The Taco Stand Downtown

The Taco StandA True Tijuana Taqueria coming to downtown!

With solid family recipes and a fridge stocked with Mexican Coca-Cola, The Taco Stand is ringing in the New Year with an announcement that deserves a fiesta! Inspired by the food stands of Tijuana, La Jolla’s favorite taquería is about to open a second location that’s guaranteed to spice up downtown’s culinary scene.

Located on 645 B Street in the heart of downtown, The Taco Stand is expected to open its doors during the first week of January. This 1,500 square foot Mexican eatery is not your regular one-stop-taco-shop. The fresh location aims to create a bright spot that will allow patrons to escape the chaotic downtown atmosphere and be transported to a uniquely-festive, south-of-the-border world.

The zesty menu, motivated by traditional Latin American family recipes, will remain the same. The eatery offers Burritos, such as the Chorizo & Egg, Al Pastor and Camaron with grilled shrimp, any time of day. Deliciously fresh items made from scratch daily also give foodies something to taco ‘bout. For example, the Nopal Taco with grilled cactus, Latin Corn on the Cob and Sonora Taco with 100% certified Angus beef.  Not to mention, The Taco Stand’s counter service makes grabbing lunch convenient for downtown’s fast-paced residents and workers. 

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Sirena Latin Gourmet Seafood

Sirena Latin Gourmet Seafood
Sirena Rockfish Tiradito

Nestled in the streets of Little Italy in San Diego, Sirena Latin Gourmet Seafood Restaurant fuses the culinary diversity of Latin American cultures for an unmatched seafood experience. With fresh, simple ingredients that create complex and exotic flavors, Sirena is recognized for its vibrant dishes in San Diego. Standout items from the chic, upscale eatery come from the Nikkei and Raw Bar. The Rockfish Tiradito, with red onion, tangerines, Serrano chile, sorrel, lime, leche de tigre and hazelnut oil, fully infuses local ingredients with an array of Latin American flavors. AltStrat

Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Java Tea Company

(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

Handcrafted tea blends emulate a premium coffee taste with the health benefits of tea!

Java Tea Co. offers the first ever coffee-inspired tea. Java Tea blends are made with organic green tea and rooibos, mixed with other perfectly selected organic and natural ingredients to create an incredibly healthy, bold yet balanced brew with twice the amount of antioxidants. “Our teas were created with both coffee and tea lovers in mind. I had the need for a healthy yet flavorful beverage, and found out through this process that I wasn’t alone,” said founder and CEO of Java Tea Co., Preston Caffrey.

(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

For seven years, Preston was mentored by one of the most sought after tea guru’s in the world, spending years together dreaming up and perfecting the incredible brew that would later become Java Tea. In 2010, Preston sold everything and moved his family of four to Italy. Breaking away from the daily grind, it was there that the “Slow. Down.” culture of Java Tea was born. It was no longer about the fast-paced coffee-to-go lifestyle, but an art of life appreciation, taking in the moment and experiencing the now. “In Italy, people come together to enjoy an afternoon espresso. It’s a big part of their culture that tea lovers crave too,” said Preston. “Java Tea is the perfect vehicle to help people slow down, just for a moment, and experience life with one another. I truly do believe that when people are present, together and connecting, they can change the world.”

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Fresh Ingredients at Galaxy Tacos

Enjoy happy hour every Monday through Thursday from 3–6pm. Specials include an $8 Classic Margarita and $1 off house wines, extra cold draft Modelo Especial, Benchmark Galaxy Corn Lager and tacos.

Taco Tuesday Takeover

Galaxy Taco has a great line-up of local Chefs and Chefs that are coming to town including:

January 5th – Jason Knibb Executive Chef Nine Ten restaurant La Jolla

January 12th – Jason McLeod Chef/Partner Consortium holdings

Galaxy Taco

Wednesday Tastings

Join Galaxy Taco beverage director Mark Broadfoot every Wednesday at 6pm for a weekly tequila, mezcal, wine or beer tasting plus two tacos for $20. Reserve your spot and join in the fun.

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West Coast Tavern Recipe

West Coast Tavern, housed in the golden-era lobby of San Diego’s historic Birch North Park Theater, stands strong as the neighborhood’s most recognizable building, but it’s what is on the inside that counts.

Have a taste of West Coast Tavern’s Maple Leaf Duck Confit with Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

Maple Leaf Duck Confit with Okinawan Sweet Potato

(serves 4)


4 duck legs

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Florent Restaurant and Lounge

(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

With its name derived from the historical architecture of the “Old City Hall” building, along with paying homage to the year the building was established, 1874, the split level venue will celebrate San Diego’s immense culinary and nightlife scene with a creative collaboration by celebrity Chef Richard Sweeney and San Diego’s premiere designer Michael Soriano.

San Diego’s culinary and social culture has evolved and with Florent, you’ll find an approachable elegance and a playful interior. From the mind of Michael Soriano, one can only imagine to experience the visually unexpected, with an organic and demure touch of glamour. “Design for me is about giving people the opportunity to reconnect to those good feelings, those good memories,” says Michael, and that sensibility will flow through the mindset of the Florent concept.

A culinary super star with a flare for the unexpected & fun, Emmy Award-winning hit reality competition show “Top Chef” contestant Richard Sweeney adds the Gaslamp Quarter to his growing culinary repertoire. Chef Sweeney will bring his light hearted, unique, and playful culinary style to the Florent menus that will feature local, sustainable and Modern American fare, complimented by an ambitious cocktail and local craft beer selection to reflect the San Diego culinary and social culture.

For more information on Florent Restaurant and Lounge or the Spring opening, please visit

Courtesy information

Florent Restaurant & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Park and Rec


Nestled in the heart of University Heights, Park & Rec’s 5,000 square foot property has been home to a variety of popular watering holes over the last 50 years. Many historical aspects of the new space have remained intact, including original stained glass windows, ornate wooden doors, and intricate molding.

Park & Rec’s in-house snack shack offers savory selections by Royale with Cheese, a food cart concept born out of Austin, Texas. Burgers, grilled cheese and tater tots reign supreme and guests can enjoy a playful assortment of classically-driven cocktails. In addition, there is a selection of wine, 12 beers on tap, and canned beers appropriately dressed in Park & Rec branded koozies so brews can cool down.

The weekends welcome a more leisurely, indulgent brunch experience. Royale with Cheese serves up an assortment of mouthwatering breakfast sandwiches complemented by Park & Rec’s ‘Liquid Brunch’ menu, which highlights five refreshing cocktails including the Bloody Mary, French 75, P&R Pimms Cup, Tony’s Margarita and the Paloma. A stellar lineup of ‘Sunday Day Camp’ entertainment is slated to include local DJs and live music.

Park & Rec is located in University Heights at 4612 Park Blvd. For more information, please visit or call 619.795.9700  by mdm/h2pr

Park & Rec on Urbanspoon

Sugar and Scribe Bakery

Offering everything from cookies and pies, to cakes and homemade marshmallows, Sugar & Scribe Bakery serves authentic Irish specialties all year long. “Every item is made from recipes of family or friends,” says owner Maeve Rochford. “My mother did not like camping, but we often set up a tent in our living room where we had “camp” food, including delicious homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate. It was so much fun!”

Poppy Seed Coffee Cake (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
Poppy Seed Coffee Cake (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

With a menu that rotates seasonally, choose from popular selling sweet treats including small personal pies as well as miniature cupcakes and carrot bundt cakes “Our mince meat pies were a holiday tradition at our home and our rhubarb pie is my aunt Margaret’s recipe,” explains Rochford. “My grandmother taught me how to make the blueberry pie when I was five. We began by going out to the bog and picking the blueberries, which are called bilberries in Ireland.”

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New Dukes In La Jolla Village

New Dukes In La Jolla VillageMuch Anticipated Restaurant Brings Views and the Spirit of Aloha to San Diego

Owned and operated by San Diego and Maui based T S Restaurants of Hawaii and California, Duke’s La Jolla officially opened its doors on November 4th. Duke’s honors Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian, six-time Olympic swimming and water polo medalist and the father of modern day surfing. Guests will get a glimpse into the remarkable life of the restaurant’s namesake as well as tap into the La Jolla beach lifestyle.

The building was designed by Marengo Morton Architects. Bill Parsons, Chairman of T S Restaurants, designed the interior with Hatch Design Group and with the assistance of Sixteenfifty on the branding. The 13,000 square foot restaurant features two distinct dining areas including the main level with seating capacity of 230 and a second level with seating capacity of 150. Both floors will offer outdoor dining. 

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To Dine For At Nine-Ten


Escape to Nine-Ten located inside The Grande Colonial Hotel for an unforgettable gastronomic experience! Executive Chef Jason Knibb passionately redefines California cuisine with eloquent presentations and spice-laden touches from his Jamaican background. By gathering veggies and herbs from a garden just outside the back door of the kitchen, Knibb honors his commitment to create innovative cuisine using only the freshest, local ingredients. Treasured dishes include Jamaican Jerk pork belly with spicy jellies and seared duck breast with an 18-year aged balsamic and duck jus. Allow the chef   to utterly pamper you, and opt for his “Mercy of the Chef” special prix-fixe and wine-pairing menu. Nine-Ten, 910 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037; (858) 964-5400;; California Modern; $$$$. ©Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego

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

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

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

Nine Ten Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My Calabrian Christmas

In this Italian-American family, food isn’t just a holiday tradition, it’s a celebration of life itself.

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

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

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

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

On Christmas Eve, we celebrate the feast of the seven fishes, a Roman Catholic tradition observing abstinence from the consumption of meat as well as a tribute to the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. It is not Christmas Eve in my family without baccalà (Italian salted cod) that must be soaked for at least two days in cold water to remove the excess sodium.

Every year, my parents and I take a trip to Little Italy, and I leave it up to my mom to pick out her perfect piece of baccalà. My mother fries the fish and tops it with fresh tomatoes, onions, Moroccan olives and hot red peppers. I prepare an easier version of this recipe, substituting Alaskan white cod for the baccalà. (See recipe). Other fish dishes we enjoy include deep-fried jumbo shrimp, calamari, sea scallops, crab, mussels and linguine with clam sauce.

Our Christmas celebration also includes a variety of nuts and fruit, including fresh figs, pomegranates, persimmons and tangelos. I also make Italian desserts, including cannoli, a fried pastry shell filled with a sweet, creamy filling of ricotta cheese and confectioners’ sugar; chocolate pizzelle, large, round waffle cookies from southern central Italy; amaretti, almond-based cookies; tiramisu, an Italian cake; and biscotti.

To fully appreciate our Christmas traditions, you need to know a little more about my family.

Born and raised in the town of Cirella, near the capital city of Reggio Calabria in Italy, my father and mother immigrated to the United States in 1957 and raised five children. Although they were far removed from their homeland, they were passionate about keeping their traditions intact.

My parents taught me that food is essential to the Italian culture and eating with family and friends is a celebration of life itself. I learned first from my father, the Italian farmer, to grow and enjoy foods in their natural state.

It was my father who started his own slow-food revolution in our family, a revolution I carry on in my family today. From picking olives and tending to his large organic garden of fruits and vegetables, including fava beans, escarole, rappini and broccoli, he cherished the Roma and plum tomatoes as his most prized possessions.

There was no such thing as fast food in our home; ingredients were simple and straightforward, yet rustic and fiery. The staples in our Italian pantry included pasta, bread, olive oil, sausage, prosciutto, goat cheese and hot peppers. Oven-baked bread with a vine-ripe tomato and a chunk of Pecorino Romano cheese drizzled with extra-virgin oil is all a Calabrese needs to stay happy and satisfied.

My mother took the fresh produce my father created and taught me how to prepare cucina Italiana by smell, touch and taste. As a child watching her in the kitchen, I was fascinated with the movement of her hands as she wove intricate details into preparing the made-from-scratch, mouthwatering meals that her mother had served, and her mother before her.

Even though none of the recipes is written down, they all remain in my memory and turn out the same delicious way every time. My mother is amazed at how I remembered everything just by watching her. She was a remarkable teacher and is still my mentor today.

I was always fascinated with how my mother described the food she prepared. For example, she could tell her pasta or pizza dough was perfect by the way it felt in her hands. She was animated with the food and emotionally attached to it, as if it had a life of its own. The day was not complete unless there was a beautiful meal on the table for her family. She infused love into each dish. That was her gift to us.

Anyone who visited was inaugurated with several helpings of handmade spaghetti and meatballs. I remember my husband, John, visiting often when we were dating, and bypassing me for the kitchen. You know the old saying: The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I met John 30 years ago in high school, and we now have two grown children — Lucia and Frank.

The food and fun doesn’t end with Christmas Day. I love to cook for my family, and we celebrate life all year long. I hope you will, too. Mangiare bene, vivere bene! (Eat well, live well!)

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)


Makes 8-10 servings

For the ravioli dough

9 large eggs (reserve two eggs for egg wash)

4 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

All-purpose flour, for dusting

In a mixer, beat the eggs and olive oil until foamy. Change to a dough hook, add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until it forms a ball. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes.


2 pounds raw, lean ground beef

9 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 cups Italian bread crumbs

5 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess water

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and incorporate thoroughly.

To make the ravioli: Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 24-by-24-inch sheet about ¼-inch thick. In a small bowl, prepare egg wash by beating the remaining 2 eggs until foamy. Brush egg wash evenly over one entire sheet, then carefully spread the meat filling evenly over the top. Place the other sheet on top of the sheet with the meat mixture and press down on the edges with your fingers to create a seal. Generously dust flour over the top of the sheet (this helps the dough from sticking to the ravioli roller).

With a wooden ravioli roller, carefully roll over the dough from edge to edge, applying gentle pressure to ensure the two dough sheets connect to make the squares. Cut each square with a ravioli cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and dusted with flour (this keeps the ravioli from sticking). Repeat with plastic wrap and flour as needed. Cover ravioli and place in freezer. Once frozen, remove ravioli squares from baking sheet and place in resealable freezer-safe plastic bags. No need to thaw frozen ravioli before cooking. Gently place ravioli in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook on medium to medium-high heat for approximately 35-40 minutes (see note) or until meat inside is thoroughly cooked. Ravioli will expand and float to the top, so be sure to use a pot with plenty of room. Remove ravioli with a strainer or slotted spoon and serve with your favorite jar of marinara sauce or my marinara (see recipe). Top with grated Pecorino Romano Cheese.

Note: Fresh ravioli take a little less time to cook, approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until meat inside is thoroughly cooked.


Makes 8-10 servings

12 medium-size ripe tomatoes, roasted (directions follow)

2 6-ounce cans tomato paste

Red wine (optional)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Chicken seasoning, to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

6 bay leaves

3 tablespoons dried basil

3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon fennel seeds (optional)

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Arrange the tomatoes on the sheet pan and roast for 30 to 35 minutes. When tomatoes have cooled, remove peel, core and purée in small batches in a blender.

Transfer tomato purée to a large saucepan. Bring to a slow boil and add tomato paste. Using a whisk, add water until you reach desired consistency. (I like to substitute a bit of red wine for some of the water). Add remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat covered for about 25 to 30 minutes.

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)


Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

6 Alaskan white cod fillets (6 ounces each) (boneless and skinless)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

1 large white onion, sliced

6 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped

11/2 cups Moroccan olives, pitted

Handful of hot red peppers (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place fish in baking dish. Season fish with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Scatter garlic and onions over the top. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Remove from oven and top with tomatoes, olives and red peppers. Cover and let rest 5 minutes before serving.


Serves 8

8 store-bought cannoli shells

2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Juice of 1 orange

Zest of 1 orange

1 tablespoon amaretto

1/4 cup chocolate chips, finely chopped

1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped

1/4 cup dried Bing cherries, finely chopped

8 maraschino cherries, halved

Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients (except shells) until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to let flavors set. Do not fill the cannoli shells until ready to serve.

Spoon cannoli filling into a pastry bag with an open tip and stuff cannoli shells. Garnish each end with a half of a maraschino cherry. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Recipes by Maria Desiderata Montana

*This story by Maria Desiderata Montana first appeared in the U-T San Diego.

New 1919 Sports Bar

New 1919 Sports BarThere’s a brand new scandal brewing in the Gaslamp, and its namesake is 1919. Due to open in February of next year, 1919 will be a different kind of neighborhood sports bar, offering a down-home vibe with local comforts and a few added twists to stir the imaginations of its many anticipated fans.

1919 alludes to the year of the “Black Sox Scandal,” when eight Chicago White Sox players who were up against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series were caught intentionally losing games in exchange for money from gamblers. Conversely, a visit to this neighborhood watering hole will be anything but a gamble, offering a unique way to hear games directly from a viewer’s smartphone, to assure that each play is audible, as well as visible from one of 1919’s 25 HD TVs.

“We wanted to create a different type of sports bar experience for the Gaslamp community, one that takes our customers back to another place and time,” says partner Damon Barone. And one look at the bar menu will prove him right, with playful additions such as their Pickle Back Program, featuring several homemade pickle back selections to pair with spirits, like Woodford Rye with a strawberry pickle back, or a generous shot of Herradura Reposado with a pineapple-jalapeño pickle back.

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Moniker General at Liberty Station


Moniker General at Liberty Station

“Moniker General” Will Transform Historic Naval Building Into Open Concept Retail Store, Beer Tasting Taproom & Coffee Bar

San Diego-based multifaceted design and real estate company, Moniker Group, has acquired the lease on their newest endeavor—a formerly uninhabited historic building in Liberty Station’s flourishing north end Arts District. Located directly across from Stone Brewing Co. at 2860 Sims Rd., Moniker General will serve as a space for community and commerce, blending a modular retail store, coffee bar and beer tasting taproom in one.   

Moniker Group first made their mark on San Diego’s real estate landscape with the launch of Moniker Warehouse, a multipurpose arts and business center in downtown’s East Village neighborhood. The warehouse, which opened in 2005, serves the community as an outpost for non-profits, start-ups, artists and entrepreneurs, as well as a home for Moniker’s design and fabrication brands, ‘Moniker Design’ and ‘Moniker Made.’

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SEA180 Coastal Tavern

Sea 180
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

SEA180 Coastal Tavern

With sweeping “180 degree” views of Los Coronados (the Coronado Islands), South Bay and Mexico, the name SEA180° was coined from the expansive ocean views visible from every corner of the establishment. Located just steps from the stunning Imperial Beach sand, SEA 180 is upscale but accessible.

The restaurant is a gorgeous 10,000 square foot space comprised of both indoor and outdoor dining–including a banquet room, a rooftop deck with unparalleled coastal and inland views, and several private dining rooms throughout. Philippe Beltran, an avid world traveler who was born and raised in Paris, is best known in San Diego as the creative mind behind the Cohn’s BO-beau kitchen + bar in Ocean Beach and 100 Wines in Hillcrest. Beltran headed up the interior design of SEA 180 with an all-new design aesthetic, by combining natural and organic elements, fashioning a light and airy environment in with mixed stone and reclaimed wood. A soft palette bolsters the sky-high glass windows which highlight the restaurant’s design focal point, the picturesque sea views.

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Oceana Offers a Sense of Place

Oceana Restaurant
Auda Photography

Oceana Coastal Kitchen, a new multi-million dollar restaurant located at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in Pacific Beach embodies what San Diego is all about: the ocean, great views, beach vibes, and upscale beach food. “Mission Bay is right outside our window,” says Executive Chef Steven Reimer. “I want to evoke a sense of place, giving the menu a California feeling that’s also innovative and fresh.”
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

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