimp, crab salad, asparagus, avocado, filet mignon, spicy mayo and basil mint chimichurri.
Also among the seafood specialties is the spicy, thinly-sliced Togarashi Seared Ahi that’s fanned around sticky rice, with miso beurre blanc swirled with hoisin-soy glaze and a side of mushrooms and bok choy.
33 also caters to meat lovers, who can select from different cuts of steaks. Hyre’s personal favorite is the 16-ounce New York Steak, but there are 8- and 12-ounce filets, as well. And the 333 Filet Trio is a trifecta of temptations, each steak with a different topping: Peppercorn Demi, Blue Cheese Crust and Oscar-style (crab meat, asparagus and béarnaise sauce).
The restaurant’s version of a surf-and-turf dish is the Mixed Grill for 2: twin lobster tails and a 25-ounce bone-in rib-eye to share, with sides of mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans. While it’s primarily a seafood and steakhouse, 333 makes sure to include entree salads. One of the newest menu items is the Farro & Winter Fruits Salad, a colorful medley of apples, dates, green papaya, carrots, celery, fennel and candied pecans, tossed with a Maui onion vinaigrette.
And for a “sweet ending,” there are confections ranging from Pumpkin Cheesecake with pumpkin caramel, candied pecans and cinnamon whipped cream, to the Chocolate Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with salted caramel, pecan and graham Italian cake truffles.
During lunch (served Friday through Sunday) the establishment focuses on sandwiches, burgers, salads and signature dishes that include a Blackened Chicken, Andouille Sausage & Shrimp Mac & Cheese.
Children under 12 are treated to combinations that begin with a small plate of fruit, continue with the choice of an entree (4-ounce petite filet, grilled chicken or pasta), and finish with ice cream.
Address: 333 N. Pacific St., Oceanside
The Vibe: Upscale Casual, Lively, Intimate
Signature Dishes: Mixed Grill for 2, Togarashi Seared Ahi, Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Scallops, Sweet Chili Calamari
Open Since: 2008
Hours: 4 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to close Friday through Sunday
Phone: (760) 433-3333
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3-7 p.m. Friday-Sunday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Togarashi Seared Ahi
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