827 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Open 4pm-11pm Daily
Large party accommodations
Happy Hour Everyday*
I went wandering downtown on a Wednesday night with a hunger, but no idea where to take it. Which is how I pretty much stumbled upon Urban Bar & Grill.
After skimming the large menu I was still indecisive until a bubbly hostess offered us free dessert if we were to dine there that night; done and done. She mentioned that there was happy hour in the bar area and even though it was 8pm I have never, and will never, question food and drink specials — so we sat at one of the high tables that were separated from the main dining room.
I will mention that it did take a little bit for a server to come greet us, however it gave me a chance to take a look around since I had never been inside Urban before. The decor was modern and classy, but nothing over-the-top that would make the dress code fell like anything more than “casual”. Above our heads hung several gorgeous chandeliers, each with its own unique abstract design and shape. The bar had plenty of seating, as well as a “happy hour” section though it felt as if the tables were slightly crammed in there. Like most, I appreciate being able to hold a personal conversation with my friends across the table, without being overheard by the party dining next to me, and I’m sure vice-versa.
It definitely took a little time to get the dining experience started which became a little irritating, but once it did I had no more complaints whatsoever! Every sip of my signature cocktail (the Strawberry Lemonade Martini) and bite of my food was just as amazing as the last. Since happy hour includes half-priced appetizers, we made sure to order three different ones. We began with the Thai Red Curry Mussels and it was the perfect way to start the meal. These delicious morsels from the sea were plump, juicy, and certainly larger than any mussels I’ve ever seen. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not even the biggest fan of mussels — but these were enough to change my mind. The flavorful curry broth was like nothing I have ever had before; I would’ve actually slurped it from the bowl if it was socially acceptable, or if they had given me a straw.
After devouring our first plate, we then moved onto the Eggplant and Mozzarella Rolls. The “rolls” looked like a slice of lasagna and tasted like its vegetarian better half. The portion was smaller than what I had expected, but the flavors were enormously robust: The marinara sauce tasted fresh and homemade, adding yet another fabulous component to the overall dish.
After that disappeared, we felt determined to keep going so we followed the second course up with the Shrimp Cocktail. The presentation of the dish was as pristine as its taste: Three jumbo shrimp were dipped into individual shot glasses, filled with a classic cocktail sauce, and finely minced cucumber and roasted bell pepper to top. Pretty sure we weren’t supposed to eat the remaining cocktail sauce when the shrimp were gone — but we did. It was so heavenly, we simply couldn’t help ourselves!
You’d think we’d stop there… But the selection of entrees looked so good, we couldn’t resist ! It was an unanimous choice to go for the Blackened Mahi Mahi. The Mahi Mahi was topped with crab meat, which sat atop a creamy tomato risotto garnished with avocado and crema fresca. By now we had established a pattern of licking our plates clean, and this one was not destined to be the exception. The fish was tender, yet delicately flaky, and had a little kick from the blackened seasoning, which was perfectly balanced out by the generous slices of avocado and its decadent sauce. The dish contained all the flavors of a classic San Diego fish taco, with added components like the crab meat and the risotto, that elevated the dish to not only a fine dining offering, but its welcoming familiarity is still appealing to the masses. It was a standout dish.
We probably should have stopped after that, but we didn’t. We still had a free dessert to consume and we weren’t going to turn it down no matter how full we were! We had a choice between a slice of cheesecake or their chocolate mousse cake, and we went for the latter. Personally, I didn’t think I was going to be able to take more than one bite, but it was so smooth, light, and airy that it was gone before we realized it — rounding out the common theme throughout our night and a memorable five course meal.
*Happy Hour Everyday 4pm-7pm and Late Night 9pm-11pm; Happy Hour is celebrated ALL DAY on Wednesdays.
1/2 off appetizers
$3 draft beers
$4 well drinks
$5 house wine
$5 signature cocktails