San Diego's Popular Royal Rooster Restaurant Completely Changes Course And Some Customers Aren't Too Happy

April 10, 2022

Located harborside in San Diego's Mission Beach area, three-year-old Royal Rooster restaurant recently overhauled its entire menu and some customers aren't too pleased with the changes. 

Chef Cory Rapp opened his quaint Royal Rooster restaurant at Seaforth Marina at Quivira Basin in summer 2019. The veteran chef previously worked at several California fine dining hotspots, including Spruce restaurant in San Francisco and celebrity chef Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc in Napa. Royal Rooster quickly became an under-the-radar dining destination in San Diego, with hungry patrons lining up to get a taste of the counter service eatery's scratch-made Mexican-style menu of smoked meat tacos & burritos, seafood options and hearty breakfast dishes. Last September, Rapp launched a food truck at Bitter Brothers Brewing Company in Bay Park, offering a far more limited menu of "farm-to-trailer" sandwiches and specials. In the past few weeks, both the Royal Rooster food truck ended its run at Bitter Brothers and the original location completely scrapped its popular menu, replacing it with a list of only a handful of sandwiches and sides. 

"We ran out of space at this location," explained Rapp on the reason for the changes at the original Royal Rooster restaurant. "It was originally built to be a crappy deli that does not get busy. Problems we faced: kitchen too small, wait times too long, price increases on food too much, blowing fuses daily due to lack of power for a busy restaurant, can't find any chefs right now that want to put love into their work. Rather than abandoning the spot we changed the menu to better hit our demographics and be able to get myself out of the restaurant to find a bigger, better location with a full liquor license. We are looking to re-open beginning of 2023 in PB ... But we have 5 investors fighting over us right now so we are trying to find the best partner."

Many returning customers of Royal Rooster haven't been too keen on the drastic changes to the restaurant's menu, and some are voicing their opinions on review platforms and social media. Ownership has been less than receptive to the criticisms, frequently harnessing evident frustration into defensive responses.

Royal Rooster is actively looking for a new location that will allow the restaurant to expand its offerings and return the Baja-inspired menu of tacos and burritos. In the meantime, the menu at the original location includes a cheeseburger, a local fish sandwich, and a chicken thigh sandwich, as well as build-your-own sandwich & burger option, fries, onion rings, salad, slaw, Thrifty ice cream, slushies, draft beer and custom margaritas. There will also be a weekly, throwback menu item featuring a favorite dish from the previous menu. 

Royal Rooster is located at 1717 Quivira Road in San Diego's Mission Beach area. For more information, visit