We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Stay home and "grill" your own meat :o(”

Charcoal House Restaurant
Ranked #144 of 206 Restaurants in La Mesa
Restaurant details
Reviewed March 9, 2014

My first mistake was reading all the previous reviews and not paying attention to what people were really writing about. MY BAD! I thought their combined enthusiasm meant that the restaurant was a good place to eat...MY BADx2

If you read the reviews of the Charcoal House they are mostly for the funky, fun, loud, very entertaining bar that is attached to the restaurant. When you enter from the back parking lot, if you hang a left, you're in funville (aka Wrinkle Room) complete with a karaoke machine. If you hang a right, then you are taking your chances with food whose recipes and cooks are clearly left over from the late 60's.

Last night my husband and I had a strong hankerin' for a steak.
We live out near the Viejas Casino and our mistake was either not making the trip into town to the Butcher Shop or going a little northeast to the Barona Ranchhouse, either way I checked the reviews on Yelp and off we went.

First of all, I should have trusted my gut feeling when not only did I NOT note any smoke, charcoal or broiling smells wafting from the building, the Restaurant smelled like an old, stinky rag. Lots of red vinyl in there and someone should know that if you don't use a very clean rag rinsed out in a little bleach you're going to get a sour smell all over the place.

Anyhow, the server (didn't catch her name, no name tag) was friendly, efficient and available so of course I am not stupid enough to "shoot the messenger" we still left her a good tip, not her fault that food sucked butt.

The menu seemed impressive and we settled on two Porterhouse steaks, one w/a baked potato and one w/ a stuffed potato. There was some good garlic bread, fresh and soft, a complimentary salad plate of cold veggies and ranch dressing and a decent mixed salad w/ great croutons ruined by the most watery blue cheese dressing you have ever tasted.

We didn't wait too long and were happy to observe that even though there are lots of folks of the silver haired variety on the side of the bar, there was a nice mixed crowd in the restaurant.

But then...... here came the steaks and I wanted to cry. My husband first of all is a typical male of the old school who when he is hungry will eat no matter what and won't send back food no matter what. He's afraid if he does, either the staff will spit on his next plate or it will take forever and he will starve sitting at the table while he waits. I AM NOT KIDDING!

I learned a long time ago to just go with the flow but that doesn't mean I can't warn anyone else right? My husband had the Porterhouse with the baked potato and as God is my witness (thank you Scarlett!) the two plastic cups that come with a potatoes that traditionally have the sour cream and butter were bigger than the potato itself. Are you kidding me?

Potatoes are so incredibly cheap, giving your customers a nice big , well cooked potato many times will make up for a less than perfect piece of meat. But here's the killer....that beautiful piece of Porterhouse steak looked as though it had been cooked in a George Foreman grill!!

True, it had grill marks but the meat itself was very white, the fat on the edge of the steak was white and cold and gristley. You all know that even though the fat is not good for you when a steak is done right on the grill, even the fat is tempting, almost too tempting to pass up.

At first I couldn't figure out why my steak looked like an albino zebra and then on the way out to the car, I realized that I could smell any smoke, grilling, nothing mouthwatering at all. If you restaurant is called the "Charcoal House" shouldn't it smell at least as good as Burger King does?
Nope, I would bet good money unless I am shown otherwise that there is not grilling going on at the old Charcoal house and that's a sad thing because we are the kind of people that eat out once or twice a week without fail and if we like a place will stick with it no matter what.
If you want good steak...go somewhere else....

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank BlueStarMama
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review
Reviews (26)
There are newer reviews for Charcoal House Restaurant
See the most recent reviews
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

11 - 15 of 26 reviews

Reviewed February 23, 2014

Second review for the Charcoal House. Great food, Great Value, Nice sized portions. Although the interior is a little dated, the place is clean, and the staff do their best. TRY the Prime Rib, worth the trip.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Mike N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 7, 2013

I ordered the filet mignon, garlic mashed and a start of the seafood bisque. I am not sure about how any of this is going to sit in my stomach. The seafood bisque was lukewarm, not hot at all. I ate it because I was very hungry. I hope I don't regret it later. The filet was ok. It was cooked as I ordered and it was tender. Luckily it was the only hot thing that was served. My veggies and mashed were not hot. Overall, not impressed. I really wanted to be since I haven't had steak in quite awhile. If I lived here, I probably would not visit again. It's next door to the hotel and the restaurant on the other side looked weird.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Dianna97370
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 29, 2013

This was our first trip to the Charcoal House. It has a homey pub feel with red leather booths and soft lighting. We got a great waitress named Mary Jane who was warm and friendly and made us feel welcome. We both decided to have the prime rib special. What a bargain. We each had a one pound slab of juicy prime rib with warm rolls and a great house salad and fresh vegetables. It was a great deal. My prime rib was cooked perfectly as were the vegetables. I heard the waitress saying they had Creme Brule and Cherry Cobbler. Next time for sure. i I really enjoyed my dinner and will be back again. They also have a $16.99 steak special on Saturday nights.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank CaliforniaDon1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 20, 2013

Not the fanciest, not the newest, but dependable GOOD food. The Prime Rib is excellent, and the Petite cut is large enough for anyone. Great, friendly service, and usually some outstanding dinner specials. Give them a Try.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Mike N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Charcoal House Restaurant also viewed

 

Been to Charcoal House Restaurant? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing