Searsucker restaurant is the brainchild of Food Network celebrity, Top Chef finalist, and winning judge/mentor on The Taste, Chef Brian Malarkey and his business partner James Brennan. The two acquired prime restaurant real estate at the corner of Market Street and 5th Avenue in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. In 2010, Searsucker was the first of seven restaurants and counting that the two have opened together. They include Searsucker (multiple locations), Burlap, Gabardine, Gingham, and Herringbone – collectively known as The Fabric of Social Dining Restaurant Group. The award-winning restaurants have become some of San Diego’s favorites.
The vision behind Searsucker is to create a space for a social dining experience. Unlike most restaurants that appreciate quick turnovers, Searsucker takes the opposite approach as reflected in the title of Malarkey’s new cookbook Come Early, Stay Late. The restaurant provides a relaxed place that encourages friends to gather and hang out together eating, drinking, listening to music, and having an all-around good time.
They achieve their desired casual ambiance with a modern urban industrial presence. There are three distinct spaces in the restaurant – a grand bar on one end, a central lounge area with comfy sofas and chairs, and a large dining area with a mix of family-style and bistro tables. Two walls have floor to ceiling windows, and one is distressed brick. A gleaming stainless steel open kitchen is in a corner of the dining area, and the remaining walls are adorned with gritty urban art. Unpolished wood floors, ornate area rugs, tangles of ropes and Edison lights, and exposed ceilings with modern track lighting complete the look.
When a TV celebrity chef opens his own restaurant after garnering more than 60 industry awards at his last job, you know you can expect great food. Chef Brian Malarkey describes the food at Searsucker as a fresh new take on American classics. The menu starts with small plates, moving to savory entrées from ocean, ranch, and farm categories, and finishing with sumptuous desserts or craft cocktails. Dishes are designed to share with one another as part of the social dining experience.
Small plates that are great for sharing and get big praise on review sites are duck fat fries with tomato jam, shortribs with horseradish and fried onion, squid “sweet heat,” and crab cake jumbo lump with fennel and tartar sauce. Entrée favorites include the loin filet, New York strip chimichurri and béarnaise, scallops with Israeli couscous, almonds, and citrus vinaigrette, and for vegetarians – quinoa with roasted carrot, bloomsdale, and romesco.
Top off your social dining experience sharing a few desserts like the popular brown butter cake with honey ice cream, vanilla roasted strawberries, honey comb, Greek yogurt and basil. Can’t decide between sweet and salty? Get the S’mores bar with salted caramel ganache, honey chocolate mousse, marshmallow, chocolate ice cream, and cookie crumble.
Check out the weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas and daily happy hours.
This trendy restaurant encourages group get-togethers, long-stays, and socializing. Music is integral to the ambiance. Consequently, it can get loud, so if you’re looking for a romantic night out, this probably isn’t your place. The menu and ambiance are not particularly kid-friendly either. Searsucker takes reservations and can be a bit persnickety if you’re late. They’re open for lunch and dinner, but closed in between the two. They have valet parking, but you can also park on the street or in a nearby lot. There is comfortable outdoor seating; pets are not welcome. The restaurant provides free Wi-Fi and there is a television in the bar.
Although Searsucker is in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, it is also on the edge of trendy East Village. Both neighborhoods offer great shopping, entertainment, and hotel options. The restaurant is within a few blocks of the San Diego Convention Center, PETCO Park, and Horton Plaza. Nearby accommodations include a few upscale boutique hotels – Hotel Solamar, Hotel Indigo Downtown, and Andaz.
To get to the San Diego Convention Center, take the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, which at 550 feet is one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world. PETCO Park is home to the San Diego Padres MLB team. The ballpark at 7th Avenue and K Street offers stunning views of San Diego Bay and the San Diego skyline. State-of-the-art amenities make for an unforgettable baseball experience. Westfield Horton Plaza is an expansive outdoor mall that is home to department stores, chain retailers, boutiques, bistros, entertainment venues, and a movie theater.
Hotel Solamar on 7th Avenue between Island Avenue and J Street has a rooftop pool and lounge that offer great views. Ask about complimentary red bicycles for your use, and complimentary craft beer, seasonal cocktails, or wine at happy hour. Hotel Indigo Downtown is a block from PETCO Park at the corner of 9th Avenue and Island Avenue. Ninth-story Level 9 Rooftop Bar and Lounge offers impressive views of San Diego and the field at PETCO Park. Andaz is a swanky hotel at 6th and F Streets with posh design elements, a rooftop pool, and a sizzling rooftop nightlife.