Karl Strauss – Sorrento Valley

A friend works in the Sorrento Valley area so she asked if we could meet for lunch at Karl Strauss. I’m not a big fan of this restaurant and I heard the place gets packed during work week lunch. Friend assured me there’s good looking guys in suits whom eat at Karl Strauss so we should most definitely go. I shrugged as that sounded terrible at the moment but then she said she’d treat so alright. What’s with shrugging these days – it seems to get me my way for some reason.  

Sorrento Valley
Sorrento Valley

I agreed to pick her up from work since it only seemed fair. I don’t visit this part of town often as there’s not much to really see or many places to eat. Friend and I were gagging how awful this ginormous (& inefficient) intersection  turned out to be after the ridiculous expansion.


We still find it so odd to be seeing a fish pond with live Koi fishes swimming around. It feels surreal but in a weird way like if your boss gives you a raise for no reason (I don’t know why I just used that as an analogy).

The restaurant was busy but we were able to get a table after about 10 minutes.

Karl Strauss

I don’t think I’m a klepto but friend immediately whispered ‘don’t you even think about putting that growler in your purse Faye’. Then we started laughing uncontrollably. I do think the growler is funny shaped but like the Karl name written on it.


I don’t know the name of these beers. I think mine was Endless Summer Light because that’s a beer name I’d probably order. I think friend ordered an IPA.


Beer-brined bacon, crumbled feta, balsamic reduction, and fresh grated pecorino-romano. 10.95

I’ve become a huge fan of roasted brussel sprouts but mainly because of the balsamic reduction.

Karl Strauss

The version here is ok. The brussels tasted lukewarm so not sure if they’re made to order. The thick sweet balsamic and the grated pecorino was the highlight of this dish.


We get ’em local from SD Pretzel Company. Beer spritz, spice-rubbed, with mango mustard, and beer cheese dip. 8.95

You get two large pretzels per order. Friend requested no spice rub on the pretzels. This was my absolute favorite dish of the meal (which friend found funny as the pretzels aren’t even made by Karl Strauss). The pretzel had a nice firm exterior while maintaining a soft yeasty interior.

Karl Strauss
Mango mustard and beer cheese dip

The two dips were just an after thought. We didn’t care for either one. I was actually shaking my head craving Sculpin mustard sauce for some reason (which is so odd because does Ballast even make a Sculpin mustard sauce ).


Our nice waiter decided to bring us samples of these whatever beers (seriously – can I PLEASE get beer educated so that I stop typing ‘whatever beers’ as a description). 


French-cut pork chops brined in Red Trolley Ale. Garlic mashed red potatoes, sautéed green beans, broccoli, firecracker sauce, and spicy mustard sauce. 21.95

Friend ordered this for us to share as she knows my quest to find the perfect brined pork chop. It’s a nice large portion for the price tag.

Karl Strauss

Unfortunately the pork chop tasted dry and hard. There wasn’t much fattiness to it. The firecracker sauce pretty much tasted like galbi sauce you’d buy from H Mart (not necessarily a bad thing). It was an intensely sweet sauce.


Friend ordered the same IPA as before but this one came out strangely nitrogen-y.

Service was efficient and friendly. We enjoyed our time there but mostly because of the company. Food was so-so with the best part being the pretzel. We joked that our next meal adventure should be at SD Pretzel Company since we enjoyed the pretzel so much.


We walked around the beer garden (which took 2 minutes I think). The Koi fishes look so vibrant and healthy. And fat. Karl Strauss also has a Sunday brunch which I think included bottomless mimosas. We tried the brunch two years ago and thought it was ok. I just researched their website and found this:

EVERY BRUNCH IS BETTER WITH BEER: A brunch without beer is just a sad late breakfast. Join us every Sunday for beer brunch. Enjoy beermosas or unlimited mimosas and the best beer brunch in San Diego complete with made to order omelette and pasta dishes.

Beermosas? What the frek is that.

So this might be a fun option for those who have yet to visit this Karl Strauss location.

9675 Scranton Rd
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 587-2739


16 thoughts on “Karl Strauss – Sorrento Valley

  1. Karl Strauss is also very close to my work. I also find it an uninteresting place to go eat. I like calling it Karlie’s instead.

    SD Pretzel Company is awesooooooome. I totally went there and got a tour once and you buy the pretzels at their factory in National City (or you can buy them online and they sell them in some local stores).

    Boooooo dry pork chops, boooooooooooo.

    1. You must work in like the mecca of breweries in Mira Mesa. And you don’t drink beer all that much either?

      Karlie’s is THE BEST name for this place. Ever. It makes me want to eat a fried chicken right now.

      I am so going to research SD Pretzel company and find out about this tour! Oh I bet it smells so good in the factory. I’d just want to sniff everything.

      I know about the pork chops 🙁 What’s with me and dry pork chops lately. We keep ordering it though whenever it’s on a menu though.

      1. Yes…. there are a crap ton of breweries around here! And no, I don’t drink that much. Oh wellllllll. SD Pretzel Company is pretty awesome! Now I really want a pretzel!

        1. I wonder if you can make a breakfast pretzel sandwich. And use one of your fancy salts to sprinkle on top of it. Like I want a breakfast sandwich in the shape of pretzel. I’m going to check out the different flavors SD Pretzel makes.

  2. My husband used to work near Karl Strauss and I would meet him for lunch there (way back in the late 90’s)…It was always crazy busy and i thought the food was mediocre.

    As for that intersection, ugh. Bert said that before the expansion it would take him literally half an hour to get on the freeway when it should really only take 5. So inefficient plus him getting stuck in traffic sucked badly. I’m so glad he no longer works for that company and is now closer to home with zero commute.

    1. Yeah I remember this place being crazy busy back in the day too. Did you think the ambiance and ‘feel’ of the restaurant was alright? It used to be ‘the beer garden’ to go to before all these craft beer places took over. I agree the food was mediocre.

      Augh the intersection is terrible. It’s still SUPER bad at 5p I heard. You and Bert should revisit Karl Strauss one day and sit in the traffic at that intersection to bring back (or re create) fond memories 😉

      I’m glad to hear he now has zero commute and is closer to home. Much better than Sorrento Valley traffic. Blech.

  3. Omg, when you mentioned brussel sprouts, you reminded me of my favorite dish in San Diego (it changes, but it’s been this one for over half a year) – the brussel sprouts side dish at Ironside. I know, I’m getting brussel sprouts at a place known for seafood? They don’t always have it either (BOOOO), but you really, really need to figure out when they do, and you have to order it. HAVE TO. I didn’t think I’d feel so strongly about a vegetable, but as it turns out, I’m very passionate about mini-cabbages. But I digress – the brussel sprouts at Ironside are roasted (I think), and then dished up with pork belly chunks, asiago cheese, and a currant balsamic vinagrette with some currants in it. I have seriously gone back to Ironside just to order the brussel sprouts (Their clam chowder is pretty good too, but really rich).

    On the note of pretzels, I hate to say it, but the Wetzel’s Pretzels stands in malls are probably my favorite pretzels. I’m mostly about the soft exterior and cheesy-jalapeno-goodness of one of their pretzels moreso than the actual pretzel flavor. However, you should try the pretzel slider buns from Costco – I forgot what bakery supplies them, but they’re very good and taste very pretzel-y (without the hardness, but they are a bit chewy).

    A beermosa is beer + orange juice. It sounds gross, and I think it tastes gross. I’ve never been to the Karl Strauss brunch, but a friend has and says it’s certainly not worth the price of admission, unless you chug mimosas.

    1. Isn’t Ironside the place you said the male servers all have moustaches. A blogger friend loves that place too. I’m looking at their menu right now. Their raw oysters are expensive man. I can’t find the brussel sprouts. But gosh they have so many seafood items I’d like to try. I’ll have to call ahead of time to make sure they’re serving the brussels that day. Can you agree though – that WITHOUT the currant balsamic – you probably wouldn’t like the dish. I just love that balsamic on brussels. Actually, I think the best version I’ve ever had didn’t have balsamic – remember the curry fried brussels at Osawa?

      You’re going to laugh b/c I’m kinda brussel’d out. First off, I order them almost every time I see them on menu (like pork chops, so strange now that I’m thinking about it. And secondly, I recently saw brussel sprouts, prewashed and ready to go (raw) in a bag, at Trader Joes. So I totally tried to go all Ming Tsai on the brussels and can honestly say, HANDS DOWN, I made the crappiest version of roasted brussels you’d ever seen. It tasted so damn bad. I don’t know what I did (I used olive oil, tons of fresh minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, rosemary (that’s probably what killed it b/c I hate rosemary but figured, hey, what the hey), and pecorino cheese.

      Wetzel’s isn’t terrible and I like it when they give out free samps (esp the cinnamon ones). I don’t think I’ve ordered a savory pretzel from them. Thanks for heads up on Costco pretzel slider buns! Sis bought some from Whole Foods some weeks ago (not sure how they tasted though).

      “It sounds gross, and I think it tastes gross.” Hahahah!! Yeah that’s pretty much what I probably think and say if I ever tried a beermosa. Augh – just thinking about an orange juice with beer mixed right in sounds so bad right now. Retch. But hey, it must be a somewhat decent drink if they tout it on their brunch menu.

  4. Doh! I usually make my own pork chops. Sprouts usually has really nice ones with just the right amount of fat to keep them juicy. 🙂

    Did you at least meet some cute guys in suits?

    1. Making pork chops is always disastrous for me. They just turn out dry. Have you tried brining yours ? I’ve seen Sprouts meat department and it’s not bad. I’ll have to check out their pork chops next time I visit that super market.

      There were indeed some good looking men in suits that day. Friend pointed that out repeatedly 🙂

  5. Stop cooking the pork chops sooner Faye! It’s easier if you get the thick pork chops. I use to have the dryness problem with Ranch 99 chops cause they cut them too thin.

    Friend is wise.

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