If you ask the locals where to find the best prime rib in San Diego, they’ll tell you to try Bully’s East. Opened in 1971, this favorite San Diego hotspot is known for their famous Horseradish Crusted Prime Rib, but they also make the grade with their impressive collection of sports memorabilia and classic sports bar ambiance. With a large array of options for brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Bully’s is even open late—a tradition they’ve maintained since their launch 40 years ago. They also feature a full bar, an extensive happy hour menu, and a sports lounge. Bully’s East has made a legacy of its menu since 1971, keeping their menu options consistent, service top-notch, and their quality a priority.Read More ...
Located just off of Texas Street, tucked away in a small corner of Mission Valley, lies Bully's East Restaurant. Quality food, sports, and a friendly staff are all key ingredients at Bully's, making it fairly obvious as to why this steak house has been a local favorite that has featured premium American cuisine for over 30 years. Upon approaching the restaurant, giant wooden doors make their presence known as they swing open to a dimly lit portion of the restaurant where people mingle and anticipate friendly banter and quality meals.
Laughter trails from the bar and into the waiting area that boasts Bully’s excellent service as we are promptly seated. The walls are decorated with photos of sports celebrities like Chargers Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson and other players who owner Derek Dahlen has either met or known personally. Unlike steakhouses and sports bars where the photos and memorabilia are randomly selected, Bully’s has its own personal touch as long time friend, schoolmate, and manager Doug Carter helps with restaurant duties. The interior of the restaurant is a beautiful reflection of a sports lover’s paradise with a basketball game on every television.
As guests filter in and out of the bar area, we are greeted by our smiling hostess who leads us to our table. The dining area is filled with smiling faces. Old friends gather around their dishes, laughing and enjoying their food. Our booth is reminiscent of a dining room table -- homey, warm, and comfortable. The interior is accented by the dim lighting that reflects off the warm tones of the oak-like décor. Each corner of the restaurant is bustling with activity from the seating area in the front to the long wooden bar filled with jovial faces. Garlicky scents float from the kitchen to our booth, filling our nostrils with anticipation.
There are various meal options from the brunch, lunch, and dinner menu. Bully’s brunch menu offers a variety of filling foods. The Gameday Breakfast consists of 3 eggs cooked any style, country potatoes, your choice of bacon or sausage, and French toast or Pancakes for only $6.95. This option is still available for those who aren’t early risers; Bully’s offers this menu every Saturday and Sunday. And though Bully’s offers classics like the Classic Pancake dish: three fluffy buttermilk pancakes with butter and maple syrup for just $5.95 they also offer more exotic dishes like Chilaquiles. Tossed with Bully’s own tangy tomatillo sauce, poblano chile strips, shredded chicken breast, cotija cheese, topped with two eggs and cilantro, avocado and crème fraich breakfast is anything but boring.
The Lunch favorites are no different. One of the more popular lunch items, Bully’s East Prime Rib Melt is a thinly sliced prime rib with grilled onions, provolone on sourdough bread for under $20 dollars. The Chicken Sandwich offers an alternative to the steak dishes with your choice of charbroiled or blackened 8 ounce chicken on sourdough bread with lettuce and tomato. And if that doesn’t satisfy your lunch time hunger the lunch menu also offers Bully’s Stacked Club, a ham, turkey, bacon, sandwich with avocado, lettuce and tomato on sourdough bread for under $10.00. Looking past the breakfast and lunch menu, my eyes find their way to a fully stocked wine list.
Bully’s smooth selection of wines pair easily with almost any dish, from the light crisp whites to the velvet reds. Bully’s is equipped to celebrate with a range of wines from France, California, and Spain. The prices range anywhere from $225 for a bottle of 1998 Don Perignon to Mumm Brut Prestige for $10 a bottle. The Red wine list is a little more local as most of the cabernets hail from regions of the United States. My mouth begins to water as I scroll over the crisp white pinots like New Zealand’s Babich -- a Sauvignon Blanc is only $8 a glass, and $31 for a bottle. Bully’s broad selection is everything from a delicate Chateau St. Michelle’s Pinot to rustic red Zinfandels.
Though Bully’s exudes a laid-back ambiance, exciting drinks fill the menu from the sophisticated Cosmopolitan to the sassy Apple Martini. Bully’s is home to some very unique drinks with cocktails and martinis from $8 to $9 dollars. The Antioxidant Martini is a unique combination of acai, pomegranate liquor, blueberry puree, a little cranberry juice, and the Van Gogh Vodka that makes for a refreshing, modern twist on the classic cocktail. But Bully’s cocktails aren’t the only thing modernizing their menu.
Bully’s dinner menu ranges from the Bully Burger to the Baked Brie with toasted almond appetizer. Bully’s is most prevalently known for their prime rib. They offer a petite 8 ounce cut for $17.95, an 11 ounce cut for $21.95, and full 22 ounce cut for $32.95. If these options are not enough meat to satisfy you, perhaps you should look into the “Beast.” The “Beast” is a 38 ounce prime rib cut for $49.95.
Bully’s boasts the 38 Club challenge where anyone brave enough to consume the “Beast” and the two side dishes in one hour, without sharing or leaving the table, will receive a Club 38 t-shirt and become a proud member of Club 38. Among other special offers at Bully’s is the early bird special which is offered every evening from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.
Bully’s also offers a variety of side dishes to go alongside each dish. Steak Fries, Spanish rice, Anna Potatoes, garden salad, seasonal vegetables, and garlic mashed potatoes are just some of the dinner menu sides offered under $3.00.
One of our first appetizers is the Surf and Turf roll. Unique to most items on the menu, this sushi roll is an updated take on the surf and turf concept. Topped with aged prime rib, avocado, and stuffed with King crab, this appetizer challenges the classic feel with a little adventurous zest. Aside from the very precise presentation, the savory spicy mayo is a contrast to the delicately rolled sticky rice and avocado. Each bite is filled with just the right amount of surf and just the right amount of turf. The center of this little gem is stuffed with King Crab and asparagus. Seemingly a dish reserved for the fearless and elite sushi eaters, this mini morsel is a great roll for both advanced and beginner sushi eaters.
Following our succulent sushi is the Manila Clam dish. A large bowl of clams piled atop one another with a soft white wine sauce is placed on the table by our server. The dish is decorated with cold cherry tomatoes contrasting the salty broth the clams bask in. Chef Louis Martinez uses this dish to explain his theory behind a lot of his food. “The salt opens up the palate and makes you salivate so you can receive the flavor better. Vinegar and pepper do the same but to different degrees and in different ways.” Perhaps this is the reason for the presence of the lightly buttered garlic bread that can be dipped in the clam broth, providing a soft and crunchy contrast with this seemingly East Coast Italian fusion.
Fear not, Bully’s doesn’t limit itself to just appetizers. One of their most famous dishes is the Prime Rib. Delicately placed in the middle of the plate, this 11 ounce prime rib includes freshly cooked asparagus with butter. Medium rare, with a soft texture, this juicy piece of beef could of course hold its own on the dinner plate. Served unsliced and whole, this hardy slab of this luscious delicacy is incomplete without two very important toppings: horseradish and au jus sauce. While most horseradishes are extremely spicy and often times unbearable, Bully’s is a special creamy horse radish with more of a cold, thick, refreshing taste. Though it doesn’t skip out on the zest of horseradish, it complements the caramel tones of the warm au jus sauce, which Chef Luis explained is made from the drippings of the meat.
Though primarily well known for its steaks and meat cuts, this local favorite is drawing in a new crowd with the many dishes Chef Luis Martinez brings to the table. Bully’s Salmon dish is one of my personal favorites because of its texture and taste. Soft and moist on the inside, this salmon dish is light, crunchy, and contains just the right about of flakiness on the outside. Topped with lobster salsa, the dish has an exciting Mediterranean feel to it – the warm, buttery, and crunchy-soft salmon with a cool sweet lobster salsa delicately draped over a side of Anna potatoes. The potatoes seem to parallel the salmon as the outside is flaky and the inside has a soft, warm, buttery consistency. Each piece of potato used for the dish is thinly sliced and layered to be partnered carefully with the fish. Chef Martinez credits much of his cooking style to his 6-month study in Spain. “It’s all about how you cook the food, I layer flavors and slow cook things,” he says.
The Pork Pot-Roast is a reflection of this idea of layered flavors. Bright apple flavors protrude from both the meat and the whipped potatoes that the meat is perched upon. The meat itself is so tender it has a tendency to fall right off the fork. The potatoes have just a hint of spiced cider, whole mustard, and of course the slightly spiced pepper corn used to marinate the pork. The dish itself suggests the presence of the fall season or a comfy, cozy, family Thanksgiving somewhere on the chilly East Coast. The dish is exploding with flavors that can only be countered by the creamy potatoes and sautéed apples that garnish the dish. Spiced, sweet, and savory all at the same time, this dish is a goldmine of flavor.
Holding true to the chef’s layering theory is Bully’s East’s amazing dessert. The Ice Cream Sundae is a layered concoction served in a large drinking glass. Chocolate sauce and sea salted caramel are layered in between scoops of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with brownie chunks. But this sweet and salty delicacy isn’t just all heavy cream and chocolate. Banana, grilled pineapple and chopped nuts top off this inventive concoction, but the chocolate mousse will not be outdone by this sundae classic.
The Chocolate Mousse sits inside an in-house made chocolate cup. This sweet dessert has a light fluffy texture that doesn’t skip out on its chocolate flavoring. The dessert is topped with cacao nibs, and lightly drizzled with raspberry sauce that gives it just a bit of a tart flavor. Not enough chocolate for you? Not to worry, Bully’s dessert menu also offers a dish called the Chocolate Lava Devine. For $ 6 dollars you can have this molten chocolate center on a bed of berry puree. Topping it off is whipped cream and whole berries. Bully’s offers a sweet taste that will satisfy any chocolate fanatic.
Modern and comfortable, Bully’s East is a versatile venue for a hearty steak dinner or a casual place to grab some drinks after work. Exiting the restaurant, I look around and relish the comfort foods and décor the puts me at ease. The restaurant is filled with families, and old friends who seem to be having the kind of conversations that you remember, and the kind of food that brings people together. Friends and loved ones are seen sharing hearty comfort foods they have so cleverly joined with their wines. As I make my way to the door, I notice that the red leather seats are laden with a classic family atmosphere. The televisions are still playing the game, and people are still gathered around the bar. Bully’s is truly a local favorite that remains true to its roots as a steak house with sports devotee ambiance.
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