The Rimel’s Story

Rimel’s Rotisserie was started in 1993 in our small La Jolla location as a result of Matt Rimel’s self-taught culinary passions and Jackie Rimel’s shared long term business vision of the restaurant and its greater possibilities. Matt grew up in La Jolla as your typical Wind-An-Sea grom spending his life in the ocean and the outdoors whenever he had the chance. He always had a passion for the ocean, mountains, wildlife, fishing, hunting, surfing, etc. He is a modern day outdoorsman and surfer that grew up learning his way around the kitchen from his mother. He also quickly developed his skills as an avid fisherman and hunter providing the basis for our locally harvested proteins that we feature in the restaurants along with Homegrown Meats. Matt also quickly learned the basics of being a chef and quickly evolved his experience into many of the dishes that are still on the Rimel’s menu today. Everything is based on being fresh, local and simple and he has been doing it this way for over 3 decades.

Matt and Jackie married in the early 90’s and quickly setup Rimel’s La Jolla which hit its 20th anniversary this year. The menu, the concept, and the basics haven’t changed much since.

At Rimel’s Rotisserie, fresh meats, poultry, game, seafood, organic vegetables, etc. are our ultimate priority and we strive to use the finest quality ingredients. Where its possible, everything we create is from scratch; it’s all natural, organic, locally grown and healthy.  Farm to table is the way that we have been doing it for over 20 years, actually long before the term “farm to table” existed.

Our beef dishes get their start at our local Palomar Mountain ranch where we raise cattle via our sister company Homegrown Meats. Born and raised in the vibrant, oak-lined meadows of Palomar mountain, our cattle feed and graze on what cows are supposed to eat – native, sustainable California grasses. All of this meat is organic, hormone and antibiotic free, certified by the American Grass-fed Association and is approved by the Animal Welfare Association. Homegrown Meats supplies our four Rimel’s Rotisserie’s locations, our two Zenbu Sushi Bar and Cocktails locations and our butcher shop in La Jolla CA. This meat is also being sold in all Southern California Whole Foods Markets with over 22 cuts being offered currently. Our fish is the freshest you will find anywhere in Southern California. Driven by a concept of oceanic and environmental sustainability, Rimel’s Rotisserie and Zenbu both rely on our own local seafood company, Ocean Giant, to provide fresh fish daily. Ocean Giant provides fish to other high end fish restaurants around San Diego County. We also source fish, shell fish, etc. from the best local sources and use our 2400 gallon salt water tank in our Cardiff by the Sea location to provide the freshest offering possible. The tank has also been used extensively to educate local schools, provide entertainment and circulate many native oceanic creatures back into our local waters; if you haven’t seen the tanks, you should stop by to check it out. All of our all poultry, meats and fish are hormone and antibiotic free and are open ocean long-line caught whenever available. All of our vegetables, carbohydrates, side dishes, deserts, etc. are made daily using the finest local organic ingredients whenever possible.

At Rimel’s Rotisserie, we roast these ingredients to perfection via our locally grown Palomar Mountain oak on our massive wood-fired grills and rotisseries. Matt Rimel often personally sources unique protein sources from our local ocean and on hunting trips across the United States. Check out the various locations for daily specials such as special cuts, lamb, high-end fish, etc.

We think the San Diego Union-Tribune Dining Guide did a great job describing the first Rimel’s Rotisserie in La Jolla:
“Nothing fancy. Nothing chic. Just fabulous, freshly caught fish cooked simply over mesquite and served with savory side dishes. That’s what draws a standing-room only crowd to Matt Rimel’s tiny café each night. Since there are just three tables plus counter space inside and a half-dozen tables on the shared patio, many fans opt for takeout. During the present local lobster season, Rimel’s features the juicy, mesquite-grilled crustaceans with black beans, rice, tortillas and terrific salsa fresca. There’s also grilled chicken and vegetable plates”.
“He menu calls it “Steaming Rice Bowl.” But I call Rimel’s feast of chewy rice, wokked veggies, moist chicken chunks and spunky green chile-garlic sauce “solace in a soup bowl.”
The rest of the menu is equally satisfying. Homemade soups – especially the Tortilla Roja – are fabulous. Chicken from the rotisserie is served with saucy black beans and terrific dipping sauces. Salads are first rate. Pot-stickers are yummy. And the simple, mesquite-grilled fish and California spiny lobsters (in season) are among the best seafood offerings in town”.

Twenty years in and not much has changed including our menu. We do however now have Four Rimel’s Rotisseries, two Zenbu Sushi’s, a butcher shop (Homegrown La Jolla), Ocean Giant Fish company and Homegrown Meats. The concept hasn’t changed though….We carefully choose our products as the most natural and healthy items out there and we’re committed to providing products that are healthy, environmentally sensible, humane, local and incredibly tasty.