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In an area packed with restaurants competing for hungry customers, Bare Back Grill’s general manager Kyle Anderson has a theory about what sets his restaurant apart from others. “It is our food,” he said. “We pride ourselves on having the best food here in PB by offering a variety of fresh-made daily items that hit the spot every time you visit.”
Bare Back Grill opened at 4640 Mission Blvd. 14 years ago, which proves it has staying power. The logo is a kiwi bird, and for good reason. The kiwi is the native bird of New Zealand, which is where Anderson and his buddies discovered a quaint little burger place on the island of Queenstown called Fergburger.
Inspired by the way they made their burgers from organically raised beef — and sourced local farmers and cheese artisans for ingredients — the buddies were hooked. They brought their version of Fergburger back home and created NZ Eats. Bare Back Grill is one of five restaurants under that umbrella. The others include Raglan Public House in Ocean Beach, Queenstown Public House in Little Italy, Dunedin in North Park and Queenstown Bistro in the UTC mall.
The restaurant prides itself on cooking with only 100 percent organic, grass-fed beef just like the New Zealand place, and every ingredient used is locally sourced, just like the New Zealand place.
“The Kiwilango Burger is my favorite,” Anderson told PB Monthly, “with blue cheese, fresh jalapeño, tortilla chips on the burger and our housemade garlic aioli and sweet tomato chutney. Other local favorites include our Bare Lil Lamb burger, Blazin’ Ahi Tuna Sandwich, and our Fish ‘n’ Chips plate.”
Beers at the restaurant change daily, with a healthy craft line-up, he said. Bare Back Grill offers a happy hour with drinks and eats for $6 each. The Saturday and Sunday brunch, aka “Wake and Bake,” features a dish called the Hangover Cure, made of fried chicken, two eggs, biscuits, tots and gravy. Whoa.
Anderson said he was well-primed for a career as a restaurateur from his childhood days. He grew up in a small town in northeastern Wisconsin called Door County, which was tourist-driven and restaurant-abundant.
“We didn’t have fast food within 30 miles of us,” he explained. “So everything was locally owned restaurants, pubs and supper clubs. Growing up, you either worked in the restaurants or for a family business. I chose restaurants. At 14, I started busing tables and washing dishes. I also spent time scooping ice cream at a local shop. I started cooking around age 16 and then serving and bartending at 18.”
By the way, the grill’s favorite team is the All Blacks. Heard of them? Maybe not, but they are New Zealand’s national rugby team. Anderson claims: “They are always one of the best teams in the world — year in and year out!” (But you’d have to check the stats on that one.)
— Bare Back Grill, 4640 Mission Blvd., San Diego, is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. (858) 274-7117. barebackgrill.com