After much contention and controversy, Hollywood Casino Jamul had its grand opening on Monday, October 10, 2016. To the dismay of many local residents, but the joy of the Jamul Indian Village, the 20-year, $400 million project has finally come to fruition. This 200,000 square-foot establishment features over 1,700 slot machines, 40 live table games, seven restaurants, and even some nightlife options (Jive Lounge and Loft 94).
Most casinos follow a de facto formula in their dining options: a steakhouse, a buffet, a sports bar and/or pub, a Chinese restaurant, and a family-friendly option, hopefully with one of those being a late-night stop. Well, HCJ didn’t stray from this standard at all, and for good measure, they threw in a Mexican food joint; they know San Diego. Let’s dive in!
Arguably the best dim sum place in San Diego, Emerald Chinese Cuisine has lent its name and recipes to the new casino, and hopefully the chefs there do their dishes justice. While it won’t be the same dining experience and full menu that you’ll get at the original Convoy location, you’ll see the favorites like cha siu, roasted duck, braised pork belly, and more.
With 15 casinos across the nation and at least one Final Cut in nearly all of them, I can’t say it’ll be a truly unique experience. However, with each one scoring at least 3 of 5 stars (one location even has 4.5 stars), it’s a safe bet that this one will be good, if not great.
Presumably named after the freeway upon which it sits, this is a trendy eatery by day and a lounge/night spot after dark. Cheryl Cruz is the Sous Chef or, according to her, the HBIC, and rightfully so. She was one of only four contestants in the Culinary Fight Club to gain entry into the World Food Championships. She placed 2nd, but that’s not bad in my book.
She’s serving up what looks to be a fun and trendy menu: items like sliders, corn dogs, yakitori, and poke as well as an impressive 48-tap beer bar. Smart move showcasing the frothy flair of our local breweries:
- AleSmith Brewing Company
- Alpine Beer Co.
- Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
- Belching Beaver Brewery
- Bitter Brothers Brewing
- Coronado Brewing Company
- Hess Brewing
- Ironfire Brewing Co.
- Karl Strauss Brewing Company (you forgot they’re natives, huh?)
- Lost Abbey
- Mission Brewery
- Modern Times Beer
- New English Brewing
- Pizza Port Brewing Company
- Resident Brewing
- Stone Brewing
They’ve got love for out-of-towner favorites too:
- Garage Brewing Co. (Temecula, CA)
- Ironfire Brewing Company (Temecula, CA)
- Mother Earth Brewing (Kinston, NC)
- North Coast Brewing Co. (Fort Bragg, CA)
A rotating tap, no doubt, but they’re off to a good start, and as a hop head, this will definitely be a stop of mine for my first visit here.
No casino is complete without pizza and wings and whaddayaknow, Pizza Port has delicious options for both. They’re a huge local favorite with baked wings and great pizza dough, it definitely makes sense that they’re representing San Diego here. Even their veggie options are great. Serving their top suds in addition to Loft 94’s selection, I can see beer being the drink of choice at the new casino.
A fast-casual version of the popular ’40s-style Ruby’s Diner, you’ll find a family-friendly space that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries and onion rings, as well as their well-known milkshakes, morning, noon, and night.
Before he passed, we named a street after baseball legend, Tony Gwynn as well as a beer, San Diego Pale Ale .394. Naturally, the next step would be his own sports pub. Not only will they have standard bar fare, they’ll also feature some of his favorite eats like chicken and waffles, pulled pork sandwiches, and lobster mac and cheese. Also, until his museum opens within the year, you can enjoy some of his memorabilia here. May he rest in piece knowing he’s still making people happy.
A San Diego favorite, TRES Hermanos garnered popularity since its 2009 debut, enough to eventually expanded to become TRES Taqueria Mariscos Cantina in El Cajon in 2015. The majority will agree that their street tacos are key, but they’ll also mention their to-die-for nacho cheese sauce that can go on everything. It’s no surprise they were the choice for a Mexican food spot inside the casino.
I like to gamble as much as the person next to me at blackjack, so you might want to know that they’ve got an underground parking garage that’ll fit over 1,800 cars. Residents may be upset, but it’s a moot point by now, so look on the bright side:
- Over 1,000 jobs have been created
- The tribe will benefit from a much needed economic growth
- Nearly $100 million in funds will go toward fire and public safety, and $23 million to nearby road and transportation improvements
Cars stretched for miles in all directions all day for the grand opening. I’m pretty sure the majority of the traffic caused on Monday, and undoubtedly for at least another week or two, was not due to folks excited about the food and drink, but they should be.