Hotel restaurants get a bad rap, and in many cases, the stigma is well deserved, with lowest common denominator menus that feel like they’re better suited to Bar Mitzvahs or weddings. Thankfully, the operators of San Diego’s waterfront Hilton Garden Inn recognized an opportunity when renovating an Art Deco building across PCH from docked cruise ships. Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen is a restaurant that opened in 2016 and houses an inviting courtyard complete with bamboo planters, strings of oblong lanterns, and fire pit. To make sure people would eat well while luxuriating, they hired talented chef Giselle Wellman, a San Diego native who previously cooked in L.A. at restaurants like Petrossian and Mama Shelter.
I enjoyed a full dinner at Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen and several dishes warranted Food of the Week status, including deluxe shrimp toast and brioche rolls with house-made ricotta. Still, I’ll cast my vote for Fish & Chips ($20), one of SoCal’s best iterations. Wellman starts with San Diego Bay rockfish, dredging juicy fillets in light lager batter and frying until golden brown. Each order comes with skin-on, house-cut fries, punchy garlic aioli, and three ways to dress the fish: fresh herb tartar sauce, malt vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon.