Inspired by Whisknladle Hospitality Owner Arturo Kassel and Culinary Director/Partner Ryan Johnston after their two-week, 1,400-mile road trip through Italy, this innovative 3,750-square-foot restaurant, with an expansive patio and outdoor bar space, puts diners right near the ocean and within walking distance of shopping.
Let’s face it, with each year, comes a new standard. The stakes get higher, the competition soars, and once again the bar is set higher. Have you ever wondered which San Diego restaurants are pushing these limits, shattering standards, and mastering the art of the dining scene? Look no further than these six restaurants that are, once again, raising the bar.
This prime piece of North Park real estate, Encontro , has people raving about the chic and sleek interior and relaxed atmosphere. Adorned with wood and metal accents, LED lighting, big windows and trendy barstools, the design is enough to get you in the door. Once you’re there, enjoy your choice of 21 rotating craft beers or hard root beer, while satisfying your early or late-night food cravings with one of their signature sausage plates, portobello fries, or a fresh and hearty salad.
America is rooted in giving people freedom of choice, and why should craft beer be any different? Barrel Republic has mastered this concept of self-serve with their “Freedom to Pour” motto, freedom to compare, and freedom to be amongst other like-minded craft beer enthusiasts. This is not your typical bar. At Barrel Republic in Pacific Beach or Oceanside, you are your own bartender and can sample from over 40 different rotating taps that line the wall of this vintage barrel-themed bar.
Located on the 12th floor of the 5th Avenue Financial Center building, experience modern American food with French and Mediterranean influences at Bertrand at Mister A’s. Just minutes from downtown, this stunning fine dining penthouse restaurant is light and bright with floor-to-ceiling windows boasting panoramic views of San Diego Bay, Balboa Park, Coronado, Point Loma, and even the world-famous San Diego Zoo. I love to dine al fresco on the heated outdoor patio. Offering a seasonal and revolving menu, Chef de Cuisine Stéphane Voitzwinkler sources all of his produce from Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe and varies his seafood use based on what is available from local purveyors. While French ingredients and techniques dominate, Voitzwinkler’s German influence makes itself evident in his dish of Maine Lobster “Strudel” with Cognac Lobster Sauce and Forest Mushrooms. Light and simple preparations that offer a refined elegance include the Traditional Style Escargot, Soft-Shell Crab or Sautéed Maine Scallops.
©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana
The Duck Dive: Kick off March Madness with The Duck Dive! On March 17th and 18th, the seaside eatery will open at 9:00 a.m. to show all of the games. The neighborhood spot serves daily breakfast and brunch as well as $17.50 bottomless mimosas and $3.50 Bloody Buddies. With a drinking program that features a rotating lineup beers and an extensive specialty cocktail menu, it’s the perfect place to catch a game while striking up a conversation with friends.
Adding to San Diego’s culinary scene, Grant Grill’s Jeff Josenhans, the only person in the U.S. to hold three of the beer, wine and spirits industries most highly esteemed titles: Certified Sommelier, Certified Cicerone and Mixologist has already created several “firsts” within the spirits industry and is embarking on yet another new cocktail project that’s sure to surprise and delight.
Josenhans’ is launching his new seasonal cocktails with the theme, “Around the World in Five Drinks,” which will release in mid-May 2015 and includes five cocktails that bring rare, unique and worldly spirits to San Diego. He has carefully created the following inspired cocktails that will take tasters on a trip around the world:
“Far East Fizz For Two” – This Asian-fusion craft cocktail features Byejoe (artfully distilled in the East using the finest red sorghum, and skillfully refined in the West using revolutionary patented technology—resulting in an alluring ultra premium spirit that’s smooth and sophisticated for contemporary tastes), Five Spice Palm Sugar, Jasmine Pearls Green Tea, Lime and a splash of soda.
Mustangs and Burros at Estancia La Jolla marries deep tradition with modern sensibility
Accommodating an equestrian estate and training facility in the mid-1900s, the current property honors original Spanish architecture and furnishings of early-California life. Wood-beamed ceilings, adobe walls and wrought-iron fixtures are prominent throughout the estate. This hotel is certified green and is committed to saving the environment though extensive practices to lower its carbon footprint.
Thoughts of your stressful day dissolve quickly as you stroll along the winding paths filled with Southern California vegetation and dimly-lit candles. It isn’t difficult to locate the signature dining destination, as voices and laughter rise through the air, generated by happy patrons warming themselves in front of the adobe fire pit outside, or cozy fireplace in the dining room. Enter Mustangs & Burros, the warm and vibrant culinary centerpiece of Estancia, boasting finesse and beauty as well as an inspired menu by Executive Chef Kim Kramer.
SUNSET POOLSIDE JAZZ SERIES RETURNS TO THE WESTGATE HOTEL
Live Jazz Performances at Hotel Rooftop Pool from June 4 to August 27
Every Thursday night this summer from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., The Westgate Hotel’s rooftop will once again transforms itself into a breezy and lively space with unforgettable poolside jazz performances.
Guests are invited to the ongoing Sunset Poolside Jazz Series kicking-off June 4, with an incredible musical lineup, vast selection of specialty cocktails, fine whiskey, wine, beer and an array of gourmet hors d’oeuvres. Those in attendance of the popular jazz series can also bask in the Westgate’s expansive living wall, sparkling pool and modern furnishings, all with San Diego’s skyline as the backdrop.
Restaurant news from CH Projects includes two new executive chefs at Neighborhood and Soda & Swine, as well as an update on plans for growth.
2014 saw monumental growth for the San Diego based hospitably group, CH Projects. Nearly doubling their roster with the additions of Ironside Fish & Oyster, Rare Form, Fairweather, Juice Saves as well as second location of their ever popular UnderBelly ramen bar in North Park, the socially conscious collective’s plans for 2015 include building on their existing foundations while refining elements of the brand.
DINE WITH FLAVORS FROM THE VINE AT BANKERS HILL BAR + RESTAURANT WINE DINNER
BANKERS HILL BAR + Restaurant, located at 2202 4th Ave., will offer a treat for the senses with a gourmet wine pairing dinner beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 27.
BANKERS will feature a five course menu paired with wine by winemaker Andrew Mariani from Scribe Winery. The wine dinner will be priced at $75 per person. The dinner will begin with an appetizer selection of duck sausage skewers, deviled eggs and truffled french fries for the table, paired with a 2013 Estate Riesling “Arrowhead Slope” Sonoma. The second course will feature Albacore tuna tartare, avocado, jalapenos, Enoki and pea salad with cumin vinaigrette and tortilla crisps, paired with a 2014 Rose of Pinot Noir.
NATION’S HOTTEST CHEFS COOK TO FIGHT CHILDHOOD HUNGER IN LAGUNA BEACH AND ACROSS AMERICA
8th Annual Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® at Montage Laguna Beach Culinary Event on
Montage Laguna Beach will host the 8th annual Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation® Laguna Beach event on May 17, 2015 at the oceanfront resort.
A number of celebrity chefs will come together to prepare fresh farm-to-table delicacies to further Share Our Strength’s mission to end childhood hunger in Orange County and across the nation. Attendees will enjoy an afternoon of delectable dishes, wine, signature cocktails, and picturesque panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean at Montage Laguna Beach.
In addition to delicious food and drinks, the event will feature a silent and live auction and live entertainment by the local band The Kalama Brothers.
Mister A’s celebrates its 50th Anniversary, mixing things up with a brand new cocktail menu featuring freshly squeezed, crushed and liquefied vegetables mixed with spirits and liqueurs. PRCHEMISTRY
The new menu features some of the most inventive cocktails in San Diego including the Farm to Glass mixed with Farmer’s organic gin, crushed arugula, beet shrub, Limoncello and green chartreuse, the sweet and delightful Rhuby Red mixed with gin, Aperol, rhubarb-ginger coulis, fresh lemon and Amaro and the creative I am What I Yam dessert cocktail made with sweet potato shrub, butter rum, brown sugar syrup, Grand Poppy Liquor, walnut bitters, angostura bitters and brûléed marshmallow garnish.
Surrounded with lush greenery, citrus trees, hot-dipped metal chairs, and geometric-shaped lighting fixtures, CUCINA enoteca Del Mar’s second-story open-air garden patio is the place to see and be seen this summer. A feast for the palate and the eyes, guests can enjoy a unique outdoor dining experience while sampling the freshest dishes including stuffed fried squash blossoms and lemon roasted beet and avocado salad. To top it all off, happy hour is offered seven days a week from 3-6pm, and the patio is pet friendly, so furry friends can join the fun as well. The social hotspot also recently took home honors for Gayot’s 2014 Hot 25 Restaurants in the US, Open Table’s 2014 Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants, and Eater’s “Stone Cold Stunner” for its jaw-dropping design. (2730 Via de La Valle | www.cucinaenoteca.com | 858.704.4500)
The Happiest Hours Are the Ones That Go Late
Long day have you missing out on the average 4 to 7PM happy hour? Think again. We’ve compiled some of the best late night menus in San Diego that prove that the happiest hours occur after the sun goes down.
Monday’s are hard and Union Kitchen & Tap Encinitas understands that. Cure your Monday blues with an all-night happy hour from 3PM to close. Put your feet up and relax as you enjoy $4 and $5 draft beer, $6 select wines, $2 off craft cocktails and $10 flatbreads right up until the bar lights flash and the bartender closes shop.
Late night food AND $2 local drafts? You heard that right! Calling all local craft beer lovers, skip that load of laundry and use your $2 to dive down with Duck Dive in Pacific Beach every Tuesday night from 9PM to close. They’re home to the best local brews at the best local prices.
You’re not going to want to miss the happiest of all hours on Tuesday’s from 5:30PM to close at Pillbox Tavern. Head to this retro modern beach bar for some cheap after sunset coastal American fare. The $3 Steak & Chicken Tacos, $4 Mahi & Fried Cod Tacos, $4 XX Lagers and $6 Pillbox Margaritas will make you want Tuesday night last past the iconic Semisonic “Closing Time” song.
Time to rewind! Thirsty Thursday just got that much more thirst quenching with a reverse happy hour from 9:30PM to close at Uptown Tavern. Cap the end of the night with a $3 street tacos, $7 select small plates like the juicy Angus Chuck Beef Sliders and wash it all down with a $4 well drink, domestic draft or house wine.
Weekend warriors unite! Union Kitchen & Tap Gaslamp is now offering a brand new late night menu from 10PM to 12AM on Friday and Saturday. Satisfy those drunchies after a long day of drinking with an order of Union Sliders, BBQ Chicken Flatbread, Meatball Sub or fill up on a Mini Short Rib Taco hot and ready until midnight.
If you’re in North Park when the street lights turn on this weekend, Wang’s North Park is there to feed your need for some nighttime bites and beers. Wang’s late night happy hour runs from 9:30PM to 11:30PM on Friday and Saturdays. Grab some discounted steamed bun taco’s and end your evening the best way possible, with $1 sake shots and $3 Kirin drafts. altstrat
California’s Favorite Bakery Specializing in Classic, Made-From-Scratch DessertsAnnounces Opening of 14th Location
SusieCakes, an all-American, home-style bakery, announced the upcoming opening of its newest location in Carlsbad. Founded by Susan Sarich in 2006, the company specializes in an array of sentimental dessert favorites made from scratch with simple ingredients by on-site bakers. “Carlsbad is an ideal location forSusieCakes because of its close-knit, family-friendly community,” said Sarich. “We hope we can make any occasion in the neighborhood, large or small, a little sweeter.”
RoofTop600 atop Andaz San Diego has freshened up their breakfast, brunch and lunch menus with tasty new dishes created by the hotel’s Chef de Cuisine Laura de Martin. The highly anticipated refreshed menus feature an eclectic range of delectable dishes made from organic, locally-sourced ingredients. While taking in panoramic city views, guests will enjoy new dishes like the Drunken Chicken Sandwich made with beer braised pulled chicken, avocado chili crema and pickled onion served on a brioche bun or the Chicken Enchilada Omelet, a flavor-packed combination of shredded chicken, pepper jack, hatch peppers and enchilada sauce. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy old favorites like the Andaz Bananas Foster French Toast topped with caramelized bananas and maple cream!
Award-Winning Bartender Eric Johnson Joins Juniper and Ivy
Local cocktail curator Eric Johnson will join the team at NoLI-situated Juniper and Ivy as the restaurant’s new bar manager. Johnson will be responsible for transforming the current cocktail program, training staff and creating palatable synergy between bar and kitchen—working with Chef Richard Blais and the culinary team to inspire a complementary stream of innovative beverages.
“I’m looking forward to working with a restaurant of this caliber alongside some of the most creative powerhouses in the culinary industry,” says Johnson. “The groundwork they’ve set inspires me to match their creativity.”
“Adding a bartender of such high caliber of artistic creativity will provide us with an opportunity to further elevate the cocktail program at Juniper and Ivy,” adds Juniper & Ivy owner Mike Rosen. “We look forward to the ways in which Eric will work collaboratively with our culinary team to craft innovative cocktails intended to seamlessly complement the kitchen’s ‘left coast’ cuisine.”
HILTON SAN DIEGO RESORT & SPA SPRINGS INTO THE SEASON WITH CULINARY ADVENTURES AND A SPRING BREAK PACKAGE
Easter Brunch Includes Beautiful Mission Bay Views
While March means spring is just around the corner, this “thawing out” month around the rest of the country usually just brings “more of the same” to sunny San Diego. To help guests emerge from the chill of winter, Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa offers a March culinary line up that will bring a warmth to your spirit. The resort then springs into April with a festive Easter Brunch and the idyllic family Spring Break Package.
Award-winning Executive Chef Hermann Schaefer’s March culinary calendar kicks off with merriment, and concludes with style. His March culinary offerings include:
March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day
They say everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day and The Olive Lounge is inviting all to come spin yarns and spout witticisms at its all-day Luck of the Irish celebration. Libations include such offerings as Green Beer, The Emerald (Irish whiskey, Vermouth, orange bitters), The Weeski (Irish whiskey, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, orange bitters) and The Copywriter (Irish whiskey, fresh lemon juice, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, honey syrup and seltzer). The menu features Irish Grilled Cheese complete with bread-and-butter pickles and Irish Lamb Stew (recipes available).
As San Diego gets warmer, you might be looking for some tasty ways to cool down, and we have the perfect solutions! Kick that Spring Fever and enjoy the longer days and warmer nights with these refreshing cocktail recipes that are sure to cool them down in the sizzling months ahead.
Spring showers bring May flowers and West Coast Tavern’s Spring Showers cocktail brings a sweet taste just as beautiful. Made with Tanqueray gin, apricot liquor, celery syrup, lemon juice and soda, this cocktail is just as refreshing as its name.
Get your Vitamin D this spring with the late night sunshine and Wang’s North Park Orchard cocktail. Celebrate the citrus season and sip down SKYY Infusions Blood Orange Vodka, Benedictine, fresh oj, lime juice, simple syrup and serrano chili.
CANNONBALL TO BRING SUSHI WITH A SPLASH TO BELMONT PARK
Largest oceanfront sushi rooftop in San Diego will feature Pacific Rim Cuisine and share plates served with ocean views
Cannonball, the highly anticipated Pacific Rim and sushi concept is scheduled to open on April 1, 2015 at Belmont Park in south Mission Beach.
Created by Eat.Drink.Sleep. – the San Diego based hospitality company that manages signature properties such as Draft South Mission Beach, Tower23 and The Lakehouse Hotel & Resort – the soon-to-be largest oceanfront rooftop bar and restaurant in the city will feature three distinct dining experiences including a modern bar and lounge, Pacific Rim inspired dining space and a glass sushi cube overlooking the Pacific Ocean featuring a traditional sushi bar. Diners will find the restaurant on the southwest corner of Belmont Park above Draft on the South Mission Beach boardwalk at 3105 Ocean Front Walk.
Pacific Rim Inspired Cuisine: Cannonball will feature small plates and share plates created by Belmont Park Executive Chef Brad Wise. Share-worthy plates include chicken wings with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds, plancha skewers with lemongrass chicken, Brussel sprouts and beef tongue, along with salmon tataki accompanied by a house made tomatillo ponzu sauce and jalapeño.
BLEU BOHEME BRINGS THE CRÈME DE LA CRÈME TO SAN DIEGO WITH INTRODUCTION OF BOHEMIAN MENU
Bleu Boheme, located at 4090 Adams Ave. in the Kensington neighborhood, has introduced its 3-course “Bohemian” menu for foodies craving fancy French cuisine at an affordable price, served nightly from 5 to 6 p.m. and all night on Tuesday.
Executive Chef and proprietor Ken Irvine’s three- course Bohemian menu is available for $30 per person. First course options include escargots baked with Pernod and garlic herbed butter; salade maison, a butter leaf lettuce and basil salad dressed in a tangy Dijon vinaigrette with tapenade croutons, blue cheese, apples, almonds and fresh market beets; the soupe á l’oignon gratinèe, a French onion soup with caramelized Spanish onions, fresh herbs, beef consommé and Gruyére croutons; or a hot cup of soup du jour.
Main course selections include a choice of coq au vin, a decadent boneless chicken thighs flavored with red wine, mushrooms, country smoked bacon and caramelized pearl onions; moules á la crème d’ ail, a savory dish of mussels roasted in garlic cream, shallots and white wine with pommes frites; a sizeable New York steak au poivre accompanied by pommes purèe with fresh market vegetables and peppercorn sauce; or the boeuf bourguignon cooked with red wine, mushrooms, country smoked bacon and caramelized pearl onions. For seafood lovers, the poisson special is the catch of the day prepared “façon du chef.”
Baja Food & Wine Week at Dobson’s
Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant’s acclaimed Chef Martin San Roman, recently named a culinary Ambassador of Baja as part of the Baja California Ministry of Tourism’s Outstanding Host program, will present a week-long celebration of the cuisine and wines of the region from March 9th-14th.
The Baja French inspired dinner will feature four courses paired with wines from Guadalupe Valley, known as the Napa Valley of Mexico, including Alximia Winery, Monte Xanic and Las Nubes. The dinner is $60 per person and includes 3 tastings of wine (tax and gratuity are additional). Reservations are highly recommended.
Each dish in the celebratory menu will marry Chef Martin’s classically French techniques with select ingredients and flavors from Baja.
Limited Time Milanese Specialties and Specially Curated Trip for Two to Milan Highlight Celebration
In celebration of Expo Milano 2015, which was recently featured as the number one travel destination of 2015 in the New York Times, Monello will be hosting a celebration of Milanese cuisine and culture at its award-winning Little Italy restaurant from March 1 – June 30, 2015.
Expo Milano 2015 is a universal exposition that will take place in Milan, Italy from May 1 – October 31, 2015. The exhibition is expected to welcome over 20 million visitors from around the world as it celebrates the theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” which embraces technology, innovation, culture and creativity as they relate to food, nutrition and the plant’s precious resources.
Monello’s owners, Valentina Di Pietro and Guido Nistri, are passionate about sharing their love for the Milanese lifestyle as well as the mission and messages of Expo Milano. As Expo Milano is taking place 6,000 miles away, Valentina and Guido will bring to life the traditions and tastes of Milan to guests of Monello. Plus, they will give away a trip for two to Milan featuring an itinerary curated by the couple which includes some of their most cherished restaurants and sights from the food and fashion capital of Italy.
“Guido and I recently spent three weeks in Milan to get inspiration for the dishes we will be creating for our Expo Milano menus and to do research on the best restaurants in Milan that are included on the itinerary,” said Valentina. “Our hopes in celebrating Expo Milano 2015 at Monello is not just to send two lucky people on the trip of a lifetime, but to give our guests a glimpse into our Italian culture.
Get your margarita fix while celebrating National Margarita Day at these San Diego bars and restaurants.
Barrio Star is home to Mexican soul food and $6 Margaritas all day on National Margarita Day! Pull up a seat at this Banker’s Hill restaurant and enjoy the award-winning Roasted Jalapeño Blackberry Margarita made with Roasted Jalapeño Infused Giro Tequila, agave, fresh lime juice and blackberry puree. Additional margaritas to sip on during your meal include the Serrano Chili & Fresh Oregano, Bonita “Skinny,” Pomegranate and Blood Orange margaritas; all made with premium tequila and freshly squeezed juices.
In PB, head to The Duck Dive and order their cocktail of the month to celebrate National Margarita Day. The Dive Into Juarez is made with Avion Silver Tequila, pineapple honey syrup, lime juice and has a kick with habanero infused bitters. For something not so spicy, house margaritas are just $5 all day on February 22.
Tucked away on Felspar Street, Isabel’s Cantina is home to Latin-Asian fusion fare in PB. On Sunday, celebrate National Margarita Day with Isabel’s Pomegranate Mint Margarita made with Pom Juice, fresh lime, agave nectar and mint or the spicy Jalapeño Raspberry Margarita made with a Roasted Jalapeño infused agave spirit, agave raspberry puree and fresh lime.
Chef Deborah Scott, Executive Chef & Partner of Cohn Restaurant Group, is proud to announce a long-awaited partnership with Costco Wholesale to launch one of her most beloved culinary offerings. The immensely popular Pepita and Sesame Crusted Brie with Jalapeño Jelly and Roasted Garlic is now on shelves for retail sale at select Costco locations throughout San Diego. Previously only available to order within her restaurants (Indigo Grill, Island Prime/C Level, Vintana Wine + Dine), the new collaboration allows Chef Scott fans to enjoy her trademark flavors in the comfort of their own kitchens.
“We’ve been working on the partnership for some time so I was ecstatic to finally be able to walk into my local Costco and see my crusted brie on the shelves! It’s always been a bestseller at my restaurants so I know fans will be excited to now be able to bring it home,” says Chef Scott. “I love to entertain and it’s a perfect option for an easy party appetizer that everyone will love, or to enjoy during a quiet night at home.”
Little Italy FestaLittle Italy Festa
Sunday, October 12, 2014 from 10:00am to 6:00pm
The Little Italy Association (LIA) and a small group of community members organized a festival that celebrated Italian culture not only in the entertainment provided, on the one stage, but the types of vendors that were allowed to display their wares along India Street.
FESTA! highlights include: Little Italy Festa
- Italian food served al fresco throughout the neighborhood reflecting a wide variety of specialties
- Music on 3 stages featuring the familiar and the new
- Cooking demonstrations/contests
- Gesso Italiano (Italian Chalk) chalk art painting before your eyes;
- Chalk art for kids
- Kids Fun Zone with inflatables, face painting, balloon art
- Italian Motor Sports Exhibit featuring cars and motorbikes
- Stickball Exhibition Game
- Bocce Ball Tournament
Get my new book here, just in time for the Festa!