Love. Surf. Eat.
You’d be hard pressed to find a motto that captures the spirit of beachside living better than that.
Those three simple directives form Da Kine Diego’s guiding credo, which, while certainly catchy and pithily evocative of this area’s ingrained principles, also hides a meaning that runs far deeper than mere sloganeering.
Considering Da Kine’s long-held status as a beachside institution, the words seem to hold the power of a whispered magical incantation, one that transformed the eatery from a humble burrito stand into a way of life enjoyed by thousands of devotees up and down the coast.
The origins of both the motto and the popular eatery are so closely intertwined that it’s nearly impossible to decide which of them came first. Like the “chicken or the egg” conundrum, tracing common logic might reveal that the motto was coined following considered reflection well after their first burrito was served, but one can argue that loving, surfing, and eating were the very ideals that first laid the restaurant’s solid foundation atop a putt-putt golf course back in 1996.
When you hear owner Scott Brasington talk effusively about Da Kine Diego’s beginnings, it’s clear that love was an essential ingredient in their successful recipe from the very start. His close-knit family, originally from Texas, moved to Florida in 1975 from the Philippines, where the Brasington patriarch had been stationed with the military. From here, the three Brasington brothers — Scott, Eric and Kirk — took divergent paths, all the while sharing a fervent love of the water.
It’s what bound them together while Scott was off in California and Hawaii managing several Chart House restaurants and Eric was studying the culinary arts at Johnson and Wales. Kirk, for his part, spent most of his waking hours shaping surfboards locally with luminaries like Matt Kechele, Larry Mayo, and Larry Pope, and went on to help create a wide range of innovative wakeboards during the sport’s infancy.
In mid-1995, their paths again converged in Satellite Beach when during a surf session the three brothers fantasized about opening a burrito stand to provide fresh, simple, healthy food for their fellow local surfers. With Eric invoking San Diego’s famed burritos as inspirational exemplars and Scott’s “kine” (Hawaiian pidgin for “kind”) suggestion that they be prepared with their own fresh twist, Kirk is said to have come up with the restaurant’s inimitable name.
With the help of some trusting people surely touched by the Brasington brothers’ infectious positivity, Da Kine Diego’s served its first burrito nearly 12 years ago on the old site of Satellite Beach Putt-Putt Golf. Everything about the place was — and still is — basic; from the fresh, hearty, feel-good food, down to the paper plates and plastic cutlery. But Da Kine’s, while structurally unpretentious (in keeping with the spirit of their original vision), can hardly be called a “stand.” It’s so much more than that.
Where else around here can you find a more unique ambiance than at Da Kine Diego’s, where you can breathe in the salt air under the shade of a thatched umbrella and tuck into an enormous fresh-tasting burrito to the accompaniment of laid-back island rhythms? Where else can you maybe even sit out under the stars with a Negra Modelo and watch surf films on a canvas screen? Who else is as supportive of the local surf scene and as dedicated to the community as the family-friendly Da Kine’s? Others might try, but they can never quite replicate that singular Brasington vibe.
So, love? Check. Surf? Check. Eating? Double check. Not content to simply introduce the area to the concept of a hand-held burrito, Da Kine’s went a step further by filling them with jasmine rice, black beans, chipotle sour cream, green onions, and fresh, cilantro-laden salsa. Everyone has a favorite style — chicken, pork, steak, or veggie — and the miniature version, “Mini Bs,” pack just as powerful a punch. Their “Gringo Star” sandwich (chicken, pork or steak huddled in a soft, sweet flat bread with cheese lettuce and piquant lizayo sauce) is just as popular an item, as are their “Barney Bowls” (essentially one of their burritos, minus the tortilla) and their excellent tacos. Salads are on hand, along with some kid-friendly items and several sides, including delicious spicy carrots.
One could even argue a visit to taste their range of Costa Rican sauces alone. Try several permutations on any of the dishes to find your own magical combination. Newer menu items include the “Triple Crown” (salsa, chips and guacamole) and their first foray into dessert: Coco de piña — pineapple chunks drizzled with dark chocolate syrup. Enjoy a creative variety of beer and sodas, including several flavors of Jarritos, a great thirst-quenching soft drink from Mexico.
Since it first opened, Da Kine Diego’s has taken on a life of its own, thanks to the people who work there and the customers who can never seem to get enough. Looking around, you can see the graffiti left by visitors from all over the world, all of which invariably praise Da Kine’s aesthetic as a place which has grown organically from the essence of common stoke.
And when you really get down to it, stoke is Da Kine Diego’s true specialty.
Da Kine Diego’s is located at 1360 Hwy. A1A in Satellite Beach. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from Noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. All seating at Da Kine Diego’s is sheltered, but essentially outdoors and open to the elements. Families with small children can enjoy the covered play-sand area, replete with buckets and plastic toys. Check their marquee for special events and surf film announcements, or call (321) 779-TACO (8226) for more information or to call your larger orders ahead.