When Islands founder Tony DeGrazier stepped off the beaches of Oahu after a day of surfing with his Navy buddies in the early 60s, he did what came naturally to him.
He went searching for a juicy burger, a hot basket of fries and a cold drink. Twenty years later, he took a little chunk of the islands and brought it to the mainland of Southern California.
Today, Islands still is true to Tony’s original experience and his original vision though it as grown significantly since then as they have locations throughout the Southwest. Their menu has grown to include salads, soups and soft tacos.
I mentioned I was going to be covering Islands to my friend’s children Rosemary and Mitchell Zonfrilli and they both expressed how much they enjoyed going there. With that, I brought them along on my dinner and got their reaction after the meal. We had some fun with this one.
Lick the Plate: So, first off I’m just curious, if you had the ability to invite any five people from any time in the history of the world to a Lick the Plate dinner, who would those guests be and why?
Mitchell Zonfrilli: Abe Lincoln, Bill Gates, George Lucas, Harrison Ford and Markus Persson. They all have jobs that interest me, and it would be great to get an autograph.
Rosemary Zonfrilli: The Obama family, because they have two girls, Michelle is into healthy foods and one is the president. Also, a friendly ghost because Halloween is coming.
LTP: If you could describe Islands to someone who has not been there, how would you do that?
M.Z.: “Beachy” and vibrant, lots of energy. It has a tropical atmosphere, with surfing videos, palm trees and music.
R.Z.: I would describe it as tasty. It looks very tropical. They have birds, surfing videos, fake palm trees, or are they real?
LTP: I noticed the kids’ menu had some cool looking games and activities on it. As kids menus go, how would you rate it from a perspective of having fun while eating?
M.Z.: On a scale of one to 10, probably an eight. It had what you would expect from a kids menu, plus coloring for younger kids to do their own thing.
R.Z.: I would rate it really good, because I liked the “crayon of fate” and the “what’s the difference.” I couldn’t finish the activities because once my dinner came I was very busy.
LTP: How about the food on the kids’ menu. What did you order and how did you like it?
M.Z.: I’ve always thought that kids menus were small, but this had a fair range of meals, and when they made a mistake on my hamburger, they fixed it immediately. Unfortunately I really don’t like cheese, so they made me a new burger. It was perfect.
R.Z.: I ordered the macaroni and cheese and Caesar salad and I liked it a lot. I know mac and cheese and this one was really good.
LTP: I noticed you both dabbling in the adult menu items as well, what items appealed on that?
M.Z.: Probably the Big Wave, which was one of the biggest burgers I’ve seen! Not recommended for the faint of heart.
R.Z.: I really liked the giant French fry appetizer they gave us. The wings were spicy but I liked it. The tuna was raw and I tried it, but I didn’t really like it too much.
LTP: Mitchell, you tried poke for the first time, after an initial scoff at the mere mention of raw fish. What was your reaction after you tried it and please describe the dish.
M.Z.: Interesting. The presentation was great, and was better than I expected. The fish had a nice blend of spices that were not too spicy, but just right.
LTP: For dessert, we all shared the Kona Pie that I thought was delicious. What was your take on it?
M.Z.: Very good, I like the paring of the nuts and hot fudge in a pie. It was really more of a cake then a pie. Even though it’s one slice, it’s enough for a party of three to four.
R.Z.: I liked it a lot. It was very good, creamy and chocolaty. I was amazed at how big it was!
There you have it. Straight from the mouths of 10-year-old Mitchell and 7-year-old Rosemary. We dined at the Islands located at 1588 Leucadia Boulevard in Encinitas but they really do have locations all over. Find a location near you at islandsrestaurants.com.
Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at email@example.com or www.lick-the-plate.com