On the Menu: Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern — Point Loma’s gourmet pub with a view
Where else can you park your boat at a private dock with a marina, then swagger into a warm, woodsy watering hole to quench your thirst and indulge in a bounty of artisanal American classics?
Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (aka J-FAT) in Point Loma is such a place.
Culinary director Nathan Coulon is celebrating his fourth anniversary with the restaurant, splitting his time between Jimmy’s Dana Point and Harbor Drive locations. The award-winning chef has culinary DNA trickling down two generations. His grandparents owned the Belgian Lion in Ocean Beach decades back (where the young Coulon started his tutelage), and his mother owns Michele Coulon Dessertier in La Jolla.
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Jimmy’s is a family-centric pair of eating establishments created by the collaboration of members of the Grimstad family, with patriarch John at the helm. He designed the restaurant space about 13 years ago, envisioning a spot where locals and visitors could congregate and enjoy authentic American fare and breathtaking marina views. The restaurant is named after a boisterous, jovial family friend who would frequently whip up a plethora of culinary creations that he jokingly dubbed as “famous.”
Coulon breathes a heavy sigh, grateful for pulling through the worst of the pandemic period. He credits the resourcefulness and fortitude of the owners, who converted the joint into a grocery store, selling everything from 5-pound bags of flour and ramekins of yeast to raw burger patties and steaks that kept the staff employed, customers supplied with staples and vendors happy.
The tavern has front garage doors that open to a covered, pet-friendly patio overlooking Point Loma Marina. It resembles a sprawling glass boathouse.
The menu offers soothing Southern comfort, wild Western cowboy, classic Northeastern and sassy Southwestern with a local and sustainable twist.
“We buy only American seafood and try to support local fishermen,” Coulon said, “like Chula Seafood, just two buildings away with their own fishing boats catching rockfish, albacore, swordfish and other seasonal and sustainable sea treasures.”
The freshly baked, natural artisan breads are sourced from Sadie Rose, a female-owned local bakery.
The tavern part of the menu is represented by five types of popular hamburgers, all made with wagyu beef on a sesame bun with choice of seasoned, Parmesan-garlic or truffle fries, house-made crispy Kennebec potato chips, or tangy vinegar-based coleslaw.
Jimmy’s Famous Cheeseburger is a simple amalgam of scratch-made Thousand Island dressing, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion slices.
More adventurous palates can indulge in the Spicy California Burger with heavy-duty toppings (serrano guacamole, Ortega chilis, jalapenos and chipotle aioli), or the Cowboy Burger lassoed with applewood bacon, barbecue sauce and colossal house-battered onion rings made with Jimmy’s blonde beer.
The bean and pea Beyond Meat Burger dressed with a splash of green from avocado and spinach is a vegetarian or even vegan option (minus the cheese and mayo).
For piscivores, there’s the Sesame-Crusted Albacore Burger with fresh, locally caught tuna, seared and paired with house-made guacamole, chipotle aioli and white cheddar.
Other picks from the sea include fried calamari in a rosemary-serrano chili batter and New England clam chowder made in-house with applewood smoked bacon, red potatoes and shallots in a cream base served with potato chips.
Coulon’s personal favorite is the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich topped with bread and butter pickles, along with a heap of fries and slaw.
Salad heads have choices ranging from the Signature Santa Fe Caesar with grilled romaine, avocado, roasted corn and pepitas tossed in a green chili pesto; the Wine Country salad, a mash-up of greens, cranberries, fresh strawberries, bacon crumbles, goat cheese and candied pecans in a lemon oregano dressing; and the Kale Quinoa, blending the Incan mother grain (it’s technically a seed) with roasted squash and other goodies.
More sophisticated palates can find signature plates such as filet mignon paired with asparagus and cheddar jalapeno scalloped potatoes; braised short ribs in red wine with sauteed button mushrooms and baby carrots; or a fresh catch of the day that changes seasonally.
The kids menu has a diversity of items for picky eaters, including free-range fried chicken, burgers, fish and chips and mac and cheese.
For dessert, you can try Mama Coulon’s “famous” carrot cake with a blend of walnuts, coconut, raisins and pineapple smothered in cream cheese frosting and caramel drizzle. Other sweet indulgences include cherry cobbler baked in a cast-iron skillet and topped with vanilla bean ice cream, and the Old School, merging a home-baked chocolate chip cookie with an ice cream sundae.
Weekend brunch has offerings like the Soufflé Pancake in a cast-iron skillet topped with cinnamon apple compote, or the Hangover Burger, combining a beef patty with a house-made buttermilk biscuit, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, Ortega chilis, a fried egg and chipotle aioli with a side of crispy tater tots served with Jimmy’s Chipotle Ketchup (“a perfect balance of sweet, smoke and spice”), sold in-house for $8 a bottle.
Weekday happy hour features various appetizers and lots of local brews, plus wines and craft cocktails.
Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern
Where: 4990 N. Harbor Drive, Point Loma
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays.
Information: J-Fat.com, (619) 226-2103
• 1 cup tomatillos, peeled (husk removed), cleaned and quartered
• ½ cup white onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
• ½ cup cilantro, chopped
• 1 serrano chili, stemmed and seeded
• 2 limes, juiced
• ¼ cup spring water (adjust to desired consistency)
• 3 avocados, ripe, extra-large, peeled and pitted
• Sea salt, to taste
• Add ingredients (except avocado) to a large bowl and mix with an immersion blender until creamy (or use a food processor).
• Add avocado and blend until smooth.
• Use for a dip with corn chips or a topping for fish tacos.
— Courtesy of chef Nathan Coulon, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern