Delirio's

5721 La Jolla Blvd, San Diego CA 92037

Recommended

Delirio's is a new addition to the La Jolla/Bird Rock area, bringing an elegant setting, bold cuisine, and a unique wine list to an unsuspecting location. Executive Chef Aaron La Monica's menu is peppered with fresh, local, and organic ingredients, which he skillfully and artfully weaves together into unique presentations that promise to delight the senses. His approach celebrates the best Southern California has to offer, in a style which he describes as "California Cuisine, Baja Flavors." Wine director Jerome Astolfi, who joins Delirio's from Jack's La Jolla, has created a worldly wine and beer list to perfectly accompany Chef La Monica's cuisine.

Deliriously Delicious Dining

San Diego is a bountiful place to reside if you’re a restaurant.  The mild, Mediterranean-like climate offers a nearly year-round growing season, which sees over 200 agricultural products emerge from the soil of nearly 6,500 farms. As anyone who has visited an area farmers’ market knows, from springtime asparagus through winter squash, San Diegans are downright spoiled.

One might argue that you haven’t really dined in San Diego until you’ve tasted a meal of local produce, such as the fresh, seasonal, and often stunning offerings from Chino, Crows Pass, and La Milpa farms.  There are only a handful of restaurants that truly make an effort to source from these farms, including a relatively new kid on the block: Delirio’s.

Delirio’s Restaurant opened in the heart of La Jolla’s Bird Rock neighborhood in 2006, as a charming, intimate restaurant serving upscale Mexican-fusion cuisine. Yet within a year of opening, the restaurant changed course - and cuisine - joining the ranks of the select few restaurants that embrace the irresistible bounty of Southern California with open arms. 

Motivated to celebrate the rich flavors of San Diego’s own terrain, Executive Chef Aaron La Monica has redefined Delirio’s cuisine, creating a seasonal, locally-focused menu of “California Cusine, Baja Flavors.”  He couldn’t be more qualified to do so, having worked under some of the most talented local-produce proponents in the city—Jason Knibb of Nine-Ten, Michael Stebner, formerly of Nine-Ten and Region, and Jeff Jackson of the Lodge at Torrey Pines. The culinary approaches of these chefs—all of who have strong relationships with local farmers, work with seasonal menus that celebrate the ripest produce, and focus on showcasing, rather than overshadowing, high quality ingredients—are instilled in La Monica, and are evident in his reinvention of the Delirio’s menu.

While the menu may have changed, the restaurant’s setting has not—it still offers a charming, serene space that seems more peaceful sanctuary than restaurant. White walls and exposed brick fade into the background, while custom art and delicate light structures offer a hint of color. Although just one room, the restaurant seems both roomy and intimate, a unique juxtaposition that makes it equally suited to a festive party as a romantic date. Its location and unassuming façade help keep the restaurant unpretentious, and in-the-know guests seem to share an unspoken reverence for this charming oasis.

Arriving early, we contemplated a drink on the outdoor patio but were graciously shown to our table despite our early arrival. Sommelier and Manager Jerome Astolfi eagerly greeted us, as did our server Josh. Perusing the one-page, seasonal menu, it took us little time to decide on the five-course “Trust the Chef” Tasting Menu with wine pairings. This prix-fixe option is offered daily, and at $55 ($75 with wine pairings), it may be one of the best deals in town.  Couples should especially consider the tasting menu, as the kitchen often sends out two different dishes for each course. 

As the sensual voice of Sadé poured out of the speakers, Josh poured two glasses of Salomon Steinterrassen, a 2005 Austrian Riesling, to accompany what would prove a refreshing and vibrant introduction to La Monica’s cuisine. Our first two dishes both predominately featured produce I had seen—in their raw forms—at a farmers market earlier in the week. The Harissa Marinated Shrimp consisted of feisty prawns sitting atop a salad of snap peas, pickled ramps, blood oranges, and mint. The dish was a mélange of textures and colors—dark purple oranges, crisp, verdant beans, and pale, silky ramps—and each bite resonated with the freshness of just-picked produce. The shrimp, tender with a crunchy coating of spicy Harissa—a tomato-based sauce hailing from North Africa—were the perfect complement to this vibrant salad, offering a hint of the exotic alongside local flavor.

Accompanying the shrimp was “Nancy’s Ceviche,” which arrived in three small bowls containing house-made corn chips, sea bass ceviche, and avocado mousse. Seeming an upscale version of chips and dip, the dish was full of complex, elegant flavors. The ceviche, of course, was the highlight: sweet mango and papaya mingled with spicy chiles and cool tomato granita, resulting in a perfect blend of playful complexity. The avocado mousse offered a creamy compliment that soothed the underlying spice and each bite of a house-made tortilla chip topped with ceviche and mousse filled our mouths with flavor.

For our second course, Josh poured glasses of 2005 Frederic Magnien Pinot Noir from Burgundy. The wine was surprisingly substantial for a pinot, and would prove delightful with our next duo of dishes.  Just as with the ceviche, the House Made Chorizo suggested La Monica had a playful streak. The dish, a plump sausage link served with a basted egg and fava bean toast, looked like a traditional breakfast plate, playfully defying the evening hour. The thick chorizo sausage sat alongside a large sunny side up egg and two slices of toast. The sausage, smoky sweet with a lingering spice, was the highlight of the dish, although having crisp toast to soak up a deliciously runny egg yolk was a playful surprise. The fava bean spread, light green and slightly salty, was surprisingly delicious interpretation of another local gem.  

We next moved from playful to elegant, with a gorgeous rendition of Duck Leg Confit. A plump duck leg rested on a bed of wilted romaine, accompanied by candied pecans and a brilliant chipotle vanilla sauce. My first exposure to the intoxicating combination of chipotle and vanilla had actually been at Delirio’s, when the restaurant first opened. I remember the sauce, a fetchingly subtle combination flavors, as the triumphant moment of the meal. Now, I happily discovered, the sauce was as bewitching as ever, yet it was not the best component of the plate. Never had I sampled duck cooked so perfectly, the thin skin a delicate crispness giving way to succulent, moist meat. La Monica’s execution—in composition, flavor, and preparation—proved flawless. It was a dish that disappeared way to quickly.

Josh delivered two different wines for our third and main course, for myself a 2003 Chateau Grand Bert, St Emilion Grand Cru, and for my date a 2004 Dutton Estate Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. Both were shining examples of Sommelier Jerome Astolfi’s intuition, not only in compiling an intriguing and varied wine and beer list but in pairing his selections with La Monica’s cuisine.

The St Emillion proved an elegant companion to the Brandt Hangar Steak, which, sliced and fanned atop a bed of braised mustard greens, displayed both a blackened crust and pale pink center. The velvet-like steak was topped with Idaho morel mushrooms, pickled ramps, and chocolate cabernet sauce. The dish was a celebration of quality, pairing some of the country’s best beef—naturally raised from Brandt Beef—with one of the grandest of mushrooms, the wild morel. The two were near identical in texture, the mushrooms so meaty and the meat so tender they both hit the perfect level of savoriness. The mustard greens and pickled ramps offered a bitter counterpart, while the chocolate cabernet sauce elevated the dish from delightful to extraordinary. Yet for the second time I found an absolutely stunning combination—chocolate and cabernet—achieve great heights in a sauce only to be equally matched by the meat it accompanied. It was the hallmark of California Cuisine—while La Monica’s sauces were excellent, they were not overpowering, allowing the high quality of a dish’s ingredients to shine.

I turned to my date’s dish, the King Salmon. Served crisp skin side up, the salmon was both moist and flaky. The glistening fish rested atop a bed of new potato spears and green beans, which were tossed with horseradish cream and dill sauce. Three plump caper berries sat atop the salmon, promising a salty bite. The fish’s accompaniments evoked an elegant potato salad, yet with such vibrant, distinct flavors it was too fresh to be considered one.  Each component offered pronounced flavor—the pillowy potatoes, crisp green beans, biting horseradish, and unmistakable dill. The combination seemed both classic and inventive, and was nothing short of brilliant.

With our stomachs full and two courses to go—the portions had been surprisingly generous for a tasting menu—we were slightly worried we’d fill up before dessert. Yet worry faded to delight when we spied two slender plates, sparsely topped with delicate, distinct ingredients. A cheese course! The course was unexpected and all the more delicious for it. We found two unique and stunning cheeses set before us: a Spanish Cantalet, accompanied by pickled onions, red leaf lettuce, dates, and toasted macadamia nuts; and a French Fourme d’Ambert, served with balsamic glazed Crows Pass strawberries. Besides the imported cheeses, I was delighted to recognize all the components of both plates as local.

While the cheese course was a refreshing interlude, it was dessert that won us over. In many restaurants, dessert is an unfortunate sugary conclusion, an overly sweet end to an otherwise stunning meal. Here it was a true fifth course, with two flavorful dishes so complex and intriguing we ate to taste the flavors and to marvel at the composition, not to satisfy a sweet tooth.

The Mexican Pot de Crème arrived in a small cup and saucer, a rich blend of Mexican cocoa and Mexican chilies whipped into a mousse and topped with crème fraiche and strawberries. Each spoonful was an earthy marvel—the complex cocoa offered a hint of spice that suggested coffee more than chocolate.  The Tres Leches Cake arrived as a slender cylinder in a shallow bath of milk, caramelized pineapple, and a tamarind pineapple sauce. The entire dish tasted wet—the cake saturated with rich milk—and was the best rendition of Tres Leches cake I had come across yet.

With each spoonful of dessert I couldn’t help but smile—our last course offered a fitting conclusion in a restaurant that began as a celebration of Mexico only to be lured away by the bountiful produce of California. After a meal filled with gorgeous preparations of seasonal California produce, dessert seemed a nod to—and an unwillingness to completely let go of—the bewitching but far-away flavors of Mexico. Remembering its culinary roots yet embracing its location’s riches, Delirio’s has, perhaps unknowingly, become the ultimate embodiment of Southern California Cuisine.

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  Business Info

  • Address: 5721 La Jolla Blvd, San Diego CA 92037
  • Cross Street: Bird Rock Avenue
  • Location: | Bird Rock
  • Location: | Bird Rock
  • Cuisine: California |
  • Cost: | Moderate
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Unknown
  • Dress Code: Casual Elegant
  • Meals Served: Dinner |
  • Parking: None |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover |
  • Corkage Fee: 25.00 | Per Bottle. 3 bottles maximum
  • Staff: Aaron La Monica | Executive Chef
  • Phone: 858.456.5821
  • Features: Late Dining, Catering Services, Organic Ingredients, Outdoor Seating, Prix Fixe Menu, Takeout Available, Tasting Menu, Wheelchair Access,
  • Occasion: Romantic Dining, Dining Alone, Business Dining, Meet for a Drink, People Watching, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion,

  Business Hours

Reservations Available

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

Customer Reviews & Ratings

Nothing bad to say!  

Wow, perfect dining experience for me. Main course took a little longer than I would have liked to come out. I was in no rush though, and if you are coming here you shouldnt be either. From appetizer to desert my mouth was full of wonderful and different flavors... I would recommend to friends. Just to give you an idea, for me and my girlfriend we spent $135 on our meal. That was Appetizers, Main course and deserts. Wine and Coffee.

Delirious for Delirios  

My wife and I went to Delirios for the first time last night to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We were not disappointed. We ordered the five course tasting menu, albeit without the wine paring due to our pregnancy. The restaurant was comfortable and the decorations aesthetically pleasing. At first, I was worried that the five course tasting menu wouldn't be enough to satisfy my insatiable appetite; however, the menu overcame any insecurities I felt about not achieving that uncomfortably pleasing pants button-popping sensation. Overall, this was the best meal that we've enjoyed so far this year and I'm sure that we will return soon. I highly recommend this restaurant!

Excellent Services & Food!  

Delirios has to be a hidden gem in San Diego that people do not know about. They call this place Mexican Fusion and I suppose that's what the food is. But who cares what kind of food it is, it is just damn good food! My girlfriend and I went there to celebrate our anniversary on a Sunday night and it was pretty empty but it was definitely a nice setting. The dim lights made for a romantic dinner and we really enjoyed the sampler menu. It's great that we both got it and all dishes that came out were of different things so we got to try 10 different dishes! How often do you get to do that at a nice restaurant for a reasonable price. I also really enjoyed how our server came and brought us the food and explained to us what each dish was and had in it. I highly recommend this place.

Superb !  

We made reservation at Delirio's last week and our experience was memorable. We were greeted at the door by the hostess and the manager and promptly seated. Service was friendly, efficient and very knowledgeable about the menu. The four of us decided to go for the 5 courses tasting menu with wine pairing and everything was just delicious. The wines were very interesting and paired perfectly with the food. I definetely recommend this nice little restaurant !!

Our new favorite restaurant  

My boyfriend and I had dinner at Delirio's last week and it is now our favorite restaurant. We are still raving about our experience... We decided to indulge and tried their 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings. For $75 per person, we had 5 courses ( different dishes for both of us each time ) and very unusual wines paired with it. The first course was a cevice and some shrimp, second course was a duck confit and a chorizo, followed by flat iron steak with chocolate cabernet sauce and salmon with lemon risotto. Then we enjoyed a cheese plate and and 2 desserts. Some of the wine paired included a Red burgundy 1 er cru, a Meursault, an Albarino, a Zinfandel and a Muscat... Service was friendly, efficient and not intrusive. It is too bad that they only serve beer and wine but the selection is well put together so it makes up for it. If you truly want to enjoy a great meal, visit Delirio's. In case that you do not want to try the tasting menu, most first courses are between $8 and $13 and Entrees range between $22 and $26.

Cannot wait to go back !!!  

This has to be the best dinner we 've had in a long time... I suggest that you do what we did, order 6 small plates for the 2 of us and have the sommelier pair an half glass of wine for you with each dishes... The food was superb, service was friendly, polite and efficient. This restaurant might be on Bird Rock but it belongs downtown La Jolla with Georges, Nine Ten, Jack's and Tapenade... too bad that they only serves beer and wine....We will definetely return and tell our friends.

Excellent !  

We had a great time at Deliro's. We will definetely recommend the restaurant to our friends and come back to enjoy the food, wine and service !! There is nothing like Delirio's in San Diego !!

Great experience.  

My experience at Delirio’s, was splendid, the food is diverse and unique; it’s Mexico with a touch connoisseur. The chef brings out the exquisite flavor of his creations. The wine selection is very good, and if you are a beer lover, the selection is almost as extensive as its wine selection. The service is excellent even though the French male hostess is abhorrent and edgy, other than that it was grand. I strongly recommend the restaurant to my friends, as would I recommend the restaurant about its personnel. Enjoy.

What a great restaurant !  

My friends and I had diner at Delirio's this past thursday... What a great restaurant ! The Chef has changed and the new guy in charge used to work at Nine Ten, Region and the Lodge at Torrey Pine. Everything on the menu is market fresh and a lot of it is organically grown. I had a salmon ( farm raised in Vancouver ) with Lemon Risoto that was delicious. My friend tried the Short Rib with Mole sauce and he is still raving about it... The wine list has a lot of interesting wines and if you like beer, you ll be happy to see a list of 15 + beer...Most apetizers were around $10 and the most expensive entree was $25.. I will definetely return , one of the best meal I have had in San Diego...

Cool Beers & Fine Mexican-Fusion Food  

A wonderful restaurant in Bird Rock with an interesting beer & wine list. We had excellent service and great food.

Very nice dinner  

We had dinner on Thursday at Delirio's for the first time and it was delicious. Definetely try the tuna tartar and the filet mignon with the chocolate sauce. They had a nice selection of wine and beers at very reasonable prices. My only comment is that if it gets busy, the place can get a little noisy but I talked to the manager and he saids that they are going to fix it. I will definetely return.

A great dinner  

My wife and I had dinner at Delirio's for the second time last weekend and it was very nice. The food is definetely different, not your typical mexican fare. We share the filet Mignon with a chocolate/ Cabernet reduction and an Ahi Tuna with chile sauce and it was to die for. Jerome, who is the manager and we know from previous places he worked at, recomended a nice bottle of Pinot Noir for us and offered us 2 glasses of Muscat with dessert. Overall, a very nice little restaurant, not too fancy, confortable and definetely enjoyable. Too bad that they do not have a full bar....

A very nice addition to La Jolla  

My wife and I had dinner at Delirio's last week and we had a great time. The room is confortable and cozy and the service was friendly and attentive. The food is full of flavors and well prepared. They have a great wine list and Jerome whom we know from Jack's La Jolla, made great recomendations as usual.... If you like belgium beer, you will enjoy this restaurant as he has built an interesting beer selection as well. We will definetly be back for the wine maker's dinners starting in February. This is not your typical mexican restaurant, it is more "Fusion". We will definetly be back and will bring friends along!

Something is not right  

A nice restaurant with a great wine list, but the food lacks something.