Salt & Whiskey Now Open At Historic Horton Grand Hotel In Downtown San Diego

August 11, 2017

San Diego's historic Horton Grand Hotel has recently unveiled the results of its revamped drinking and dining establishment, now dubbed Salt & Whiskey. Centered around the centuries-old spirit, the bar and restaurant helmed by Chef Aaron Thomas is going against the grain and transcending all trends by presenting a timeless approach to both its cuisine and design. Ripe with a sense of nostalgia for the bygone eras of yesteryear (think Red Fox Room and the sadly-shuttered Albie’s Beef Inn), guests can expect dark leather booths and an intimate 10-seat mahogany bar where they’ll have access to more than 600 whiskeys and nearly 1,000 spirits.  

The more than 130-year-old Horton Grand Hotel - known for such legendary visitors as President Benjamin Harrison, Lou Costello, and Babe Ruth -  has reinvented the formerly separate Ida Bailey restaurant and Palace Bar into one rebranded entity, Salt & Whiskey. Aptly named to pay homage to the two most notable exports of the Victorian age, Salt & Whiskey hopes to breath new life into one of the Gaslamp Quarter’s most storied properties while offering a welcome respite to the boisterous neighborhood just steps away. Guests will be transported to an unrivaled atmosphere of decades old charm, conjuring up memories of the Mad Men era where sophistication reigned supreme.

Whether opting for a cocktail at the 10-seat rich mahogany bar flanked by the lounge’s marble fireplace and gilt-edged mirror or enjoying a full meal in one of the six leather booths of the dark hued restaurant, both San Diegans and visitors alike are greeted by an inherently warm sense of nostalgia often lost in the modern age. In addition to cosmetic changes in the form of a new doorway leading directly from the bar into the restaurant, new signage and darker color tones throughout, most notable among the transition is the addition of Welsh born chef Aaron Thomas who brings more than a decade of industry experience to the job. 

Recently hailing from The Rancho Bernardo Inn’s Avant restaurant, Thomas’ approachable, yet progressive menu of modern vintage cuisine features highlights including Pork Three Ways with pork tenderloin, pork belly, sea beans, quince and cracklings, Pan Seared Scallops with orange parsnip puree, sous vide leeks and cucumber and an elevated take on Fish “N” Chips as a nod to Chef’s childhood growing up in Wales. While presenting a simple, yet upscale market-driven menu, Chef Thomas plans to consistently incite the attention of guests through elements including tableside sauce presentations and intricately plated dishes. Whiskey flights are currently offered to accompany Thomas’ creative culinary iterations and whiskey pairing dinners are planned for the near future.

Chef Thomas’ gastronomic offerings are accented by the bar’s all-encompassing selection of more than 600 whiskeys and nearly 1,000 spirits with an emphasis on signatory blends and high-end limited releases. Whether favoring a more straightforward libation or a handcrafted cocktail ranging from the Popavardier with Buffalo Trace, Poppy Amaro, House Barrel Aged Vermouth and Fresh Orange Juice to the Doppelgänger with Kikori, Blackberry Brandy Syrup, Dry Port and Creme de Mure, patrons will notice a well-curated beverage program designed to meet the needs of a wide range of guests. A well-educated and passionate staff of consummate professionals are on hand to answer the questions for the most novice imbiber to the seasoned whiskey connoisseur.

Salt & Whiskey serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily along with a newly resurrected Saturday and Sunday brunch. Happy Hour is served in the bar Sunday through Thursday from 4-6pm. Live musical entertainment from the bar’s piano is offered every Thursday through Saturday evening. 

Salt & Whiskey is located at 311 Island Avenue in downtown San Diego. For more information, visit and peruse the menus below.