In Good Taste:
Beach Bumzz Baja Fusion may seem like a mouthful to utter to a hungry friend when considering where to go for dinner in Pacific Beach, but the name was meant to conjure up a vision, more than roll off the tongue easily.
As executive chef A.J. Mortazavi explains: “A place where most of the locals are laid back, enjoy surfing and hanging out at the beach ... but most of all, enjoy being in a coastal community. The name came about because we were at Lahaina (a beachfront bar on Oliver Court) and saw all these surfers and laid-back people and decided the name would work. It was important to us to really relate to the community around us.”
So, let the relating begin! Beach Bumzz Baja Fusion opened in October 2019 with a Baja Coastal menu served up by the award-winning culinary master chef A.J., who is co-owner of the restaurant along with Dan Miles. Previous to this gig, A.J. worked as a chef at Leucadia Pizza, Bentley Steakhouse and Tower 13.
Chef A.J. describes the menu: “We’re providing comfort food with a Baja twist. We’ve gotten feedback that our customers don’t want another taco shop or pizza place. We feel like our menu is a one-stop shop. There’s something for everyone. Also, our food is coming from an executive chef, so it’s not fast food, but quality food — served in a timely manner. Finally, our menu is diverse enough so it caters to the day crowd, which tends to be health-oriented, but also provides items for the late-night crowd.”
Originally from Tucson, Arizona — where the chilies are hotter and the tastes are spicier — A.J. said he appreciates the slightly different Baja-style of Mexican food here in San Diego. “The flavors are sweeter, and they use Baja chilies instead of Santa Fe chilies. So, I really started leaning toward the Baja taste. And after all, Baja, Mexico, is only 30 minutes from here. I thought I could bring more of the traditional style of Baja to PB.”
After deciding he didn’t really want to work for another restaurant owner, he paired up with Dan, who happens to be his uncle, to launch Beach Bumzz Baja Fusion.
“What drew both of us to this restaurant was the location. We did research on the area and really felt our menu would bridge a gap, offering food no one else had,” A.J. said.
Dan grew up in Chicago and when they decided to move to San Diego — each in his own time — both initially chose to live in PB.
And although 10 years part in age, both men shared the same vision: to open a restaurant that would capture that PB feeling.
“When Dan married my aunt, I was 12 years old,” A.J. told PB Monthly. “But the two of us always hung out at family gatherings. We wanted to start something in Pacific Beach 15 years ago, but the timing wasn’t right for us. So, we put it on hold, but we already had the concept. My aunt told Dan I was ready to get out and do my own thing, and he was a corporate accountant also ready to get out of the corporate world, so we started looking for locations — of course, in Pacific Beach.”
The restaurant boasts a cool, beach-oriented décor that includes a front-and-center mural of Crystal Pier. One thing that sets Beach Bumzz Baja Fusion apart is its pizza menu. It offers $12 pizzas with some pretty unusual toppings, like the Brie and Sweet Potato; or the Dates, Arugula and Proscuitto; or the Baja with Black Forest ham, fresh pineapple peppadews, red onions and teriyaki glaze.
For lovers of chicken wings, Beach Bumzz Baja Fusion boasts 22 varieties, including some not-so-common flavors like Mole, Old Bay Rub, Thai Peanut, and Honey Sriracha. Chef A.J. said he developed the different sauces throughout his culinary career, taking into consideration customer feedback.
The menu also features an array of salads and sandwiches, burgers, soups, share plates, burritos and á la carte tacos.
— Beach Bumzz Baja Fusion is at 978 Garnet Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. beachbumzzpb.com