Located inside the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, Nobu launched in November 2007. Executive Chef-Owner Nobu Matsuhisa currently has 25 restaurants in 21 different cities around the world, spanning across five continents. Acclaimed actor, director, producer, and two-time Academy Award- winner Robert De Niro is a co-founder, instrumental in providing creative direction for all Nobu Restaurants. The menu offers cold dishes, hot dishes, tempura and kushiyaki, sushi and sashimi, and desserts. Off the cold menu, I love the yellowtail tartare with caviar and the oysters with Nobu sauces. My favorite hot dishes are the black cod with miso and the king crab tempura with amazu ponzu sauce. If you want to experience the true essence of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s cuisine, I suggest his multicourse Omakase menu.vailable to accommodate private parties for a sit-down dinner or cocktail reception. Nobu, 207 5th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 814-4124; noburestaurants.com; Asian Fusion; $$$$. ©Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego by Maria Desiderata Montana
Well- regarded Chef-Owner Javier Plascencia has taken his successful family restaurant business north of the border, and we are all better off because of that decision. For three decades, the family has sought to change the culinary landscape in Tijuana, operating 10 distinctive eateries and serving cuisine that has garnered international attention. They have taken traditional Mexican fare to a new level, which is wonderfully evident at the Romesco bistro. The main dining room is subdued and relaxing, or you can choose the separated tapas bar that’s open late and much livelier.
Nomad Donuts is a place that makes you think outside the box when it comes to your not so ordinary donuts. In fact, these eclectic and artisanal donuts prove to be downright dreamy (even the vegan ones), specially handcrafted from small batch ingredients chosen from farmers markets, including cage free, organic eggs from local farmers. The 50-donut menu changes daily and often reflects seasonal themes with flavor combinations that range from the exotic to the unusual, with recipes that have even inspired a few limited edition craft beers. Start your day with a hot ‘Pooh Bear’ latte and a delicious Mexican hot chocolate horchata donut! Nomad Donuts, 4504 30th St., San Diego, CA 92116; (619) 431-5000; nomaddonuts.com. ©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana
The Lumberyard in Encinitas is home to many trendy restaurants, and this is one of them. With indoor and outdoor seating for about 100 people, this healthy cafe is dedicated to serving fresh, locally sourced natural food at affordable prices. A comprehensive menu comprises many vegans, vegetarian, strict vegetarian and gluten-free options. Choose from savory and homemade organic soups, salads sandwiches, pasta, vegetarian entrees, fish and chicken entrees, kiddies’ meals, fresh juices, smoothies, shakes, and desserts, even homemade vegan cupcakes. Such items as the Pipe’s Whole Wheat Pita with falafel balls, hummus, and tahini-ginger sauce, and the Swami’s Carrot shake with organic carrot juice, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg make this place unusual. Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar, 765 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, CA 92024; (760) 479-1977; lotuscafeandjuicebar.com; Organic/Health Food; $$.
The new Crudo restaurant in Carmel Valley boasts Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with an Asian touch that features locally-sourced, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian menu items. Renowned chef and owner Pascal Lorange takes pride in offering diners unique, yet simple presentations that you won’t find anywhere else in San Diego.
Belgian-born Lorange is a world renowned chef who has cooked in Michelin-star kitchens and been in the restaurant industry for more than 25 years. As a child, he would accompany his family on weekly trips to the market to help his parents prepare his favorite dish, “pave de cabillaud” (cod steak). From the age of six, Lorange wanted to continue in the family tradition of four generations of chefs, including his grandfather, uncle, brother and nephew.
Monello’s design and decor mirrors a typical Milanese eatery complete with the downtown vibe of the San Diego bay and the familiar Italian neighborhood.
Sophisticated, modern and rustic-chic, Chef Fabrizio Cavallini says it is one of the few Italian restaurants that dares to serve traditional home-cooking in a modern urban setting, similar to a restaurant you would find in Milano, Italy. “We undressed Italian dining of its obsolete and stereotypical look and taste,” he says. “We had a new menu in mind, our tradition is so rich. But we had no room for it at our Bencotto restaurant. So when the space next door became available, our heads were exploding with ideas after Valentina and Guido’s trip to Italy. When they go there, they eat twenty-four-seven and come back with a ton of new ideas.”
“Where Passion Meets the Plate” is the slogan at Sally’s Seafood on the Water. Bordering Seaport Village, this modern-looking restaurant, decked out with high ceilings, numerous windows, and granite countertops, is further complemented with dark woods, black accents, and work from local artists adoring the walls. Grab a seat at one of the high-top tables with an up-close and personal view of the marina. The menu is seafood-dominated, with vibrant ocean flavors in every entrée—particularly the sushi and sashimi offerings. The Canadian lobster potpie is an irresistible marriage of pungent lobster with assorted seasonal veggies, linguica, and Boursin cheese, all underneath a blanket of puff pastry. The chili-crusted Maine diver scallops with preserved lemon raviolis, pine nut relish, and a velvety white wine butter sauce gets equal billing. A 3-course prix-fixe menu that changes from week to week is another nice option. Reservations are strongly recommended. Sally’s Seafood on the Water, 1 Market Place, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 358-6740; sallyssandiego.com; Seafood; $$$$.
From The Food Lovers’ Guide To San Diego, By Maria Desiderata Montana.
Customization is at the heart of the STACKED concept
You can create a burger, pizza, salad or Mac ‘n’ Cheese with all of your favorite ingredients! And imagine those ingredients are fresh and flavorful, the proteins grilled to order, the vegetables crisp and fresh, the cheeses rich and creamy, the sauces and dressings freshly made from scratch.
STACKED is a full-service restaurant with an innovative ordering approach that enables you to control when you order and pay, and customize your meal in a comfortable, uninhibited way. Guests get exactly what they want, and pay for exactly what they get. So, if you remove an ingredient from a Signature Item, you pay less. If you add an ingredient, you pay more. Simple and fair!
Housed inside THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel located in Downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, the Grant Grill offers fine dining at its best, with attentive service and classic touches of wood paneling, cream linens, and soft candlelight.
The large bar area is a perfect location for after-work relaxing or setting the mood for a great evening. Guests can enjoy live music playing regularly, and wonderful happy hours, while Executive Chef Mark Kropczynski highlights an ever-evolving menu with local produce, fresh seafood, and prime meats. Grant Grill
Carmel Valley’s eastern corridor sprung to life on May 23rd with long-anticipated WESTROOT tavern! In the heart of Pacific Highlands Ranch, this casual neighborhood gathering place features a thoughtfully designed dining room and bar that is serving up fresh, inspired plates crafted from land and sea in true Southern California style. Delivering an upscale tavern-like experience, with 30 beers on tap at two full bars and an impressive spot for nightlife, WESTROOT is staged to become a place for locals and visitors to plant their feet.
“We are excited to feed Pacific Highlands Ranch’s hunger for a neighborhood hotspot,” says local owner/operator Matt McBride. The area has been calling for top-end cuisine in a California-modern way; WESTROOT has answered that call with scratch-made seasonal favorites that include the freshest, locally-sourced meats, seafood and produce.
Featuring the new cuisine of Mexico, with both small and large plates, the menu at the new Bracero Cocina de Raiz in Little Italy will be changing quite frequently depending on the seasons and what is available in the fields and farms. The modern Mexican décor is very close to executive chef Javier Plascencia’s style. “The ambiance feels sexy and manly.” he says.
With the entire menu made from California products, Plascencia likes to be as sustainable as possible, making cheese from TAJ Farm’s goats, and purchasing ingredients from El Campito Farm, Suzie’s Farm, Catalina Offshore Products and the local farmer’s market. The tortillas are from maiz from Michoacán, Mexico.
Operated by the Cohn Restaurant Group, this attractive and comfortable Ocean Beach bistro celebrates the spirit and flavors of the Mediterranean with a modern yet rustic cuisine. With “Bo” referring to Bohemian style and “Beau” signifying beauty, this newest neighborhood destination offers old-world charm and new-world polish in a French-inspired setting. A most unique feature includes an entrance into the restaurant through an imported ancient Egyptian gate. Adding to the approachability of Bo-Beau is the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Choose from soups, salads, and a variety of house-made pastas as well as house- made pâté and various tartines such as the Croque Madame Tartine, which features a delectable combination of sliced pork belly, gruyere cheese, fried egg, and a Parmesan cheese reduction. The menu also highlights flatbreads adorned with flavorful ingredient medleys ranging from roasted brie, beets, and curry onion marmalade to braised short rib, horseradish, smashed potatoes, and chives. Bo-Beau Kitchen + Bar, 4996 West Point Loma Blvd., San Diego, CA 92107; (619) 224-2884; bobeaukitchen.com; French; $$$.
©Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego By Maria Desiderata Montana
The Haven Pizzeria in Kensington serves up incredible gourmet pizzas, salads and pastas that leave guests happy and satisfied.
Although you can opt for the basics including Pepperoni and BBQ Chicken, inventive pies such as the Besto Shrimp, PBTO, or The Righteous Pig offer a unique new mixture of toppings that you won’t find anywhere else. Get creative and design your own pizza after choosing from a list of all natural meats, vegetables, cheeses and sauces. Vegetarian options are available along with wheat and gluten-free crusts to accommodate every guest’s dietary needs. Stop by for their daily deals or happy hour during the week from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Chef Patrick Ponsaty is working his magic and hypnotizing diners with show-stopping culinary art at his new restaurant aptly named Ponsaty’s in Rancho Santa Fe, California. We recently visited, took our seats in a lavish dining room that’s screams with style, and experienced a delightful 9-course menu that left us feeling as if we had just dined in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Every morning Ponsaty personally visits his farmer friends and hand selects seasonal produce to be presented to diners each evening. This awe-inspiring chef makes dinner an EVENT not to be missed.
So what can you expect stepping into a bistro named The Mission, strategically located on Mission Boulevard in the Mission Beach neighborhood? Nothing less than artistic and healthy food served in a bright and busy atmosphere.
The bistro uses fresh and seasonal ingredients to create simple meals with complex flavors. It is a rare occasion to be seated without waiting. Focusing on giving back to the community, The Mission is regularly involved in local charities, even using the walls to adorn local artist’s works. Their sandwiches and many of the breakfasts utilize fresh baked breads from the kitchen. My favorite is the rosemary loaf, crunchy on the outside and soft inside, the subtle flavor of rosemary and olive oil is superb. Or try the fresh cinnamon bread used for their famous French toast.
Open for five years now in the Kensington area of San Diego, Owner and Chef Ken Irvine says he opened Bleu Bohème because he loves neighborhood restaurants. “When my guests walk through our doors, we want to take them away to a “different place”, he says. “What sets us apart is our stellar service, quality cuisine and a unique ambiance.”
With a passion for French food and cooking with local ingredients, Irvine describes his restaurant as ‘AWESOME’, sourcing products from Catalina Offshore and Specialty Produce. “These places are both the best at what they do in San Diego,” he says.” Partnering with them helps us to be the best that we can be.”
What makes a savory scramble so clucking good? We believe it is a combination of fresh ingredients, bold flavors and creativity. Here is a list that we hatched of our favorite spots to flock to, so you can find that perfect savory scramble!
Flee your coop and get to Fig Tree Café in Hillcrest and Pacific Beach where the menu is crafted with fresh and local ingredients. Their Monterey Scramble is both savory and hearty. Using three eggs (from a family owned farm in Ramona), scallions, Ortega chilies, jack cheese and of course bacon served alongside Mexican rice, black beans, three corn tortillas and salsa. The Monterey Scramble rules the roost! Stop by Fig Tree Café in Liberty Station for breakfast or brunch to indulge in their Soy Chorizo Scramble. Consisting of three eggs, soy chorizo, jack cheese, red onion, black beans with tortillas and guacamole these flavors come together to give a savory, spicy and so scramble-lous scramble.
Are you looking for new ways to prepare lighter dishes? Enter a sea of possibilities from Hermosa Beach Fish Shop, Pacific Beach Fish Shop and Encinitas Fish Shop. Offering the freshest seafood, as well as seasonings and sauces made from scratch, it’s a breeze to get hooked on tasty entrees such as the Lemon Butter Halibut. Infused with the flavor of lemon and accompanied by a blend of sautéed vegetables, the recipe is so easy and versatile, you can switch out the fish for salmon, cod, shrimp or scallops.
December 5th, Prohibition or Repeal Day, honors the rich traditions of imbibing and the legitimacy of our beloved bartenders. There is no better way to celebrate than at San Diego’s oldest taverns or with era-themed parties and classic drinks that give a nod to the last 83 years of drinking legally. So gather some friends and observe our constitutional rights at these local San Diego watering holes!
SMARTS Farm is sharing the spirit of the season at its new home in downtown’s East Village neighborhood. As the community’s only non-profit urban garden, SMARTS Farm actively gives back year-round, connecting nearby residents, families and underserved youth to gardening practices and academic enrichment programs.
On Saturday, December 17th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., SMARTS Farm is inviting neighborhood friends and local San Diego families to take part in their Holiday Open House. Learn, grow and give back as the non-profit opens its garden doors for a morning filled with holiday horticulture and winter wreath making alongside a line up of family-oriented festivities and education. The event is open to the public and is free to attend, with a $5 suggested donation for adult participation. All proceeds directly benefit SMARTS Farm’s future neighborhood garden projects and youth enrichment programs.
Dunedin was designed by Michael Soriano who also is behind the decor of Queenstown and Raglan. The restaurant’s design encompasses all that is organic and naturally beautiful in Dunedin, New Zealand and pays respect to the agriculture, architecture and the natural topography of the land. The DNP circle icon is attributed to the Koru symbol which represents new beginnings, positive, change, personal growth and hope for the future.
The cuisine at Dunedin draws from New Zealand favorites and focuses on the use of natural and organic ingredients in a relaxing comfortable outdoor dog friendly patio.
Dunedin is located at 3501 30th Street in North Park.
Reminiscent of a giant ship, the new Water Grill San Diego has arrived with Executive Chef Fabrice Poigin at the helm. A casually sophisticated seafood destination, this two-storied, 11,000-square-foot restaurant occupies the former space of The Palm in the historic Gaslamp Quarter.
Classically trained in the South of France by Chef Jacques Maximin at the 2 star Michelin Le Chantecler restaurant – Hôtel Negresco in Nice, Poigin received his cooking diploma at 17 years of age. “I learned many skills by talking with vendors, fishermen, and growers in the South of France,” he says. “They taught me the fragile equilibrium between men and nature, which helped me respect food for being more than just that.”
Poigin spent most of his life by the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. A lover of seafood, the first dish he learned how to cook was a bouillabaisse. “Requiring delicacy and precision, it’s a very easy dish to mess up, so simplicity is key.”
The holidays are here, which means the season of spending has also arrived. Make your wallet happy by spending less before the time of giving with these San Diego restaurants and bars that offer happy hour entrees and drinks, all under $10!
Indulge in “farm-to-fork” munchies made with organic ingredients and drinks to pair at Farmer’s Bottega, every day between 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Tuesday all night at the bar. The Organic Grape Tomato Bruschetta and the Heirloom Tomato Flatbread are perfect starters for the evening and should be enjoyed with a glass of the House Red Wine, a Fresh Puree Bellini in either Strawberry or Blackberry, or a Kombucha cocktail as a Mojito, Margarita, or Mule.
Located in the busy tech center of Sorrento Valley, Zumbar Coffee is a diminutive shop with a huge reputation for serving some of the best coffee in the area. Taking a craftsman’s approach to roasting, they have perfected the process using a vintage, cast-iron coffee roaster situated right behind the ordering counter, giving every patron a chance to see/hear the action. A small selection of pastries and breads are also available, delivered from VG’s Donuts and Opera Patisserie every morning. Some regulars believe that the coffee actually advances science, and I have to agree, given the buzzing conversation during my last visit. They also sell fresh-roasted beans at the shop or online, so you’re never too far away from a great cup of joe. Zumbar Coffee and Tea, 10920 Roselle St., San Diego, CA 92121; (858) 622-0000; zumbarcoffee.com; Coffee/Tea. *From the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego by Maria Desiderata Montana.
THE CRAVORY CELEBRATES NATIONAL COOKIE DAY WITH $1 COOKIES & LAUNCH OF NEW HOLDIDAY FLAVORS
The Cravory is celebrating National Cookie Day (Sunday, December 4th) by launching their limited-edition, holiday cookie flavors and offering individual signature and holiday cookies for $1 each. This special is available for one day and in-store only at The Cravory’s Point Loma and Carlsbad Cookie Shops while supplies last.