The restaurant business has been a part of Dan Thomas’ life since he was a teen-ager. Though he wanted to be a magician, he found working in restaurants was a more dependable way to make a living.
Thomas’ first restaurant was in Florida. In the late 1970s, he moved to San Diego.
Unwittingly, the restaurant that Thomas opened in San Diego’s Mission Hills is very much like TV’s “Cheer.” the fictional Boston bar and grill where “everybody knows your name.” Called The Gathering, it’s exactly that, a gathering place for people from throughout the city.
On any given evening you will find a few characters straight out of a television sitcom sitting at the bar.
The tables are covered with white linen tablecloths and though the atmosphere is relaxed, there is a unique energy. Part of that energy comes from a magician who moves from table to table performing what is called close-up magic for patrons as they wait for their meal. Families with children are especially excited to see, and often times learn, a new magic trick.
For that reason, and because of its home style offerings, The Gathering is a true family restaurant. The menu includes salads, sandwiches and complete meals from $6.50 to $14.95.
Came asada, tender, lean slices of flank steak charbroiled with salsa, guacamole and black beans, is The Gathering’s signature dish. That dinner is $14.95.
But, If you like down home cooking, try their meat loaf dinner, with mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh steamed veggies for $13.95.
They do sensational burger as well. Called the Goldfinch Burger is $9.95 and is served with your choice of French fries or fresh fruit.
For those who like to eat on the light side, The Gathering has a nice selection of salads. My favorite is the spinach salad with fresh chipped mushrooms, bacon and feta cheese topped with a tangy poppy seed dressing. The spinach salad is $10.95 and the blackened chicken is 14.95.
For a great bowl of soup, try the French onion with melted Swiss cheese, garlic bread, fresh fruit and the broth has a nice rich flavor for 7.95.
The Gathering is and especially popular place for Sunday brunch and their breakfast menu offers a few items not found at many restaurants. One of their breakfast treats is Eggs Sardu-poached eggs, with creamed spinach on an English muffin topped with a dilled hollandaise sauce. It costs $10.95.
My all-time favorite on the breakfast menu is the Country Sausage Frittata with bell peppers, sautéed onions, tomato’s and Parmesan cheese. This is a three-egg frittata; whipped up in one of those old-fashioned malted milk machines that give it a fluffy, light appearance and taste for 8.95.
They offer a nice children’s menu here as well. One of the most popular items for the kids is a grilled cheese sandwich and fries for $2.75. They also offer a child’s plate of pasta with Parmesan cheese and butter for $4.95.
Those, the owner, has turned his little neighborhood restaurant into a San Diego gathering spot. He has also worked his first love of being a magician into his restaurant business.
The quality is high, the food is good, the service is friendly and the prices are for the family. Not only will you fine a magician entertaining table side on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings – you will find a lot of local magicians dropping by for dinner as well.