Bartenders Honor Prohibition Day

waterfront-prohibitonDecember 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!

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SMARTS Farm Open House

San Diego Food FindsSMARTS 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. 

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Dunedin North Park

DunedinDunedin North Park (DNP for short) is another New Zealand themed restaurant concept by owners Matt Baker and PJ Lamont (owners of Bare Back Grill, Raglan Public House and Queenstown Public House.

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.

Dunedin North Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Freshly Caught At Water Grill

San Diego Food Finds

Chilled Seafood Platter

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.”

San Diego Food Finds

Wild Ross Sea Chilean Seabass With Ricotta Gnudi

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.”

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Holiday Specials Under $10

San Diego Food FindsThe 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.

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We Love Zumbar Coffee

Zumbar Coffee

Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

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;; Coffee/Tea. ©San Diego Food Finds by Maria Desiderata Montana.

Zumbar Coffee & Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cravory Cookie Day

San Diego Food Finds

The Grinch


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.

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JRDN at Tower 23


Tuna Sashimi with Avocado Mousse, Tempura and Charred Green Onion Ponzu

Enter JRDN at Tower23 Hotel and join the fun at the bar, or take a seat in the sleek and contemporary dining room that includes a massive 70-foot lighted “wave wall” mural. A spacious open-air patio is also the perfect place to enjoy ocean views and watch passersby traveling on the meandering boardwalk. A distinctively modern menu utilizes hand-selected, all-natural meats, the finest seafood from sustainable sources, and locally grown organic produce. It’s a perfect brunch destination. Dine alfresco by the ocean and devour Mama’s Baked French Toast with sugar and spice pumpkin, whipped mascarpone cheese, and maple syrup. A local favorite is the chilaquiles and eggs, with chorizo, salsa, queso fresco, avocado, and lime crema. If you dine in the evening, be sure to try one of the fresh catches of the day, or the uber-savory lobster potpie. Open for lunch and dinner daily, brunch on the weekends. JRDN at Tower23, 723 Felspar St., Pacific Beach, CA 92109; (858)   270-2323;;   California   Modern; $$$$.


Apple Salad with Grapes, Frisee, Endive, Brie Cheese and Toasted Almonds with Honey Lemon + Cardamom Dressing

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Breakfast Republic Encinitas Style

San Diego Food Finds

Oreo Cookie Pancakes

Known for their innovative breakfast menu, bright & colorful décor, and humor-cracking signage, Breakfast Republic has hatched another location in Encinitas. The Encinitas location is the first North County location for the brand, and is also the largest at 3,500 square feet plus an additional 700 square foot patio space. New décor/design pieces for this location include an ‘egg-cellent’ lounge area with egg chairs and tables, and cheeky sayings written across booth tables, such as “Brunch: The socially acceptable excuse for day drinking.”

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Grant Grill Winter Cocktails

San Diego Food Finds

Fall In New England

In the spirit of the holiday season, Grant Grill’s Chef de Bar, Cory Alberto is pleased to present his new seasonal winter cocktail menu – The Giving Tree.

Created in tandem with lead mixologist Jeff Josenhans’ new cider project to launch in early 2017, Cory Alberto takes advantage of all that nature has to offer this time of year, with The Giving Tree cocktail menu, also based off his favorite children’s book by legendary, Shel Silverstein. Each cocktail is inspired by a gift from trees including flavors from oak and apple trees, or smoke driven flavors from wood, bark, or fruit. 

New additions to Grant Grill’s winter cocktail menu, The Giving Tree, showcase everything from cedar and blossom foam to flaming cinnamon sticks and more.

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Easy Miso Soup Recipe

San Diego Food Finds

Recipe and Photography By Maria Desiderata Montana

While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I make it a point to pick up a box or two of their Miso Ginger Broth. It’s the perfect base for my favorite Miso Soup With Tofu and Mushrooms. After all, nothing tastes better then a light and healthy soup for lunch or dinner!

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Holiday Movie Night

San Diego Food FindsGather the family and get in the holiday spirit at Hiatus Lounge. On Saturday, Dec. 17 from 4-7pm, families can enjoy a classic holiday movie on Hiatus’ outdoor screen. Cozy up to themed cocktails like hot toddies, and order small plates from the Cusp kitchen. Kids can nosh on s’mores and sip hot cocoa fireside. For those who bring in a toy to donate, Hiatus will offer complimentary popcorn to enjoy during the screening. The Holiday Movie Night is free and open to the public. Just bring a blanket and good spirits! Hiatus Lounge at Hotel La Jolla – 7955 La Jolla Shores Dr. – (858) 551-3620 Holiday Movie

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Bold New Cafe Virtuoso

San Diego Food Finds

Rikke Photography

Today, Cafe Virtuoso announced that it will debut its freshly-remodeled cafe, when it opens its doors again on Wednesday, November 23, with a new look, greatly-anticipated additions to the menu, as well as expanded and upgraded offerings.

The cafe remodel includes new concrete flooring, bold interior colors, a hand-painted menu by local artist and Cafe Virtuoso barista Mary Jhun, and a coffee counter three times the previous size equipped with taps for the cafe’s signature cold brew, cold brew on nitro, and kombucha, along with a unique built-in pour over “filter bar.” The filter bar allows baristas to serve customers full Chemex and Kalita pots of in-house freshly-roasted organic specialty coffee to enjoy in the cafe.

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Whisknladle La Jolla

Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Grilled Bone Marrow with Watermelon Radish, Shallots, Watercress & Lemon Vinaigrette (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

In 2008, friends and partners Arturo Kassel and Chef Ryan Johnston established this little neighborhood eatery on the map in La Jolla. The concept was perfect for La Jolla: quaint, cute, modern, and comfortable—you name it! The food is simple, humble, and straightforward with some esoteric choices thrown in. This approach has won acclaim in a number of national and local publications, adding to their positive reputation throughout the culinary community. From flatbread to burgers to charred bone marrow or fried sweetbreads, this made-from-scratch food is fresh, local, and seasonal. One of my favorite starters is     the Cutting Board, an assortment of house-cured meats, artisan cheeses, mustards, spreads, and pickles. Another very popular dinner item is the fork-tender braised beef cheek with balsamic cipollini onions, potato puree, and pecorino. Additional locations now include shorter-order items and take-out at the PrepKitchen in La Jolla, Del Mar, and Little Italy. Whisknladle, 1044 Wall St., La Jolla, CA 92039; (858) 551-7575;; American; $$.

Whisknladle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Host A Holiday Party

San Diego Food FindsThe holidays are here whether we are ready or not! From book clubs to work events, this is the busiest time of year to host large holiday parties. Here are five local San Diego hotspots to help you take the stress out of your holiday party planning this year!

Located in the heart of the San Diego Gaslamp quarter, Union Kitchen + Tap boasts an array of flexible dining space, perfect for your holiday gathering. With four separate dining options to choose from, Union is your place for hosting anywhere between 60 to 360 guests for your holiday celebration. To learn more about their private events and to make a reservation, visit the website here.

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Special Short Rib Dinner

wood-ranchIf you’ve ever eaten short ribs, you know that they are one of life’s greatest culinary pleasures. This delectable cut of meat, smoked slowly and lovingly over pecan wood, is stealing the spotlight at many local eateries. Enter Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill in Hazard Center, an American eatery that has joined the short rib craze with a one-night special event!

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Christmas at The Inn

San Diego Food FindsIt’s snowing in San Diego! At least it will be December 2nd, when The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe kicks off its 3rd annual Olde’ Fashioned Christmas.

The celebration is open to the public and begins at 5 p.m. with snow blowing and the ice rink ribbon cutting ceremony. Shortly after, attendees will be able to skate under the stars in the outdoor, synthetic ice-skating rink. Ice-skating sessions are $18 for participants 12 and older and $15 for ages 11 and younger. Ice-skating sessions are three hours and include skate rentals. Groups of 10 or more receive a $2 discount per person. 

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Thanksgiving Dinner Destinations

San Diego Food FindsFor visitors and locals alike these restaurants are sure to provide unforgettable evenings offering both traditional Thanksgiving buffets with favorites like roasted turkey and herb stuffing, to three and four-course dinners with unique savory and sweet selections.

Tidal at Paradise Point Resort & Spa | Mission Bay

Gather at Paradise Point Resort & Spa’s signature restaurant, Tidal, right on the shores of San Diego’s Mission Bay for a coastal dining experience this Thanksgiving. Chef Dan Tangalin welcomes you to taste a festive three-course Thanksgiving dinner with optional wine pairings. Seasonal savory menu highlights include apple and walnut salad, butternut squash soup, brown sugar brined free range turkey, maple leaf duck breast, apple cider-coriander glazed pork cheeks, and more followed by delectable desserts such as pumpkin mousse. Reservations are recommended and available from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Adults $65, wine pairings $25, kids $32) with vegetarian and kids options available. To make a reservation call, 858.490.6363.

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The Westgate Masquerade Night

San Diego Food FindsSan Diego’s very own Parisian palace, The Westgate Hotel, invites guests to ring in the New Year by stepping back into the 18th century for an alluring evening of timeless decadence with a Masquerade Night in Versailles. A five-course dinner, elegant masked ball, Moët & Chandon Champagne toasts, and luxurious guest rooms to sleep in late on New Year’s Day are all part of the experience.

Upon arrival, guests will make their way up the Westgate’s grand staircase to be whisked away from the modern age and transported to a haven of French aristocratic elegance. The Versailles Court will begin check-in at 7:00 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. guests will indulge in French crafted libations such as Champagne, French 75 and Side Cars. Following the reception, at 8:30 p.m., guests will sit down to a lavish five-course Parisian Royale Dinner prepared by Executive Chef Fabrice Hardel, accompanied by flutes of Moët & Chandon, France’s very own 18th century Champagne creation; live music from a quintet combining French standard, contemporary, jazz and more; dancing; and masked opulence. Masked revelers can dance the night away to welcome 2017 with a champagne toast.

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Lobster Season Is Here

Rubio’s Lobster Burrito (Courtesy photo)

Lobster season is here, and with so many seafood restaurants to choose from in San Diego, it can be hard to decide where to go for the perfect dish. Where you go depends on what you’re in the mood for – fine dining? Quick bite? Hosting a party and want to order in? Here’s a short list of San Diego’s best places to eat for lobster season.

Blue Water Seafood: If Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” loves Blue Water Seafood, so will you. The laid back atmosphere makes it easy to enjoy the Blue Water Special Beer-Battered Lobster Taco any day of the week. Located in Mission Hills; catering available.

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National French Toast Day

You’ve always been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Start the day off on the sweet side for National French Toast Day, on Monday, November 28th.

Sometimes basic is best, and Backyard Kitchen and Tap in Pacific Beach understand this minimalist movement perfectly. Real maple syrup drizzled on a lightly battered brioche, topped off with fresh seasonal berries and powdered sugar, the Cinnamon Brioche French Toast keeps it simple. Served with the choice of bacon or homemade sausage patties, for those who are looking for something a little more filling.

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Park 101 Coming Soon

San Diego Food FindsThis upcoming February, the burgeoning Carlsbad Village community will be unveiling an expansive 8000 sq. ft. multi-level, plaza style restaurant and lounge complex to the neighborhood. Park 101 will be unlike anything in the area, bringing a fresh dining, drinking and “grab and go” concept to this coveted seaside village. Kid-friendly and dog friendly, this unique plaza is expected to be a landmark destination for neighbors and visitors to the area.

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New Chef at Decoy

chef-david-warnerEat.Drink.Sleep. is pleased to announce the return and appointment of David Warner as the hospitality group’s new Corporate Executive Chef. For his first project, Warner will oversee day-to-day operations and refine the menu and culinary operations at Eat.Drink.Sleep.’s newest restaurant, Decoy Dockside Dining at the Lakehouse Hotel & Resort in San Marcos.

“We are delighted to welcome Chef Warner back to Eat.Drink.Sleep.,” said Brett Miller, President and CEO. “Dave made a lasting impression on our culinary program when he served as the Executive Chef at JRDN in Pacific Beach a few years ago. We are excited to see what his innovative ideas will bring to this new role.”

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Holiday Specials and Fun

San Diego Food FindsCelebrate the holidays in style with great deals and festive fun at two of San Diego’s top shopping destinations: Westfield UTC and Flower Hill Promenade.

To spread holiday cheer, Flower Hill Promenade is hosting a Winter Weekend filled with entertainment for kids (with real snow!), while Westfield UTC will offer a month full of doorbuster sales, holiday performances, acts of kindness and the chance for shoppers to win prizes throughout the season.  

Winter Weekend – Flower Hill Promenade | Del Mar 

The holidays are here. Head to Flower Hill Promenade on Saturday, Dec. 10 & Sunday, Dec. 11 to shop and celebrate with two days of festivities during their “Winter Weekend” event, which will feature:

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Market Driven Fare at A.R. Valentien

A.R. Valentien: Executive Chef Jeff Jackson and Chef de Cuisine Kelli Crosson offer a temple of flavor in their market-driven cuisine

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is home to A.R. Valentien, one of San Diego’s most notable and refined restaurants. You will certainly feel transported whiling away the hours in a charming dining room with a beautiful view of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean just off the bluffs in the distance.

A.R. Valentien

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Classically French-trained, with more than 30 years of experience, Executive Chef Jeff Jackson and Chef de Cuisine Kelli Crosson offer a temple of flavor in their market-driven fare from some of California’s finest organic farms, orchards, and fishermen. The menu revolves around the seasons, assuring superb freshness and taste with every bite.

Chef Jackson feels comfortable and at home at A.R. Valentien, located inside the Lodge at Torrey Pines and wants all his dining guests to feel the same way. “This is not like a hotel to me, it’s more like a large residence. If it’s small, it’s manageable. A monster hotel wouldn’t allow me the freedom I need.”

©Maria Desiderata Montana

A.R. Valentien

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Dedicated to working directly with local farmers, Chef Jackson changes the menu daily, based on what is fresh and seasonal. “The farmer grows it and the chefs cook it. Whatever produce comes in, we will use. My staff and I play with the food. We taste it and talk about it. We are always thinking about what would be best to eat.”

Read more about A.R. Valentien in the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego and get Chef Jackson’s recipes for  Grilled Romaine with Prosciutto & Burrata and Alaskan Halibut with Barigoule Vegetables in my award-winning book San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City’.

A.R. Valentien Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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