Tip Top Meats is a fifty-year-old butcher shop and German grocery store with a restaurant tucked into the corner of the store. There are reasons to line-up at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a long list of grocery items and fresh meat products you’re going to want to come back for. Most impressively, the master butcher and founder, “Big John,” is a skilled forger of Turduckens.
Tip Top Meats has a large menu of German specialties and American diner classics showcasing the freshly butchered meats and John’s skill as a sausage maker. One of the best ways to experience these is with the “Big John’s Breakfast.” Three eggs any style, delicious home fries, and all-you-can-eat servings of your choice of breakfast meats. You should choose bratwurst and Polish sausage, because John’s house-made sausages are excellent. All-you-can-eat breakfast meats are always a treat, but we know of nowhere else that includes meats of this caliber. John’s sausages are as good as you can find in the New World.
At lunch, Tip Top makes an excellent cheeseburger. It’s cooked to correct temperature with a coarse butchers grind on an eggy brioche-like roll. Essentially, it’s a very good steakhouse style burger at a fast food burger price. The sandwiches are recommended as well. They are a great example of the generosity of this place. They all come with three halves. The Rueben is a popular choice, as it includes house pickled sauerkraut.
There are many options for dinner plates, and you know the meat will be fresh and delicious. Even though it was a butcher shop, we were surprised at how good the steaks are, even if priced lower than most hamburgers in San Diego County. A daily special offers a large sirloin dinner with all the trimmings, sides, and a beer — all for the price of a cocktail in a swanky bar. The sirloin is juicy, heightened and softened with a tangy marinade and smothered in grilled onions. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, the best food here are the sausages — with eggs in the morning, on a roll in the afternoon, or on a platter in the evening.
All dinners are served with sauerkraut and/or red cabbage, we recommend both, as they’re very different and compliment each other nicely. The best choice for side dish is the warm German potato salad, which has a pleasantly chunky texture and is fragrant with leeks. The dinners come with soup, which are surprise stars. Particularly good is oxtail soup, thickened with rendered gelatin.
Based on the success of the meat shop, a fish shop was opened recently next door. It offers the same blend of quality, freshness and value that the butcher has for decades, but applied to Pacific seafood. To stand out among the many other fish market-restaurant hybrids in California coastal towns, Tip Top Fish offers a few Northern European flourishes like rollmops, stuffed pickled herring.