At Isabel’s Cantina, Chef Isabel Cruz fuses Latin and Asian cuisine into sensual and creative concoctions that are both remarkably addictive and surprisingly healthy. By incorporating ingredients from spicy pork carnitas to tofu, Chef Cruz creates a vegetarian’s haven as well as a meat-lover’s paradise. The exotic dining space is at once dramatic and hip, with accents such as an enormous 15-foot Buddha statue staring down at the dining room. Casual booths, stark lines, and warm colors create an atmosphere not found elsewhere in Pacific Beach, attracting crowds for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Some Customer Comments:
“My husband and I found Cantina for breakfast, and have been happy each time we’ve gone in the A.M. Last week, we wandered in for dinner and were even more please with our experience. This is becoming one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego because it’s the only place I’ve found with a truly creative mix of tastes, as well as an abundance of healthy items to choose from. Plus, the atmosphere is fun and the service is great. Hard to beat…”
“Isabel Cruz is one of my heroes. She successfully runs three restaurants in the San Diego area, bringing healthy, unique and delicious fusion cuisine to the unsuspecting. If I could be as creative as Food Girl I’d be content with my life.
With that description–healthy fusion cuisine–I doubt if I’d be able to convince many of my friends to check out the Cantina. Yet everyone I bring here (and I bring a lot of people) leaves absolutely raving about the experience. Dinner is excellent, brunch might be the slightest bit better, and there are 2 or 3 staples on the menu that I have dreams about if I haven’t been there in a while.
The atmosphere of the Cantina aims to whisk you away from the noisy streets of PB, transporting you to a calm locale somewhere in Southeast Asia. A giant Buddha watches over you as you lean back on the deep couch to enjoy your meal, which in PB is a bit more entertaining than calming, but enjoyable nonetheless. The menu is equally relaxing, with so many delicious options that you know you’ll be satisfied no matter what you order. Half the items on the menu come with a choice of tofu, chicken, or carnitas, which is especially helpful when you have a mix of vegetarian and non-veg friends.
Amazing items include anything with Rosemary Potatoes, the Brazil Bowl, the Udon noodles, and a handful of specials here and there. Cantina doesn’t have a full bar, but has a good selection of wine and beer, although I find the drinks slightly pricy. The food however, is amazingly reasonable for not only its deliciousness but its creativity. Cantina is a must -visit, especially if you live in PB and want to escape for a while.”