Destination-driven gourmands will do well to visit Marina Kitchen restaurant ensconced in the San Diego Marriott Marquis hotel. This innovation-oriented eatery serves up classic Southern California dishes, but with its own distinctive, modern twist courtesy of Chef Aron Schwartz. He is a man on a mission to proffer foodstuffs crafted from the best fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients—dishes that are duly complimented by an award-winning wine program.
Ideally situated in the scenic harbor area of downtown San Diego with close ocean access, not only is the seafood extremely high caliber but all else on the menu is mindfully curated with sustainability and quality in mind. And, conceptually, the recipes here exude ingenuity, which is among the many reasons I find myself craving repeat visits to the location. In fact, here are seven that’ll inspire you make your own reservation at Marina Kitchen:
1. Highly Talented Chef
Marina Kitchen is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, due in large part to the efforts of award-winning chef Aron Schwartz. His career highlights include being named “Chef of the Fest” at the San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival as well as working as the Executive Chef at Bernard’O Restaurant , San Diego and, before that, as a sous chef at the Lutèce in Las Vegas. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and is a local San Diegan to boot, having been born and raised in “America’s Finest City.” His culinary team as a whole boasts over 100 years of combined experience and, together, night after night they create a dining experience that is consistently stellar.
2. Locavore Soars!
Love eating food grown, raised or otherwise produced in your own proverbial backyard? Then this locavore locale is for you. Marina Kitchen strives to create healthy relationships with the local area fishermen, farmers and butchers to methodically procure ingredients from purveyors in the community. They even utilize their own urban, carbon footprint-reducing beekeeping techniques to produce their very own raw, organic honey. You can test the tasty result in creative beverages like their Honeycomb Harvest Cream Ale.
3. Familiar Comfort Food with a Modern Twist
Marina Kitchen adeptly upholds its theme of “Modern Comfort” with a thoughtful combination of perennial favorites but with just the right novel spin to keep things exciting. Their take on classic recipes is evident in such dishes as the Cioppino, which also showcases the abundance of local seafood available to this restaurant.
4. Extensive Award-Winning Wine Program & Tasting Bar
Wine is an experience best not missed at Marina Kitchen. Options include a selective sampling of not-yet-released wines straight from the barrels. The wine menu overall is nicely structured so that patrons can make their selections based on flavor profile, varietal or theme. If craft beer or artisan spirits are more your speed, you’ll have plenty to choose from as well. Try the chef’s personal favorite: Maker’s Mark served with the restaurant’s signature ice sphere. If you’re easily overwhelmed by extensive wine and beer selections or just like the opportunity to try different options in the course of an evening, then check out the tasting bar and try an assortment of beverages to find many you’re sure to love.
5. Indoor / Outdoor Seating
Marina Kitchen is designed to be both contemporary and cozy, making it the perfect spot for a business dinner, a group celebration or an intimate meal with a special someone. Choose to sit indoors where the décor is lovely and certainly comfortable, but keep in mind the outdoor seating offers captivating panoramic views of the bay. And with San Diego’s temperate climate, outdoor seating is a great option nearly year-round.
6. Friday and Saturday Night Prime Rib Specials
Carnivores rejoice! On Friday and Saturday nights, you can enjoy prime rib specials that I can assure you will beckon you back for more. The homemade rub, alone, harkens back to those home cooked meals of yore. Even Chef Schwartz concedes, “It reminds me of the Sunday dinners at home when I was a kid.”
7. Ground-Breaking Restaurant for the Marriott Brand
Marina Kitchen is nothing if not unique. A first-of-its-kind eatery for the Marriott brand, it’s also distinctive within the community. Indeed, this inventive and trendsetting spot feels much more like a freestanding restaurant where the locals hang out than a traditional hotel operation. “The design of the restaurant captures the casual feel of where we live,” says Chef Schwartz. “It makes you want to sit and enjoy a great meal or drinks with friends.” Bonus points: you may just see a celebrity or two as Stan Lee, Mike Tyson, Nichelle Nichols and Rob Zombie are a few of the stars known to have dined here.
These are just a few of the many reasons that Marina Kitchen is a killer dining destination. Perhaps Chef Schwartz sums it up best, having noted, “The entire Marina Kitchen team has a great sense of our identity and works hard to stay true to our vision… we are always looking for the ‘next best thing’ and… staying relevant is what we’re about.” I can attest that this unique restaurant manages to pull off comfortable, approachable, capable and cutting-edge all at once. Relevant indeed.