By Henri Migala
March 6, 2022 (Julian) -- If you live in San Diego, then you have probably enjoyed a country drive to the charming mountain town of Julian and perhaps stopped to have lunch at what used to be the Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant overlooking the lake. It’s now under new ownership and has been fully renovated, reopened as the Pub at Lake Cuyamaca.
The outside sill looks much like the old restaurant, for now, but as soon as you go inside, the change is instantly obvious. There’s an open floor plan and a bar, with rustic wood floors and walls. The inside was abuzz with diners and busy staff during my recent visit.
The Pub at Lake Cuyamaca is now owned by Tyson and Kristina Blake, who also co-own West Coast Smoke and Tap House in La Mesa. Blake also co-owns O’Brien’s Pub in Kearny Mesa with Tim Nickel, who owns Nickel Beer Company in Julian.
Not only has the restaurant been renovated, but so has the store next door, which carries a wide selection of beer and wine labels you would expect to see in downtown San Diego – as well as Julian apple pies and more.
The noveau-Americana menu switches between lunch and dinner. We enjoyed our country drive during the day and stopped at the Pub for lunch. It was tough trying to decide what to order. The menu includes a variety of options form soups, to salads, to sandwiches, burgers, and larger entrees. Not only did everything on the menu call to us, but every plate the wait staff brought out to other customers looked so delicious!
We spoke with Tyson Blake about his new venture and asked for his recommendations for lunch.
Blake recommended the Roast Turkey Dip, which takes a couple of days to prepare the jus, and the Cuyamackin Tri Tip. When both plates were brought to our table, they looked like they belonged on the cover of Saveur Magazine.
Both were excellent, but my guest and I enjoyed the rich flavors of the Trip Tip the most.
We also sampled a flavorful smoke trout spread served with veggies and crackers, evoking thoughts of fishing in the alluring lake outside.
We finished our lunch with a helping of decadent chocolate desert large enough to share.
The menu has expanded since the initial opening. It now includes burgers, sandwiches, soups and chili, appetizers ranging from wings to charcuterie, salads and entrees. Besides many meaty options, there are also several healthy and vegetarian dishes such as roast Kobacha squash, smokey yam and a meatless impossible burger.
More changes are planned, Blake says, giving credit to head Chef Colin Murray. “When we’re talking about what kind of food to serve, we have an opportunity to embrace all four seasons,” Blake adds, noting that the menu will likely change quarterly.
They serve some local produce, and several dishes inspired by what you see in the mountains and near the lake, such as turkeys and trout.
Friends of mine who live in and around Julian have all told me that they have heard only great reviews from their friends who have eaten at the new Pub at Lake Cuyamaca.
These positive personal, anecdotal reviews are echoed by the 4.5 Stars The Pub at Lake Cuyamaca received on Yelp.
Typical comments on Yelp include:
“They just opened up sometime in January '22 . And they are rocking it out here with blasting flavors , super service and friendly staff ! Can't beat this place great view of the lake and the little island here. The place was very clean hardly a wait for seating they had a great selection of food, beers and apps and more! Kid menu was basic but even with my picky eater she loved the options and flavors. The garlic fries were bursting with flavors with each bite, hamburger was juicy, not dry. My husband loved the tri-Tip sandwich, so getting that next time as well. Definitely coming back once it starts to warm a bit more.”
“WOW! This place is FANTASTIC!!! Lake Cuyamaca is so lucky to have this new restaurant. They are remodeling up a storm and putting out extremely tasty food! Everything we've tried so far (meatball sandwich, grilled turkey au jus, ham sandwich, enchilada soup, tri-tip sandwich) has been excellent! Absolutely top-notch. They've upgraded the store inside, too. Such a huge improvement! “
Now that the weather is getting a little warmer, and everyone is ready to get out again, enjoy a country drive to the mountains and stop at the Pub at Lake Cuyamaca. Not only will you be treated to a hearty meal, but you might also be lucky enough to see one of the resident Bald Eagles that live by the lake.
View the full menu at https://thepubatlakecuyamaca.com/.