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Imaginative apps, classic entrees

Bully's East, simple and sincere for over 40 years

Trifecta roll, the steakhouse-style sushi
Trifecta roll, the steakhouse-style sushi
Place

Bully's East

2401 Camino del Rio South, San Diego

Facing the bar at Bully's East

We bustling foodies tend to be so focused on what’s new and hip that it’s all too easy to forget the unassuming time-honored restaurants that have been steadily serving hungry San Diegans for generations. One such restaurant is Bully’s East Prime Bistro Sports Bar, the Mission Valley joint that first opened in 1971. Rather than the cold, open, sparse, screen-filled rooms I associate with the term “sports bar,” Bully’s is warm and inviting; intimate tables with red vinyl booths are separated by dark wood panels, and each table is illuminated with a low-hanging light. The screens are discreetly tucked away on either side of the bar. The most prominent screens for sports-lovers are in an adjoining room, where long tables and chairs are set up for larger parties.

I used to go to Bully’s on occasion with a friend and her mother, but that had been years ago. The place was mostly off my radar until my friend Kimberly, the queen of no pretension, insisted a group of us hit it up. Kimberly is not a hipster, meaning she isn’t like another faction of my friends who seem to enjoy other mainstays such as Albie’s Beef Inn or Imperial House more for the kitsch than for the food. (It was also Kimberly who brought me to Piatti’s. She has a knack for seeing through hype and gravitating toward places she just likes.)

Generous basket of bread

I could feel the charm from the moment we were greeted by the hostess at the family-owned restaurant. The staff is friendly across the board, from the bartender who served me a no-frills Manhattan to our server who answered every question and promptly responded to requests with a genuine smile. I was surprised to see a few bold fusions on the appetizer menu, things like the Trifecta Roll ($9), a sushi roll with prime rib, shrimp, and cream cheese, tempura fried and served with sweet chile sauce. Of course, we had to try it. Strange as it was to have a steakhouse-style sushi roll, the flavors and textures all worked well together, and everyone who had a piece smiled and nodded as they chewed, even my usual sushi-purist husband.

8 oz filet mignon with green beans and potato, a simple classic

It’s on the appetizer portion of the menu that Bully’s seems to push beyond its 70s-era mandate, mostly with monthly specials, some recent examples of which are the butternut squash ravioli with mushrooms, sage, and brown butter ($9); prosciutto and goat cheese pizza ($9); and pierogies with sauerkraut, spiced apples, and sour cream ($8). We ended up ordering the baked brie with toasted almonds, apples, and cider cream, served with toasted baguette ($10). This was just damn good.

Baked brie at Bully's East

The primary fare is meat and seafood heavy, and covers the gamut of classic steakhouse preparations, such as lobster tail with drawn butter ($40), a whole or half BBQ chicken ($22/$17), burgers, sandwiches, and of course, steaks. I opted for the 8-ounce filet mignon ($31). For my two sides, I chose the baked potato and green beans with toasted almonds. The steak was prepared to my liking, charred on the outside, a reddish pink medium inside. I was equally pleased with my sides — the green beans required no additional seasoning at the table, and my potato skin had a pleasurable crackle to it.

It wasn't until later, when I checked out their web site, that I learned Chef Luis Martinez (fairly new to Bully's East) is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and spent some time cooking in Spain, but grew up right here in Alpine. I found it interesting that he uses the word "simple" when explaining his food philosophy, as that is the word that came to mind as I was sampling his food. By simple, Martinez means he seeks to maintain the original flavors of his ingredients. There is comfort to simple, and it takes great experience and effort to create dishes that are both simple and delicious. Thanks to my friend Kimberly, Bully’s East is most definitely back on my radar.

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Trifecta roll, the steakhouse-style sushi
Trifecta roll, the steakhouse-style sushi
Place

Bully's East

2401 Camino del Rio South, San Diego

Facing the bar at Bully's East

We bustling foodies tend to be so focused on what’s new and hip that it’s all too easy to forget the unassuming time-honored restaurants that have been steadily serving hungry San Diegans for generations. One such restaurant is Bully’s East Prime Bistro Sports Bar, the Mission Valley joint that first opened in 1971. Rather than the cold, open, sparse, screen-filled rooms I associate with the term “sports bar,” Bully’s is warm and inviting; intimate tables with red vinyl booths are separated by dark wood panels, and each table is illuminated with a low-hanging light. The screens are discreetly tucked away on either side of the bar. The most prominent screens for sports-lovers are in an adjoining room, where long tables and chairs are set up for larger parties.

I used to go to Bully’s on occasion with a friend and her mother, but that had been years ago. The place was mostly off my radar until my friend Kimberly, the queen of no pretension, insisted a group of us hit it up. Kimberly is not a hipster, meaning she isn’t like another faction of my friends who seem to enjoy other mainstays such as Albie’s Beef Inn or Imperial House more for the kitsch than for the food. (It was also Kimberly who brought me to Piatti’s. She has a knack for seeing through hype and gravitating toward places she just likes.)

Generous basket of bread

I could feel the charm from the moment we were greeted by the hostess at the family-owned restaurant. The staff is friendly across the board, from the bartender who served me a no-frills Manhattan to our server who answered every question and promptly responded to requests with a genuine smile. I was surprised to see a few bold fusions on the appetizer menu, things like the Trifecta Roll ($9), a sushi roll with prime rib, shrimp, and cream cheese, tempura fried and served with sweet chile sauce. Of course, we had to try it. Strange as it was to have a steakhouse-style sushi roll, the flavors and textures all worked well together, and everyone who had a piece smiled and nodded as they chewed, even my usual sushi-purist husband.

8 oz filet mignon with green beans and potato, a simple classic

It’s on the appetizer portion of the menu that Bully’s seems to push beyond its 70s-era mandate, mostly with monthly specials, some recent examples of which are the butternut squash ravioli with mushrooms, sage, and brown butter ($9); prosciutto and goat cheese pizza ($9); and pierogies with sauerkraut, spiced apples, and sour cream ($8). We ended up ordering the baked brie with toasted almonds, apples, and cider cream, served with toasted baguette ($10). This was just damn good.

Baked brie at Bully's East

The primary fare is meat and seafood heavy, and covers the gamut of classic steakhouse preparations, such as lobster tail with drawn butter ($40), a whole or half BBQ chicken ($22/$17), burgers, sandwiches, and of course, steaks. I opted for the 8-ounce filet mignon ($31). For my two sides, I chose the baked potato and green beans with toasted almonds. The steak was prepared to my liking, charred on the outside, a reddish pink medium inside. I was equally pleased with my sides — the green beans required no additional seasoning at the table, and my potato skin had a pleasurable crackle to it.

It wasn't until later, when I checked out their web site, that I learned Chef Luis Martinez (fairly new to Bully's East) is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and spent some time cooking in Spain, but grew up right here in Alpine. I found it interesting that he uses the word "simple" when explaining his food philosophy, as that is the word that came to mind as I was sampling his food. By simple, Martinez means he seeks to maintain the original flavors of his ingredients. There is comfort to simple, and it takes great experience and effort to create dishes that are both simple and delicious. Thanks to my friend Kimberly, Bully’s East is most definitely back on my radar.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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