Hard Rock Cafe | San Diego

Now that my Hard Rock Cafe giveaway is over, let’s see how the World Burger Tour menu actually fared! I was invited to come into the Hard Rock Cafe to try out the burgers for myself. Let’s check it out!

hard-rock-cafe-san-diego

Jake, T, Carin, and I visited the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown San Diego. It’s been in this same spot for 18 years! Jake and Carin told us a story of how when they returned to San Diego after living in Park City, Utah, they went to that exact building/restaurant once they got back into town. It was something else back then, but they kept some of the elements of that old building. Funny how things come around like that.

hard-rock-cafe-inside-view-from-booth

There were lots of cool rock memorabilia gracing the walls. There was also pretty stained glass windows that were kept in tack from the previous location. I like how they kept the stained glass which partially acts as a skylight above the bar. 

world-burger-tour-menu

Here are the burgers that San Diego currently has on tap for the World Burger Tour. There are four featured “world” burgers and the menu will get flipped to feature four different burgers in July. 

I was confused when we looked at the World Burger Tour menu because… there are no prices listed! We had to ask our waiter what the prices were – and in case you’re wondering, they were all $15.99.

world-cocktail-menu

In addition to World Burgers, Hard Rock Cafe is also featuring World Cocktails. The cocktails come in a collectible glass, which explains the upscale price. 

hard-rock-cafe-drinks

I actually chose to get the Strawberry Basil Lemonade instead of a cocktail but Jake opted to get the Melonpalooza which is a combination of Malibu Coconut Rum, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice, and sweet & sour.  I had a sip and the coconut was the predominant flavor to me.

strawberry-basil-lemonade-

The Strawberry Basil lemonade was very refreshing – you could see the basil leaves right in the drink. The basil was more of a background flavor but you could definitely taste it in the mix. It paired so nicely with the strawberry lemonade. It wasn’t too sweet and the flavors were spot on. I got my drink in a collectible Hard Rock Cafe glass as well. Rockin.

sampler-platter-hard-rock-cafe

[Jumbo Combo / $20.95]

The Jumbo Combo is really true to it’s name. It’s a massive appetizer platter that has a little bit of everything that Hard Rock Cafe has to offer: onion rings, southwest spring rolls, buffalo wings (hidden on the other side), chicken tenders, and bruschetta (with avocado, which I asked for).

The onion rings and chicken tenders were pretty standard – typical flavor and texture. The southwest spring rolls were the most interesting item to me from their dramatic display in the middle to their burst of flavor and seasonings. The spring rolls had a little bit of spicy kick – but one that my wussy taste buds could handle. I enjoyed the mix of black beans and corn in the split open rolls.

bruschetta-closeup

The bruschetta was also a nice item though I wished the bread had been toasted a bit more. The avocado paired nicely with the creamy goat cheese that was present on the bruschetta. These were very cheesy bruschetta! The tomatoes tasted nice and bright which I appreciated. Often times I get disappointed with tomatoes – especially when they are barely red and lack flavor – but the tomatoes here were a lovely bright red, sweet, and full of fresh flavor.

wings-and-tenders

The buffalo wings were meh – I felt the chicken meat was on the dry side. The wings were very saucy and spicy. The buffalo sauce was heavy on the vinegar which made me not enjoy it. A dunk in some creamy dressing helped a bit but the chicken meat was still too dry.

java-lava-burger-with-poutine

[Java Lava Burger from Seattle, WA]

I know Jake really wanted to try the Jamaican Jerk Burger but he was nice enough to get the Java Lava for my benefit since I wanted to try that one more than the Jerk Burger. He’s so good to me! 

The Java Lava burger is from Seattle and it shouldn’t surprise you to learn it’s got an espresso rub on the burger meat. It also has melted cheddar cheese, jalapeño lava sauce, java onions, iceberg lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. Stabbed into the very top of this sucker is a fried jalapeño. 

java-lava-burger-closeup

Now, I was a little weary of this burger because I thought it would be super spicy. I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t really all that spicy – maybe I just happened to avoid all the jalapeños in my bite! The burger meat had a great seasoning on it – it was a salty concoction that complimented the meat really well. It didn’t taste like someone poured coffee over it, either, just in case you thought that (like I might have). The jalapeño lava sauce gave the burger a nice boost of flavor without being crazy spicy. And the onion strings! I think onion strings might be my favorite burger topping – they’re so much easier to eat than onion rings. Suffice it to say I really liked this burger and it was actually my favorite of the bunch. 

poutine-gravy-fries

[Poutine Fries]

With any of the World Burger Tour items, you can “upgrade yo’ fries” to make your meal a bit more special. Jake opted to toss those “normal” fries to the curb and got the Poutine upgrade. The poutine upgrade is an extra $3 bucks – but this way you get your fries doused in gravy and covered in melted cheese curds. Is it weird I was sad the curds were all melted and just looked like normal cheese? I wanted the squeaky cheese texture! 

english-breakfast-burger

[English Breakfast Burger from London, UK]

T opted to try out the English Breakfast Burger. This hunky burger love comes with slices of tomato and ham, portobello mushroom (which T removed since he’s not a mushroom fan), breakfast sausage, and an egg. It comes served with french fries and beans, though T requested no beans. 

I had a sample bite of this sucker and all I could think was, “I feel like I’m eating a giant breakfast sandwich.” I think it’s the breakfast sausage that really gives that early morning breakfast impression – and the egg just seals the deal. The ham makes it feel like you’re eating a lumberjack breakfast all in one sandwich. T loved the extra meaty burger. 

big-cheeseburger

[Big Cheeseburger with bacon]

Carin wasn’t feeling great and opted to not try a World Burger Tour item – she stuck with a traditional classic bacon cheeseburger and enjoyed what she had. 

tandoori-chicken-burger

[Tandoori Chicken Burger from Mumbai, India]

The Tandoori Chicken Burger is probably the most different and unusual one of the bunch. First off, it’s made with chicken and has a completely different texture from the other burgers. Along with the chicken patty it has a mint mayo, Monterey Jack cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and iceberg lettuce. 

tandoori-chicken-burger-closeup

The burger relies on Indian spices to give it all of it’s flavor. It’s a curry flavor and there’s a LOT going on flavor wise in this burger. I found the flavors to be a little too overwhelming and I didn’t like how it tasted with the cheese and cucumbers. The texture of the chicken burger was also strange to me. The meat was incredibly soft and kind of mushy. It tasted like the chicken was maybe pureed to get something that was so smooth. The texture and flavor was a bit overpowering to me and I ended up not eating a lot of this burger. I was happy to have tried it, it just wasn’t for me. 

garlic-herb-fries

I got all fancy and upgrade my fries, too! But I got the Parmesan Romano fries. There was a nice garlicky flavor added to batch of delightful fries and the bits of cheese and herbs put these over the top – I loved the upgrade on this one (which is only an extra $1). 

apple-crisp

[Apple Cobbler / $7.95]

All four of us were in a desserts mood and figured… what the hey, let’s each order a dessert! Carin made the wise decision to order the Apple Cobbler with vanilla ice cream and GHIRARDELLI® caramel sauce. 

The apple cobbler was served hot. The apples were soft and warm with a delightful bit of cinnamon and other spices. The cobbler topping was my favorite – it was a little bit crunchy with bits of brown sugar and oats. It was hard resisting sticking my spoon back in over and over for just “one more bite”.

oreo-cheesecake

[Cheesecake made with Oreo Cookie Pieces / $7.95]

T went with the cheesecake. I’m a cheesecake purist who doesn’t like “stuff” in her cheesecake so I thought this dessert was just okay. I’m a cheesecake snob, I guess. It wasn’t bad, cheesecake is just something I’d rather make at home. 

chocolate-molten-cake

[Chocolate Molten Cake / $7.95]

I went for the chocolatey thing. Not surprising.

This looked like a mini chocolate bundt cake that had a oozing molten chocolate in the middle. It was served warm with the vanilla ice cream separated in a bowl – in case you don’t like that hot to cold thing? 

The chocolate cake was SO RICH. It was very dense and uber chocolatey. It wasn’t too sweet, but it had a really robust, deep, dark chocolate flavor. It’s not for the faint of heart or for people (ahem, Jake) who don’t enjoy chocolate that much. I actually found it to be really intense but the ice cream helped to cut through the richness. 

vanilla-milkshake

Jake, my “I-don’t-really-like-desserts” boyfriend, decided to go with a simple vanilla milkshake. Nothing fussy or fancy for him. I don’t even remember having a sip, though I might have just had sensory dessert overload and blocked it from memory. He enjoyed it! 

My favorite dessert of the bunch was the Apple Cobbler! 

The Hard Rock Cafe is an interesting International chain. You don’t see a Hard Rock Cafe in every city and they’re pretty spread apart all over the globe. I really like their World Burger Tour menu concept to help you try things from other places you don’t normally get to try in your hometown.

Hard Rock Cafe
801 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at the Hard Rock Cafe. Our meal was complimentary on behalf of Hard Rock International. I was also given an additional gift card in exchange for this post. All opinions stated here are my own. 

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

2 Replies to “Hard Rock Cafe | San Diego

  1. Wow, so that’s what it looks like in there! I love seeing the guitars and all. I usually wouldn’t think to go in here because it seems like it caters to tourists (because…Gaslamp). But they did have a cool selection of burgers and appetizers. Lots of flavors going on too.

    1. Hi CC – Yeah, that’s probably why I haven’t been in here before as well – Gaslamp = tourists! There is a ton of cool memorabilia though and it’s fun to walk around.

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