By Kelley Carlson
Pull up a chair at Table 926 and experience a taste of California. The setting is casual yet upscale, rustic yet polished. The five-seat bar and the main dining room tables are fashioned from fir; the gleaming floor is also composed of wood. Nature-inspired paintings by Jarod Farver rest against one brick wall; the other wall contains a display filled with horizontal bottles of vintages from around the world.
Large windows — which permit views of the child-friendly, 10-seat outdoor patio — allow for natural light to filter through, and at night, the ceiling’s small amber lights fill in.
Contemporary jazz music adds to the ambience. Chalkboards that list the day’s specials and upcoming events sandwich a window that provides a peek into the semi-open kitchen.
“It’s important to be able to see the guests and have a relationship,” co-owner and Executive Chef Matt Richman said.
Table 926 is only open during dinner hours, but kicks things off with a happy hour most evenings. Discounts are offered on certain labels of wine and beer, and bites, such as Pork Cheek Carnitas Tacos and the Cheese Plate.
Much of the dinner and dessert menus is seasonal, driven by ingredient availability at area farms. One of Richman’s go-to spots for produce is Suzie’s Farm, near the Tijuana Estuary. He also sources seafood from a local fishmonger who is based in Mexican waters, and only purchases sustainable species.
For meal starters, offerings include Vine Ripened Tomato Gazpacho with blue crab, avocado, micro greens and extra-virgin olive oil — a soup that is fresh and has a hint of spiciness; and Grilled Local Peaches with mache (a salad green with small, dark leaves), spiced walnuts in maple syrup, burrata and a white cava (Spanish sparkling wine) vinaigrette.
Among the entrees are tender Glazed Pork Cheeks with guajillo-tamarind glaze and braised greens on top of polenta; and a Bistro Hamburger with manchego cheese, zinfandel-honey braised onions and house-made pickles on a brioche bun with a side of frites.
The three-item children’s menu features a 4-ounce burger with manchego cheese on a brioche bun that is served with fries; chicken breast and fries; and penne pasta in butter and Parmesan.
One of the dessert staples is the Caramelized Banana Split with scoops of Nutella, vanilla and raspberry ice cream. Do-it-yourself toppings of cherries, whipped cream, pistachios, chocolate sauce and a pineapple-caramel sauce are provided on a caddy.
A prix-fixe menu is available Sundays, which allows the guest to select one appetizer, entree and dessert for $33. Every six to eight weeks, a $49 five-course beer dinner is held; wine dinners will eventually be planned, according to Richman.
Patrons wear everything from jeans and T-shirts to suits. The crowd tends to be a little older earlier in the evening, and there are also families. But after 8 p.m., there are more people under the age of 40, Richman noted.
He recommends requesting a seat in the dining room’s back row to watch Table 926 in action.
“We’re really open-minded and humble, and try to stay as unpretentious as possible,” Richman said.
As for parking, there are seven spots in the lot in front of the restaurant that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis after 5 p.m. Otherwise, there are places to park on nearby avenues.
Address: 926 Turquoise St., Pacific Beach
The Vibe: Upscale casual, intimate
Signature Dishes: Glazed Pork Cheeks, Bistro Hamburger
Open Since: 2011
Patio Seating: Yes
Take Out: Yes
Happy Hour: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
Hours: 5 p.m. to close Tuesday-Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to close 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: Table 926’s Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Crab.