Casual ambiance and serious cooking at Rimel’s


Many La Jollans think of Rimel’s Rotisserie first when they’re craving a perfectly prepared chicken dinner, cooked over mesquite wood. But rotisserie cooking is just one aspect of Rimel’s, a popular eatery and take-out spot nestled in the corner of a mini-restaurant row off Torrey Pines Road.

Don’t let the casual ambiance fool you. There’s serious cooking going on in the kitchen. Seafood is one of the stars on the menu - and Rimel’s seafood gives new meaning to the term “fresh fish.” As manager Christopher Creel noted, “We get our fish from our own fishermen. You need a supply of fresh fish, and you need to be able to move them (quickly) if you’re going to have really fresh fish. Sometimes, the fish comes in so fresh, we have to wait to cut it - and we do all our own butchering right here.”

Salmon, ahi tuna, local yellowtail and sea bass are among the fresh-from-the-sea fish available at Rimel’s.

The wood fire is started at 8 a.m. - with only kindling to get it going. No chemicals in this restaurant, and the owner even cuts his own wood. In fact, no detail is too small for Rimel’s to consider in the preparation of its cuisine. That’s why the chicken is all hormone-free and made from grain-fed California chickens, the soups are made fresh daily (and there is no butter or dairy in the soups). The calamari steak is breaded, but there’s no butter there either. The crispness doesn’t come from frying.

Healthy vegetables are an important part of the menu, and you can request pure vegetarian dishes and make reasonable changes to all menu items. But just about everything Rimel’s cooks up is healthy and delicious.

You can enjoy a meal at Rimel’s for lunch or dinner - and the prices are surprisingly reasonable. A four-ounce cut with two sides cost $12.95 for lunch. The eight-ounce dinner size sells for $22.95, and of course Rimel’s will cook it to order, any way you like.

Among the many special sides are wok-seared veggies, herb-roasted or garlic-mashed potatoes, a cup of soup, jasmine, white or brown rice, house-made black beans, or even a salad (field greens, Caesar, or Pacific Rim salad).

One of the newest menu items is the fajitas, and you can opt for shrimp or fish ($22.95). It comes with Vera Cruz-style pepper mix, jasmine rice, black beans and salsa.

The local crowd can’t get enough of the grilled tacos. You get two tacos, made with corn tortillas, fresh salsa, cabbage and sauce and served with rice, beans and green chile garlic sauce on one of these platters. Mahi mahi runs $10.50 and the chicken sells for $9.50.

The mesquite grill serves up local lobster (beginning in October), and Rimel’s can’t keep up with the demand when these beauties are in season (through March). Filet mignon ($22.95), grilled pork chop ($19.95), and rotisserie turkey ($13.95) are always in season, so try one of these mesquite offerings during your next visit.

Steaming rice bowls are becoming a very popular item, and Rimel’s has its version of the Asian specialty (served on a large plate, not a bowl). A vegetable bowl costs $9.50, but you can get these rice bowls with chicken, turkey, mahi mahi, calamari or wokked filet mignon ($11.50 - $16.75).

Sandwiches are all made to order as well, and the choices range from bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado ($8.95) to turkey burgers ($9.25) and half-pound sirloin burger with potatoes ($10.95). The sandwiches (made on your choice of bread or rolls) come with your choice of rice, beans or coleslaw).

The best way to start a lunch or dinner at Rimel’s is with the chicken and vegetable potstickers ($7.50 for six dumplings). The menu boasts that these are the best in town - and who could argue about that! They’re just delicious.

Even the iced tea is special at Rimel’s. Try their special blend ($2) and you’ll agree it hits the spot. From start to finish, Rimel’s does things right.

Enjoy a meal indoors or on the pleasant patio the restaurant shares with the rest of the eateries on this delightful restaurant row. You’re in for a treat.

Rimel’s Rotisserie is located at

1030 Torrey Pines Road. They may be contacted at (858) 454-6045.