Meet, greet and eat at Jimmy O’s in Del Mar
By Kelley CarlsonFrom attracting sports royalty to British royalty, Jimmy O’s holds court when it comes to the nightlife in Del Mar. “Jimmy O’s is Del Mar’s corner bar,” said Billy Daniels, general manager. “It’s a place where people go before they go out or after.”
The location has served as a bar since 1930s, under different owners and monikers. The latest incarnation is owned by Keith Nordling, who also has Yogi’s Sports Bar & Restaurant in Cardiff. Nordling said he chose to name the Del Mar site in honor of Jimmi Orlando, a well-liked bartender at Yogi’s who died in 1999 from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
According to Daniels, patrons will find San Diego Chargers or Padres players in Jimmy O’s on any given week. It has been frequented by guests, such as Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner, NBA great Charles Barkley, NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and former NFL player Junior Seau. Celebrities often stop by during the Del Mar racing season; even a certain member of the British monarchy caught a soccer game late one evening while in the region for military training.
Despite the “who’s who” roster of guests, Jimmy O’s maintains a “Cheers” mentality, with “hundreds” of regular customers and a demographic melting pot, Daniels said.
There’s the sports crowd, who filters in to watch games on 14 TVs that offer all Direct TV sports packages and basic cable channels. Monitors can be viewed from every seat in the restaurant, whether in the main dining/bar area or upstairs in the “private mezzanine.”
Families are also part of the restaurant’s clientele. Remote headsets are provided for children to watch cartoons or other “family-friendly” programming on one of the TVs. There is also a kids menu, consisting of standard items such as a burger, cheese quesadilla, bean and cheese burrito and angel hair pasta.
After 9 p.m., Jimmy O’s caters to social singles and people looking for nightlife, Daniels said. The lights dim, and the entertainment begins.
“It’s not just a sports bar; it’s a major social gathering (place),” he said.
Currently, a DJ plays Tuesdays and Thursday through Saturday nights. Around 9:30 p.m. on weekends, the tables are pushed aside to make room for dancing on the wood floor. Booths are reserved for bottle service, in which liter-sized containers hold spirits including various types of vodkas, Bacardi and Patron, and are served with mixers.
Despite the modern music, Jimmy O’s has an old-school pub atmosphere, with its brick interior and round booths along one wall. In a nod to the local environment, a large painting of Dog Beach dominates one wall. Upstairs features framed autographed jerseys from Seau, former Padres player Trevor Hoffman and Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell. At night, the overhead lights dim and candles glow on the tables. Outside on the ocean-view patio, patrons can sit under umbrellas near a fish-shaped fountain while observing visitors strolling along 15th Street.
As for the food, it’s “not just normal pub grub,” Daniels said.
Jimmy O’s is primarily known for its 8-ounce burgers -- with all the toppings a customer wants at no extra charge -- but there are more than 80 items are on the menu, and there are themed food events such as Taco Tuesdays and Italian Night on Wednesdays. There are a number of appetizers, such as Seared Ahi, with sliced cucumber, carrots, wasabi and soy sauce; and Wings in five flavors, served with ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
About a dozen soups and salads are available, as well as entrees such as Jimmy O’s Pollo Y Pasta: grilled chicken breast tossed with roasted banana peppers, garlic, wild mushrooms, penne pasta and sprinkled with feta cheese.
Desserts offered include Chocolate Mousse, Coconut Fried Bananas and Strawberry Cheesecake.
The kitchen is open until midnight 365 days a year, Daniels noted.
First-timers who are sports fans are advised to kick back with a burger and beer in the middle of the bar and “enjoy the surly bartenders,” Daniels said with a grin. Those who are on a date or are coming with friends should consider bottle service, he added.
The establishment tends to be “real mellow” Monday through Wednesday, Daniels said. For those lively nights, there is a cab stand just outside from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Jimmy O’sAddress: 225 15th St., Del Mar
The Vibe: Sporty, Social, Lively, Casual
Signature Dishes: Jimmy O’s Burger, Wings, Seared Ahi, Quesadilla, Jimmy O’s Tacos, Jimmy O’s Pollo Y Pasta, Chili
Open Since: 2000
Hours: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
(858) 350-3735Reservations: Recommended
Patio Seating: Yes
Take Out: Yes
Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 10 p.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday
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: Jimmy O’s Chili!