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First Look: Dockside 1953

The Bahia Resort Hotel unveils a new bayside nautical restaurant that nods to 70 years of San Diego history

What do Christine Baranski, our knowledge of DNA’s double helix, and Mission Bay’s Bahia Resort Hotel have in common? They all look darn good at 70.

And this week one of them (hint: it’s not Christine) unveils the new Dockside 1953—a bay-ogling seafood restaurant and a massive upgrade for a San Diego classic.

Bahia Resort founders Bill and Anne Evans were the first to secure a commercial lease on Mission Bay. The waterfront resort opened in 1953, just a few years after construction began on a project to transform what were once wetlands into a tourist-friendly aquatic and recreation park. It’s become a local icon, a laid-back, unpretentious staycation spot.

Dockside 1953, interior

Dockside 1953, interior

The restaurant had always been a casual thing, just a place to fill up before or after pulling a muscle in a kayak or swimming in some boat drinks on the beach. But the Evans family has a strong culinary pedigree, since they also own the Lodge at Torrey Pines (which has chef Kelli Crosson and the venerated AR Valentien, plus The Grill). In 2015, they completely overhauled their other Mission Bay resort, Catamaran, opening Oceana Coastal Kitchen. And during the pandemic, they turned their focus on the Bahia.

While Dockside is shiny and new (it started laying down plates last year), the restaurant pays homage to the resort’s seven decades of San Diego history. It’ll have some throwback midcentury-inspired sips (rum punches, mai tais, a Champagne cocktail) and riffs on classic American dishes. An oysters Rockefeller gets watercress-bacon butter; shrimp cocktail has chipotle cocktail sauce; a meatloaf gets a trio of beef, pork, and lamb.

They’re also bringing back once-classic dishes that were unfairly discarded for nouveau trends. The chicken under a brick, for instance, comes spatchcocked, with bones removed, and flattened with a brick and grilled over high heat, which cooks the whole bird more evenly so you’re not stuck with great thighs and dried-out breasts.

Dockside 1953, patio dining

Dockside 1953, patio dining

The new menu for its official grand opening comes from their freshly appointed executive chef Bryan Stuppy, who spent five years as the chef de cuisine at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. “It strongly focuses on sustainable seafood from our local fishmongers and the highest quality produce from local farmers, growers, and producers,” Stuppy says.

That includes raw options like locally caught rockfish ceviche and a seafood tower piled high with oysters, shrimp, ceviche, seared tuna, and lobster, plus a daily catch from Tommy Gomes’ TunaVille Market in Point Loma. Stuppy also collaborated with his team to add menu items that may be less familiar to some San Diegans, like pikliz, a spicy blend of pickled cabbage, carrot, and peppers popular in Haitian cuisine—a nod to one of his lead cooks’ own cultural background.

Dockside 1953 at dusk

Dockside 1953 at dusk

Designed to encourage adventurous ordering and family-style eating, the new menu features several shareable plates, such as a prosciutto and brie flatbread, sherry demi-glace mushrooms, Wagyu and lamb meatballs, and steamed mussels. For those who prefer to keep their dish all to themselves (no shame—we all have that friend who hogs the appetizers), Dockside offers hearty mains like steak frites au poivre and forbidden rice risotto. They also steal something very important: the Grill’s “Drugstore Burger,” a San Diego favorite that’s always on any self-respecting best-burger list.

If you’re browsing Dockside’s lineup of 1950s-style craft cocktails, try the Butterfly Champagne, a refreshing mix of Tito’s Vodka, lemon, cucumber, and butterfly pea tea simple syrup topped with sparkling rosé. They’ll also have craft beers and good wine, because this is San Diego in 2023 and lacking a beer list is like missing a front door and seats in your restaurant.

All beverages are best enjoyed on the palm tree–lined patio, beside a firepit, staring out at the kayaker pulling a muscle or the all-day suntanner who needs an intervention.

Dockside 1953’s patio, dining room, and bar are open to walk-ins and reservations.

Have breaking-news, exciting scoops, or great stories about San Diego’s food scene? Send your pitches to [email protected].

By Molly Delmore

Molly Delmore is a freelance writer and content creator from San Diego. When she’s not checking out San Diego’s newest restaurants, bars, and shops, she’s planning her next trip to the mountains to snowboard or a new country to explore. Her work has been featured in San Diego Magazine, Mashed, and Tasting Table.

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