For the times when tapas and drinks are in order, check out Mola Gastro Bar, a new player on the scene in Del Mar Plaza. Tucked away diagonal from Il Fornaio and behind El Agave Restaurant (Mola is owned by the same people), there’s actually very little information online to give guests a feel for what Mola is all about. I had the opportunity to check it out during a Del Mar Familiarization press tour so here’s a brief run-down of what we ate.
That’s the great thing about tapas… the more people in your group, the more awesome dishes one is able to try.
Mola Gastro Bar Menu
The menu is divided into tapas, boards (cheese and meat), oysters, crunchy flatbreads, salads and plates. We were able to sample tapas and flatbreads before needing to head off until to a dinner reservation for even more eating.
Pictured above are the lobster croquettes ($13.50) with spicy aioli and balsamic reduction as well as the fried zucchini blossoms ($12) with goat cheese, serrano ham, cream cheese and piguillo sauce. Several dishes we tried were dressed with edible flowers which is, of course, pleasing visually. Of the two, I preferred the squash blossoms (highly recommend) as the croquettes were tasty but not terribly lobster-y.
The seared beef carpaccio was a definite highlight that I enjoyed immensely paired with a Pinot Noir recommended by our server. I would order it again.
The most outside-the-box dish we tried involved seared Saku tuna on a flatbread. It’s called the Diablito ($15) and also has red onion, avocado scallions and spicy aioli. If you are on the fence about raw fish, this flatbread isn’t for you. It’s different, but our table enjoyed it.
Below is the particularly flavorful Canibal Royale ($15) flatbread with short ribs, Manchego cheese, arugula, baked pork belly and tomato sauce. The flatbreads are a meal in themselves if not shared as sizing is generous.
The salads seem reasonably-priced at around $10. When I return, I’d love to try the Kung Fu Salad with seared tuna, red onion, bell peppers, sun-dried tomato, sesame pol, sesame seeds and yuzu.
The plates section is where the pricing jumps to near $30 and, truthfully, you’d need be really hungry to benefit from it after all of the tapas you’re likely to order.
Mola Gastro Bar Drinks
Our server mentioned a special on Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon that seemed to lure in several passers-by. I can’t remember what it was—perhaps 50% off a bottle—but thought that if my husband was with me, we’d certainly take advantage of it. Their wine list overall is pretty impressive with a good range of varietals and regions.
While I stuck with wine, several people in the group praised the Moscow Mule. A list of craft cocktails included a martini with a manchego cheese floater among other interesting options. With a location steps away from the 1000+ tequilas at sister restaurant El Agave, it’s probably no surprise that tequila features prominently as an option.
Go at Happy Hour
This is BY FAR the best way to give Mola Gastro Bar a try. An abbreviated happy hour menu includes tapas and drinks (local beers, some wines and every cocktail on the menu) for the princely sum of $4 each from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Also currently included on the $4 menu is one flatbread as well as the lobster croquettes, fried zucchini blossoms, carpaccio and mini sliders.
Not to mention, the patio seating as the sun sets provides ample people watching and sea breezes—you can’t see the ocean very well, but you can certainly feel it.
It’s a lovely place to meet friends for a drink. I would say for light bites, too, but you’re likely to make these shared plates a main meal. At the time of this writing, Mola is open from 4:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Mola Gastro Bar (no website)
1555 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014
Have you tried Mola yet? What did you think?