New San Diego Italian Food Book

San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond (American Palate) Paperback

sandiegofoodfinds.comAs ethnic neighborhoods in other cities assimilate to American life, the exuberant local flavor of San Diego’s Little Italy remains both culturally and culinarily distinct. Tucked between Interstate 5 and San Diego Bay southeast of San Diego International Airport, the blocks surrounding the landmark Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church contain many of the most notable eateries and gourmet cafés in “America’s Finest City.” In her new Italian book, Join Maria Desiderata Montana, a daughter of that Italian heritage and one of the city’s most notable food writers, on this savory tour through the zesty Italian food traditions, businesses and recipes both in Little Italy and across San Diego.

Maria Desiderata Montana is a nationally published and award-winning author, freelance food and wine journalist and editor and photographer who learned how to cook and appreciate European cuisine from her parents who were born and raised in southern Italy. In her new San Diego Italian book, learn how to easily make 25 recipes from her Italian kitchen including ravioli, cannoli, tiramisu and biscotti. In addition, each dish has a matching full-color photo.

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Locally Roasted at The Swell Cafe

swell cafeSwell Coffee Roasting Company & The Swell Cafe

Located in Mission Beach, well trained baristas and passionate chefs at The Swell Cafe will cater to your every whim with small batch artisan in-house roasted coffees and a specialty cold brew. Swell Cafe also serves breakfast and lunch fare as well as smoothies and acai. The outdoor patio features a nice ocean breeze, a living wall and custom photo tables.

On December 24th, Swell coffee house will be offering free shots of espresso from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

About the Coffee

Swell serves the finest local-roasted, small batch, artisan quality coffee beans while supporting sustainable practices. Their coffee sourcing goes above and beyond when it comes to fair and direct trade and treatment of coffee farmers.

Direct Trade – Coffee sourcing method where coffee company purchases green coffee directly from the farmer.

Seed-to-Cup – Coffee that is usually very high quality and can be traced from the type of tree grown, the farm, the farmers and their family and team, trade route, and processing and handling of the coffee beans from harvest to brewing.

Fair Trade – This certificated is debatable about whether it actually helps coffee farmers.  It is a labeling system whereby coffee is certified, after importation usually, for production standards.

UTZ Certification – Coffee certification that demonstrated the coffee is sustainable and traceable from farm, to producer, to consumer.

USDA Organic – Certifies that the coffee is produces without the aid of artificial substances, such as certain additives, or some pesticides and herbicides.

Rainforest Alliance – NGO that certifies coffee crops are produces in harmony with their environment through minimizing deforestation, environmental destruction, and also sustainable and equal rights in farming methods and labor.

“Bird Friendly” by the Smithsonian Institution Migratory Bird Center – Coffee that is sourced from shade-grown, organic farms.  This organization actually coined the term “sustainable coffee”.

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Food Lovers Guide to San Diego

Food Lovers Guide To San DiegoThe Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego and all of Montana’s books are available on her author page at AMAZON and GLOBE PEQUOT PRESS. Her books are also available at local San Diego bookstores.

The Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego was reprinted in 2014 and highlights the best restaurants, markets & local culinary offerings.

The ultimate guides to the food scene in their respective states or regions, these books provide the inside scoop on the best places to find, enjoy, and celebrate local culinary offerings. Engagingly written by local authorities, they are a one stop for residents and visitors alike to find producers and purveyors of tasty local specialties, as well as a rich array of other, indispensable food-related information including:

  • Favorite restaurants and landmark eateries
  • Farmers markets and farm stands
  • Specialty food shops, markets and products
  • Food festivals and culinary events
  • Places to pick your own produce
  • Recipes from top local chefs
  • The best cafes, taverns, wineries, and brewpubs

Maria Desiderata Montana is the publisher of the award-winning food blog San Diego Food Finds ( She is a nationally published and award winning author, freelance food and wine journalist and editor and photographer who learned how to cook and appreciate European cuisine from her parents who were born and raised in southern Italy. Maria is the author of the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego (Globe Pequot Press), San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City (2014 San Diego Book Award winner for Best Published Lifestyle Book Cooking & Home, Lyons Press), San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond (History Press), Market Restaurant + Bar Cookbook (Lyons Press) and The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe Cookbook. She is extensively published in several newspapers and magazines, where she writes a variety of food and entertainment stories as well as her own monthly recipe series. Maria guest appears on local radio and TV to share her knowledge of food and cooking, and regularly assists celebrity and high profile chefs with cookbook projects.

Enjoy the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego!

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Christmas Day Dinner in San Diego

No Apron Required! Check out the following 20 San Diego restaurants that make holiday gatherings easy.

Christmas Day Dinner
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Celebrate Christmas Day Dinner

On the ninth floor of Hotel Indigo, Level 9 Rooftop Bar offers views of Petco Park and the Gaslamp District. Sip on a cocktail made with house-infused Clementine vodka with blood oranges, green apple and cranberries. At street-level sits Table 509, perfect for groups and families. The menu is seasonal and locally inspired with influences from surrounding Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Don’t miss Table 509’s Baja Fish Taco’s where the fish changes daily depending on what is fresh and local.

Boasting historic San Diego charm and contemporary cuisine, West Coast Tavern in North Park offers pork belly sliders topped with house-made garlic aioli, five spiced jidori chicken wings drizzled in sauces or one-of-a-kind baked white cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese. With patio or indoor seating, an extensive drink menu and phenomenal food, West Coast Tavern makes party planning easy. With patio or indoor seating available to reserve, an extensive drink menu to accompany the phenomenal food, planning your event will be a breeze at West Coast.

When you’ve got the group to decide and Chinese it is, head to Wang’s North Park for total Asian fusion in the heart of North Park. The restaurant offers gluten-free options and accommodates both small and large groups. The landmark J.C. Penney building has been transformed into a sprawling space with a steel bonsai tree sculpture at the epicenter of the bar embodying the traditional core and contemporary twists of each dish Wang’s North Park offers. The semi-private dining room on the second floor mezzanine overlooks the restaurant and can accommodate 100 guests with customized menus available.

If you’re looking for a home-cooked meal, Ortega’s, A Mexican Bistro will be happy to provide it for you on the Ortega’s second floor veranda or the indoor bar/cantina area. San Diego sunshine rules on their the patio where traditional Baja cuisine is served. Ortega’s famous Baja-style grilled lobster dinner, attentive service and lovingly prepared side dishes will have your friends and family feeling right at home.

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Our New Years Eve 2014 Roundup

New Years Eve 2014Whether you’re looking to dance, dine or drink your way into 2015, make this New Years Eve 2014 one to remember with tons of great choices in America’s Finest City!

With a menu that stands out as a cut above the rest, treat yourself and a special someone to the ultimate lux New Years dining experience at Coronado’s chic new steakhouse. Enjoy a 4-course dinner designed by Executive Chef Tim Kolanko for $99 per person, with optional custom wine pairings courtesy of Beverage Director Greg Majors for an additional charge ($75 or $125) — topped off with a complimentary glass of Billecart Salmon Champagne to toast 2015! (Please visit, or call 619.522.0077 to secure reservations)

See and be seen this New Year’s Eve at Little Italy’s swankiest, seaworthy restaurant, Ironside Fish & Oyster! As a playful nod to the restaurant’s nautical theme, Executive Chef Jason McLeod has put together a Titanic-inspired evening. Ironside will be encouraging guests to get dolled up and celebrate in style as Ironside invokes the spirit of the 20’s. This New Year’s Eve gala will be one to remember!

2 pre-fixe dinner seatings:

* 1st Seating | 3-course dinner, reservations available from 5pm-6pm, $65 per person
* 2nd Seating | 4-course dinner, reservations available from 9pm-10pm, $95 per person, includes midnight champagne toast

Reservations currently available by calling the restaurant at 619-269-3033 or by emailing

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The Air Conditioned Lounge

Just in time for the holidays, The Air Conditioned Lounge has recently renovated their VIP room from floor to ceiling.

The Air Conditioned Lounge
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The Air Conditioned Lounge

The Air Conditioned Lounge has disco balls hanging from the ceiling and a LED touch-activated dance floor, just like a Michael Jackson music video. This legendary bar and nightclub known for great music and service has also revamped its private room with a personal craft beer tap. Think 70s mod meets 80s dance party. The perfect intimate setting for Christmas and New Year’s parties, the option to order bottle service assures that guests never have to leave the party to order their cocktail of choice. The Air Conditioned Lounge is open seven nights a week, with live DJs spinning the hottest beats every night.

The Air Conditioned Loung
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Air Conditioned Lounge can be found at 4673 30th Street in the fun and upcoming University Heights neighborhood. Alternative Strategies

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12 Days of Counterpoint

This season, Golden Hill neighborhood gem Counterpoint is getting into the seasonal spirit with the launch of its inaugural 12 Days of Christmas.

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12 Days of Counterpoint

No turtle doves or partridge in a pear tree, just a dozen different stuffed culinary creations from Executive Chef Rose Peyron. Peyron has crafted 12 unique dishes that will be served at the restaurant beginning this Saturday, December 13th and running through the 24th with highlights including a chile relleno, pop tart, ravioli and baked apple. Other stuffed dishes include pierogi, soup dumplings and steamed buns.

Prices will vary each night. While you’re there don’t miss out on Counterpoint’s The Lookout Tower cocktail – made with whiskey, honey, lemon and Douglas Fir Tips tea – it’s the perfect seasonal cocktail to warm up any chilly winter night!

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Culinarian of the Year


Culinarian of the Year

San Diego Business Owner Ira Falk of International Treescapes Recognized for his Contributions to San Diego’s Hospitality Industry

On November 20th, 2014, The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival awarded Ira Falk the organization’s coveted “Culinarian of the Year” Award during the 11th annual food and wine classic. The award is given annually to one individual who has made significant contributions to scholarship growth of San Diego’s culinary, hospitality and enology students, said San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival co-producer Michelle Metter.

“To say Ira has made an impact in San Diego’s hospitality scene would be an understatement,” added Metter. “From providing fundraising for scholarship through hosted events, donations, and beyond, Ira and his wife Melissa have truly vested their time and resources into the future of our city’s hospitality professionals.”

The Culinarian of the Year Award is given annually during the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s Wine Spectator Celebrity Chef Dinner and Big Bottle Live Auction, which raises funds for scholarships to be awarded by the American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) and Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. A long time contributor to these scholarships, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs member, and former Baillage of the San Diego Chapter, Ira was selected by a judging panel consisting of wine and food festival co-producers Michelle Metter and Ken Loyst as well as past Culinarian of the Year Award Winners Steve Pagano, Manager of the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina and Bernard Guillas, Executive Chef of the Marine Room.

The 11th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival held November 16-23, raised a combined $50,000 in both the silent and live auctions for scholarships to be awarded in 2015. To date, the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has raised more than $350,000 in scholarships for the AIWF and Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

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California Lottery Foodie Experience

Ever Eaten at a World Famous Michelin Star Restaurant? The California Lottery is Offering You the Ultimate Foodie Experience!

Beginning January 5th, 2015 the Lottery will begin its Ultimate Foodie Experience promotion that can only whet your appetite. The lucky winner will receive an 18-course tasting menu at the world renowned THE FRENCH LAUNDRY restaurant in the Napa Valley! This dining event for two starts off with a bottle of champagne. Then enjoy Chef/Owner Thomas Keller’s amazing meal paired with wines selected by THE FRENCH LAUNDRY Sommeliers.

Food aficionados are well aware that THE FRENCH LAUNDRY is a three-star Michelin Guide restaurant and it is considered one of the top 50 gourmet restaurants in the world.

“We’re pleased to give California Lottery players a chance to taste what it’s all about. Throughout our history, the California Lottery has offered our players a variety of prizes that gives them additional opportunities to win big,” said Russ Lopez, Deputy Director of Corporate Communications. “What better way to celebrate California, our farm-to-fork movement and one of the world’s best restaurants than to offer them the ultimate THE FRENCH LAUNDRY experience. If you love food, then buy a ticket, take a chance and join the ultimate ‘foodie’ club!’”

Starting January 5, participants must purchase the Lottery’s Emerald 10’s Scratchers® ticket (image below). Our (hopefully) hungry customers will then have to take a photo of themselves clearly showing off the Emerald 10’s Scratchers ticket. They must send us that photo with the best caption they’ve even written telling us who they’d share this exceptional dinner with and why. The caption must not exceed 500 characters (not words). Don’t worry, our submission form will not let you go over 500 characters! It’s that easy! Sorry creative people, the photo cannot be Photoshopped! All the final details of this exciting promotion will be unveiled at or around Jan. 1.

Hold on! If that isn’t enough to make you run out and buy an Emerald 10’s Scratchers ticket, consider that we’re throwing in a two-night stay at a Napa Valley spa and resort! You’ll be picked up from the hotel by one of THE FRENCH LAUNDRY’S custom BMW cars, and Chef Keller will wind up your night with a special personal gift!

THE FRENCH LAUNDRY is considered one of the top 50 restaurants in the world and has earned top honors in the prestigious Michelin Guide book. Michelin has been awarding 0-3 stars to restaurants around the world since the early 1900s, with a three-star rating considered the ultimate international recognition in the culinary world.

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Muzita Bistro on Good Food America

good food america
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Local San Diego restaurant, Muzita Bistro will be featured on Good Food America, the healthy food travel show which airs nationally on Z Living TV (formerly Veria Living), the TV network that showcases healthy lifestyle and wellness programming.

The segment featuring Muzita Bistro will air Sunday, December 28 at 6:00PM/PT. Host, Chef Danny Boome visits the San Diego-based Abyssinian bistro (located at 4651 Park Blvd.) to sample some of the restaurant’s popular menu offerings including Azifah FitFit: Cool lentils with injera, rice and house made toasted flax seed vinaigrette dressing. Danny will also sample Dorho Kilwa: Sauteed boneless chicken breast, white wine, house herb blend, tesmi, and serrano chili.

The Emmy®-nominated Good Food America takes viewers on a culinary adventure across America in search of the nation’s best healthy restaurants. Follow Danny on his gastronomic journey each Sunday night as he discovers regional gems, native ingredients and the homegrown talent that keeps locals coming back for more. This season, the series will make stops everywhere from Maine to California.

Danny is an internationally-acclaimed TV personality and chef. He is known to audiences for his culinary work and dynamic personality on such shows as Recipe Rehab (ABC Daytime) and Food Network Canada/The Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown.

*Courtesy information Lipping Group
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National Pizza Week Fundraiser

National Pizza WeekURBN Restaurants Inc. owner and founder, Jon Mangini, is kicking off 2015 by giving back to FOUR deserving San Diego charities through his “ROLL THE DOUGH, TO RAISE THE DOUGH” initiative.

National Pizza Week

In honor of National Pizza Week, from January 5th through January 10th, $1 from every pizza purchased at BASIC in East Village and it’s spin-off eateries URBN Coal Fired Pizza in North Park, El Cajon and Vista will directly benefit a non-profit that each restaurant feels passionately about.


 BASIC urban kitchen + bar |YWCA
◦ The largest and oldest women’s organization in the United States, the YWCA is a non-profit organization helping women, children and families break the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness, and achieve self-sufficiency. To find out more about this organization please visit

URBN North Park | North Park Main Street Association
◦ North Park Main Street is a private non-profit organization charged with the revitalization of the North Park Business Improvement District, North Park’s Downtown and the historic heart of the community. To find out more about this organization please visit

URBN Vista | Solutions For Change
◦ Solutions for Change is a housing provider for homeless children and their parents in North San Diego County that provides housing, support services, educational and employment opportunities to residents. To find out more about this organization please visit

URBN St. Brewing Co. | St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center
◦ St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center educates and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential through nationally recognized innovative programs. To find out more about this organization please visit:

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Top 5 Tailgating Picks

Chicken Wings (Courtesy photo)

Iowa Meat Farms & Siesel’s Meats, dishes out their top five picks for the GOURMET GRILLER– promising to make your tailgate spread the most talked about grub at the game!

Wings Gone Wild
Besides being the ultimate finger food, chicken wings are a staple for any self-respecting football spread. Iowa Meat Farms & Siesel’s have you covered with their abundance of flavor selections including Hot & Spicy, Sweet & Sour, Korean Style, Bourbon Dijon, and Black Pepper. Pre-seasoned and ready to grill, pop these babies right on the BBQ for instant success!


INSIDER TIP! Be sure to turn the chicken wings every few minutes until the meat is not pink in the center. This will usually take about 16 to 18 minutes total. You’ll know the wings are close to being done when you see bubbles forming underneath the skin.

Pinwheels (Courtesy photo)

Colorful & packed with flavor, these delicious easy-to-grill nuggets make for great shared appetizers and are guaranteed to be devoured by adults and children alike. Siesel’s carries a killer flank steak pinwheel rolled up with provolone cheese, prosciutto and spinach….are you hungry yet?

INSIDER TIP! Turn your sliced flank steak pinwheels after two to four minutes on med high heat for a med rare finish, but be careful not to dislodge the stuffing! For sliced pinwheels, you may want to use a spatula for turning.

Handcrafted Housemade Sausages & Brats: Nix the prepackaged weenies and grab a handful of IMF & Siesel’s authentic sausages and brats for the grill, made in house fresh by the meat masters themselves! Both stores make a mean mouthwatering Polish sausage, bratwurst, Italian sausages, bourbon sausage, chorizo, Cajun sausage, and the popular fan favorite, chicken and sun-dried tomato basil.

Bratwurst (Courtesy photo)

INSIDER TIP! Siesel’s and Iowa Meat Farms recommends pairing brats and sausages with artisanal mustards to enhance the flavor. Butcher’s picks? Champagne Garlic and Hong Kong Habanero mustards from Sono Trading company. Also available for sale at both store location.

Fresh Turducken
While raising eyebrows, the Turducken has begun to take the gourmet tailgating world by storm! In honor of legendary coach John Madden’s fixation with the de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck stuffed into a de-boned turkey, it’s safe to say that the Turducken reigns as the king of all tailgating grub. Luckily for you, IMF & Siesel’s offers San Diego’s only fresh, farm-quality Turducken made exclusively behind the counter in their specialty meat locker. IMF & Siesel’s can whip up one of their fresh Turduckens given four days notice, or you can easily pick up a frozen bird in-store on a whim!

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Live Music Nights at Saltbox

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Saltbox Live Music Nights

Saltbox ust in case a night out in the Gaslamp wasn’t intriguing enough, Saltbox just upped the ante. Saltbox, the swank downtown restaurant and bar that infuses the flavor of San Diego into all their creations, is now introducing live music nights Thursday-Saturday. Grab a cocktail and relax in their gastro-lounge while listening to indie beats and acoustic rock. Drop in for Soul Thursdays and enjoy half priced wines and music from 7-9pm. Start the weekend right with Siren Fridays, where the DJ is spinning from 9-12am and Saturday from 8-11pm. Complete your night out with a Housemade Calzone, Achiote Marinated Skirt Steak or delicious Nutella Bread Pudding. Check out this 5th avenue staple and enjoy Saltbox’s live music nights before their gone.

*Courtesy information The Nth Element
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Make it One Stop at Aventine La Jolla

Aventine La Jolla
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Aventine La Jolla is an 11-acre upscale lifestyle and business complex that is home to the AAA Four Diamond Hyatt Regency hotel, an 11-story LEED Platinum Certified office building, Truluck’s, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Cafe Japengo, The Melting Pot and state-of-the-art fitness center and spa, The Sporting Club. Built in 1990 by renowned architect Michael Graves, the Aventine boasts a post-modern design inspired by Italian silhouettes. Situated in the “Golden Triangle” between the I-5 and I-805 on La Jolla Village Drive, the Aventine enjoys a central location easily accessible to La Jolla, UTC and downtown San Diego. For more information, visit or socialize with them on Facebook and Twitter.

*Courtesy information
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Nutribullet Ginger Blast

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Nutribullet Ginger Blast

Correct indigestion with this ginger Blast, which contains pain-killing and anti-nausea compounds perfect for an upset stomach.

The recipe also contains pear, packed with fiber and cinnamon and nutmeg, which not only help ring in the holidays with festive flavors, but help calm stomach pain, relieve insomnia and boost mood – three holiday culprits that can ruin your celebration!

Ginger Blast


½ Tall Cup Butter Lettuce
½ Banana
1 Pear
½ inch Ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
Water to MAX LINE

Recipe courtesy of Nutriliving.

sandiegochef'stablebymariadesideratamontanaWant more recipes? San Diego is a vivacious and active food community whose eating habits are unpretentious yet familiar, conspicuous yet simple. Famous for supporting a health-conscious lifestyle, with an abundant supply of fresh and organic products at their fingertips, the attitude of the chefs and diners alike is friendly and laid-back. From kitchen celebrities and James Beard recognized chefs, to those who simply just love to cook, priding themselves on being eco-conscious, using only sustainable meats and seafood, the restaurants in San Diego are quickly becoming enchanting places, suitable for even the most discerning of palates. The colorful California modern cuisine will tempt your taste buds with fusions of imaginative textures and flavors. With recipes for the home cook from over 60 of the city’s most celebrated restaurants and showcasing around full-color photos featuring mouth-watering dishes, famous chefs, and lots of local flavor, San Diego Chef’s Table is the ultimate gift and keepsake cookbook.

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Dynamic Sidebar San Diego

Sidebar San Diego
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Sidebar San Diego

Sidebar San Diego offers an intelligent combination of both ultra-lounge and nightclub, providing a dynamic aesthetic with classic sex appeal.

A mismatched array of leather booths and velvet couches lend themselves to be both lounge seating and bottle service tables. A cluster of maroon birdcages dangle from the lofted ceiling above the front lounge. The caged theme continues to the focal point of the club; a life-size birdcage that houses the DJ and doubles as a stage for go-go’s to climb in and tease the high-energy dancing crowd that gathers below.

A custom-designed ambient lighting package provides just the right mood for any given event while the unique collection of erotic paintings and decor provide subtle distractions. Side Bar offers an experience that is both stimulating and suggestive, depending upon where you are standing. sidebar san diego


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JUICE SAVES in East Village

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Juice Saves

Wash away the sins of last night’s revelry with a healthy juice shot on January 1st! Lindsay Nader and the Juice Saves truck will be outside Underbelly II in North Park on Thursday, January 1st from 10am onwards with free juice samples, and a selection of blends for sale. Take advantage of some great discounts on Linday’s signature line of cleanses, or when purchased together, get 20% off her Bad Decisions Package – The Hangover & Aloe Vera Wang. You can also stop by JUICE SAVES in the East Village & pick up a delicious detox treat at the same discounted price!

* The Juice Saves New Year Special includes 10% off a 1-day cleanse, 15% off the first day of a 3-day cleanse and 20% off the first day of a 5-day cleanse.
* Please visit, or call 619.255.2653 for more details.

San Diego hottest cold-press juicery, Juice Saves, will be doing a pop up shop at UnderBelly II in North Park on New Year’s Day, where they’ll be offering hydrating juice shots and deals on their “Bad Decisions Package” to help you recover after the big night.

JUICE’s cold-pressed blends are extracted through a state-of-the-art, California manufactured hydraulic press that administers 14 tons of pressure, first crushing and then pressing fruit and vegetables for the highest juice yield. Blended for balance and nutrition, Operating Partner Lindsay Nader’s creations are cold-pressed daily to preserve essential vitamins, nutrients and enzymes, while producing a nutritionally sound, raw, unpasteurized product. Fueling CH Projects’ hyper-local credo, the juice bar’s offerings are 100% natural, with fruits and vegetables sourced from local purveyors who share in their sustainable practices. Fresh, all natural citrus juices are the foundation for CH’s nationally respected cocktail programs at Polite Provisions, Craft & Commerce and Noble Experiment—in addition to providing cold-pressed juice to the public, the shop will serve as a commissary of sorts, providing fresh product daily to CH’s restaurants and bars.

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Dazzling December Cocktails

So San Diegans, who’s ready for some holiday fun? These bars will sure make you stop while on the run!

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The bartenders at Uptown Tavern are awaiting in Hillcrest, with a mid-week Martini meltdown the bar has bequest. Martinis like the caramel apple and chocolate martini are available Wednesday at 9 and won’t make you a holiday meanie.

While over at West Coast Tavern they have concocted a cocktail without force they’ve called this drink The Nightmare Before Christmas of course. With a pour of Old Forester, Fernet Branca and lime, it’s topped with luxardo cherry juice to sip on during mealtime .

During the holidays, where in the country can you drink near the beach? Why of course San Diego’s very own Mission and Pacific Beach! Head to Mission Beach’s Sandbar for some tacos and a margarita, Or share a private tap at PB’s Tavern during this season with your senorita.

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This December, barleymash will warm you up with some whiskey, they have craft cocktails and sips (if you’re risky). Try the Hipster Hatchet with Old Forester Bourbon to drink. And whiskey lovers might like Jameson Gold on the rocks to clink.

For those looking for a quick drink while shopping in North Park,  Pull up a seat at True North Tavern, they promise they don’t bark.  The Compass Rose with Champagne, Raspberry liqueur and pom juice, is a fizzy drink that might cause holiday cheer to diffuse.

This holiday season, these San Diego bars will make sure you’re alright and “Happy Holidays to all, and have a joyous good-night!”

*Courtesy information Alternative Strategies
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My Calabrian Christmas

My parents, Lucia and Natale, on their wedding day in 1957 in Italy.

Growing up in a large Italian family, I learned how to respect tradition and embrace family ties through cooking.

I think my passion for cooking started when I was 7 years old, waking up early Christmas Eve morning to make homemade ravioli for our big Christmas dinner. When I say early, I mean the crack of dawn. You see, my mother couldn’t rest until the ravioli was finished. It was as if she, a perfectionist by nature, just couldn’t wait to see how beautiful they would turn out.

While the rest of the house was quiet, my mom would play soft Italian music really low and share her childhood stories, as my sister and I helped roll out the pasta dough. Forget about the men in my family ever helping in the kitchen. Our Italian tradition was that the cooking was for the women only.

Today, we all live down the street from each other, and my mother and sister come to my house to help my daughter and me make the ravioli, while I play Italian music and throw in some of my own cooking tips. We prepare the ravioli a few days ahead of time and freeze them for Christmas Day.

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Holiday Fun at Paradise Point

Paradise PointParadise Point

Located on San Diego’s picturesque Mission Bay, Paradise Point, A Destination Hotel, offers a warm holiday lineup of packages, events, activities and holiday feasts throughout December. Guests will delight in celebrating the season with a unique tropical twist among the following offerings that capture the magic of the holidays and the spirit of San Diego!

SeaWorld’s Christmas CelebrationNovember 15th – January 5th: Hop aboard Paradise Point’s private SeaWorld water taxi December 25-31 and enter the park through a VIP entrance just for resort guests, where a wonderland of holiday spectaculars await including sledding, the all-new Shamu Christmas Miracles Show, gleaming light displays, a wintery white SnowWorld and more.

Mission Bay Parade of Lights – December 13th: Grab a seat bayside, or watch from the comfort of your guestroom, as more than 100 colorful, seasonally-decorated boats and yachts parade around Mission Bay.

Hot Buttered Run & Kids’ Kandy Kane Race – December 21st
Take advantage of San Diego’s sunny winter days with a festive holiday run that starts at a Christmas tree-lined chute then wraps around Vacation Isle and Paradise Point’s tropical grounds. Both the 10k and 1k kid’s course end at a seasonal reception of live music, drinks and a special visit from Santa Claus.

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To Dine For at Nine-Ten Restaurant

Nine-Ten Restaurant
Hamachi Appetizer (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Nine-Ten Restaurant

Escape to Nine-Ten located inside The Grande Colonial Hotel for an unforgettable gastronomic experience! This is a restaurant where people come for great food and wine, whether wearing a coat and tie or jeans and a button-down shirt. Executive Chef Jason Knibb passionately redefines California cuisine with eloquent presentations and spice-laden touches from his Jamaican background. By gathering veggies and herbs from a garden just outside the back door of the kitchen, Knibb honors his commitment to create innovative cuisine using only the freshest, local ingredients. Those wanting a true epicurean experience should try out the “Mercy of the Chef” dinner special where they can enjoy a special prix fixe menu created for the entire table at the whim and inspiration of the Chef. Most recently, Chef Knibb was named San Diego’s 2014 “Chef of the Year” by the California Restaurant Association. The award, presented by San Diego’s Mayor, Kevin Faulconer is considered San Diego’s most prestigious restaurant honors.

Fennel Soup (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Fennel Soup (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Get Chef Knibb’s Recipe for Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly in my new book ‘San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City’.

Wild Salmon (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Wild Salmon (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Short Rib (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Braised Prime Beef Short Rib (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Triple Layer Chocolate Cake (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Triple Layer Chocolate Cake (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Figs and Berries (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Farmers’ Market Figs and Raspberries with Fennel Chiffon Cake (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

*Written by Maria Desiderata Montana

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Tantalizing Tender Greens

Tender Greens is a cafeteria-style first come, first serve organic restaurant where you order your food at one end and pay at the other end and seat yourself. One of nine in California, Tender Greens relies on fresh-picked produce from small local farms. Read more in the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego.

Roasted Roma Tomato Soup with basil oil and ciabatta croutons (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Assorted Roasted Vegetables (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Tuna Nicoise Salad with tender greens, tomato, potato, capers, green beans, quail egg, olives and sherry vinaigrette (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)


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Asian Influenced Menu at Roppongi

Roppingi La Jolla

This higher-end remarkable Asian restaurant and sushi bar offers a unique, contemporary, Asian-influenced menu ideally designed for sharing. With an atmosphere inspired by the flamboyant nightlife district in Tokyo, you’ll take your seat in a lively sushi bar, loosen up in the lounge, or relax around the outdoor fire pit. Personally, I like to sip on international sake and dine with a view of the extraordinarily beautiful aquarium. Read more in the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego. ( Roppongi, Roppongi

Specialty Roll: Albacore, Jalapeno, Avocado, Cucumber, Kiaware Sprouts, Yama Gobo and Garlic Ponzu Vinaigrette (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Mini Hamachi Tacos With Red Chili, Sweet Mango, Sichimi and Spiced Guacamole (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Shrimp Lo Mein: Stir Fried Tiger Shrimp, Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, Organic Spinach, Wild Mushrooms, and Micro Cilantro (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Shrimp Lo Mein: Stir Fried Tiger Shrimp, Roasted Garlic, Tomatoes, Organic Spinach, Wild Mushrooms, and Micro Cilantro (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant With Persian Cucumbers, Thai Basil, and Scarborough Farms Frisee
Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant With Persian Cucumbers, Thai Basil, and Scarborough Farms Frisee (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Persimmon Crisp with Pumpkin Gelato
Persimmon Crisp with Pumpkin Gelato (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Sticky English Toffee Pudding Cake With Caramel Gelato (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Sticky English Toffee Pudding Cake With Caramel Gelato (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

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First Avenue Bar and Grille

First Avenue Bar and Grille
photos by Maria Desiderata Montana

First Avenue Bar and Grille boasts an eclectic perspective on California cuisine with everything made in-house. Think classic fare with an amazing twist, at a super affordable price. Nestled in the charming Bristol Hotel, in the busy Core-Columbia District of Downtown San Diego, relax in the dining room or unwind in the eclectic lounge with crafty cocktails. FIRST features a terrific Happy Hour seven days a week with inviting cocktail specials and bar nibbles.

FIRST is easy. Dine in the bar, drink in the dining room. Not too many rules.

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La Valencia Hotel Dining Series

La Valencia Hotel Presents the 2015 Dine & Wine Series

La Valencia Hotel

La Valencia Hotel

Monthly, Five-Course Dinners & Wine Pairings featuring


January-May 2015

La Valencia Hotel is proud to present the 2015 Dine & Wine Series once a month on Tuesday evenings in THE MED Room, commemorating the hotel’s eight decades of wine curation and La V’s signature wine vault. The series will pair some of the world’s most prestigious wines with the artfully crafted cuisine of the hotel’s award-winning Executive Chef, James Montejano, accented with insights from the featured winemakers and vintners.

The Dine & Wine Series dinners will be held in the hotel’s signature, ocean view dining room and the menus will expertly match Chef Montejano’s talent for bringing out the best of seasonal ingredients, sustainable seafood & meats and handcrafted cheeses with the extraordinary wines of renowned labels.

The monthly Tuesday evenings will begin with a reception in the La Sala Lounge followed by a five-course dinner and wine pairings in La V’s great room style restaurant. Wine enthusiasts will have the opportunity to socialize and get first-hand information from experts representing the featured wineries.

Seating is limited and early reservations are encouraged. To reserve, please contact 858.454.0771.

Each event is $95.00 per person and includes dinner and wine pairing. Scheduled monthly January through May of 2015 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, the initial dates are as follows:

January 13, 2015, Grgich Hills Winery – Located in Rutherford, CA, in the heart of Napa, the solar powered winery features estate-grown organic and biodynamic wines in a solar-powered winery. Enjoy first-hand stories and experiences from their very own winemaker, Ivo Jeramaz. (If you were a fan of the movie BOTTLE SHOCK, you know the story of the winery putting California’s chardonnays on the world map.)

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