Mermaids & Cowboys To Bring Surf And Turf To Former Alfonso's La Jolla Space

September 15, 2020

Heading into the prime La Jolla spot that housed Alfonso's Mexican for more than four decades is Mermaids & Cowboys, a steak and seafood restaurant inspired by neighborhood history.

The Prospect Street space that was last occupied by Alfonso's La Jolla for forty-plus years was previously expected to become an outpost of Orange County-based Ways & Means Oyster House, but that concept went belly up in the beginning of 2020. In comes Michael "All-Nite Mike" Bonislawski, who has been in the entertainment industry for the past two decades, recently serving as a DJ for casinos in Las Vegas. With the goal of expanding his passion for music, entertainment and hospitality to a food & beverage environment, Bonislawski teamed up with Executive Chef Chris Barre for the opening of Mermaids & Cowboys in San Diego. Chef Barre is a San Diego local, whose resume includes stints at area restaurants like Le Papagayo, Vintana Wine + Dine, The Fishery, and Pacifica Del Mar.

Mermaids & Cowboys is a concept aimed at embracing La Jolla's continuing love story of land and sea, influenced by La Jolla's roots in the cattle ranch days when cowboys drove herds up the beach. The eatery is also inspired by one of the origins of the real-life mermaids - the Ama female divers of Japan who dove to depths of the ocean to bring back shellfish for their village and later became the original "pearl divers" for the Mikomoto Pearl Company.

The 3,200 square-foot former Alfonso's space has been completely redesigned, beginning with a floating patio that allows diners to watch traffic along Prospect Street. At the entrance of the dining room sits the Pearl Bar, named for its pearlescent fish scale adornments. Opposite the bar is a long, L-shaped banquette tailored in chestnut brown leather to be evocative of a well-worn horse saddle. Teak furnishings will also set the tone of La Jolla's vacation comfort and the dining room ceiling is replete with pearl chandeliers to bring a sense of elegance. There is also a front outdoor patio enclosed with a glass railing.

The seasonal menu at Mermaids & Cowboys will be centered around shareable plates prepared with local ingredients and classic recipes crafted by Chef Barre. There will also be a selection of "Party Dishes", large family-style dishes for the table, including a "Cowboy Steak," and seafood platters, as well as a daily selection of raw oysters, hand cut steak, fresh seafood offerings and homemade ice cream. The bar will offer 8 rotating draft beers, a carefully-curated wine selection, and reinterpretations of classic cocktails. 

Mermaids & Cowboys is expected to open as early as September 30 at 1251 Prospect Street in San Diego's La Jolla neighborhood. For more information, visit