880 Harbor Island Drive, Harbor Island
Coasterra restaurant opened a few weeks ago, and my cousin decided to treat us to dinner at this much-talked about dining experience, adjacent to the Cohn Group’s existing Island Prime and C-Level restaurants.
As we approached the Reuben E. Lee, the abandoned paddle boat restaurant built in 1969, we encountered a sprawling viewing platform of the San Diego waterfront.
The view is so spectacular that it made me wonder if the food would be able to hold my attention. The servers seem to spend half their time taking photos of people in front of the shimmering bay, but the time our server spent with our group of four was just right.
The server brought three glasses of moderately priced wine (no double-digit pricing) and a watermelon Margarita for my friend. Coasterra’s tableside guacamole with crushed avocado, fresh tomato, red onion, cilantro, cracked black pepper, cotijas, lime, and serrano arrived for $14. We could have added lobster for $10 more, crab for $8, or blackened shrimp and scallops for $6, but we went old school. It was as tangy as one might find across the border.
We decided to wait for an outdoor table for our dinner, even though the tables inside also sport a spectacular view. It’s still summer, and we wanted to soak up as much of the panorama of the city and breeze that we could.
The menu is described as Modern Mexican, so there are no rolled tacos or bean burritos here. Our group ordered the Enchiladas de Pollo, two enchiladas with perfectly cooked roasted chicken, tomatillo-serrano salsa, and pasilla chile adobo with Chihuahua cheese, Mexican rice, and pinto beans for $21 and Enchiladas de Mariscos, two enchiladas with Mexican white shrimp, bay scallops, pacific seabass, housemade chorizo, smoked poblano cream, queso fresco, salsa verde, Mexican rice, and pinto beans for $24.
We also got carne asada made with certified Angus skirt steak, also served with tortillas and rice and beans for $28 and the Mar y Tierra, a dish made of beef short rib, Oaxacan mole, lobster-risotto cake, and grilled asparagus for $36.
The food wasn’t too spicy, probably in anticipation of the tourists who most likely will cab it over straight from the airport once word gets out about this restaurant. The seafood was fresh and grilled perfectly; the sauces were contemporary, thick, and rich.
After three hours of wining, dining, and drinking in the view we floated home, only to return for a cocktail and one more look the next night.