Bistro 39 treats travelers and locals to its SoCal flavors

By Kelley Carlson

As a hotel-based restaurant with a strong local following, Bistro 39 is a melting pot of travelers and area residents. Located inside the Hilton Garden Inn Del Mar, the eatery is a logical choice for those visiting from out of town — a place to relax after a long journey, where they can feast on classic dishes with a California twist in a cozy setting.

Yet Bistro 39 also has a loyal, local following, according to Food & Beverage Director Bill Songer. It’s largely known for its daily, seven-hour-long happy hour and people love to stop by and unwind after work, he said. “(We offer) the best of both worlds,” Songer said.

During happy hour, there are discounts on beers (local, domestic and imported) and house wines. And there are also appetizers on a menu that’s different from what people might expect, Songer said. “We pleasantly surprise people,” he added.

Tops on Songer’s recommendation list are Mahi Tacos with cabbage, jalapeño cream and mango salsa; and Buffalo Egg Rolls with grilled chicken and blue cheese.

Other highlights of the bar/appetizer menu include Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas, a trio of small, crispy tortillas with piles of raw, citrus-tinged seafood garnished with cilantro and avocado; and Chef Jose’s Chipotle Cheese, a spicy melted sauce created by Chef Jose Fraire that’s accompanied by colorful tortilla chips.

Guests who opt for a full, sit-down dinner can select from a variety of entrees. Among them are the Short Rib Sandwich on focaccia with pesto, Vermont cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and arugula; Lamb Chop covered with a pomegranate reduction, resting on a bed of rosemary couscous and steamed broccoli; Parmesan Chicken Bruschetta, featuring chicken breast coated with parmesan cheese and enhanced with roasted tomato bruschetta; and the Mobley Burger, a thick patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese that’s sandwiched in a pretzel bun.

Some items can be prepared gluten-free, such as tortillas, pasta and pizzas.

There is also a dinner special, whether it has a holiday theme or is a fresh daily offering. Recent examples include the Corned Beef and Cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.

As for desserts, one that is often requested is the Deep-Fried Brownie Bites — Ghirardelli fudge morsels that can be dipped in raspberry, white chocolate, caramel and dark chocolate sauces. Another is Chef Jose’s Cheesecake that is made from scratch, topped with pineapple and strawberries. “It’s (the cheesecake) to die for,” Songer said.

Oenophiles may take interest in Bistro 39’s occasional wine dinners and can join the e-mail list on the website to receive information.

While the restaurant is not open for lunch, it does offer an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $12.95, which includes juice, coffee, fruit, pastries, cereal and other continental breakfast-type items. Hot food such as French toast, pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon are all made-to-order and the cooks can prepare other items, such as eggs benedict and chilaquiles, upon request.

Bistro 39

■ 3939 Ocean Bluff Ave., Carmel Valley

■ (858) 720-9500 ■

The Vibe: Casual, cozy

Signature Dishes: Herb Crusted Halibut, Cuban Sandwich, Pesto Chicken Flatbread

Open Since: 2008

Take Out: Yes

Reservations: Yes

Patio Seating: Yes

Happy Hour: 3-10 p.m. daily



6-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday, 7-10:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday;


5-9 p.m. daily (fall through spring), 5-10 p.m. daily (summer)

Get The Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured

‘On The Menu’ restaurant. This week’s recipe: Bistro 39’s Parmesan Chicken Bruschetta