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Meet Coral Strong of Garden Kitchen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Coral Strong.

Coral, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in Costa Rica where my mother cooked everything from scratch. As I got older, and dined out more with my husband, I realized there weren’t any restaurants that were bringing extremely fresh produce and from scratch dishes that tasted real. Combined with our love of organic vegetables and strong support of farm CSA’s and local purveyors, I decided I wanted to bring that to the restaurant scene in San Diego.

I found a quaint outdoor restaurant that we completely transformed to casual upscale dining al fresco. The neighborhood that we are in Rolando, was just screaming for a fresh, from scratch, sustainable dining experience. There is little dining in the area, and mostly fast food, so I knew bringing farm fresh vegetables, local fish and sustainable meats to the scene would flourish.

Our beer and wine menu is all local as well. Ranging from Temecula, CA to Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico wineries & breweries as well. We are currently expanding, adding in additional outdoor patio seating and an indoor wine lounge- we hope to be open Spring 2018.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been mostly a smooth road. Some of the biggest challenges we fought was growing organically, with zero advertising and just word of mouth was slow, yet steady. Once we took off, about 5 months in, the hardest challenge was keeping up with the existing staff.

As the executive chef, owner, manager and everything else, as the business grew, so did my tasks. Keeping up at a feverish pace while trying to maintain sanity was hard the first year.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Garden Kitchen story. Tell us more about the business.
Garden Kitchen’s specialty is working directly with San Diego farmers to get the freshest produce. I get a fresh list every Monday from five farms, at which point they pick to order for me. Receiving deliveries throughout the week, I then write the menu daily according to the ingredients we have.

Customers love that I am creative with how to use certain fruits & vegetables that are not necessarily traditional. I tell my customers that everything I make is my spin on a classic dish given the ingredients I have from our farms. I am most known for bringing vegetable forward dishes, without making them feel “like they are eating their vegetables”.

I am most proud of my extreme dedication to the farms I work with, support and buy from. Many restaurants say they are “farm to table” but aren’t. My dedication to write my menu daily, from scratch based on the farm ingredients I get has been and will continue to be a huge part of my success with flavors & freshness.

What sets us apart is that I greet almost every customer at the table every day to ensure they are not only enjoying my food, but that they are getting the experience they deserve. Hard work over the last 2.5 years has gotten us incredible reviews, multiple magazine articles & publications, and most importantly an extremely dedicated repeat customer base.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’m not sure there is really good luck or bad luck, but I suppose I do believe in karma. I take extreme pride in being honest, hardworking, sincere and be the best woman, friend, wife, daughter, employer, business owner I can be. With that, I have attracted really good people in my life, which has brought me good things.

Combine that with extremely hard work & dedication, and it has brought me happiness, a great family, a wonderful husband and a business which is thriving.


  • Appetizers $8-$17
  • Soups $8-$14
  • Salads $12-$16
  • Entrees $18-$30
  • Desserts $9-$12
  • Happy Hour includes $3 off appetizers, $4 beers, $5 wines & $5 signature sangria

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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