Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

islands burgers

Islands Restaurant: Now Serving Paradise Bikini Beach Menu (and great burgers)!

restaurantsLocal WallyComment
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I watch what I eat.  But I'm very weak when it comes to choosing between deliciousness and low calorie options.  I know, restaurants claim their healthy options are muy bueno, but I've been tricked before. I've ordered salads thinking they were topped with cheddar cheese only to find out its carrots.  And don't get me started on cauliflower mashed "potatoes" or noodles made out of squash.

So I must admit when I saw that Island's Restaurant, San Diego's own burger joint chain, was now offering a lower calorie menu they dubbed Paradise Bikini Beach, I was highly skeptical.  I mean, in my world paradise is not low cal, it's deep fried. But there I was, staring at the healthy menu and trying, really trying, to make a good decision.

Island's Paradise Bikini Beach Tacos

The options are slim (no pun intended).  A veggie taco, a Greek salad, a Turkey Burger, and chicken tacos.  I eliminated the veggie taco immediately as it seemed exactly what I did not want in a taco.  Turkey Burger sounded good but I think it's wrong to get a burger with a salad instead of fries so that was out.  I like salads but not as an entree so that was out.  That left the chicken tacos.  Hmmm, what to do, what to do?

Malibu Burger at Island's Restaurant

And then I looked over at the standard menu.  Big fat juicy burgers with bacon, cheese, sauce, and fries!  Fries!!!  Buffalo wings, onion rings, fried fish tacos!  I mean, there in front of me was temptation.  Do I order the healthier dinner or do I go with something I know I will love?  I had to make a decision and it had to be a good one.  My wife ordered first - she went chicken tacos.  Good call.  Now my turn.  I. Am. Weak. 

I did what I had to do.  I ordered the Malibu burger - a juicy burger cooked medium (still pink) with Applewood Bacon, American Cheese, Onion, Lettuce, Tomato.  And I ordered it smothered with Thousand Island dressing.  Fries?  Of course, do you think I'm crazy not to get an order of delicious hand cut fries??? 

I was feeling a tad guilty when my burger arrived, a giant plate of wholesome deliciousness. But my wife seemed happy as well.  What?  She liked her low cal option?  Gimme that!  I took a bite and you know, it was a pretty darn tasty bite! In fact, if you did not tell me this was a low cal option I would never know.  The chicken was nicely seasoned, the salsa fresca was as good as you'll find in any San Diego taco shop (meaning quite good), there was even cheddar cheese on the tacos.  And the tacos were full sized, not the trendy "street tacos".  They came with a side of beans, not bad, not bad at all.  In fact, while I still think that Veggie Tacos are a crime I give Islands a lot of credit for making a low calorie taco dinner that tastes as good as the real deal.

So we were both happy, my wife with her tacos and me with my burger.  Of course, my wife ate a few of my fries and I let her. I did feel a little guilty, after all.

Islands Restaurant Teams With Left Coast Brewing

restaurantsLocal WallyComment

Hula Burger at Islands Restaurant

If you follow me you know that I pretty much avoid nationwide chain restaurants. I mean, San Diego has so much good food that there's no reason to eat average food in an average setting. But while I avoid big chains I cheer on our local restaurants who have made it big.  And that brings me to Islands, a popular burger joint that many forget got its start in our very own Carlsbad.

Islands goes back to the early 60's when founder Tony DeGrazier stepped off the beaches of Oahu after a day of surfing with his Navy buddies and doing what came naturally to him. He went searching for a juicy burger, a hot basket of fries & a cold drink. He never forgot those days of youth and 20 years later in 1982, it was that sense of place & satisfaction he was trying to recreate when he took a little chunk of the islands & plopped it down right in the mainland of Southern California. So while Islands is a successful chain, it's still a local joint, still our restaurant, and still satisfies, whether you're coming off the swells or coming in with the family.

Local Burger meet Local Beer

And this summer, Islands Restaurants and SoCal based brewery Left Coast Brewing Co. are teaming up to create an exclusive new brew. The Hula Bay IPA – which launched in restaurants on June 13 – is a classic West Coast IPA with hints of citrus, grapefruit, tangerine and pine, and will be available for a limited time. That's the combo you want - a great fat Islands burger, a basket of their fantastic fries, and a cold local beer from Left Coast Brewing Co.

While you're there you might want to check out:

  • Heat Wave Burger:  Back on the menu for a limited time, the Heat Wave comes topped with grilled Serrano chilies, grilled green chilies, melted pepper-jack cheese and spicy mayo, and is one of the best burgers to pair with the Hula Bay IPA. Would be happy to pass along other contenders in the area for a list of “hottest burger and beer pairings for summer”, if you see a fit!
  • Colada Sunset:  Adding to Islands’ tropical cocktail repertoire, the Colada Sunset is a twist on the classic pina colada with pineapple, coconut cream and a float of Myers’s Rum.
  • Beach Cruiser Giveaway:  Each of Islands’ 54 restaurants is giving away custom his and hers Freedom Cycle Co. beach cruisers complete with Hawaiian floral designs and bells. Guests can enter every time they visit an Islands, and winners will be selected on August 18.

So go local this weekend and get a burger at Islands!  Great burgers, tacos, fries, even salads, now even better with The Hula Bay IPA.