Aki

The Finest of America’s Finest: Indulging San Diego Restaurant Week Picks in North County

What’s better than indulging in some fine dining in America’s Finest City? How about two or three decadent courses for $10 – $40? Indeed you can, during San Diego Restaurant Week, where you can taste two-course lunches from $10-$20 or three-course dinners for $30-$40. Indulgence that’s kind to my wallet? I’ll raise my fork to that any day.

San Diego’s North County doesn’t just offer gorgeous beaches, expansive vistas and charming coastal communities. It is also home to some legendary fine dining establishments that celebrate everything from inspired Mediterranean fare, sumptuous French-inspired cuisine and the freshest fruits of the sea. So put on your finest threads, and venture out for an elegant culinary experience in San Diego’s North County.

Whole-Roasted Filet of Prime Beef Tenderloin at Amaya

Whole-Roasted Filet of Prime Beef Tenderloin at Amaya

Amaya at the Grand Del Mar

Dinner only – Three Courses for $40
Feel like whisking yourself away to Tuscany? Escape to The Grand Del Mar for an enchanted evening amidst rolling hills and Tuscan style architecture. Elegance, romance and indulgence await you at the Amaya, where executive chef Camron Woods creates artful Mediterranean-inspired American classics, such as the Whole-Roasted Filet of Prime Beef Tenderloin served with fragrant red wine jus and smoked onions (pictured above). Or try the Cider-glazed Hot-Smoked Salmon with roasted baby root vegetables and celery root puree. For $25, complete your Mediterranean dining experience with wine pairings for each course, selected from their collection of fine Spanish, Italian and French wines.

Sugar Spice Salmon at Pacifica Del Mar

Sugar Spice Salmon at Pacifica Del Mar

Pacifica Del Mar

Lunch – Two Courses for $20
Dinner – Three Courses for $40
Not only was Pacifica Del Mar the site of my wedding reception, but it’s also the place to I go in San Diego when stuck with a seafood craving. Their Sugar Spice Salmon (pictured above) is the stuff of legend, and is thankfully offered on both their lunch and dinner menu options for Restaurant Week. The overwhelmingly popular choice for guests on my big day, this perfectly grilled salmon filet is spiced with a glaze that is both sweet and succulent. Often imitated but never matched in its perfection, the salmon is just one of the many reasons to try Pacifica Del Mar. Go for lunch if you want to take in gorgeous sunny views of the Pacific Ocean, but go back for dinner if you want to treat your taste buds to their chocolate filled Beignets. Served with blood orange sorbet, these Beignets could be a dangerous start to a new obsession.

Mille Fleurs

Mille Fleurs

Mille Fleurs

Dinner only – Three Courses for $40
A San Diego establishment since 1984 and winner of numerous awards (including a designation by Food & Wine Magazine as one of America’s top 25 restaurants), Mille Fleurs is the original creation of legendary San Diego restaurateur Bertrand. Nestled in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe, Mille Fleurs offers a seasonal menu of French-inspired California cuisine, featuring the freshest ingredients available at local farms and markets. For the Restaurant Week menu, chef Woesle has whipped up delectable options that beg to be seen as much as savored. Always artfully presented, a meal here is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palette. With entrée options like the Quenelles of Trout and Grilled Shrimp with Brocco Flower Risotto finished with Nettle Leaf Champagne Sauce, or the Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Prosciutto, I may need to go back a few times to try every dish of each course. Then again, this just may be the perfect opportunity to brush up on my French while savoring all they have to offer.

Which Restaurant Week options will you try in North County San Diego?

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend

1. San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival: The event, held from November 23-27 at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center features a wide variety of traditional jazz, Dixieland and swing styles, attracting jazz lovers from around the globe.

2. Holiday of Lights at Del Mar: Everyone is invited to drive their cars around the infield racetrack of the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar to view more than 350 dazzling holiday light displays. Holiday Lights runs from November 24-January 1, 2012.

3. Legoland Tree Lighting Ceremony: Tony Hawk will put down his board and flip a switch lighting the World’s Largest LEGO Christmas Tree at LEGOLAND California. After the 30-foot-tall LEGO tree is lit, fireworks will light up the sky and snow showers Park guests from above kicking off LEGOLAND California’s month-long Holiday Snow Days.

4. Julian Country Christmas and Tree Lighting: Julian comes alive during this annual holiday celebration with costumed strolling carolers, the scent of freshly baked apple pie and Santa Claus arriving aboard a fire engine for the festive tree lighting ceremony.

5. Jesus Christ Superstar: La Jolla Playhouse presents the acclaimed Stratford Shakespeare Festival Production of Jesus Christ Superstar from November 18 – December 31, 2011. This ground-breaking rock opera, which reinvented musical theatre for the modern age, tells the story of the last week of Christ’s life.

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend

San Diego Asian Film Festival

1. San Diego Asian Film Festival: From October 20-28, International film fanatics will have the opportunity to partake in one of the largest exhibitions of Asian international and Asian American cinema in North America. Along with narrative features, the Festival also showcases documentaries, short films and animation.

Harvest Festival

2. Harvest Festival: The 39th Annual Harvest Festival is kicking off of at the Del Mar Fairgrounds October 21 and running through the 23rd. The festival features more than 300 artists and craftspeople showcasing unique American handmade works, including Halloween and Christmas decor, handmade wearable art, photography, garden decorations, hand-turned wood, ceramics, jewelry, children’s toys and more!

La Jolla Gallery Wine Walk and Taste

3. La Jolla Gallery, Wine Walk and Taste: On Thursday, October 20th, experience an evening of breathtaking coastal views, exquisite art, fresh cuisine and savory wines as you stroll through the beautiful La Jolla Village and visit over 15 of La Jolla’s most prominent galleries showcasing internationally celebrated art, while enjoying various samples of crisp white and bold red wines at each gallery. As you stroll along the streets of downtown La Jolla you will satisfy your appetite with tastings of flavorful cuisine from over 20 of La Jolla Village’s finest restaurants. Tickets to the La Jolla Gallery, Wine Walk & Taste are $40 in advance and $45 on the day of the event.

Broadway San Diego: Hair

4. Hair: From October 18-23, Broadway San Diego brings the Tony-winning musical Hair to the Civic Theatre. This exuberant musical about a group of young Americans searching for peace and love in a turbulent time has struck a resonant chord with audiences young and old. HAIR features an extraordinary cast and dozens of unforgettable songs, including “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Good Morning, Starshine” and “Easy To Be Hard.”

Borrego Springs

5. Borrego Days Desert Festival: The 46th Annual Borrego Days Desert Festival is a three-day local tradition that is just abounding with colorful attractions, family fun and exciting events. This free festival takes place on Friday, October 21 and continues through Sunday, October 22. Activities include a parade, local artists, food court, mini-carnival, games, rides and much more. A fun way to enjoy the picturesque desert landscape!

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend

1. Gourmet Food Truck Festival: Pack your appetite Saturday, August 20 as Del Mar Horse Races hosts the largest Food Truck Festival. Guests will have the opportunity to sample a treasure trove of delicious and eclectic foods from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm served by Southern California”s top food truck chefs. The festival will take place in the concert area and is free with track admission.

Photo courtesy of UT

  1. 35th Annual World Body Surfing Championships: International and U.S. body surfers compete at the Oceanside Pier and Beach August 20 and 21 starting at 6:30 am. Over 300 body surfers will compete and will be judged in how well they perform in their 15 minute heats. There will also be booths from sponsors such as Bud Light, Muscle Milk, and Rockstar.

3. Stone Brewing Anniversary Party: Help Stone Brewing celebrate its 15th Anniversary with fresh kegs, online casino 10 tastings and over 40 guest breweries. Thousands of people are expected to attend and will be held on the California State University, San Marcos campus on August 20.

4. San Diego Polo Club Match: Experience Polo in a whole new way by tailgating. Pack up your car with food, snacks, chairs and sit back and enjoy a polo match. First match starts at 1:00 pm with the featured match starting at 3:00 pm. Don”t forget to partake in the divot stomp at 3:45 pm. This Sunday”s match is the Fernando Gutierrez Memorial Cup Final.

5. San Diego Padres: Ok so we”re not in the penant race, but a Padres game is always fun and this Saturday, following the game Dierks Bently will be performing and Sunday kids will receive Padres backpacks…just in time for school!

Suzzanne

5 to Try: Must See in North County Coastal

Not one thing can define North County Coastal and five spots certainly aren’t enough, but here’s my top five (today anyway) places to check out next time you are kickin’ it on or near the PCH.

Cardiff Kook photo by Gilley

1. Cardiff Kook: Have you seen this statue? What about all dressed up? Officially it’s called “Magic Carpet Ride”, however to locals it is commonly known as the “Cardiff Kook.” Good natured pranksters have dressed him up in a bikini top and pink skirt with a Lucha Libre mask or more recently as Oprah. The most memorable one for me is when the statue was enveloped by a papier-mache shark last summer. Next time you’re in San Diego, be sure to drive by… you never know what he might be wearing!

2. Boat Houses: Ahoy! The famous Boat Houses – the S.S. Encinitas and S.S Moon Light – are moored on Third St. (between F and G) in Encinitas. Built in the 1920s by Miles Kellogg (an ultimate recycler in his day) the boat houses can be seen from Highway 101 and are a rad (yep, I said it) symbol of the local beach and surf culture. They’re private residences (no public tours), but easily photographed from the road.


3. Surfing: Surfing is a huge part of the culture in North County and one of the most popular spots is Encinitas’ Swami’s. Named for the Indian-styled Self Realization Fellowship complex on the bluff, it is a great surf spot with a well defined peak and a crowd beyond its capacity. Swami’s makes just enough of a bend in the coast to pick up a little extra swell energy, so it’s always a bit bigger and better than its neighboring breaks.


4. Watching the Sunset: It goes without saying that a beach sunset is amazing to watch and in North County Coastal there are so many great spots to watch it. My current favorite is at Scripps Bluff Preserve in Del Mar.


5. Torrey Pines State Reserve: Torrey Pines is one of only two places on earth where nature lovers can find the ancient and rare Torrey Pine – the nation’s rarest pine tree. Visitors and locals alike come to hike, bike and walk around the over 2,000-acre reserve and capture some amazing shots.

Discover North County Coastal for yourself with our “Enjoy the Grand Life in San Diego’s North County” sweepstakes. Unwind during a two-night stay at The Grand Del Mar, one of San Diego’s most exclusive luxury resorts. Discover the dramatic North County coastline by air on “The Unforgettable” scenic helicopter ride for two from Corporate Helicopters of San Diego.

Suzzanne

Neighborhood Spotlight: North County Coastal

Discover San Diego’s Neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods. Be sure to check back for exciting insider tips, giveaways, and more! This week’s spotlight is on North County Coastal.

North County Coastal is made up of some of San Diego County’s most unique beach communities including Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas. With a little bit of everything, visitors can spend the day surfing at some of the best spots in San Diego County, play 18 holes at Torrey Pines, home to the 2008 U.S. Open, and dine at San Diego’s only 5 star restaurant, Addison.

Del Mar

Del Mar: “Where the Surf Meets the Turf.” Just as Del Mar has its two faces—town and country; surf and turf – it also has two seasons – summer and the rest of the year. Summer is a lively, fast-paced, crowded time with the fair running from June through the beginning of July and then the Del Mar Race Season. Races run every day except Tuesdays with concerts on Saturdays and Sundays.

Solana Beach

Solana Beach: Known for its rocky cliffs, Solana Beach is a shoppers heaven. For original art, handmade furniture and other one-of-a-kind items, visit the South Cedros shopping district. After a day of shopping Cedros, be sure to hang around and check out the Belly Up Tavern, also on South Cedros Avenue, one of San Diego’s best live music venues.

Encinitas

Encinitas: The coolest thing about Encinitas isn’t the beach itself, but the pervasive beach culture. A child of the ’60s that grew up to become a real estate gold mine, Encinitas offers the best of both worlds: the refined tastes and civic responsibility that come with prosperity and the energy and vitality that come from free-spirited ideals and attitudes.

Discover North County Coastal for yourself with our “Enjoy the Grand Life in San Diego’s North County” sweepstakes. Unwind during a two-night stay at The Grand Del Mar, one of San Diego’s most exclusive luxury resorts. Discover the dramatic North County coastline by air on “The Unforgettable” scenic helicopter ride for two from Corporate Helicopters of San Diego.

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego County Fair Opening Day

Del Mar Fair Fun Zone

While the doors to the San Diego County Fair doors officially open today at 11:00 am, the fun will begin at 10:00 am with the opening ceremonies. During the opening ceremonies, there will be entertainers, a marching band, raising of the national flag and singing of the national anthem.

After the ceremony ends you can head inside to enjoy rides, shopping, carnival games (I can never knock down all three bottles!), concerts and of course deep-fried goodness (try the deep-fried Koolaid, it tastes like a pink doughnut). For thrill seekers, try the 130 foot bungee jumping. I got a chance to jump during the Fair’s media night last week and while it looks easy from the ground, it gets a little scarier as the crew slowly raises you up to the apex. You just have to lean forward and let go!

For today you can check out the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge to see top canine athletes compete in diving, pole weaving and more (if only my dog was that well-trained). If you stay well into the evening, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo will be performing at the Heineken Grandstand Stage and Badd Co, a Bad Company tribute band at the Coors Light Rock on Stage.

For a full list of entertainment and concerts, check out the San Diego County Fair website. Also, check out our tips for frugal fair-goers.

Candice

Dining with Celebrated Chefs in San Diego

Chef Bernard Guillas at the Marine Room

Looking for a culinary experience worthy of four stars? Celebrated chefs aren’t hard to find in San Diego. Sampling the cuisine from these culinary superstar will leave no doubt that San Diego is a top-notch epicurean destination.

Artfully presented dishes are par for the course at the Marine Room

The Marine Room

A landmark in La Jolla for more than 70 years, the Marine Room may be just as famous for its notable chef as for of its spectacular surfside views. Chef Bernard Guillas was recently inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France.  Induction into the exclusive group places Guillas among iconic chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Eric Ripert and Fernand Mischler; Guillas is the only chef in San Diego to join the ranks of the 204 Master Chefs from around the world.

Excellent service matches excellent food at Addison

Addison

As San Diego’s only Five Diamond restaurant, Addison exudes culinary decadence from the moment you step through the majestic doors of The Grand Del Mar resort where the restaurant is located. Their tasting menus created by Chef William Bradley present course after course of delicious gems. Chef Bradley’s accolades include semifinalist for a 2010 James Beard Foundation award and Grand Chef designation by Relais & Château.

Chef William Bradley in Addison's kitchen

The Mediterranean Room

The La Valencia Hotel decorates the La Jolla landscape with its rosy pink façade, but the San Diego culinary scene is brimming with excitement about decorated chef Jason McLeod. The talented chef recently returned to San Diego from Chicago, where he was awarded two Michelin stars. Chef McLeod is using his culinary chops to design a new, fresh menu for La Valencia’s landmark Mediterranean Room.

Deliciously fresh ingredients shine at The Mediterranean Room

Suzzanne

Happy Hour + Warm Weather + Great Food= Arterra

Arterra's Outdoor Lounge

With the weather warming up, I’m always looking for a new spot to enjoy the warm breezes and authentic San Diego ambiance. I found just that when I recently visited the Arterra Restaurant, Bar and Outdoor Lounge at the Marriott Del Mar. The hotel, just a mile from the beautiful waves of Del Mar, recently unveiled a new look, taste and vibe for its restaurant.

Arterra specializes in contemporary, seasonal cuisine reflecting the best of Southern California. Its menu is varied and always created from fresh, local and organic ingredients. After a long day at the beach, we stopped in for Happy Hour. Their Happy Hour runs every day from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. The first item I tried was the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese. I have to say I consider myself to be a mac n’ cheese aficiando and this one lived up to my high expectations. From Loaded Fries to Flatbread pizzas, their happy hour menu is varied and delicious. All drinks are $6 for premium drafts, $7 glasses of wine and specialty cocktails go for $8. Their outdoor lounge has quaint seating options to enjoy the food and drinks and be happy you are in San Diego.

Kate

A Bevy of Easter Brunches

Hunt for Easter eggs in the gardens of Stone World Bistro!

Spring’s most decadent dining holiday is just around the corner and maybe you’re wondering where to get your eat on this Easter. Never fear my hungry little bunnies, this Easter Sunday San Diego restaurants are turning out egg-cellent brunches to tempt your taste buds. Hippity hop around town for these Easter day deals:

Coronado

  • Champagne buffet brunch in the Oceanfront Ballroom and Crown Room at the Hotel del Coronado from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. $78.50 for adults, $34 for kids ages 6-10 and kids 5 and under eat free.

Del Mar

  • Buffet brunch with complimentary champagne at Arterra Restaurant in the Del Mar Marriott from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. $49 for adults, $15 for kids age 12 and under, kids 5 and under eat free.
  • A la carte brunch with bottomless mimosas at Pacifica Del Mar served until 2:00 pm. Entrees priced from $10.50 to $21.
  • Buffet brunch on the Ocean and Sunset Terraces or à la carte brunch in Kitchen 1540 at L’Auberge Del Mar from 10 :00 am to 2:30 pm.

Downtown

  • Prix fixe brunch with bottomless champagne at Urban Bar & Grill from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. $30 for adults, $12 for kids.
  • Prix fixe brunch at Chianti from 11:00 am. $30 for adults, $12 for kids.
  • Prix fixe brunch at Bertrand’s at Mister A’s from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. $35 per person.
  • Champagne buffet brunch with appearances by the Easter Bunny at Buster’s Beach House from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. $23.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids ages 3 to 11 and kids two and under eat free.
  • A la carte brunch with live music and a free glass of champagne or dessert with each entree purchase at Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. Entrees priced from $9 to $17.
  • Buffet brunch with live gospel singers at the House of Blues from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. $40 for adults, $18.50 for kids ages 6 to 12 and kids 5 and under eat free.

Escondido

  • Buffet brunch and Easter Egg Hunt in the Stone World Bistro Beer Gardens at Stone Brewing Company from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 pm. $34 for adults and $12 for kids 10 and under.

La Jolla

  • Buffet brunch at The Marine Room from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. $55 per person.
  • Buffet brunch at The Shores from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. $42 for adults, $20.50 for kids ages 6-12 and $3 per year of their age for kids 5 and under.

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