San Diego

New Restaurants Planned for Sycuan Casino in El Cajon

Sycuan’s 12-story hotel and resort, set to open this March, will feature homegrown eateries like Hodad's and Phil's BBQ

Sycuan Casino in El Cajon has been undergoing a $226 million expansion project of its 12-story hotel and resort and the property -- opening soon -- will include a lineup of restaurants loved by San Diegans.

Sycuan said Wednesday that the hotel and resort will feature a fast-casual dining space called The UnCommons, which will house five restaurants offering everything from pizza, barbecue, and hamburgers, to tacos and Mediterranean food.

The eateries include Hodad’s, Phil’s BBQ, Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop, The Hangry Slice and Luna Grill.

John Dinius, general manager at Sycuan Casino, said the five restaurants were chosen for being hometown favorites.

“These brands are well-known for consistent quality and a passion for giving back to the local community, and each seemed like a natural fit for The UnCommons,” Dinius said.

Phil’s BBQ has been around since 1998, offering standout barbecue. Currently, Phil’s BBQ has locations in Point Loma, San Marcos, Santee, and Rancho Bernardo, plus a kiosk at Petco Park and a location at the San Diego International Airport.

Hodad’s – owned by the late Mike “Bossman” Hardin until his death in February 2015 – opened its doors in 1969. The Ocean Beach staple is known for it’s big, juicy burgers and has even been featured on an episode of the TV foodie show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Today, in addition to the OB eatery, Hodad’s runs locations out of downtown San Diego and Petco Park.

Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop opened its iconic, colorful location in Mission Hills in 2008. Today, it runs shops in Carlsbad and North Park, too.

At its helm are the Rojano brothers, who are all about making good, high-quality Mexican food synonymous with Southern California culture. Lucha Libre has been featured on TV shows, including on the Travel Channel, Food Network and Cooking Channel. The Sycuan location will offer everything that’s on the classic Mission Hills menu, such as the fan favorite Surfin’ California Burrito.

A newbie to the San Diego dining scene, The Hangry Slice specializes in pizza, calzones and sandwiches. Pies are topped with interesting ingredients like spicy chorizo red sauce and soppressata picante, and the menu offers options like the Chicken Pot Pie Pizza and gluten-free cauliflower pizza crust.

Finally, Luna Grill – which operates 48 locations in Southern California, including more than a dozen restaurants across San Diego County – is known for its fast-casual Mediterranean food such as kabob plates, salads, wraps, hummus, and falafel.

Meanwhile, the Sycuan Casino expansion will also include a few high-end dining and drinking spots. Earlier this month, Eater San Diego reported the expansion includes a luxury steakhouse, a cocktail bar and lounge, and a poolside bar. Those three venues will be overseen by Las Vegas-based Clique Hospitality, a group that operates swanky San Diego spots Lionfish, Oxford Social Club and The Pool House at the Pendry in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter.

A spokesperson for Sycuan Casino said Wednesday that these restaurants are dubbed the Bull & Bourbon steakhouse, Elicit Lounge, and Retreat Pool & Cabanas.

In late March 2017, Sycuan broke ground on its ambitious project to build a 12-story, 300-room, 57-suite hotel and resort adjacent to its existing casino east of El Cajon. The 500,000-square-foot expansion includes new gaming space, meeting and conference spaces, a full-service spa, a fitness center, a pool, gardens, a lazy river, a swim-up bar, and these restaurants.

A year ago, Sycuan Casino said it would look to fill more than 700 new jobs as part of this expansion. Eater San Diego said those job fairs are scheduled at Sycuan for Jan. 16, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Jan. 22, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Another job fair to fill Sycuan jobs takes place on Jan. 23 at the U.S. Grant Hotel.

Sycuan Casino – which opened as a small “bingo palace” in 1983 – underwent another major renovation in 2012. The casino features 2,000 slot machines, more than 40 gaming tables, a buffet, a sports bar and grill and the 452-seat entertainment venue, Sycuan Live & Up Close. After the expansion, it’ll feature 2,500 slot machines and 80 table games.

Job fairs are scheduled for January 15 and 16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Sycuan and January 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., January 22 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and January 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the US Grant Hotel.

The hotel, resort and restaurant project is on track to open to the public this March.

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