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Firefly Grill & Wine Bar

397 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary American
Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem (612)
  • Notable Wine List (495)
  • Fit for Foodies (436)

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Let your hair down at the Firefly Grill and Wine Bar. This casual dining outpost serves up an appealing range of contemporary American small plates complemented by an award-winning wine list. Helmed by chef Justin Rambo-Garwood, the dining menu features tasty appetizers, fresh salads and mouthwatering entrees. Visit for lunch and get your appetite going with some chicken wings or bacon wrapped dates. Make a meal of the braised Angus beef short ribs, served with roasted garlic mashed potato and baby carrots.

Firefly's cozy ambiance plays well to friendly group outings. Visit during the happy hour window for impressive discounts on drinks. This restaurant and wine bar also boasts private dining facilities and offers catering services that can be customized to fit with different events. Firefly Grill and Wine Bar is open for lunch and dinner all through the week.

Dining Style
Fine Dining
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Contemporary American
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Hours of operation
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:30pm - 9:00pm; Friday - Saturday: 4:30pm - 10:00pm
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Phone number
(760) 635-1066
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Justin Rambo-Garwood
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Private party contact
Jim Barrasso: (760) 635-1066
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Parties from 10 to 200. Each menu customized for every party.
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Cross street
Mountain Vista Dr.
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 397 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.4  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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vipchefmarian (San Diego)
1.0  Dined on August 30, 2016

Closed. And with good reason. The owner was nice to only a 'select' few. I brought in a table of 15 people and didn't get the right time of day.

vipAngler92067 (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on July 5, 2016

I am so sorry to learn that this restaurant has closed. Jim Barrasso, the owner is a wonderful person and wine lover. What does someone have to do to succeed in this tough business?? 100% of patrons would recommend this restaurant and the overall rating is 4.5. I truly hope that he will be financially OK and will miss seeing him and miss this very fine restaurant.
Richard Santore
Rancho Santa Fe, CA

vipcolleen (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on May 7, 2016

Sever was great with recommendations and we tried so many items we took some home. Happy hour 25 percent off wines is a great deal too.

Lizz (New York Area)
4.0  Dined on April 16, 2016

Nice place with easy menu for picky eaters. We were a large group, and needed a quiet place for an early dinner. Very accommodating and nice.

OpenTable Diner (Orange County)
4.0  Dined on April 4, 2016

We were hoping for more of a small plates tapa dining experience. Not much is offerred for small plates. They could add about 7 to 10 more items to there starter/small plate menu. Salad great and the creme brulee excellent. Over powering on rosemary for clams and do not order filet bites over mash potatoes

vipOpenTable Diner (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on March 18, 2016

We've been going to Firefly for years. It used to be great - now it's just good, some things are better than others. The house breadsticks, bread, and garlic oil & butter are still irresistible. Salads are generous, but lacking any "ooomph" in flavor, esp the house salad. Seafood Cataplana, one of their specialties, used to be much more flavorful, with more tomatoes in the broth, served with a wonderful chunk of grilled bread. Now you have to ask for the bread?!?! Why??? The steak bites starter was a joke - 5 or 6 tiny morsels of steak buried under a mound of mashed potatoes - not even a full bite each! The chocolate flan dessert was delicious, but both the espresso and the cappuccino were lacking in flavor and were not steaming hot. All in all, good, but not as good as it used to be, so we won't be rushing back. Too bad, because Encinitas is not exactly a mecca for good food, so there's not much competition. But service is always attentive and professional, so no complaints there!

vippbbts (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on February 27, 2016

We had the tasting menu and filet--- and loved them!

vipJimbo (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on February 13, 2016

We never rate or give reviews until we have been at least twice. Consistency is key for us. This was our second time and like the first it was fantastic!! The food was excellent and the service was as good as it gets! We had two different waiters and both were very good, friendly and attentive.
We now have Firefly on our list to return.

Designer (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on February 6, 2016

Food was ok, not that great...nice place to enjoy a meal with family,friends or a date!

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on February 6, 2016

Firefly has been a staple in the neighborhood for a long time. Jim does a great job of changing the menu and wine list to keep things interesting. Great happy hour too!

Oceansidefoodie (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on February 3, 2016

We were there on a Wednesday happy hour & surprised how quiet it was...heard that it was rare & that did not surprise us. Pretty place, good service & great food & wine!

Sandi (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on January 31, 2016

It's about time I gave Firefly a review. After all, it's our Go To place when we want a lovely atmosphere, delicious food and moderate prices. It always feels like a special occasion even during Restaurant Week. Or any other week!

If you're a fan of innovative cuisine and a uniformly GREAT staff, you might consider making this YOUR Go To place too!

What's delicious? Pretty much everything I've ever tried. They continue to change things up on the menu seasonally, so I don't want to recommend anything that's no longer available (like the heirloom tomato salad). Suffice it to say everything that comes out of the kitchen has been thoughtfully prepared.

Oh, and if anyone in your party is GF, they have a truly delicious warm Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla bean gelato that would fool the heartiest flour eater! Just sayin'...

CarolynB (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on January 23, 2016

I was starving, and thankfully my husband shared his pork meal with me while I waited for mine to come back from the kitchen. His pork was the most tender and moist of any pork I've ever had! The squash mash was a perfect complement with its natural sweetness. We also enjoyed his scallop risotto appetizer and kaffir key lime tart.

I ordered the blue cheese crusted filet mignon. It came with the cheese on the side. Odd. I had enjoyed a similar dish a few weeks ago at the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai, and I was hoping for something as delish. What happened was the waitress had indicated on the order that I'm gluten free, which is true. Apparently, the kitchen chose to put the cheese on the side, rather than on my steak, thinking I might also be dairy free. Why in the world would I order something covered in cheese if I didn't want the dairy? They should have checked. I sent it back to the kitchen for the cheese to be added, and it was, sort of, plopped on top of my steak, and quickly broiled. Unfortunately, I was expecting the cheese to be melted into the steak as it cooked. That's how the Ranch House did theirs. In fact, the cheese melted in so nicely, that it was a subtle taste added to the steak, not a separate flavor altogether. I'm still curious as to how Firefly does the cheese as a "crust." Seems like it would melt, doesn't it? Despite it all, the filet mignon was nicely cooked and flavorful, but I was expecting something else.

Wine. I prefer a smooth, low tannin, slightly sweet wine, usually a malbec or merlot. Our waitress was not too familiar with the wine list, but she suggested one anyway. Fortunately, I asked for a taste, and I didn't care for it. Instead I ordered a 'tini, a vodka with pomegranate juice. It was delish, but not very strong. I had a second one, and barely got a buzz, and I'm a light drinker. Lots of calories and no buzz! Boo.

Anyway, we'll return, and I hope the pork dish is on the menu that night!

sunnyknowsbest (San Diego)
2.0  Dined on January 22, 2016

Been to Firefly a number of times previously and was quite disappointed this time. We chose the butternut squash soup and risotto with scallops for appetizers: the soup was good but it could have been ANY squash, you could not really taste the butternut squash flavor; the risotto was a little greasy. My daughter had the lobster crusted fillet for main course, it was acceptable; I had the white wine braised pork, it was so-so and the mashed potatoes were a bit sweet tasting (perhaps from the wine braise?). both came out a bit cold/cool, maybe they stood awhile before serving? Neither of the desserts were good: one bite taken of the chocolate -cake like cup, and the pear crisp was a far cry from a crisp anything...the cubes of pear were barely cooked and the topping was no crisp and had none of the expected homey goodness. Perhaps these failures were just a function of the pressing service during a busy restaurant week, as the experience a particularly the food did NOT meet expectations based on other visits to this restaurant. A true MEH.

foodlover2001 (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on January 21, 2016

The food is average to above average for the price. The ambiance is wonderful and it is quiet enough to have conversations with your dining partner(s).