We don’t eat out often—as a family of five, it’s just not economical. But there’s one place that we continuously attempt to visit every single month, because we love everything about it: Karl Strauss.
It helps that the Karl Strauss 4s Ranch location is right down the street from us, because if we aren’t swinging by on a Sunday after church, we’ll walk over from our house for lunch or dinner on a weekend.
But lucky for you, there are 10 locations in Southern California, including some in Los Angeles. Now if only they’d open some in New Mexico…I’m going to miss this place when we leave; it’s always a top recommendation when friends visit.
What keeps us going back for more time and time again?
Three things: the food, the service, and the beer. Each of those exceeds our expectations during every visit.
Karl Strauss: The Food.
Oh, the food! One of our favorite things about Karl Strauss is that they have a monthly special.
It keeps us on our toes, and is one reason why we try to visit each month. Sometimes it’s a featured entree, or sometimes it’s an appetizer, but regardless of what category it’s under, it’s bound to perfect.
If one of us doesn’t order the special of the month, we’re bound to get one of our regular favorites.
My husband almost always picks a burger—the T10 Burger with gorgonzola, mushrooms, and beer onions, to be exact.
Even though I’m usually a creature of habit, when I’m at Karl Strauss I almost always pick the monthly special just because I know it’ll be great.
I have a few favorite fallbacks if I’m not in the mood for the special.
Their Chop Shop Chicken Salad, the Beef Dip Sandwich, or the Blackened Mahi Tacos are always awesome picks.
But really, you can’t go wrong with anything off the menu. We’ve never had something that was even remotely mediocre.
Karl Strauss: food for the kiddos
As for the kids, we started out getting them each a mac and cheese kids meal (because I’m all about places that offer drinks with a kid’s meal, and we didn’t have our third kid when we started coming here), but it quickly became apparent that they needed more…especially when our youngest started eating more than his sisters.
So now we get them an adult Piggy Bank—mac and cheese mixed with chunks of bacon, ham, and sausage (hold the delicious crumb topping—because kids are silly).
They literally gobble it all up.
I don’t blame them—it’s some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had, and I’m overjoyed if I can sneak in a bite or two while I’m dishing it on their plates.
There’s one part to the menu that I can’t tell you about, and I feel horrible for saying that, but it’s the dessert.
My husband and I kept saying we’d head over for a date night and take advantage of not having to share the dessert with the kids, but we never made it happen.
They have a something called a Beeramisu—a fun brewery-like twist on a classic tiramisu—and it’s been calling my name for three years! Maybe we’ll try some before we leave. Hopefully.
Karl Strauss: The Service
We were hesitant about how family friendly Karl Strauss would be when we saw the words “brewing company” in their name.
Fun fact: we were once kicked out of a place for bringing a baby with us, so we weren’t sure just how casual it would be.
Novices to the San Diego brew scene, we were nervous that they’d turn their nose up to kids.
That worry was quickly put aside on our very first visit three years ago when our server—bless her heart—practically entertained my toddler and got her to eat her food while I had a few blissful bites to myself.
It was the smallest gesture that ensured we’d be back for more.
Time and time again, we’re just amazed and so thankful for the staff at the 4s Ranch location. They’re kind, accommodating, and always so helpful, and they go the extra mile to make sure that families are always taken care of.
Every time we’re at Karl Struass it’s always a give-in that there will be at least three other families dining there, too.
The high ceilings and ample space indoors makes the whole restaurant feel open and airy enough to cope with large families with little kids who have big voices.
We also love the option of dining out on the patio (for those days when the little ones may be a little extra salty).
Karl Strauss: The Beer
We LOVE their beer. Love, love, love it.
My favorite is their Windansea Wheat, a Bavarian Hefeweizen that’s smooth, crisp and so easy to drink.
They only have it on draft, which makes me slightly sad, because I wish we could take some bottles home with us.
They do sell growlers, but I’m a serious lightweight, and wouldn’t drink it fast enough.
My other two favorites are the Red Trolly, an Irish red ale that you can get it by the bottle almost any local store here, and a pilsner called Follow the Sun.
My husband always goes for one of their tart or sour beers that they have on tap.
One of the cool things about Karl Strauss is that—for all diners over 21—if you order an entree, they’ll bring you a taste of a beer that pairs well with your meal.
I may not like a beer on its own, but I’ll almost always enjoy what they bring out with my meal. It’s a fun way to try new things or see how they pair with different dishes.
Another way to try some of their beers is with a flight—great for sampling their small batch and limited edition beers or anything on their regular menu.
Have you been to Karl Strauss?
What do you like to get at Karl Strauss, or what’s something you can’t wait to try if you ever have a chance to visit?