Last weekend, with our adult children in town for Thanksgiving, the boys in our family wanted to go to a sports bar where they could see multiple games at once while drinking good beer and indulging in great snacks. (Nachos anyone?) Meanwhile, the girls wanted a classy but casual place to dine on delicious food (even healthy food?) where they could chat and enjoy creative cocktails. We didn’t want to go to separate places since we are so rarely all together. I must say Mom and Dad made a winning recommendation: Kelsey’s, located in Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Kelsey’s has what any good sports bar should have: cheerful ambiance, great craft beers (and many other adult beverages too), fabulous BBQ, and lots of TVs so you can find whatever game you want to watch. But since its recent 1.5 million dollar renovation, Kelsey’s is much more than a sports bar. Now appropriately described as an “American Pub,” it is upscale with a modern flair and stylish interior design, featuring industrial brick, concrete, exposed wood and accents of glass.
It may seem surprising to find this trendy pub in the middle of the largest casino in California (and one of the largest in the country), but Pechanga is the ideal place for it to be located. Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula is about an hour’s drive from most Southern California locations and right off Interstate 15. It’s no wonder Pechanga was voted the #1 casino in the country by USA Today in 2015. It’s a lively, hopping place with lots to do, see, eat and drink.
About a week before our wildly successful family visit, we had attended a media event at Kelsey’s and enjoyed a taste, not just of its inviting atmosphere, but also of its wide variety of tasty and innovative menu items. After our wonderful tasting experience, we were sure our family’s diverse tastes would be satisfied and that the setting was perfect for an afternoon of football.
I knew our boys (who are Southern boys at heart) would be happy with the pub’s emphasis on hand-cut, barbecued meats and craft beer. With 48 beers on tap, many from Southern California breweries, there were enticing beer choices for everyone. (On the day of our media tasting, we savored great craft beers from Ballast Point, Stone Brewing, and Refuge Brewery.) The rest of us enjoyed inventive cocktails (such as a delectable Raspberry Mint Bourbon Lemonade) and ordered dishes from a variety of tempting selections, including wood-fired pizzas, fresh salads and tantalizing healthy wraps.
Some of the delicious dishes we tried included: creamy corn chowder with bacon; a crispy chopped salad; melt-in-your-mouth, tangy jalapeno poppers; luscious, cheesy nachos with tri tip; a variety of sliders (short rib, brisket); a homemade sausage platter; lightly fried shrimp and chips, and some delectable desserts. Some family friends joined us about halfway through the afternoon and their two small children enjoyed mac and cheese and coloring games given to them by the friendly staff. It’s nice to know Kelsey’s welcomes children.
We also had the opportunity to meet Kelsey’s personable and talented head chef, Ronnel Capacia, who described his commitment to serving interesting, flavorful dishes that appeal to a variety of tastes.
As an added benefit, when football got boring (how could that be?), some of us tried our hands at the slots and won. I came away $49 richer and my daughter won even more. I certainly know where we will be watching football for the rest of the season.
Kelsey’s, one of eleven unique restaurants at Pechanga, is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Go to Pechanga’s website for more information.