4506 30th Street, University Heights
4651 Mission Gorge Place, Suite B, Grantville
Over the past few years, the food and drink corridor of 30th Street has grown beyond its University Avenue origins to extend past El Cajon Boulevard and clear through BeHe up to Adams.
Locales such as the Pour House, Stone’s pending tasting room, and an in-the-works brewery to be co-opened by Saint Archer’s Dave Lively are just a few of the recent reasons to explore the area.
Now, Chris’ Ono Grinds Island Grill is bringing a tropical vibe to the block.
Opened 3 months ago, the restaurant is an expansion of a three-year-old Grantville location that established itself after positive feedback from farmers’ markets and catering gigs.
The entire menu is based on the recipes of owner Chris Wriston’s mother, who raised Chris in O’ahu and Kaua’I on homemade dishes caught fresh from the sea by his father.
While the Grantville location is more of a conventional restaurant, the North Park joint is streamlined for takeout, though it still sits about 15 inside and another six or so out front.
Beers such as Primo and Pacifico will be on pour any day now to accompany the easy-going ambiance of surf videos, reggae on the radio, and an irie-vibe staff to top it off.
You may recognize Ake behind the counter from the lysergic glow of his analog, liquid-visual projection outfit, Operation: Mindblow.
His favorite dishes are the Guava BBQ Bacon Burger (slathered in a house-made guava BBQ sauce) and the Huli Huli Chicken. The latter is tender and sweet, the teriyaki cut with a mild bite of chives.
The Kalbi Ribs find sweet & tangy sauce on at-first chewy, marbled slices of Korean short rib topped with chives and sesame seed. I ended up gnawing on the small slivers of bone to suck up their last bits of flavor.
Just like Chris’ dad used to catch, the Ahi Poke combines sushi-grade cuts of fish tossed in ono kine sauce — a classic conspiracy of garlic, ginger, soy, and sesame oil — served on a bed of mixed greens, cucumber, and carrots.
Most toothsome of all, however, is the Kalua Pork. Slow-cooked for about 10 hours in a crock pot, the pulled pig falls apart in your chopsticks before it reaches your mouth.