Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Black Bear Diner

Black Bear Diner is a fast-growing, community-oriented, family dining concept that offers great food in a fun, bear-themed atmosphere. They first opened in northern California in 1995 and have since expanded to 132 restaurants across 13 states. Recently they opened their first location in San Diego County, located in the city of El Cajon. I’ve eaten at BBDs back in the day in Bullhead City and Long Beach, only for breakfast. I was excited to try their first San Diego location.
There’s so much on their menu I wanted to order, it was hard to decide. For my first dinner visit I kept it simple with a Turkey Club Sandwich. Whoever cut my sandwich clearly failed geometry. It was still tasty nonetheless. Even after being open for several months, the El Cajon location still seems to be working out the kinks with their service. They were all very nice, but it seemed as if it was their first restaurant job.
My dear, elderly mother after examining the menu for like 30 minutes, wound up ordering the steak special off the placemat. In lieu of their side options, she simply request sliced tomatoes. The waiter stated they did not have sliced tomatoes but instead had only cherry tomatoes cut in half. I thought to myself, “what kind of tomatoes do you put on your burgers and sandwiches?”, but I digress. Lady FoodObs also had the “placemat special”. A very good looking and delicious sirloin steak with sides. That mac & chz though was pretty institutional. They could have definitely done better with that.
The cornbread muffins served on the side looked and tasted excellent! If you’re ever there and have leftovers on the table, it’s well worth taking home. The next day, wrap in foil and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Gail had the “placemat” steak special as well and it looked at tasted great. One of her sides was mac & cheese which looked good, but tasted very institutional. My son had the creamy pesto pasta dish with grilled chicken which he proclaimed to be “better than Olive Garden”! I’d say that’s impressive!
I can’t wait to go back. This place serves liberally portioned down-home country style comfort food quite admirably. I want to try and compare them to Cracker Barrel but you just can’t. Both have similar yet distinct menus and are both very good in their own way.

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