The Melting Pot in La Jolla blends flavors for fanciful dining fun

Story and Photos By Kelley Carlson

Whether it’s dipping an appetizer into a cheese fondue or diving into a four-course meal, The Melting Pot offers a blend of dining experiences under one roof.

It starts with selecting the perfect setting. The bar and heated front patio are the centers of socialization -- customers can commemorate happy hour and catch the latest sporting event on TV. Also downstairs, there’s a festive party room and booths in the dimly lit main dining area that easily allow for family-style dining, and a back patio that is occasionally the scene of special events. Couples on dates often indulge their cravings upstairs, with some requesting booths in the quiet and semi-private “Lover’s Lane.” Light, relaxing music in jazz and soft rock genres helps set the tone.

“(The Melting Pot experience is) meant to be enjoyed,” said Frankie Becker, operating partner. “Take your time, and enjoy each course as it comes.”

But while the establishment has a romantic ambience, it’s fun for families, as well. “Kids love it here,” Becker said. “They love dipping (food) in cheese and chocolate.” Children can pick up to three items to dip -- whether it’s beef, shrimp, teriyaki, steak, filet, chicken or ravioli -- and cook them in a pot on the table with their parents.

The menu is a la carte-oriented, and no matter which of the 140-plus Melting Pot locations a person visits, the dishes are nearly identical, and the primary focus is on fondue.

The signature Fondue Features change seasonally. Currently, there is the Bacon & Brie Cheese Fondue, a blend of baby brie, Gruyere and Emmenthaler cheeses, white wine, Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, chopped onions, mustard and cracked black pepper topped with scallions. Also featured are the Strawberry Almond Salad, dressed with a raspberry black walnut vinaigrette and White Chocolate Creme Brulee.

To whet the appetite, there are a handful of cheese fondues available, served with bite-sized vegetable pieces and artisan breads. Among them is the Wisconsin Trio, featuring Fontina, Butterkäse and buttermilk bleu cheeses with white wine, scallions and a sherry base that is creamy and buttery.

Entrees can be ordered individually or in combinations of up to three, and are presented with multiple dipping sauces. One example is the French Quarter -- a selection from the four-course experience -- with filet mignon, all-natural breast of chicken and Pacific white shrimp seasoned with Cajun spices and accompanied by Andouille sausage. Items are cooked at the table in a choice of Seasoned Court Bouillon (seasoned vegetable broth), Mojo (Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with garlic and citrus flavors), Coq au Vin (burgundy wine infused with herbs, spices and mushrooms) or Bourguignonne (European-style fondue in cholesterol-free canola oil, served with tempura and sesame batters).

To round out the meal, there are three types of chocolate fondues -- milk, dark and white chocolate -- that incorporate a variety of mix-ins, from caramel and pecans, to peanut butter, and marshmallow cream.

Members of the military receive 20 percent off their food bill on Mondays; couples can order four courses and a bottle of wine for $99 on Tuesdays; Wednesdays offers 50 percent off bottles of wine priced under $100; and Thursdays is Ladies’ Night Out, with cheese fondue, salad and chocolate fondue for $20 per person.

Parking in the Aventine complex is $8 for valet or park free on the street.

The Melting Pot

Address: 8980 University Center Lane, La Jolla

The Vibe: Romantic, Intimate, Business Casual

Signature Dishes: Fondue Features

Open Since: 2006

Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30-11 p.m. Friday, 4-11 p.m. Saturday, 4-10 p.m. Sunday



(858) 638-1700

Reservations: Recommended

Patio Seating: Yes

Take Out: No

Happy Hour: 4:30-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: The Melting Pot’s Traditional Cheese Fondue

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: The Melting Pot’s Traditional Cheese Fondue