Hard Rock x Hotel Thrillist Logo

If you’ve never heard of Hotel Thrillist, you have no idea what you’ve been missing, but we are going to fill you in and give you a serious case of FOMO!  The fun folks at Thrillist are renowned for throwing great parties, but every September they blow it out of the water with a final farewell to summer that has become legendary.

 Taste of Thrillist Aerial Close-up

Taking over a different city each summer (and always selecting the coolest venues), this year was all about Hard Rock Hotel San Diego in Gaslamp District.  Walking into the lobby, we were excited to see the Hotel Thrillist logo everywhere – from the wall-sized LCD screen behind the front desk pods, to the branded surfboard leaned up next to Club 207 inviting us inside to get our wristbands and start the party off right.

Girl in a Ball Performance_Taste of Thrillist 2

Within minutes, we forgot all about the early wakeup call and long flight to the west coast.  Thrillist staffers showered us with Southern California hospitality including welcome drinks served in coconuts (thanks to CocoJack for showing us how to open a coconut with their easy to use tools!) and a float of Malibu RumAnd speaking of float……

Malibu Cocktails Malibu Rum Cocktails

Friday night we invaded the hotel’s rooftop pool (appropriately named, Float) for Taste of Thrillist and enjoyed an upscale menu tasting of some of San Diego’s finest local restaurants.  Hosted by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey, the evening featured so many great dishes we didn’t know where to start!


 Participating venues and dishes included:

  • Chef Malarkey’s own hot spot, Searsucker, served hamachi tartar with crème fraiche and jalapeno (our FAVORITE!)
  • Salt & Cleaver wowed us with lamb crostinis garnished with mint, lime and cucumber
  • Puesto classed things up with filet mignon tacos stuffed with cheese, potatoes, guacamole and salsa
  • Duck Dive’s seared duck breast glazed in dragon sauce over risotto and spinach was the most unique bite we tried
  • Slaters 50/50 offered their Fundido Burger topped with onion rings, chilies, guac and fundido sauce. Talk about a party in your mouth!
  • Casanova Fish Tacos handed out Baja shrimp ceviche that gave off some serious heat. WOW!
  • GreenGo Grilled Cheese upped the ante with pork belly, grilled dates, caramelized onions and signature Nogada spread
  • New York on Rye reminded us of home with their rueben wontons, fit for the most finicky deli palates
  • San Diego Brewing Guild hosted local craft breweries Karl Strauss, Mother Earth Brewing Co., and Coronado Brewing for a fun beer garden around the pool deck and fire pits

 Casanova Fish Taco_Baja Style Shrimp Ceviche Coronado Brewing_Taste of Thrillist

And to round it out for the sweet tooths:

  • Donut Bar created a ‘Big Poppa Tart’ Donut that would make your eyeballs roll back into your head
  • The Cravory fed us their version of whoopie pie in 3 classic flavors– lemon bar, birthday cake and banana pecan pie
  • Kind Bar kept it healthy with greek yogurt parfaits topped with their crunch granola (because we needed a reminder that we would be in swimsuits the next day!)


The evening also included entertainment from indie folk singers Good Graeff as well as a mesmerizing acrobatics dancer floating around the pool in a giant bubble (we were all in awe!).

The best part of the evening was knowing that a portion of the proceeds from the party were going back to the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG) National Charity Foundation, aimed at ending childhood hunger.

 Good Graeff Performance_Taste of Thrillist

As you can see, Friday’s Taste of Thrillist was enough action to satiate anyone’s party palate.  But that was only Day 1.  For those who jokingly asked me all last week “Have you recovered from Hotel Thrillist yet?” I gave plenty of stink eye in response, as I moseyed back to my desk with a giant cup of coffee to keep myself alive for another few hours.  Indeed, I recovered… but only because I went to bed earlier than my grandparents all last week.

– Leslie

Taste of Thrillist Guests

Stay tuned for more details about Day 2 of Hotel Thrillist including an exciting standup paddle boarding adventure hosted by Lululemon, and a pool party that would make Vegas blush!

Photos via Thrillist