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It’s time to go Hawaiian at Islands Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 07 2014 02:58 PM

Looking for your own personal beach? Go Hawaiian and paddle over to Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks in Eastlake. The restaurant’s beach theme is relaxing and the food and drinks are excellent.

“We are casual dining — we serve anyone from newborns to the elderly ... we get the whole gamut in here,” general manager Paolo Paiva explained. “We’re very popular with families and kid-friendly.”

The Eastlake eatery is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Paiva said the secret to the restaurant’s success has been its consistency.

“We’re one of the few restaurants that has been able to weather the downturn in the economy,” Paiva said. “Our consistency is in our food and service. We offer a lot of value. We’re one of nine Islands restaurants in San Diego County, so our strong brand helps in consumer recognition.”

The surf is always up at Islands.

Appetizers are a good start to any pleasant dining experience. Start with the popular spinach and artichoke dip ($9.39) or buffalo wings ($10.99). A group of four? Throw in a basket of fries for $3.99.

The fries are a specialty here. They are hand-cut, which is time-consuming, but quickly disappear when brought to the table.

Paiva estimates the restaurant goes through between 1,000 to 1,300 pounds of potatoes each day.

Sandwiches and burgers come with an endless supply of fries. Don’t hesitate to order the sweet potato fries if you are looking for something different. They’re crispy and hot inside, a little salty, but so good.

Burgers range in price from $9.29 to $11.09 and have a 70/30 fat percentage, so expect them to be quite tasty. Popular choices include the Big Wave (lettuce tomato, onion, pickles and mustard), Big Wave with cheese, Hawaiian (pineapple and teriyaki sauce), Kilauea (pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli and Island Reds) and Mavericks (barbecue sauce, Island Reds and American cheese).

The Mavericks burger is a monster but don’t be intimidated by the sheer size of the stack. Dig in with a knife and fork and work your way through all the fixins’. The Island Reds — shoestring onions battered and fried to expert crispiness — enhance the overall taste of the burger along with the tangy barbecue sauce.

Want to eat a bit more healthy? Other menu options include the Turkey Burger Lite ($9.29) as well as fish, chicken or veggie tacos, rice bowls, entrée salads and soups.

The turkey burger, served on a whole wheat bun with tomato, sliced red onion, lettuce and mustard, comes with a side of steamed broccoli and carrots. It’s 640 calories total and surprisingly tasty.

The restaurant also offers gluten free menu options.

Don’t be bashful about enjoying yourself. Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with appetizers and drinks going for under $5.

The mai tai (served with crushed ice) features a blend of dark rum, pineapple and orange juices for a fruity, Polynesian-style drink.

The Big Island tea (served with ice cubes) features a blend of vodka, tequila, gin, rum, triple sec, pineapple juice and strawberry puree.

The mango-strawberry smoothie is top-notch among non-alcoholic beverages. Think tropical. Be imaginative.

Ready for dessert? It will be difficult but somehow save room for the chocolate lava — a sinfully delicious fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, roasted almonds and cherry. It’s made for two. Think Valentine’s Day date!

Islands is located at 2255 Otay Lakes Road. Call 397-2643 or visit www.islandsrestaurants.com.

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