The airport-based PGA Tour Grill concept seems to be taking off. Since May 9, the new golf-themed restaurant chain (a partnership between HMSHost and the PGA Tour) has opened in three cities, with several more planned through 2015.
The flagship site is in a spacious corner just past the security checkpoint of Terminal 2 West at San Diego International Airport. It’s modeled after a golf clubhouse with dark woods, soft seating and scenic murals of Torrey Pines Golf Course. Memorabilia is everywhere, including a replica of the surfboard presented to the Farmers Insurance Open winner, and guests can watch golf TV programming from any vantage point in the restaurant. Other perks include free WiFi and ample space between seats to allow for luggage.
“We have a large number of conveniences that travelers want,” said Scott Welding, director of brands and restaurant support for HMSHost.
That also includes cuisine that’s beyond “typical” for what’s normally offered in airports. PGA Tour Grill’s tagline is “Eat Smarter, Play Harder,” which in terms of food means a number of heart-healthy and gluten-free options. And the quality is something that you would find “streetside” — items made from scratch, which showcase fresh produce and meats that are delivered almost daily.
The day starts early at the restaurant. At the crack of dawn, people are fueling up for their journeys with dishes such as the Whole Wheat Buttermilk Cinnamon Pancakes, accented with lemon zest-scented berry compote and served with warm syrup; Steak & Eggs; and the Egg White TLT (turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato) Sandwich on toasted whole-grain bread. There are juices and coffee, or to spice things up, the “bloody” Hangar One Chipotle Mary.
The lunch/dinner menu is full of vegetarian and protein selections. Among the appetizers are the Hummus Trio & Grilled Vegetable Plate, containing triangles of sea-salted naan to be dipped in spreads of smoked paprika, edamame and a citrusy Greek yogurt; and the Quinoa Stuffed Portobello in a skillet, covered in tomato-fennel sauce and melted burrata.
Entrees range from the Chopped Kale & Romaine Salad, highlighted with tomato, avocado, herbed goat cheese, paprika pumpkin seeds, dried bing cherries and a pomegranate vinaigrette; to the sweet-and-spicy Habañero BBQ Shrimp Flatbread.
“Yet at the end of the day, everyone wants a burger,” said Rick Jauert, senior operations manager for HMSHost.
There are buffalo and ground turkey varieties, along with the California Beef Burger — a 100 percent hormone- and antibiotic-free Brandt beef patty layered with Tillamook cheddar, house-made red onion jam, baby arugula, fried onion crisps and garlic aioli, between slices of artisan brioche. It can be complemented with a bucket of Sweet Potato Fries (or fruit or salad) and a pint of beer. The most popular brew is the Ballast Point Sculpin IPA; the “house” brand is the Carry On Citrus Ale.
There are other libations, as well — golf-themed cocktails are part of the full bar offerings, including the crisp and fruity West Coast Swing with Hangar One Wild Blueberry Vodka, raspberry syrup, lemon juice and Sprite.