Denver-based Sage Restaurant Group, which owns independent restaurants primarily located in the Western half of the U.S., opened its first San Diego-based concept, Hello Betty Fish House, in mid-February. Celebrating all things beach, the Oceanside, California eatery showcases Baja-inspired cuisine, an expansive beverage program, outdoor patio seating, water views, and nautical design elements.
The brainchild of Peter Karpinski, Sage Restaurant Group co-founder & COO, Hello Betty—a greeting used by surfers to salute females they consider attractive—is designed to lure in visitors and residents with its laid-back charm and locally sourced seafood and other ingredients.
"As an avid fly-fisherman, opening up a concept that caters to and celebrates this seaside community and dining platform has always been a passion project for me," says Karpinski. "This restaurant showcases those incredible flavors and experiences of the Baja region in a casual, come-as-you-are atmosphere."
Menu items include Baja Fish Tacos with housemade pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, and crema on locally sourced corn tortillas and West Coast Seafood Boil with shrimp, clams, mussels, corn, potatoes, Andouille, chile, and garlic beer broth, served with toast. For land-loving diners, offerings include Smoked Pork Belly Carnitas; Avocado Toast; and the Loco Moco Burger with spam, brown gravy, fried egg, and huli huli onions.
The 30-seat bar offers wines by the glass, 14 locally brewed San Diego beers on tap, and a long list of specialty cocktails, including Maverick's Squeeze with lemongrass-infused American Harvest vodka, orange, lemon, and lime; the Beach Break Therapy with Hangar 1 kaffir lime vodka, coconut rum, pineapple, lime; and the restaurant’s signature cocktail—She’s a Betty on Draft!, made with two kinds of rum, pineapple, lemon, and tea syrup. Beachside favorite margaritas are available in multiple variations, including the Offshore Spinner with Milagro Reposado, St. Germain, grapefruit, and lime.
Hello Betty’s interior, designed by Andrew Alford and his company, Dirty Lines, pays visual homage to the town’s nautical history, and its attraction for surfers and fisherman alike. Snapshots featuring local fishermen, surfing icons, and surf enthusiasts line the walls. A vintage gold and white dune buggy, named "Coco" after surfing phenomena Coco Ho, and a cascading braided rope backdrop add to the restaurant’s playful nautical ambiance.
Hello Betty Fish House is Sage Restaurant Group’s ninth restaurant. Its other restaurants include Braddock’s Pittsburgh Brasserie; Kachina Southwestern Grill in Westminster, Colorado; The Corner Office and Second Home Kitchen + Bar in Denver; Departure, The Original, and Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon; and Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago.
By Joann Whitcher