The Prado not only provides an excellent spread of mouth-watering food, but an atmosphere of class as well, Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor
Strolling through the heart of beautiful Balboa Park, an architectural masterpiece is the first indication this dining experience will be one to remember. Surrounded by lush landscaping and historical museums,
The Prado has become a landmark among an abundance of forgettable San Diego restaurants. Intimate tables placed in The Prado’s courtyard give diners a taste of the buzzing atmosphere before even setting foot in the popular establishment.
Once inside, multiple seating areas are visible from the lounge, which is aflutter with coworkers meeting for happy hour. Colorful blown glass sculptures are displayed around the room between antique mirrors and rich artwork.
Through open doorways and windows, an array of outdoor seating hosts a front row view of the San Diego sunset in a comfortable setting. Nestled under canopies of tea lights are tables full of the chatting and laughter that fill the restaurant while people enjoy their meals.
The Prado has served countless patrons, but the past couple of years have been noticeably more energetic. With the addition of an award-winning chef, The Prado kitchens continue to create and inspire new dishes such as mascarpone polenta and truffle macaroni and cheese.
Since joining The Prado staff early last year, Executive Chef Jonathan Hale has been crafting exquisite dishes for diners. The lunch and dinner menus were recently revamped and now offer healthier, yet still utterly delicious, dishes to choose from. Cuisines range from Latin to French to American to Italian, ensuring there is something for almost anyone.
An extensive cocktail menu offers delightful drinks for the 21 and older crowd but doesn’t exclude the younger diners who crave tasty drinks. Fresh white peach soda and spicy Mayan hot chocolate are some of the non-alcoholic options that stand up to the adult beverages.
Appearing with a smile at the side of the table, the waiter brings fresh hummus with a variety of house-made flatbreads. Helping with the menu, he lightly offers his input as if talking with a friend. His relaxed attentiveness makes for pleasant conversation each time he checks on the table.
Not a single inch of the restaurant is left undecorated, down to the colored ceiling panels that have patrons glancing upward.
It’s a welcome surprise when the waiter arrives at the table once again, not long after ordering the meal, with a stuffed veggie quesadilla. Full of roasted poblano chilies, jack cheese, red onion and served with fresh guacamole and spicy serrano pepper salsa, the simple presentation of this tasty bite doesn’t do the dish justice.
Exploding with flavor, each triangle packs a punch of heat from the chilies that is quickly contrasted by sweet caramelized onions. The combination creates a burst of flavor that may have fellow diners clamoring across the table for a taste.
While undeniably delicious, dining at this Balboa eatery does come at a cost. Often, most college students wouldn’t shell out the extra money The Prado’s dishes are worth. However, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, couples who want a romantic yet relaxed meal may want to consider The Prado to satisfy their romantic and culinary desires.
Those wishing to experience The Prado without breaking a budget will enjoy less expensive choices in the lounge, with a menu of appetizer-sized, unique bar food.
Almost as enjoyable as the feast itself is the stroll many people take under the arched courtyard after leaving the restaurant.
Although the food on the plates is gone, the memory of a meal at The Prado won’t soon be forgotten.