I am not typically a superstitious man. I don't fear black cats or walking under ladders. I don't believe voodoo dolls are a means to bewitch others (though I have seen enough of the Child's Play flicks to know it's never a bad idea to stab dolls as a preventative measure). But as I first witness Eureka! in the UTC shopping center (4353 La Jolla Village Drive), I'm pretty certain it's cursed.
Since my time at UCSD many moons ago, I've watched innumerable restaurants, even promisingly beer-themed ones, sprout up at this location only to be mercilessly mowed down. It could just be that its lease involves some lopsided Faustian bargain, but I'm convinced that this slice of the Golden Triangle must be a distant cousin of the Bermuda equivalent.
Since I managed to cross Eureka!'s threshold without the roof caving in on me, I gingerly followed the host past the Native American burial sites to a table and browsed the restaurant's wares. The menu has a strong focus on burgers, craft brew and boutique whiskey, which basically reads like a shopping list for my id.
Twenty-seven of the 40 taps are dedicated offerings with a strong focus on West Coast styles and breweries, while the remaining are on perpetual rotation. The core beers represented an excellent cross section of styles, making them worthy perennials, though my taste buds (a capricious lot) would prefer the ratio to be reversed. As long as I'm whining, I'd like to further mention that limiting the daily happy-hour discounts to only the dedicated taps made my overly entitled blood roil with beer-nerd rage. Were it not for the simultaneously crisp and tender osso bucco riblets on the happy-hour menu, I probably would've regressed into full-blown sulking.
An equally patient and informed wait staff is critical to propping up this volume of taps, and Eureka! certainly provided it. I was given worthwhile guidance when describing the beers I favored and was delivered countless samples with nary a groan. Customers who are new to craft brew will find Eureka! nurturing and informative.
Eureka!'s menu likewise treated me kindly. The jalapeño egg burger was a glorious, yolk-sopping mess of interspecies carnage that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'd definitely recommend it with the Ritual Extra Red if they have it, but the Green Flash Hop Head Red is a close second. The inclusion of a kids menu was especially pleasing, since breeders like me are often forced to disregard more convenient pub options because they banish chicken tenders and chocolate milk. I appreciate that many customers prefer their watering holes unsullied by their shorter, brattier counterparts, but Daddy needs to get his drink on.
I'm punting whatever vestiges of skepticism I previously held and making this column a full-fledged plea to whatever mystical forces have jurisdiction over restaurant survival. Its stable of tasty beers and juicy burgers alone is at least worth shaving off a little of the bad juju. It may not be pioneering the high-end pub-grub model, but Eureka!'s take on it still impresses.