Cowboy Star – East Village San Diego

Cowboy Star is an upscale steak house in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood, that was the vision of Jon and Angie Weber (formerly from Kensington Grill), and executive chef Victor Jimenez.  They have created a beautiful and comfortable setting to enjoy an amazing selection of meats and fish, craft cocktails, fine wines and excellent service.  They describe their inspiration as “old black and white western” meets “Hollywood elegance.”

The award-winning beverage director, Garth Flood, who is described by some as a “local legend”,  has created some interesting and delicious craft cocktails.  Garth helped open Cowboy Star and has also served as consulting mixologist for the newly opened Rustic Root in San Diego’s Gas Lamp.  While the cocktails shine on this menu, the wine list — and specifically, the wines by the glass, were lackluster and uninspired.  From my perspective a menu like Cowboy Star’s deserves a masterful wine list similar to Pamplemousse Grille in Del Mar or Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino (see my comments below about Alexander’s).  Instead, you get a “by the glass” list of mostly lower-end Diageo (and other corporate) mass market wines.   The bottle list had a few surprising high points including The Farm’s Cardinal cabernet sauvignon (Paso Robles), but at a 3x retail mark-up our server quipped that nobody buys it.  Why doesn’t a great steakhouse deserve a serious sommelier and an awesome wine program?

Service was impeccable and very considerate.  If you are wearing dark slacks, they exchange your white napkin for a black one to avoid lint.  Our waiter navigated us through the food and beverage offerings with style and finesse.  Throughout the meal, the staff was attentive and friendly.  The staff clearly is integral to the setting of casual elegance that the restaurant strives for.  The pace of the meal was lovely.

We quickly settled on the CS Signature Steak Tartare and the 40 oz Porterhouse for two.  Both were prepared impeccably, beautifully seasoned and delicious.  We also tried the mac and cheese side dish which was served with bacon lardons.  The mac and cheese, along with the mashed potatoes and green beans that accompanied the steak, were nothing special.  Our server promoted the included sides as something that distinguished CS from other competing San Diego steakhouses (cough cough, Donovan’s).  It was a silly point to raise and it set an expectation that only became a let-down.

Dessert was offered, but didn’t really present anything that grabbed the attention of Paul or me (and did I mention that Paul loves dessert).

Considering Cowboy Star’s menu, offerings and price points, I will compare it to what is perhaps my favorite steakhouse, Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco, CA (and other locations).  Like Alexander’s, CS offers dry aged beef, imported Japanese Waygu beef and other premium meat and seafood selections.  The both have an on-premises butcher shop where you can buy premium meats to prepare at home.  But, where Cowboy Star is excellent, Alexander’s elevates the steakhouse to fine dining.  The more limited scope of offerings, the lack of a great wine list, and the “nothing special” side dishes will keep me from coming back to CS anytime soon.  I can understand why people love Cowboy Star, and it may be the best steakhouse that San Diego has to offer.  But for me, it just doesn’t compare with some of the great fine dining alternatives here in town, or with great steakhouses around the country.

Cooper loved the t-bone we brought home.  He gives CS 4 paws up!

Cowboy Star Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


We would love to hear from you!