Farm to Fork Fundraiser


Three-course Meal with Wine Pairings at Fish Public Will Feature Fall Seasonal Produce

Farm Fresh To You (, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and produce delivery service, is teaming with Kensington’s go-to seafood hotspot Fish Public for a “Fall Harvest Dinner” on Thursday, November. 13th, at 6:30 p.m. The exclusive, farm-to-fork dining fundraiser will consist of a special three-course menu highlighting the freshest flavors of the season complete with wine pairings.

Farm to Fork Fundraiser

In addition, Fish Public’s Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli and Executive Sous Chef Mark Schmitt will talk to the dinner crowd along with farmer Thaddeus Barsotti of Farm Fresh To You. The trio will discuss seasonal eating, sourcing produce from farms and sustainable farming practices.

Dinner proceeds will benefit the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

“We have partnered with Farm Fresh To You since they started delivering in the San Diego area. Their Donate-A-Box program is bringing fresh produce to our clients,” said James A. Floros, president & CEO of San Diego Food Bank. “We appreciate being named the beneficiary for this dinner.”

“Our work with food banks is a critical part of giving back to the communities we serve,” said Barsotti. “We also want to support restaurants like Fish Public that source local, quality ingredients. We are part of food movement where we want everyone to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers.”

Tickets for the dinner are $125, and Fish Public is located at 4055 Adams Avenue in Kensington.

For tickets and more information visit:

About Farm Fresh To You

Founded in 1992, Farm Fresh To You is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and home and office delivery service that provides fresh, local, organic produce to consumers’ doorsteps. Farming since 1976, this second-generation organic farm pioneered the organic food movement and is owned by brothers Noah Barnes and Thaddeus and Freeman Barsotti. The company is connecting communities and sustainable farms through a transparent food system that enables consumers to know their farmer and where their food is grown. Farm Fresh To You started to deliver produce in the San Diego area in 2013.

About Fish Public

Restaurant visionary Tracy Borkum manifests a quaint 3,500-square-foot seafood eatery in San Diego’s charming Kensington neighborhood with Fish Public, which opened doors in June 2013. Fish offers quality sea fare at accessible price points and draws culinary inspiration from the Atlantic’s Gulf Coast, New England and English Coast as well as West Coast of America, Baja and Pacific Rim regions. Unique offerings include an artisan retail area and a custom chef’s oyster counter with peek-a-boo views into the kitchen. The interior design, spearheaded by Borkum herself, is reminiscent of a Nantucket-inspired beach cottage with a light and airy appeal. Focal details include whitewashed wood accents and unexpected lighting fixtures fashioned from old fishing nets. Fish Public’s beverage program is comprised of draft craft beers, an international wine selection and an eclectic cocktail menu with all mixers, syrups and infusions made in-house. Fish Public is located at 4055 Adams Avenue and is open Sunday from 5-9pm, Tuesday through Thursday from 5-9pm, and Friday through Saturday from 5-10pm. For more information please visit or call 619.281.4014.

About Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank

The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 22.3 million pounds of food, and the Food Bank served, on average, 370,000 people per month in San Diego County.

Farm to Fork

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Girl’s Think Tank Dine for Dignity

Dine For Dignity
Courtesy photo

Dine for Dignity

Next week is Dine for Dignity, Girls Think Tank’s second annual “Restaurant Week” to support programs designed to empower people to transition off the streets. Six local restaurants will donate 10 percent of their sales on a specific day of the week to programs including 24/7 public restrooms downtown (coming early next year), a free legal clinic for the displaced, survival backpacks and the Transitional Storage Center, where folks leave their belongings so they can be mobile without the burden of bearing their entire belongings. This has led to increase employment and education among San Diego’s homeless population.

Participating restaurants:

Monday, Nov. 3: 7pm-close: Neighborhood, 777 G Street, San Diego, CA 92101

Wednesday, Nov. 5: 4pm-close: Waypoint Public, 3794 30th Street, San Diego CA 92104

Thursday, Nov. 6: 6pm-10pm: Zanzibar Cafe, 707 G Street, San Diego, CA 92101. Zanzibar is a restaurant and full service bar, that offers many wines exclusive to Zanzibar, they have a menu that appeals to people with all palates, as well as homemade baked goods and gourmet products including coffees, teas, and chocolates.

Saturday, Nov. 8: open to close: Carnitas’ Snack Shack, two locations: North Park location: 2632 University Avenue, San Diego CA 92104 is open daily from 12pm-12am, Del Mar/Carmel Valley location: 12873 El Camino Real, Suite M4, San Diego CA 92130 is open daily from 11am-10pm.

Visit for more details about the organization.

*PR Courtesy information
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Eat Local at La Valencia

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Chef Montejano’s Vegan Spreads (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

I just can’t get enough of this restaurant! Read about this most talented chef and dear friend of mine Chef James Montejano and go have dinner at La Valencia!

Executive Chef James Montejano returns to his hometown of San Diego, taking on the role of executive chef at the historical oceanfront landmark location of La Valencia Hotel where he caters to The MED and the new street-facing Cafe La Rue bistro.

A classically trained French chef, Montejano attended the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He worked at Aqua restaurant under renowned chef restaurateurs George Morrone and Michael Mina. “These chefs are my mentors,” he says. “They taught me the art of cuisine, how to utilize the products at hand, and keep dishes simple, but unique.”

At the restaurants at La Valencia, Montejano says he’s all about the local cuisine, utilizing organic and sustainable products in the kitchen. He likes to take ideas from different cultures and infuse them in the foods he makes to create a seasonal and eclectic California cuisine with a Mediterranean feel. “We celebrate the past while adapting to the needs of today’s visitor,” he says.

Montejano’s advice to up and coming chefs is to work hard, work fast, follow directions and have a culinary diary of what you make and what you do. “File your recipes and photograph your food!”

*Written by MDM
Lobster Gazpacho (Photo courtesy of Maria Desiderata Montana)
Lobster Gazpacho (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Lobster Bisque (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Lobster Bisque (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Fresh Figs (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Fresh Figs (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Summer Stone Fruit Salad (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Scallop Crudo (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana
Maine Scallops (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana
Miso Chilean Sea Bass (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Assorted Desserts (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Assorted Desserts (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

About La Valencia Hotel: Owned and managed by Pacifica Host Hotels – a division of Pacifica Companies – La V features 112 completely renovated guest rooms and villas overlooking Ellen Browning Scripps Park and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Dining options at La V have all been enhanced with the hotel’s recent $10 million “reimagining” and include THE MED, a signature ocean facing restaurant and terrace featuring New American Cuisine, with the adjoining La Sala Lounge and the brand new street facing European bistro, Café La Rue. Ocean view banquet rooms accommodate 10 to 175 guests and the property includes terraced gardens, heated pool & spa, fitness room and business center. La V is located in the center of the Village of La Jolla and steps away to premier retail and dining.

Renowned leisure destinations are minutes away and include the La Jolla Cove, Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Ocean Institute, the Birch Aquarium as well as UCSD / La Jolla Playhouse and the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art.

*Courtesy information

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New San Diego Italian Food Book

New San Diego Italian Food Book Explores Little Italy!

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

San Diego Italian Food BookAs 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.

Maria is the author of 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.



  • Italian Book
  • Series: American Palate
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • Over 75 images
  • Published : October 2014

Book Signing: Meet Author Maria Desiderata Montana
When: Friday, November 7, 2014, 6:00 PM
Where: San Diego History Center, 1649 El Prado Suite 3, San Diego, Ca, United States 92101-1664
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Delicious Royal India Cuisine

Royal India CuisineShare in the fun and experience the colorful cultural heritage of India at Tower After Hours: India!

Taste Delicious Royal India Cuisine

Drink Indian beer and IPAs, watch performances of Bollywood-style dancing, and receive beautiful henna body art. It will be an amazing night at the Museum of Man!

Join the Museum and San Diego’s own Indian-American community for this festive party Thursday, November 6, 2014, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Tickets: $15 for Museum Members and $30 for E-Club Members*Sign up here to become a Museum Member and get the discounted rate.

  • Ticket includes entrance to the museum, food tastings, beverages, and cultural entertainment.
  • Each Museum Member is entitled to one additional guest ticket at member price.
  • Tickets are non-refundable, but they are fully transferable to another party.

Featuring: the House of India, Royal India, Sharavati Sathe’s Kathak Troupe, and Shalini’s Folk Dance.


*Information courtesy of
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Chef Richard Blais Delivers

Chef Richard Blais
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Celebrity Chef Richard Blais of Juniper and Ivy Delivers

Bring your family to Juniper & Ivy, a modernist American restaurant set in a converted 1920s saw tooth warehouse located on the outskirts of San Diego’s Little Italy. The Juniper and Ivy kitchen is helmed by Celebrity Chef Richard Blais, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars and successful restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality. Dining areas feature natural hickory-stained tabletops, elevated leather booth spaces and white lacquered tables, and an outdoor patio offers al fresco dining year-round. A large party of up to fifty can book a private dining room that overlooks the bar and exposed floor-to-ceiling wine wall. Located on the main level, the semi-private dining room looks out to the open concept kitchen and seats up to sixty guests.

Chef Richard Blais
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

The daily, yet evolving menu is based on the chef’s ever-changing inspiration and culinary vision, specifically highlighting the region’s bountiful and fresh local produce and presenting guests with unexpected iterations on the classics. Divided into several categories, the menu includes snacks, raw, toast and pasta in addition to plates, both small and large, as well as dessert. Additionally, a 4×4 four-course tasting menu, comprised of four small bites and four small plates is available with an optional wine pairing. When I asked Blais where he plans to go from here, he explained, “I’m busy working on another new cookbook and have plans for a second San Diego restaurant as well as more food TV shows.” (

Chef Richard Blais
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana
Chef Richard Blais
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana
Chef Richard Blais
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana
Chef Richard Blais
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

*Written by Maria Desiderata Montana

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Thanksgiving Meals To Go

This year, both Waters Fine Foods & Catering and Whisknladle Hospitality are doing the prep for your Thanksgiving Meals To Go, giving you more time with family and friends and less time in the kitchen!

Thanksgiving Meals To GoThanksgiving Meals  To Go from Whisknladle Hospitality

Whisknladle Hospitality
Take Home Turkey Dinner
Dinner for 8 people
Price: $280
To Order: or 619.415.7101 by November 20th
Dinner Incudes:
14-16lb Diestel Farms Turkey
Cornbread Stuffing
Prepkitchen Beet Salad
Braised Swiss Chard
Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits
Butternut Squash Puree
Haricot Verts Gratin
Yukon Gold Mash Potatoes
Rosemary Mushroom Gravy
Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving Meals To Go

Thanksgiving Meals To Go From Waters Fine Foods & Catering

Thanksgiving On-The-Go
Orders must be placed by 4PM on Friday, November 21 and picked up after 2PM on Wednesday, November 26. Orders may be placed at the Bay Park (619.276.9336), Solana Beach (858.509.9400) or Downtown (619.696.7555) locations.
This year, Waters Fine Foods & Catering is making Thanksgiving even easier for you. Maybe you just want a couple side dishes to go with your turkey or maybe the turkey is something you don’t want to risk burning – with a full Thanksgiving On-The-Go menu available, you can pick and choose want you’d like to add to the Thanksgiving table this year. Waters has it all, snacks, sides, turkey, dessert – even the wine!
Menu highlights include:
Mary’s Free Range Organic Turkey (serves 6, market price)
Winter Squash Pecan Phyllo Crisps + Laura Chenel’s Goat Cheese ($15/half dozen)
Chicken Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms ($21/half dozen)
Pomegranate Kale Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Caesar Salad and Parmesan Cheese ($9/pound)
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Fennel Root ($12/root)
Traditional Sage Stuffing ($9/pound)
Cranberry Cheesecake ($45)
Pecan Pie ($36)

*Information courtesy of
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Fish Tacos and San Diego Craft Beer

San Diego’s Top Fish Taco Destinations Battle it Out to Earn Title as the Region’s Finest in the Annual Fish Taco TKO Competition

Fish Tacos
PR Courtesy Photo

Fish Tacos and San Diego Craft Beer return to the San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival

The 11th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival feeds the San Diegan soul with two of the city’s treasured delicacies, the fish taco and craft beer. On Tuesday, November 18, the Fish Taco TKO & San Diego Craft Beers Presented by Dining Out Magazine returns to Southern California’s largest food and wine festival for another mouthwatering showcase of the San Diego culinary classics.

A signature wine and food festival event, the evening held at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station in San Diego’s Point Loma community, features the famed Fish Taco TKO Competition. A lively and palatable showdown where San Diego’s top fish taco makers go head-to-head in a crave-worthy battle to be crowned San Diego’s finest. “In San Diego, a fish taco paired with a local craft beer is a signature taste of the city, and a treasured element to local lifestyle,” said Michelle Metter, co-producer of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

Fish Tacos
PR Courtesy Photo

“Whether tantalizing the palate of an out-of-towner, or playing to a local’s taste buds, the wine and food festival brings the most delicious flavors of the region to all attendees,” added Metter. “Regarded as the craft beer capital of the world, and home to some of the tastiest fish tacos north of Baja, Taco TKO highlights both local treasures. Taco TKO brings guests the San Diego experience in a way that is delicious, interactive, and at an affordable price all foodies can appreciate.”

The citywide fish taco competition welcomes returning champ Sandbar, as well as Stone Brewing Co., The Blind Burro, Casanova Fish Tacos, PB Fish Shop, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Puesto, Romesco Mex Med, and Tequila Bar & Grille to participate in The Fish Taco TKO. Throughout the evening guests will sip on unique craft beers on draft, while weighing in on the chef’s taco creations which will be specially paired together by Stone Craft Beer Ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak.

The Fish Taco TKO & San Diego Craft Beers will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18 at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, located at 2816 Historic Decatur Road #116, San Diego CA 92106. Tickets to The Fish Taco TKO & San Diego Craft Beersare on sale for $45. For a complete schedule of events or to purchase tickets for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, visit


The 11th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is an international showcase of the world’s premier wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities, and gourmet foods. Held November 16-23, 2014, the event benefits culinary arts and enology scholarships awarded by The American Institute of Wine & Food and the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Over 200 wineries, breweries and spirit companies, 70 of San Diego’s top fine dining restaurants and 30 gourmet food companies will participate in the 2014 Festival. For more information visit Produced by World of Wine Events and Fast Forward Event Productions. For more information call 619-312-1212. -PR Courtesy Information

Fish Tacos
California Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Red Pepper Slaw (Recipe and Photo By Maria Desiderata Montana)

California Olive Ranch

Grilling on the West Coast: Q&A with Food Blogger Maria Desiderata Montana

Montana offers her own recipe for California Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Red Pepper Slaw

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Cozy Italian Eatery in Carmel Valley

Italian Eatery
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

This exceptional dining destination will remind you of a cozy New York style Italian restaurant without the hassle of crowded sidewalks, honking taxis and parking nightmares. Besides, what could be more romantic than a view of the peaceful Torrey Pines Lagoon?

New York Style Italian Eatery

There is something wonderful about nestling into a little corner table for two, sharing a bottle of red wine, and rolling pasta from large bowls. Owner Daniel Nobili is always present to greet you in Italian. Old world recipes from his homeland in Milano, Italy are brought to new life with creative presentations. A specialty of the house is the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca with olives, capers and anchovies in red sauce; or try the Linguine Ai Frutti Di Mare with mussels, clams, calamari and shrimp in marinara sauce. Call it ‘Pasta Therapy’ for you and a companion. Come here and find your little table for two! -Maria Desiderata Montana

Trattoria Ponte Vecchio, 2334 Carmel Valley Rd., #A, Del Mar, CA 92014; (858) 259-9063;; Italian.

Trattoria Ponte Vecchio is in the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego by Maria Desiderata Montana.

Trattoria Ponte Vecchio on Urbanspoon

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Dining In San Diego for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, we’ve compiled a list of San Diego’s most unique private dining rooms that have great offerings for family gatherings, corporate holidays and groups. Perfect for any occasion, these private dining options offer everything from intimate chef dinners, a wine cave, incredible views of the Pacific Ocean or even your own sushi bar.

Dining in San Diego

dining in San Diego
The Grant Grill (Courtesy photo)

The Grant Grill at THE US GRANT Hotel: This restaurant’s private dining room offers an intimate setting, seating up to 12 guests. The room has ornate mahogany finishes, historic photos and The Grant Grill’s wine vault and a chic backdrop for the guest’s vision to be brought to life. The culinary team, lead by Executive Chef Mark Kropczynski and Chef de Cuisine Sam Burman, can prepare a customized menu of market-fresh California cuisine for a breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch event. Multi-course wine or craft cocktail pairings can be curated by the Sommelier or award-winning mixologist, Jeff Josenhans.

Dining in San Diego
The Wine Cave (Courtesy photo)

The Wine Cave at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: Enclosed in brick and accented with leather and glass, the Wine Cave at Rancho Valencia is home to the resort’s most valuable and rare fine wines where guests can also truly exceptional dining experience, whether for a private intimate dinner or small formal reception. The stunning private dining room features an outdoor terrace overlooking a Eucalyptus Grove and a collection holding over 250 bottles from 750ml up to 18 liters, as well as full sized oak barrels with the resort’s own private blends. Rancho Valencia features wines sourced from micro-producers in California, France, Italy and Spain as well as wine sourced from Canada, Mexico, Tasmania, South Africa and Turkey. Rancho Valencia’s talented culinary team can prepare an unforgettable wine paired reception featuring locally sourced ingredients from just a few miles down the road at nearby Chino Farms.

Private dining
Bang Bang (courtesy photo)

Bang Bang: Located in the heart of San Diego’s famous Gaslamp District, Bang Bang was designed by Owner and Designer Mauricio Couturier and LED nightlife impresario and Partner, Johnny Shockey. A tunneled staircase entrance reminiscent of a Tokyo subway, complete with Tokyo subway sounds streaming through hidden speakers, transports guests into Bang Bang which features modular design details including color-based video projection and mapping, oversized Japanese lanterns and the largest disco ball on the west coast. Offering three separate concepts in one space – one part asian fusion restaurant / one part sushi bar / one part “theatre” which hosts live music, DJs and movies, Bang Bang is able to host private events that can hold up to 400 people.

Offering various room sizes to fit any corporate holiday party, guests can choose from a hosted kitchen station, tray passed hot appetizers / sushi, or even a live sushi making station helmed by Executive Chef Kappa and his team of sushi experts. Offering a new twist for holiday parties, the sushi station offers basic rolls, nigiri, and speciality rolls, including the Party Party roll, made up of crab, avocado, cucumber topped with tune, salmon, yellowtail, albacore mixed with cilantro, tomato, onion and marinated with garlic soy and wasabi oil.

dining in San Diego
Brockton Villa (Courtesy photo)

Brockton Villa: Known for impeccable views, friendly service and exquisite culinary offerings, La Jolla Cove’s charming Brockton Villa restaurant has expanded their repertoire to include private parties. The delightful beach cottage offers a seaside venue with spectacular views of the world-famous La Jolla Cove and has become a favorite “show off” destination for locals and visitors alike. The historic house-turned-restaurant has kept the original floor plan, with a “mud room,” dining room, and wrap-around veranda, as well as an added-on outdoor patio area, and can comfortably host groups ranging from 20-100 people. The Inside Dining Room features a large abalone-inlaid fireplace, as well as an ocean view, enhancing a cozy, inviting atmosphere. The Outside Patio offers a fantastic open-air setting, where tables are shaded by umbrellas and an old pepper tree, which is lit at night by white party lights. Guests are welcome to add their own arrangements and decorate however they would like to fit the theme of their party. To book a private event with a custom menu, guests may contact Banquet Manager Jeff Beyoghlow at

Dining in San Diego
The Commons Bar (Courtesy photo)

The Commons Bar: This holiday season, San Diegans can celebrate their holiday party at The Commons for a fun, approachable event. The Commons is located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter and is directly across from Horton Plaza which allows for perfect accessibility and easy parking. The space provides a 2,800 square-foot venue where guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Gaslamp, along with an energy that resonates within the bar itself. The Commons is ideal for groups ranging from 10 to 200 guests and features a 500 square-foot private, upstairs Mezzanine game room with six flat screen TVs, foosball and shuffleboard tables, and a private bar that allows for speciality drinks to be created especially for the event or a VIP reception prior to the event. The Commons is all about customizing a party to fit the hosts’ needs, from its vintage drive-in movie theatre sign stretching across the bar that can be tailored specifically to the event, to a completely customized menu of casual and conversational bar fare.

Dining in San Diego
Avant at Rancho Bernardo Inn (Courtesy photo)

AVANT at Rancho Bernardo Inn: Offers a fresh approach to private dining for the holidays. With a focus on inspired culinary exploration, leisurely socializing, and warm, inviting spaces, every gathering becomes a special occasion. The newly appointed Chef de Cuisine Tomas Baistrocchi, serves vibrant, creative dishes and artisan libations in an inviting setting defined by its indoor-outdoor design, dynamic spaces and lush garden.

With three one-of-a-kind private dining spaces – La Taberna, El Biz and the AVANT kitchen – there is a space for every kind of holiday gathering. See below for details of the restaurant’s three private dining options:

  • La Taberna seats up to 50 guests and overlooks the gorgeous greens at Rancho Bernardo Inn.
  • El Biz is a 630 square foot space that seats up to 18 guests and includes a fireplace and floor to ceiling stained glass wall with amber and red hues.
  • The AVANT Kitchen is a truly unique approach, which offers personal time with the Chef and an intimate private demonstration.

For more information, click here or call 858.675.8551

dining in San Diego
True Food Kitchen (Courtesy photo)

True Food Kitchen: As groups become more particular about picking meeting venues that cater to a variety of specific needs, True Food Kitchen provides an easily accessible solution for the most discerning clientele. True Food Kitchen caters to ever-evolving palates by not only providing a beautiful venue at an approachable price point, but also by catering to guests with dietary needs across the board, including vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free and paleo dishes – each prepared with seasonal and responsibly sourced ingredients. Each dish is inspired by Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, which advocates eating nutrient-rich, whole and fresh foods for a healthy, happy and long life. Placed adjacent to the restaurant’s open kitchen, True Food Kitchen San Diego’s private dining room replicates the farm-to-table and nutrition-forward menu concept, lined with fresh plants and greenery. The room is equipped with a sound system and can be closed off to accommodate up to 35 guests, or left open to allow larger parties to flow into the main dining room.

dining in San Diego
Searsucker (Courtesy photo)

Searsucker San Diego: Situated upstairs over the hustle and bustle of downtown’s popular Searsucker’s main dining area, the restaurant’s private dining room can accommodate up to 32 guests. Continuing Thomas Schoos design aesthetic, Searsucker’s dining room boasts contemporary artwork, eclectic lighting and top of the line audiovisual components. From the size and structure of the room to the ambiance set by the lighting, sound and decor, this room provides the ideal setting for a range of private events. Guests may even choose to enhance their event with a special presentation by Executive Chef Brian Malarkey, who can personally guide them through their dining experience from drinks to dessert.

dining in San Diego
Searsucker Del Mar (Courtesy photo)

Searsucker Del Mar: Del Mar hotspot, Searsucker Del Mar, by Executive Chef Brian Malarkey offers a unique background featuring an improvisation on the themes of vintage Americana and the American West. The spacious 6,000 square-feet restaurant features an abundance of room for indoor and outdoor socializing and dining. In addition to the main dining room and patio, the restaurant has several private dining room options for guests including a small side room (can seat up to 10 people), a large private dining room (can seat up to 30 people) and the “I’ll have Another Lounge” back bar area which has a separate entrance and can host 50-100 people. The two smaller PDRs can also be combined while the restaurant’s back bar, side patio and seated fire pit area can also be closed off for private events. With the addition of new TV’s in the expanded patio area, Searsucker Del Mar is also able to offer various AV/tech capabilities to enhance your event as well.

Dining in San Diego
Herringbone (courtesy photo)

Herringbone La Jolla: Located in the famed coastal community of La Jolla, Herringbone by Executive Chef Brian Malarkey boasts vintage beauty and modern openness to make the ideal setting for any private event. Featuring six ancient olive trees and an open kitchen, Herringbone also has a semi-private “loft dining” space that can seat up to 22 guests. Offering a menu of “fish meats field” cuisine featuring unique surf and turf dishes and a variety of seafood options, Herringbone’s menu includes various seafood platters, flatbreads and additional signature dishes that are all great for groups to enjoy. The perfect space for any event from an intimate dinner to a buy-out dinner, Herringbone’s delicious menu and inventive cocktails will leave a lasting impression on guests.

dining in San Diego
BICE Ristorante  (Courtesy photo)

BICE Ristorante: Located just a few blocks from the San Diego Convention Center and in the heart of the Gaslamp District, BiCE Ristorante offers an exquisite setting for special events. Set in an elegant and relaxed atmosphere, BiCE offers flexible dining spaces ready to accommodate groups ranging from 52 to 120 guests. The private Milano Room offers complete privacy from the main dining room, fitting up to 52 people seated. Further, the private dining room is equipped with top-of-the-line audiovisual capabilities including a projector with an 83″ flatscreen perfect for presentations, slideshows and more. Special occasions at BiCE are complemented by impeccable Italian cuisine by Executive Chef Mario Cassineri and Chef de Cuisine Francesca Penoncelli, who take pride in customizing menus with daring and flavorful dishes aimed to please casual diners and epicureans alike. As a special offer, any private holiday lunches or dinners booked before October 31 will receive a $25 gift certificate per guest – the bigger the event, the bigger the gift!

Dining in San Diego
JRDN (Courtesy photo)

JRDN Restaurant: Located at the chic Tower23 Hotel in Pacific Beach, San Diego, JRDN is well known for their fresh cuisine combined with a lively atmosphere and stunning oceanfront views. An ideal location for private events, the Wine Room features dramatic lighting, teak wood and a 1,000 bottle wine wall. The private dining space also opens onto the private, heated Sunset Patio which boasts the property’s signature ocean views. As the sun drops, guests can also gather around the outdoor fire pit. The Wine Room holds up to 50 guests with room for an additional 40 on the Sunset Patio. All special events are enhanced by award-winning Chef Nick Shinton’s casually sophisticated Californian cuisine.

Dining in San Diego
Chandler’s Restaurant (Courtesy photo)

Chandler’s Restaurant at the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront is a stunning, oceanfront location overlooking the cliffs in Carlsbad and the Pacific Ocean. With open-air, heated patios overlooking the beach, private parties of up to 30 guests can celebrate the holidays in true Southern California style. Chef Pascal Vignau’s celebrated ‘New American’ cuisine mixes classic American dishes with bold, international tastes and is the perfect accompaniment to the gorgeous location. For parties of more than 30, adjoining private dining spaces are available as well.

*Information courtesy of J Public Relations
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Market Cookbook Coming Soon

Mrket Cookbook
One of the recipes from Chef Schroeder’s new book is this STAR CRIMSON PEAR SALAD AND SPICE-BRAISED PEAR “STRUDEL” (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Market Cookbook Coming Spring 2015

One of the highlights of my career as a writer was co-authoring and photographing Chef Carl Schroeder’s new cookbook. Chef Schroeder and I spent six months working together in the kitchen at Market Restaurant. You are going to want this cookbook!

In 2006 Carl Schroeder established San Diego’s famed Market Restaurant + Bar where he takes great local products and turns them into great food. His passion for locally sourced ingredients and hyper-seasonal cuisine are on display for dinner every evening. He seeks out the best produce, seafood, and meat from local markets and his passion for perfection and the spontaneous nature of what is available are showcased in the daily changing menu. With a modern supper-club like atmosphere, this cozy eatery has a sophisticated feel. “After many years of hard work and attention to detail, we are now a nationally recognized restaurant that has received many awards and James Beard nominations,” says Schroeder, who has a great eye for detail, a strong focus, and a very distinct point of view on his cuisine. Look for the Market Restaurant + Bar Cookbook (Lyons Press) to be released in the spring, 2015.

*Written by mdm

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Balboa Park December Nights

Balboa Park Balboa Park Balboa Park December Nights brings families and friends together to spread holiday joy during the most wonderful time of the year. The nation’s premier holiday festival will take place for the 36th consecutive year on Friday, December 5th, from 3 to 11pm, and Saturday, December 6th, from noon to 11pm.

Balboa Park December Nights

Participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 pm both evenings and more than 350,000 visitors are expected to experience the joy of San Diego’s largest free community festival. Those who attend will participate in a truly multicultural experience, enjoying food, music and entertainment from around the world.

Revelers can watch top-notch musical and dance performances, enjoy delicious and diverse food choices and help spread a heavy dose of holiday cheer. Some of the more well-known traditions include food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages; the annual Santa Lucia Procession at the Plaza de California; unique gift shopping at the museum stores and with the artisans of Spanish Village; and musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree, and more.



Parking and Transportation

*Information courtesy Balboa Park December Nights
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Pasture Raised Eggs Now Available

The Pasture Meets the Pacific as Vital Farms expands throughout Southern California pasture raised eggs

The Largest Supplier of Pasture-Raised Eggs in the Nation Brings Ethically Produced Eggs to Ralphs in Southern California

Vital Farms, the only national supplier of pasture-raised eggs in the country, is expanding throughout Southern California this fall. Ranked as one of the fastest growing food and beverage companies by Inc. magazine, Vital Farms is setting the standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens, while raising the bar for taste and nutrition. Introducing their Alfresco Eggs brand to over 200 Ralphs and over 60 Vons stores in the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas, Vital Farms is working to make high quality food more accessible to mainstream consumers.

pasture raised eggs

Pasture Raised Eggs

The Vital Farms expansion comes on the eve of the implementation of California Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. This Act goes into effect January 1, 2015 and will only increases the cage size for confined birds raised in California. Vital Farms works with multi-generational family farms across the United States, including several in Southern California that operate with a well-defined set of organic agriculture practices that includes the humane treatment of farm animals as a central tenet. Their eggs are the first pasture-raised eggs to earn the 3rd party Certified Humane® label, which means each hen has access to at least 108 square feet of pasture on which to roam and forage. For the most commonly purchased egg, free range, by comparison, hens only get about 2 square feet per bird, and limited outdoor access.

Matt O’Hayer, Vital Farms co-founder and CEO says, “We’re proud to introduce our quality, ethical eggs to California. People really care about where their food comes from, and how good it is. Spending their days outside on fresh pastures means our girls have a much more varied, and healthier diet. Living outdoors, eating salad and exercising, is as good for a hen as it is for you and me! So not only are our girls happy, they also lay eggs that are both nutritious and delicious.”

Vital Farms’ pasture-raised eggs means no pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals are ever introduced to the pastures, the chickens or the eggs. Pastures are rotated frequently to ensure fresh nutrition for the hens, which also gives the land time to rest and recover naturally. These efforts are reflected in the company’s three pillars: humane treatment of farm animals, superior taste and exceptional nutrition. In comparison to a conventional egg, pasture-raised eggs contain one third less cholesterol, two thirds more Vitamin A, three times more Vitamin E and seven times more beta carotene. They are also naturally high in Omegs-3s.

More information can be found at and Vital Farms eggs can be found with their ‘Amazing Egg-Finder’ at Follow Vital Farms on Facebook and Twitter for news, updates and good eggs.

*PR courtesy information
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Gourmet Latin Cuisine Hits Little Italy

The newly opened Sirena restaurant offers a true gourmet Latin Cuisine inspired menu, with many dishes having roots in the food culture of South America.

Latin Cusine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Gourmet Latin Cuisine

Located on the corner of Columbia and Fir Streets in San Diego’s Little Italy, the new Sirena restaurant boasts a neutral color palette accented with wooden walls and dark tables, making it the perfect spot for a romantic date or upscale business dinner.

The philosophy behind the menu at Sirena is to showcase fresh ingredients with simple flavors. “We wanted to bring San Diego a unique and unmatched culinary experience with a one-of-a-kind menu,” says Executive Chef Jaime Chavez.

Latin Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Sirena stands out from other restaurants in the area by a few trademarks. First, Sirena is the only true Latin American-inspired restaurant, with many dishes having roots in the food culture of South America, while taking on a new life with modern and inventive preparations. Secondly, the caliber of their fresh, seasonal and sustainable ingredients is unmatched. “We do everything we can to feature only locally or regionally-caught seafood and in-season produce,” Chavez says. “We even grow some of the produce ourselves. The menu is creative and complex, while still allowing simple ingredients to shine through.”

Sirena utilizes a unique combination of ingredients for a distinct flavor and appearance. For example, their purple cauliflower is delicately pickled and prepared with oysters and a a fresh coconut-ginger sauce is paired with braised scallops. Additionally, even though Sirena is a seafood restaurant, they also cater to vegetarian and vegan diners. Chavez explains that several members of his kitchen team are not-meat eaters, so much time has been devoted to developing techniques to replicate some of their favorite dishes into vegan-approved options, including cauliflower that tastes like ceviche or mushrooms that imitate raw oysters. “Food can be very creative, which is our inspiration in the Sirena kitchen.”

Latin Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

A majority of the ingredients on the menu at Sirena are not only fresh, but sustainable. Born in Puerto Montt, one of the main cities in the south of Chile, Chavez liked to go to his grandfather’s house in a little fishermen’s city called Maullín, where they had a farm. At a very young age, he learned about fish and seafood. “I was able to open clams before reading,” he says. Chavez also says his first approach with cooking was during the holiday season. “It is common in my family to slow roast a half lamb with a chimichurri lacquer. So, while it was very annoying for adults to rotate the lamb for four hours, it was a very attractive job for a little kid.”

Latin Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

In the south of Chile, Chavez explains that there was a significant German influence, thus his family developed German pastry traditions. “I think cooking and baking is in my blood,” he says. “To be honest, while growing up, I never thought I wanted to cook for a living, but at some point what was in my blood was stronger than my own wishes.”

Chavez attended Inacap, in Santiago de Chile, the oldest culinary school in Chile. He started in 2004, studying in the daytime, and working in different places at night. From fast food to taco shops, Asian eateries to sushi restaurants, he’s worked all of them, gaining invaluable skills, techniques and experience.

Latin Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

In October 2006, Chavez moved for an internship to Peralada a little village in Alt Empurdá Barcelona in a little boutique hotel. He learned there the importance of respecting the ingredients. During his internship, he spent a couple of weeks at El Cingle, a Michelin star restaurant. It was there he received his training in contemporary Catalan cuisine with Montse Estruch; a revolutionary in the field.

Eventually, Chavez headed back to Chile to finish school. Looking for new experiences he moved to a restaurant called Emilio, the best Peruvian fine dining restaurant in Santiago. He started there as line cook and in less than three months, he was promoted to sous chef. He stayed there for a couple of months, until he received an offer to open a Peruvian restaurant in his home city. “It was a beautiful and hard experience, but it was there that I realized that I really loved this life,” he says.

Latin Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

One day, Chavez was in his office and received a call offering him a pastry position at El Cingle, the Michelin star restaurant he had trained at. It was an opportunity he could not turn down, pastry or not. When he arrived at the restaurant, he was informed that there was actually no chef de cuisine at the restaurant, so he jumped from pastry to chef de cuisine in a couple of minutes!

Chavez explains that managing a Michelin star-awarded restaurant was very different than managing other any of the other restaurants he had worked for at that time. At El Cingle, there was no space for mistakes and the place was very demanding. We worked eighteen hours a day, almost every day. “There are so many details to take care of, that you can’t even imagine,” he says. “I had so much to read about, invested several hours in research, practiced my plating skills, and developed a creative process for making new dishes. That place made me who I am now.”

Eventually, Chavez left Spain to follow his my wife to Tijuana, Mexico. There he was an instructor at a cooking school, teaching students how to experience food and cooking. From Tijuana, Chavez and his wife came to San Diego, where they have worked in several hotels and restaurants in the city, finally bringing him me to Sirena as the new Executive Chef. “Now, I wish to provide a way for anyone to enjoy and experience those possibilities through my culinary creations,” he says.

Latin Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

The menu at Sirena is inspired by Chavez’s background and by the food culture of South America. Many of the dishes are inspired by things his mother would make, but with a special spin. “I love simple, clean flavors with a complex preparation,” he says. “But, there are also other menu items that play up the quality of seafood we are able to get here in San Diego. Nekkei, our take on a “sushi-style” dish, spotlights how fresh and flavorful our seafood is, even when served raw.”

One of Chavez’s favorite dishes on the menu is the Peruvian Ceviche where the flavors are very fresh and clean with a hint of spice. The fresh oysters are also a favorite, offering a unique presentation, served with pickled vegetables and toasted squid-inked black bread. As a main dish, the braised scallops set atop a fresh coconut-ginger sauce, mirasol chili oil and a cauliflower puree is absolute perfection. “I love every dish we have on the menu,” says Chavez. “When I started, I was convinced about the flavors but I had to test the textures. I especially love the scallops because it’s a simple dish and the flavors are amazing. There are so many textures, that every bite is a difference experience.”

*Written by Maria Desiderata Montana

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Oggi’s Pizza and Beer Party

pizza and beer

Oggi’s Sports | Brewhouse | Pizza Grand Opening

Pizza and Beer

Oggi’s will celebrate its newly opened Vista location with a grand opening football party on November 2nd.

“It has been so much fun meeting the Vista community these past couple weeks,” said Oggi’s vice president, Estella Ferrera. “Football is a fantastic reason to get everyone together and we’re excited to invite new regulars and their friends and family to come watch the game with us as we celebrate with discounts and giveaways!”

Pizza and Beer
Courtesy photo

Festivities will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with raffle prizes including a LaDainian Tomlinson signed jersey, LaDainian Tomlinson signed mini helmet, t-shirts, pint glasses and Oggi’s gift cards! Each guest wearing a football jersey will receive a free order of Oggi’s Stix-pizza dough topped with parsley, mozzarella and parmesan cheese as well as enjoy $5 Oggi’s beers and Bloody Marys throughout the day. The Mighty 1090 street team will also be on hand to give away even more items.

Oggi’s Sports | Brewhouse | Pizza in Vista 18th location officially opened for business on October 21. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Oggi’s will open at 9:30 a.m. for Saturday and Sunday College and NFL Football games. The restaurant is located at 425 S. Melrose Drive Vista, CA 92084 and the telephone phone number is 760-295-3500. Visit Oggi’s online at and connect on Facebook at @Oggi’s Vista.

About Oggi’s Sports | Brewhouse | Pizza

Oggi’s has over 23 years of operational experience in franchising. The successful full-service, sports-themed Oggi’s Sports | Brewhouse | Pizza franchise has locations in California and Arizona. Oggi’s recently opened a new restaurant in Fullerton, Orange County and plans to expand to Uplandin San Bernardino County and into Northern California. The new Oggi’s Pizza Express offers line-style ordering for affordable build-your-own-pizzas and handcrafted beer in a fast and casual setting. For more information including franchising for both concepts, visit

*Information courtesy of Chemistry PR
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Enjoy Classic Steak and Seafood

Lou & Mickey’s Debuts Extensive Bar Remodel and Expanded Menu

steak and seafood
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

One more thing to be thankful for this November – Lou & Mickey’s, downtown San Diego’s classic steak and seafood destination, unveils a new look and expanded bar menu just in time for the holidays! The restaurant, most known for its delicious American cuisine, will feature a new open-air design that extends the space to the adjacent streets, with floor-to-ceiling windows that give direct visibility to the bar from 5th Avenue. Additionally, the bar will have 8 new televisions—ideal for the sports enthusiasts.

steak and seafood
Seafood Platter (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Coinciding with the new look, Lou & Mickey’s will launch a new beverage program with updated seasonal cocktails, such as the The Under the Boardwalk with vodka, lemon, thyme and strawberries, and the Gold Rush, straight bourbon whiskey with fresh lemon juice and honey. The restaurant also will provide a wider selection of craft beer, with 20 local brewers on tap, including Ballast Point Wahoo White, Mission Blonde Kolsch and Allagash White.

With all the new changes, Lou & Mickey’s will be an even more exciting place to enjoy high quality seafood in a fun, laid-back atmosphere.

Classic Steak and Seafood

Cousins Jeff and Sam King opened Lou & Mickey’s to honor their fathers with a restaurant that showcases their roots by serving choice seafood and prime steaks in a relaxed, inviting environment. Located at the entrance to San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter and within direct proximity to the San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park, Lou & Mickey’s serves memorable classic American cuisine with plenty of mid-western hospitality. Lou & Mickey’s is available for private events and is located at 224 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101. For more information and reservations, please call (619) 237-4900 or visit

About King’s Seafood Company

King’s Seafood Company, based in Costa Mesa, California, evolved from more than 60 years of family-run restaurant experience. With 12 King’s Fish House locations throughout Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona, the company also operates several signature restaurants, including Water Grill in downtown Los Angeles, Ocean Avenue Seafood and Pier Burger in Santa Monica, Fish Camp in Huntington Beach, 555 East Steakhouse in Long Beach, and Lou & Mickey’s in San Diego. For more information, please visit

*PR courtesy information

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Extensive Seafood Raw Bar Selection

seafood raw bar
courtesy photo

Osetra Fishhouse is the Gaslamp Quarter’s premier destination for an extensive seafood raw bar and a wide array of local and fresh gourmet seafood items.

The 10-foot-long ice bar contains a wide variety of seafood; most of which is locally farmed in Carlsbad. Included in Osetra’s fresh selection are two to four-pound lobsters, scallops, mussels, sea urchin and Alaskan King Crab. The restaurant offers up to four types of oysters daily, including Kumamoto Oysters, Kumai Oysters, Bahia Falsa Oysters and, very rare, Huma Huma Oysters.

seafood raw bar
courtesy photo

Extensive Seafood Raw Bar Selection

A new sushi menu is also being offered as part of the Raw Bar Menu, with items such as The Spicy Diego Roll, The Double Double Tuna Roll, Sesame Sashimi Tuna, a Tempura Lobster Roll and more.

seafood raw bar
courtesy photo

“San Diego provides an incredible supply for fresh, high-quality seafood. So, in addition to sourcing the absolute best seafood available, we also take pride in supporting local seafood farmers and their businesses,” said Sara Arjmand, General Manager of Osetra Fishhouse. “The selection we are now offering is great for all types of seafood-lovers. From crabs and oysters to caviar and sushi, we really have something for everyone on this menu.”

Osetra Fishhouse serves dinner nightly, offering a menu of gourmet seafood along with an extensive, award-winning wine list.

seafood raw bar
courtesy photo

About Osetra Fishhouse
For seafood and wine lovers, Osetra is like heaven, complete with “Wine Angels” who fly to retrieve your fine wine selection from their extraordinary three-story collection. With culinary inspirations from Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Rim, Osetra Fishhouse boasts a menu of fresh seafood, aged meats and homemade pastas. The restaurant’s eclectic split-story design features an impressive Oyster Bar, serving fresh, local oysters, caviar, sashimi, shrimp cocktail and more, and an Ice Bar with an extensive collection of vodkas.

seafood raw bar
courtesy photo
Its wide selection of food and drink specialties provides guests with both multi-sensory stimulation in the first floor’s E-5 Lounge, as well as the fine dining area above. or call (619) 239-1800

*Courtesy information

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Macaroni and Cheese at Lazy Dog

Macaroni and Cheese
Hatch Chile + Bacon Macaroni and Cheese (Courtesy photo)

Hatch Chile + Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

The restaurant’s outpost, located in San Diego’s Mission Valley Westfield Mall, offers an eclectic menu including Hatch Chile and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, Wok Fired Dishes, Spicy Fried Chicken Lollipops, a smoky Campfire Pot Roast, Brick Oven Pizzas, Seasonal Soups and Pot Pies (made from scratch daily), sustainably grown Cast Iron Trout and Handcrafted Burgers and Sandwiches. The Puppy Dog Menu for kids features items like Tofu, Seasonal Fruit, Steamed Edamame, Hand-Breaded Chicken Nuggets and the popular “Build-Your-Own Pizza.

The bar offers more than 21 draft beers including several locally hand-crafted microbrews (craft beer samplers are available to allow guests a chance to explore); price-conscious wines by the glass or bottle; and signature cocktails are made using fresh ingredients. The large bar offers 6 high-definition flat-screens for watching sporting events. -Information courtesy of Lazy Dog

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Regional Mexican Food In Del Mar

Diane Powers opens Casa Sol y Mar, the newest dining destination to join her family of eateries serving fine Mexican food throughout the County. (Read more about Casa Guadalajara and get the recipes for Mexican Shrimp Cocktail AND Enchiladas de Vegetables Con Queso in my new book: ‘San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary recipes From America’s Finest City’.)

Mexican food
Photo by Martin Mann Photography

Casa Sol y Mar is located in the bustling Del Mar Highlands Town Center at 12865 El Camino Real, and is elaborately decorated to reflect the true spirit of Mexico. It is scheduled to open in May.

“Our philosophy is to offer great value and a delightful Mexican dining experience,” said Powers. “This includes memorable flavors, abundant selections, high quality and fresh ingredients, and a spirited, authentic environment that captures the essence of Mexican traditions.”

Mexican food
Shrimp Cocktail (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Regional Mexican Food

Guests will sense the warmth and romance of Mexico as they enter through the large wood and glass doors and find themselves standing beneath a high glowing ceiling and magnificent iron chandelier. The interior is artfully painted in a fiesta of gold, crimson and orange jewel tones, sparkling from wall to wall. Each room, uniquely designed with its own character and charm, exhibits a slightly different blend of colors, sophisticated lighting, Mexican folk art, festive décor and glazed Mexican accent tiles in red, emerald and orange.

The delectable menu features traditional Mexican food with an emphasis on flavor and freshness, including a large selection of regional entrees made from scratch, and award-winning seafood recipes that have been in the restaurant family for decades. In addition, the menu highlights newly created small plates and appetizers, as well as entrees with a contemporary twist. Homemade dressings, salsas and sauces are made fresh daily, along with hot corn and flour tortillas. There is also an extensive children’s menu, deliciously appealing entrée salads and abundant gluten-free, vegetarian and healthy dining selections.

Mexican food
Fish Tacos (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

The site, formerly a Red Robin, was completely rebuilt to fit the new Mexican restaurant with 200-plus indoor seats and 100-plus capacity outdoor patio. Ninety-seven parking spaces were also added to accommodate the expansion.

In the main dining room, guests dine beneath a breathtaking hand-painted vaulted ceiling, dramatically illuminated by 35 traditional brass stars and sparkling glass lanterns, handmade by Mexican artists. On the west side of the room is a series of arches that lead to a smaller dining area with seating for 40 – perfect for parties or banquets.

Mexican food
Mango Chicken (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

In the lively cantina, guests will sip giant frosty margaritas, enjoy fine Mexican beers and an impressive tequila selection while devouring tasty appetizers and entrees. The furniture in the cantina has a “refined rustic” appeal, complemented by reclaimed wood tables framed with black hammered iron. The custom barstools are upholstered with colorful wool fabrics hand-woven by Zapotec artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Steps away, guests can watch as fresh tortillas are prepared in the charming tortilla kitchen, resulting in a delicious aroma that wafts through the entire structure. The tortilla area, placed prominently in the center of the restaurant, is enhanced by jade green, orange and red Mexican tiles and a beautiful hand-hammered copper hood.

Mexican food
Crab and Shrimp Salad (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Other Hispanic accents strewn throughout the restaurant include handmade mirrors, copper wall sculptures and glowing iron and rawhide lamps.

In keeping with its sister Mexican restaurants – Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad and Casa de Pico in La Mesa – Casa Sol y Mar completes the cultural experience with cheerful mariachi performances Wednesday to Sunday evenings.

Mexican food
Mariachi Band (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

About Bazaar del Mundo Restaurant Group

Diane Powers’ Bazaar del Mundo Shops and her group of restaurants are San Diego’s recognized destinations for international cultures and Mexican-spirited cuisine.

The Bazaar del Mundo Shops create a lively and colorful entry to San Diego’s Old Town community while Powers’ award-winning restaurants – Casa Guadalajara, Casa de Pico and Casa de Bandini – which make up the Bazaar del Mundo Restaurant Group, provide authentic Mexican flavor and ambience throughout San Diego County.

The Shops are comprised of colorful boutiques, each offering unique gifts from all over the world, home accessories and collectibles, plus fashion, arts and crafts.

Mexican food
Patio (Photo by Martin Mann Photography)

The Bazaar del Mundo Shops and Casa Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant are at the entrance to Old Town on the corner of Taylor and Juan Streets. Casa de Pico is located at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, 619-463-3267. Casa de Bandini is located at 1901 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad, 760-634-3443. For more information call 619-296-3161 or visit

About Del Mar Highlands Town Center

Owned and operated by Donahue Schriber, the Del Mar Highlands Town Center is North County’s premier shopping destination. In 2009, the center celebrated 20 years in Carmel Valley by undergoing a Re-Imagining that brought seven award-winning restaurants, San Diego’s first luxury boutique movie theater and a modern architectural makeover to the community. Among the new restaurants calling the Del Mar Highlands Town Center home include “Top Chef” alum Brian Malarkey’s Burlap, “Restaurateur of the Year” Scott Harris’ Mia Francesca Del Mar and Davanti Enoteca, Rimel’s Rotisserie, Taverna Blue, The Counter and Urban Plates. For more information about the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, located at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real, please visit

*Courtesy information

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Pumpkin is popular in San Diego

pumpkinFrom October 27th to November 1st, stop by the Hillcrest and the downtown Lotus Thai locations for two Halloween specials that include pumpkin. For a fall versions of Thai favorites, order the Pumpkin Chicken Curry as a $6 special main course or end the meal on a sweet note with Pumpkin Custard Sticky Rice for only $4. Compliment the meal with refreshing $2 Lychee Martini shots. Served all-day during Halloween week, you won’t want to miss these unique dishes. Feeling like a more traditional Thai dish? Just dine-in wearing your Halloween costume for 20% off. Please note, specials may not be combined.


For pumpkin dishes with Mexican flair, Hillcrest’s Ortega’s, A Mexican Bistro has all guests. Carnivores will love the Chicken Pippian, a boneless grilled chicken breast topped with a mole-like pumpkin seed pippian sauce, when dining during dinner. Those who don’t consume meat will enjoy the Vegetarian Burrito during lunch or dinner. Pumpkin and black bean puree is wrapped in a large fresh home-made flour tortilla with poblano chiles, potatoes, avocado, pico de gallo and jack cheese and served with vegetarian black beans.

PumpkinWe all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. With the help of PB’s Isabel’s Cantina, eat your pumpkin with Pumpkin Pancakes drizzled with a cream cheese frosting and topped with a light dusting of powdered sugar. If pancakes aren’t your thing, Isabel’s Mexican Chopped Salad can also help with that pumpkin fix. Greens and chopped romaine lettuce are tossed in a cumin vinaigrette and topped with radishes, cucumber, chipotle-corn salsa and pumpkin seeds.

Pacific Beach AleHouse can help diners drink their pumpkin with AleHouse’s seasonally in-house brewed Pumpkin Ale. The PB AleHouse team carved more than 100 pounds of pumpkins, roasted, smoked and rubbed ‘em with a honey and brown sugar glaze. The pumpkins were baked to seal in the sweet flavors and finally sent into mash with eight types of malt including crystal, honey and biscuit. Brewmaster Vince Falcone added a mixture of nutmeg, all-spice and pumpkin pie spice before ending the boiling process. The result is a pumpkin ale with a hint of spice, served fresh in a sugar-rimmed glass, that is only available until Thanksgiving.

*Information courtesy of Alternative Strategies
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Chinese Fusion Cuisine in Del Mar

Chinese Fusion Cuisine
Courtesy photo

After opening in the spring of 2004, Del Mar Rendezvous, serving Chinese Fusion Cuisine, announced the near completion of its major, quarter million dollar renovation, all while only closing for about two weeks. In its eight years of serving the Del Mar community, this is the first time the space has undergone any major upgrades, design changes or additions to its space.

“Our decision to remodel is attributable to both some outdated décor as well as a great amount of helpful comments and recommendations from our guests,” said Dan Schreiber, owner of Del Mar Rendezvous.

The dining room now boasts new dining booths, tables, a wine and art display, as well as designer and antique light fixtures to enhance the restaurant’s romantic, upscale ambience.

 “More than just an aesthetic remodel, this has been a complete reworking of the restaurant for us. Our vision was thought-out over several years and directed towards improving guests’ experience and overall restaurant flow,” said Schreiber. “The changes have made an enormous difference in our ability to handle the increased business we have experienced over the past few years at the restaurant. It has also enabled the wait staff to provide even better service to our guests despite this increase in business, which is extremely important to us.”

Chinese fusion cuisineWith the new amenities, Del Mar Rendezvous’ now has a white wine specific temperature-controlled wine refrigerator, a more extensive wine selection, four types of beer on draft, a high-end wine cellar, and organic, free-trade and sustainably produced teas and coffees, in French Presses.

“The recent remodel has not only changed the functionality of the restaurant from the way it was before, but it has inspired our team to make positive changes to continue enhancing our guests’ experience moving forward,” said Schreiber.

Perhaps one of the most ambiance-altering aspects of the remodel comes from the ancient Chinese artwork that now adorns the restaurant’s interior. Traditional pieces and sculptures from China set the tone for Rendezvous’ serene dining and foyer area.

“Since the art pieces have been added, guests will often inquire about the history and meaning of them and are intrigued to hear that some date back 200 years,” said Schreiber. “One of my favorite symbols in the restaurant is the jade carving of horses galloping into the heavens. It’s a lucky Chinese symbol, representing the power, grace and speed of horses. I see it as a good omen for the prosperity and success I want my restaurant to have.”

In addition to new tables, chairs and lighting, Del Mar Rendezvous’ outdoor patio was nearly tripled in size with brand new heaters, lighting and planters positioned throughout the length of the patio. The new pet-friendly patio also allows guests to enjoy alcoholic beverages while dining outdoors.

About Del Mar Rendezvous

Since 2004, Del Mar Rendezvous has been enticing San Diegans with its wide array of Chinese fare complimented by a modern mix of Asian flavors. Rendezvous boasts over 20 local, import and craft beers in addition to an award-winning list of over 80 wines, offered at half-price by the bottle on Wednesdays and Sundays. With over 100 different dishes on its menu, Rendezvous also caters to both gluten-free and vegetarian guests with over 40 dedicated options to choose from. The newly remodeled interior and extended patio, with glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, offer a calming and inviting atmosphere, perfect for date nights, business lunches or family dinners.

Del Mar Rendezvous is located at 1555 Camino Del Mar, Suite 102, in the Del Mar Plaza, and is open for lunch Monday – Saturday (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and serves dinner nightly, beginning at 4 p.m.

For more information about Del Mar Rendezvous, visit or call (858) 755-2669.

*Courtesy photos and information

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Day of the Dead San Diego Style

day of the deadDay of the Dead

Kick off your fiesta with the authentic flavors of Puerto Nuevo at Ortega’s Mexican Bistro. For a meal the whole familia will love, try the Puerto Nuevo family-style lobster feast. It feeds up to six people, and includes chips and guacamole, fresh handmade tortillas, and bunuelos for dessert. Between 3 and 6 p.m., go for a $6 mango mint margarita plus a variety of other happy hour food and drink specials.

The Day of the Dead celebration comes alive at Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro. Choose from the tostada festival list, which includes ahi tuna and orejas del mar tostadas. Los antojitos de la casa (house specials) offer beef tacos with cilantro, onions and salsa, as well as Grandma’s tacos de fideo, original spaghettini tacos with fresh cream and Spanish chorizo.

It doesn’t get much more authentic to the holiday than Barrio Star, with Day of the Dead-themed décor including colorful skulls and glittering lights. A special Día de los Muertos three-course dinner menu offers soup or salad, a choice between chile relleno and pumpkin tamal, topped off with a Mexican chocolate bomb or pumpkin flan for dessert. The regular drink menu offers specialty cocteles such as a roasted jalapeno blackberry margarita as well as a beer and wine list.

Coastally located in Pacific Beach, Isabel’s Cantina offers breakfast and brunch as well as the Día de los Muertos holiday special. For breakfast, try the coconut French toast with bananas, pineapple, raspberry puree and powdered sugar. Counting calories? Go for the Nirvana bowl with marinated grilled tofu, brown rice, broccoli, yellow squash, green zucchini, egg whites, sautéed tomatoes, green onions and salsa cruda. A mimosa bar and kids menu ensures something for everyone at the table.

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Always Fresh at Escape Fish Bar

Escape Fish Bar

A unique and casual seafood restaurant with a Pacific Northwest, Asian and Latin American-inspired menu.

As a San Diego native, Owner Scott Quan brings the quintessential Southern California lifestyle to his restaurant and menu; keeping it simple and casual, yet unique and noteworthy. “I always have my roots in mind when serving my customers. I believe having the freshest ingredients, exceptional combinations and a welcoming environment are the keys to any restaurant’s success,” said Quan. “I hope Escape Fish Bar becomes a place where locals and visitors alike can feel as if they’re truly experiencing the San Diego lifestyle.”

Escape Fish Bar serves an array of fresh seafood options. Chefs Kunal Ghose and Ivoreno Brigitha created the unique fusion menu. Chef Ghose of Victoria, British Columbia, mastered the seafood items on the menu with his Pacific Northwest background. Chef Brigitha’s experience stems from culinary works in Costa Rica, Germany and San Francisco.

The endeavors of these two chefs has lead to creations like the Tacone; a dish similar to the popular fish taco. The Tacone is made with fresh fish, chipotle avocado sauce, roasted pumpkin seed cole slaw, lime pickled jicama and onions, and daikon radish sprouts; all rolled together in a freshly grilled tortilla.

Escape Fish Bar offers other specialties, including its Tempura Battered Fish and Chips, with choice of local caught halibut, local caught yellowtail, wild caught salmon, mahi mahi, albacore, ahi, Alaskan cod or Pollock, served with double cooked Kennebec fries, alongside double horseradish tartar sauce. The local eatery also boasts a Chipotle Coconut Seafood Chowder, Spiked Togarashi Caesar Salad, and Thai Seafood Salad with spicy lime coconut milk dressing.

In addition, Escape Fish Bar offers local, handcrafted draft and bottled beers and a wide selection of wines by the glass.

About Escape Fish Bar

During a boating trip to the Pacific Northwest to explore Pudget Sound, Scott Quan ventured into Victoria, British Columbia, and dined at Red Fish Blue Fish, a seafood restaurant located on a pier in Victoria’s harbor. Finding the food to be incredible, and having been born and raised in San Diego, he knew there was no seafood options quite as authentic and fresh back home.

In opening Escape Fish Bar in Downtown San Diego, Scott utilized two chefs to create his masterpiece menu, Kunal Ghose, the Chef at Red Fish Blue Fish, concocted the seafood combinations on the menu, and Ivoreno Brigitha, with a culinary expertise stemming from time in Costa Rica, Germany and San Francisco, developed the tapas, pizza and landlubber options.

Visit or call (619) 702-9200

*Courtesy image and information

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Extraordinary Italian Food at Bice

Italian Food
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

From the modern and elegant ambiance to the extraordinary Italian fare, BICE is a restaurant you don’t want to miss. Relying heavily on local and seasonal ingredients, Executive Chef Mario Cassineri has created a diverse menu of items that he likes to eat. You’ll immediately notice that it highlights a more sophisticated style of Italian cuisine, tapping into his experience from an upbringing in Milan, and changing on a weekly basis.

Read more about BICE in my new book San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond.

Italian Food

Read more about BICE in the ‘Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego’ and get Chef Cassineri’s recipe for CLASSIC RAGU BOLOGNESE in the ‘San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from America’s Finest City.’

BICE, 425 Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 239-2423;; Italian


Maestro from Milan

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Bouchon Beverly Hills

Bouchon Beverly Hills
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Bouchon Beverly Hills

Bouchon Beverly Hills offers traditional French bistro fare with a menu that showcases the best products available each day. Bouchon also features a raw bar with select oysters on the half shell and many other Fruits de Mer. Seasonal offerings change throughout the year and are complemented by Vin de Carafe, a unique wine program that brings recognition to local wine producers.

French Onion Soup (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
French Onion Soup (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Quiche of the Day (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Quiche of the Day (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Bouchon Bakery is located at the first floor lobby of Bouchon Bistro in the Beverly Hills Garden Building between Beverly and Canon Drives. Recipes are based on traditional French baking techniques – beautiful to behold, but even better to eat!

Colorful Macarons (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Colorful Macarons (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
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