Truluck's

8990 University Center Lane, San Diego CA 92122
$$$ Seafood Top 10 Recommended New Special Offer Private Room Gift Certificates Outdoor Seating

Truluck’s, nestled in University City, is always fresh on the dining scene with an edge not many can counter. Renowned for their seafood, they operate a crabbing fleet of no less than sixteen boats off the coast of Naples, Florida. Armed with this advantage, the crab is delivered fresh to your table within twenty-four hours of being caught. Those searching for an alternative to seafood can choose from a selection of seven steaks and chops roasted or grilled to a level of precision unmatched by most steakhouses. For recreational wine drinkers or connoisseurs alike, Truluck’s offers a hundred wines by the sampling, the glass, and the bottle.

Truluck's: Truly Deluxe Dining in La Jolla

Review by

Upon entering Truluck’s, one can’t help but be drawn to a large tank full of live crabs and lobsters in the reception area. Renowned for their dedication to the freshest seafood, this Texas chain operates a flotilla of sixteen crabbing boats off the coast of Naples, Florida. Eyeing a reticent stone crab, one can’t help but feel a pang knowing that not twenty-four hours before, he was roaming boundlessly in the Atlantic. As it stands, this evening his loss will be my gain.

The dining room, a large open space cloaked in sweeping shadows, has an understated elegance that instantly renders one at ease. A throwback to older East Coast seafood restaurants, luxurious ruby-red leather booths line the walls and congregate in clusters throughout the room. A skilled jazz instrumentalist sits back behind a grand piano near the bar, crooning disarmingly to fill the lulls in conversation among diners and bar revelers alike. This extra touch creates a soft atmosphere conducive to the unhurried comfort that Truluck's captures in both their ambiance and décor. Stunning in its stark tranquility, a large Marlin adorns the wall directly adjacent to our table, while over every open surface, submerged pink orchids twist lazily in tall cylindrical vases, providing warm splashes of color to the unfussy décor. The wine list, another point of pride for the famed establishment, is impressively presented between the bar and dining room in a temperature controlled glassed-in vault for all to see.

Appetizers

Our meal commences on what I can only deem a positive note, as both items contain the word “tower”: the Chilled Seafood Tower, customized with fresh Maine Jonah crab claws and oysters, and the Tuna Tartar Tower with a side of shrimp chips for dipping. The seafood tower is an impressive spectacle to behold; a plate lined with crushed ice sits on a raised metal stand with smoke from dry ice billowing down entrancingly. The oysters, not usually one of my favorite mollusks, are tender and cool, and well paired with a light champagne mignonette and a flute of the Piper Heidsieck Champagne. The crab claws, partially cracked but still in their shell for the true “crab-eating experience”, are fantastically coupled with a tangy cream-based sauce with smooth hints of mustard and horseradish. The tuna tartar tower, looming five layers tall, is a vibrant arrangement of sea beans, crab, tomato salsa, avocado, and fleshy raw tuna. Plunging a shrimp chip generously through the rainbow of ingredients, I find a childish delight in the crackle ‘n pop that emanates from the tuna on the chip’s porous surface. Both “towers” are testimony to Truluck’s commitment to freshness.

Highly pleased with our appetizers thus far, we opt to stay on the first course and order the Sautéed Superlump Crabcake, the Brazilian Pacu Fish Ribs, and the Warm Goat Cheese. Before the crabcake arrives, our enlightened server, Robert, informs us that it is 92% crabmeat. The wine pairings, a fruity Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and a crisp Grüner Veltliner from Austria, showcase a small fraction of the hundred wines by the sampling, the glass, and the bottle that makes Truluck’s such a well-rounded establishment for recreational wine drinkers and connoisseurs alike.

When the jumbo crabcake descends upon our table, our jaws drop at the sheer mass of it. Resting on a creamy sauce packed with fresh herbs, the golden-brown orb is an indulgence in crab to rival the previous Jonah crab claws. Unencumbered by stuffing, the fresh white meat's flavor radiates alongside a zesty, herb infused sauce. 

The Brazilian Pacu Fish Ribs resemble a glazed cross between fish sticks and ribs, and produce a heady scent of barbeque and island fruit that has me nearly overlooking the two thin bones holding the flavor-packed meat together. Grilled watermelon triangles dangle daintily over a simple slaw.

The Warm Goat Cheese appetizer, a change from our steady stream of seafood, demonstrates that chef Nathan Boothe has culinary depth that reaches well beyond the sea’s bounty. Two toasted pieces of crostini lie over a generous lump of goat cheese scattered with olives, sweet chilies, and spiced pecans. A testament to flavor, the tartness of the creamy cheese is a lovely contrast to the nutty sweetness of the pecans, the brininess of the olives, and the spiciness of the chilies. 

Our culinary revelry is continued with the Lobster and Leek Soup and the Hot-House Tomato Salad. The soup appears in the deceptive form of an empty bowl with a few pieces of ripe lobster meat drizzled among crème fraiche and caviar. A moment later, Robert expertly pours a stream of steaming soup into our bowls from a dainty silver tureen, plunging the lobster out of view and causing the crème fraiche to form swirling patterns across a hearty pea-colored base. The soup itself is light and creamy while the lobster, crème fraiche, and caviar add a rich and salty impact that sends waves of bliss surging down my throat.

The Hot-House Salad is a sight to behold; a halved tomato is fully submerged by buttermilk dressing, Parmesan shavings, dill, shaved red onion, and Applewood smoked bacon. The creamy heaviness of the dressing and its accompanying ingredients is complemented by the freshness of the tomato in an ingenious pairing.

Entrees

Despite its devotion to the surf, Truluck’s also pays homage to turf with a selection of steaks and chops. The Filet of Beef Oscar, a 5 oz. cut topped with fresh Maine Peekytoe crab, shaved asparagus, jalapeno Béarnaise, and a side of Parmesan mashed potatoes, is truly a study in the art of grilling. Paired with an elegant 2005 Viader Syrah, my knife slices through the buttery pink portion effortlessly. The succulent morsel all but melts in my mouth alongside the smooth, rich jalapeno Béarnaise. Not to be outdone, the asparagus and crab provide a healthy yet creative seafood alternative as a side.

Next up is the South African Cold Water Lobster Tail, better known to the seafood aficionados as “the Rolls Royce of lobster”. The open-faced tail is drizzled with a simple yet savory lemon and garlic butter. The classy crustacean proves to be sweet and tender, with a butter that doesn’t detract from the meat’s velvety smooth texture and overall freshness. A side of seasoned Parmesan mashed potatoes whipped up to precision alongside some not-too-firm and not-too-soft grilled asparagus complete the dish.

The King Crab Macaroni and Cheese, one of Truluck’s dozen or so side options, proves impossible to resist. A medley of baked cheeses made with a rich buttery roux back my long held theory that there’s more to macaroni and cheese than noodles, butter, processed powdered cheese, and milk. With a generous splaying of thick chunks of crab mingling amid penne steeped in full-flavored cheeses, it’s an instant hit at the table.

Alongside our next entrée, the Dutch Harbor Red King Crab, it’s the sort of epicurean experience gourmands like myself only dream about. My first encounter with a crab this large, I approach the creature with an intimidation I wouldn't normally associate with food. Apprehension proves unnecessary: the crabmeat abundantly pours out of its shell, helping me avoid the sort of catapulting crab debacles that would normally ensue for me in this situation. Dipped in the same lemon-garlic butter as the lobster, it is chunky and tender, the flavors harmonizing in the most succulent of ways.

Desserts

The pièce de résistance comes in the form of a two-person serving of the three-layer carrot cake. Awarded Best Carrot Cake in both Florida and Texas, where the Truluck’s chain reigns supreme over quality seafood, it more than delivers in both taste and presentation. A thin drizzle of warm butterscotch syrup gracefully poured in front of us by Robert has our eyes glazing and our mouths watering in anticipation. Not dense like most cakes of its kind, this sinful treat boasts a light, fluffy cream cheese frosting and a generous helping of candied pecans over a moist and spice enriched cake.

The Dark Chocolate Cake, equal in silhouette and magnitude yet not as sweeping in flavor as the carrot cake, is not for the faint of stomach. All three layers of the rich cake are robed in a ganache of the finest quality milk chocolate and topped with a bouquet of wild berries. The fresh fruit combined with a scoop of the purest vanilla ice cream offset the richness of the cake in both taste and temperature to create a seductive mingling of the senses. Thanks to the two-person servings of both these delicious desserts, we find ourselves up to our ears in leftovers, and marvel at the idea of dessert for breakfast after our stomachs have had a night of repose to recover.

Reluctant to leave, but just as eager to burrow into a well-deserved food coma, we inch our way out of the booth and into the crisp night air. As we take in our surroundings, we notice that the outdoor patio has filled up with a few tables. Heat lamps and fire pits alike keep guests protected from that San Diego coastal chill. Surpassingly satisfied with both the surf and the turf, we go home with smiles on our face over the recent memory of our culinary indulgence, as well as the promise of leftovers in the morning.


 

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Reservations

Business Info

  • Address: 8990 University Center Lane, San Diego CA 92122
  • Cross Street: Lebon Drive
  • Location: La Jolla & UTC | UTC
  • Cuisine: California | Seafood |
  • Cost: | Moderate
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot | Valet Parking |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover | Diners Club |
  • Corkage Fee: 25.00 | Per 750ml bottle.
  • Phone: (858) 453-2583
  • Features: Full Bar, Famous Chef, Live Entertainment, Organic Ingredients, Outdoor Seating, Private Room, Prix Fixe Menu, Takeout Available, Working Fireplace, Wheelchair Access, Valet Parking, Happy Hours, Personal Wines Allowed, Healthy Options,
  • Occasion: Romantic Dining, Dining Alone, Business Dining, Meet for a Drink, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion,

Photos

Truluck's - Truluck's
Truluck's - Bar Truluck's - Piano Truluck's - Tuna Tartare Tower Truluck's - Truluck's Truluck's - Dungeness Crab Truluck's - Stone Crab Truluck's - King Crab Truluck's - Ceviche Truluck's - Champagne Truluck's - Chocolate Cake Truluck's - Miso Seabass Truluck's - False Pass Salmon Truluck's - Clams on stove Truluck's - Cosmopolitan Truluck's - Cioppino

Business Hours

Reservations Available
Monday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Thursday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Friday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Happy Hours - Stone Crab Lounge 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

F.A.Q.s

Frequently Asked Questions
Every night from 6pm until closing
At 5pm daily
5-6:30pm daily
Not currently
No, Trulcuk's is located on University Lane and Lebon Drive about 3 miles from the beach.
Yes.
Truluck's dress code is casual elegant. A dress code key can be found on: http://www.sandiegorestaurants.com/article.cfm/article/15/Dressing-to-Dine--Dress-codes-defined
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Menus

Customer Reviews & Ratings

4.5 out of 5 stars based on 1 votes