Robert Arends

Filipino Dining Delights in National City

National City has a vibrant Filipino community known for its delicious cuisine

National City has a vibrant Filipino community known for its delicious cuisine

Mabuhay! That’s Tagalog for “cheers” or “welcome.” When you visit National City, south of downtown San Diego, you’ll indeed feel welcome to this tight-knit community that celebrates its rich Filipino heritage.

There’s no better way to experience San Diego’s Filipino culture than through its mouthwatering food. Following are a few of my favorite, tried and true restaurants to try, plus a couple bakeries to satisfy those sweet cravings.

National City’s main thoroughfare for Filipino restaurants is Plaza Blvd., located just off Interstate 5 or 805 South.

A Few Filipino Restaurant Options

Pancit malabon - a yummy specialty at Manila Sunset!

Pancit malabon – a yummy specialty at Manila Sunset!

First stop, for delicious made-to-order breakfast or lunch fare, is Manila Sunset (925 E. Plaza Blvd.) which resembles a charming Filipino village inside. My fav dish is Lansilog, consisting of longganisa (Fillipino-style chorizo grilled to perfection), egg and rice drizzled with a vinegar/cucumber dip. The fresh lumpia and pancit malabon with thick rice noodles, shrimp, egg, veggies and chicharon are also delish!

Vast array of Filipino food at Manila Sunset

Vast array of Filipino food at Manila Sunset

Another great sit-down restaurant for Lansilog and other traditional Filipino breakfast combinations is Point-Point Joint (916 E. 8th St)

Tita’s Kitchenette (2720 E. Plaza Blvd.) is all about the two-item combos. For just $7 you can pick from a vast array of Filipino staples like chicken adobo, sisig (seasoned chopped pork with onions, green peppers and special seasoning), kare kare (traditional Filipino stew of ox tail, tripe and pork with a savory peanut sauce) and finger-licking good BBQ chicken skewers – the best in town!

Tasty chicken skewers at Tita's Kitchenette!

Tasty chicken skewers at Tita’s Kitchenette!

Nearby Karihan Filipino Food (2220 E. Plaza Blvd., Suite B) is also a great go-to for BBQ chicken and pork, whole(!) fried fish and piping hot sinigang (tangy tamarind soup with veggies).

Sweet! Red Ribbon mango cake

Sweet! Red Ribbon mango cake

Don’t forget dessert! Goldilocks and Red Ribbon, two bakeshops from the Phillipines, have shelves of sweet fresh-baked yumminess to choose from. Must-trys are the mango cake, ube (sweet purple yam) cake, and mamon special, a fluffy French sponge cake brushed with butter and sprinkled with cheese (yep) and sugar. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you! 😉

Candice

National Dessert Day in San Diego: All Desserts, All the Time

Extraordinary Desserts San Diego

Life in San Diego is sweet, and not just because of the great weather. When it comes to sweet treats, San Diego calls with cupcake shops, pie joints, and some of the best ice cream in the country (just ask the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine).

In fact, San Diego loves desserts so much, we have several restaurants that specialize in just that. Today you can celebrate National Dessert Day in San Diego, but you don’t need an excuse to indulge in the delicious treats from these dessert-first restaurants.

Extraordinary Desserts

Extraordinary Desserts San Diego

Pastry is art at Extraordinary Desserts

Extraordinary Desserts has been a beloved spot for decadent desserts for more than 20 years. Chef/owner Karen Krasne trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has become famous for towering flower- and fruit-topped confections that incorporate everything from rich chocolate ganache to passion fruit crème. Head to their locations in San Diego’s Little Italy and neighboring Banker’s Hill to try an elegant tart, slice of sinful cake or indulgent pot de crème.

Where:
Little Italy – 1430 Union Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Banker’s Hill – 2929 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Extraordinary Desserts

Swoon

Swoon San Diego - National Dessert Day

Tempting carrot cake at Swoon (photo courtesy of Erin Jackson and SeriousEats.com)

You can make a full meal out of just desserts at this recently-opened dessert shop in North Park. On Fridays and Saturdays at Swoon, guests can indulge with a three-course dessert flight. The menu changes often, giving you plenty of reasons to return, but recent offerings have included strawberry mascarpone gelato, stout-infused chocolate mousse and basil tres leches.

Where: 3139 University Ave., San Diego, California 92104
> Find out more about Swoon

D Bar

D Bar San Diego

“Sunshine on a Plate” at D Bar (photo courtesy of Erin Jackson and SeriousEats.com)

Fans of the Food Network will recognize celebrity chef Keegan Gerhard from his appearances on Food Network Challenge, and thanks to D Bar, locals and visitors can sample the sweet creations of this award-winning chef. Desserts range from simple milk and cookies to elaborate plates like the “d=mc²,” which is made with milk chocolate mousse, salted caramel, peanut butter rice krispies, peanut nib crumble and milk chocolate ice cream.

Where: 3930 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about D Bar

Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro

Eclipse Chocolate San Diego

Sample Eclipse’s “Three Ways” paired beer with sweet treats this National Dessert Day

Can’t wait until the afternoon for your dessert fix? Luckily, Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro serves up a dessert-inspired brunch every day until 2 p.m.  The bistro also features a monthly tasting series called the “Chocolate Threeway”: for $20, guests can join Eclipse’s chocolatier and a local brewmaster for an hour-long guided tasting complete with three exotic truffles paired with three artisan cheeses paired with three craft beers.

Where: 2145 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro

> Celebrate National Dessert Day Everyday at San Diego Restaurants

Where will you be celebrating National Dessert Day? Let us know in the comments below.

Candice

San Diego Restaurant Week 2013 Preview

Was your New Year’s resolution to start feeding that piggy bank? If you’re like me, you want to save money without feeling like you’re missing out on the good things in life, like fine dining. January is always a great time of year for money-saving travel to San Diego, when hotel rates and airfares have dropped from their peak holiday prices. And thanks to San Diego Restaurant Week, you really can live the good life in San Diego without breaking the bank.

From January 13 – 18, 2013, diners can enjoy a six-day exploration of the region’s exciting dining scene for a fraction of the normal expense.  More than 180 participation restaurants will offer special three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for just $20, $30 or $40 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) and two-course, prix-fixe lunch menus for just $10, $15 or $20 per person. Here’s a sneak peek at some notable menus:

100 Wines Hillcrest

100 Wines Hillcrest San Diego Restaurant Week

100 Wines Hillcrest

100 Wines Hillcrest will be serving up their signature crispy cauliflower with pancetta, parmesan cheese and a balsamic port reduction. Follow that up with a proscuitto pizza creatively topped with house made mozzarella and green grapes.

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House

Gaijin Noodle and Sake House San Diego Restaurant Week

Ramen at Gaijin Noodle + Sake House

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter offers one of the tastiest deals with a starter, two yakitori skewers, half bowl of ramen and dessert (like their bacon s’more) all for only $20.

Terra American Bistro

Terra American Bistro San Diego Restaurant Week

Pumpkin soup and lamb at Terra American Bistro (Photo by Paul Body as it appears in “From Terra’s Table,” Chefs Press, 2010)

For diners who want maximum menu options, Terra American Bistro in La Mesa has you covered with more than 10 appetizer options and seven entrée options, including their Karl Strauss Amber Lager braised pot roast and sinful lobster mac ‘n cheese.

California Restaurant Month

San Diego Restaurant Week is part of California Restaurant Month, occurring January 2013, when 30 destinations across California are hosting restaurant week events.  Details are available online at www.visitcalifornia.com/restaurantmonth.

What restaurants are you excited to try out during Restaurant Week?

Brent Bernasconi

September Restaurant Week 2011 Extended

Did you want to try second restaurant or did procrastinate for too long and now can’t get a reservation for the last night of restaurant week? Well fear not, San Diego Restaurant Week has been extended for a second week running from September 25th to the 30th, 2011. Now you have no excuse.

If you can’t decide, you can see all of our previous suggestions here, here, and here.

Follow this link to view the list of participating restaurants…

 

Aki

Restaurant Week Picks: Explore North County’s California Cuisine

The birthplace of California Cuisine may be attributed to Berkeley, but San Diego chefs are pushing the envelope of culinary innovation, fusing the freshest local ingredients with unexpected influences, and creating dishes that are as unique as the destination itself. Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to take in some of the freshest and most inventive flavors that San Diego has to offer.

Take in sweeping views of La Jolla Cove at George's California Modern.

George’s California Modern

If you look up “California” or “seasonal” cuisine, there should be a photo of Trey Foshee. For over a decade, the award-winning chef of George’s California Modern has been reinventing California Cuisine season after season, creating dishes that you just can’t find anywhere else. Using ingredients that are only at the peak of season, the menu changes as offerings at local markets do.

From the Restaurant Week menu, I would recommend starting with the Chino Farms Tomato Salad. What is likely the highest honor for a tomato, perfectly vine ripe picks from Chino Farms are presented with fresh basil and artfully prepared eggplant romanesco. For the main course, go with the Local White Seabass served with artichokes, baby leeks, fennel, pan con tomato, all finished in black olive oil and preserved lemon, this dish will have you savoring the last bit of San Diego’s summer. End with the Souffle Cheesecake that’ll make you want to lick the plate (but please don’t). The combination of rich cream cheese ice cream with the deep flavor of matcha streusel, all balanced with the sprite fragrance of yuzu curd and sweet Chino Farms strawberries, this fresh take on the classic soufflé will make your taste buds soar.

Nestled atop Del Mar Plaza, the views from FLAVOR perfectly compliment their inspired cuisine.

Nestled atop Del Mar Plaza, FLAVOR offers enchanting views that match their inspired cuisine.

FLAVOR Del Mar

This is the perfect occasion to try Del Mar’s hottest new restaurant. Nestled atop Del Mar Plaza with a pitch perfect ocean view, dining at FLAVOR is a full sensory experience. Acclaimed chef Jason Maitland offers a youthful and inspired approach to California Cuisine, creating a simple, yet unique blend of flavors and fragrances that are as fresh as the Pacific breeze.

Kick off your meal with the Tiger Prawn Ceviche, done up FLAVOR style with a confetti of cherry tomatoes, capers, cucumber, feta cheese. For the main course, try the Slow Cooked Scottish King Salmon, served with an immaculate ginger-soy sauce that perfectly complements the sweet and tender salmon. For dessert, go for the sweet and creamy Corn Panna Cotta, served with crème Anglaise, macadamia nut brittle, and white peach sorbet.

333 Pacific's Surf-n-Turf offerings come with a classic California sunset.

333 Pacific

Before acquiring my deep knowledge of California Cuisine (last week when I got this assignment), my impression of it was the classic Surf-n-Turf: succulent seafood and savory steaks, complemented with the finest California wines, enjoyed over sweeping ocean views in a pair of flip-flops. It turns out I wasn’t too far off. If you’re looking for the best Surf-n-Turf experience, seek no further than Cohn Restaurant Group’s inspired pier-front establishment in Oceanside, 333 Pacific.

After a walk on the Oceanside pier, warm up with the Sweet Potato Bisque with peppar vodka cream that’ll have you glowing like the sunset view from their patio. For the main course, go for 12-ounce Boneless Ribeye, an immaculate cut grilled to perfection, served with fried leeks and horseradish mashed potatoes. If you’re in the mood for a fresh catch from the surf, try the Pecan Encrusted Sea Bass with edamame bean succotash and roasted fingerling potatoes. And for dessert, what could be more classic than a Cinnamon Apple Tart, à la mode?

San Diego Restaurant Week ends Friday, September 23, so get out there treat your senses to San Diego’s best California Cuisine!

Courtney

Restaurant Week Picks: (Re)discover Some San Diego Gems

Having moved back to San Diego last year, I am still exploring the San Diego culinary scene. A foodie at heart, I look forward to experiencing some San Diego dining hot spots, revisiting well-known establishments, and discovering local gems during this year’s San Diego Restaurant Week. Here are my top picks:

Kensington Grill

Kensington Grill
My number one choice for a night out with the girls (or guys) is Kensington Grill, a hip neighborhood eatery on Adams Avenue. The award-winning restaurant from the Urban Kitchen Group is known for exceptionally executed rustic “New American” cuisine served up family-style or traditionally coursed. Their special Restaurant Week menu includes your choice of the pepper bacon corn chowder (as a starter), salmon with tomato braised cauliflower and basil butter (entrée), braised short ribs in a pinot reduction with honey glazed baby carrots (entrée), apple cobbler with vanilla sorbet or chocolate banana bread pudding with rum flambé (dessert). I’m ready to order!

George's at the Cove

George’s at the Cove – California Modern
When you think of George’s at the Cove, world-class views, romance and amazing seafood are just a few of the attributes that come to mind. So it should come as no surprise that my “date night” pick for Restaurant Week is California Modern (the main dining room at George’s). Featuring an ever-changing menu with ingredients at the peak of their flavor, California Modern claims to offer the culinary essence of San Diego on a plate.

Knotty Barrel

Knotty Barrel Gastropub
Knotty Barrel, located in San Diego’s East Village, features delicious locally-sourced traditional British pub-grub and more than 60 local, domestic and imported beers from around the world. Located in the East Village, the people-watching is top-notch. With more than 16 craft beers on tap (and a great wine selection to boot), Knotty Barrel is the perfect place for a low-key dinner-and-drinks night out with friends.

Brent Bernasconi

OB Hodad Burgers Invade Downtown

Hodad's

After starring on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (check out the video), the local favorite Hodad’s became an everyone favorite. With its new-found celebrity, the popular Hodad burger expanded into downtown San Diego.

The Surfboards Mean Something!

The new location brings all of the fun (no shoes, no shirts, no problem) and interior design of OB into downtown. The walls are covered with license plates, posters, skateboards, surfboards, and various other pieces of beach art. Even the booths are similarly designed with the “Hodad” blue benches. If you are feeling social, take a seat at the long table in the middle and get to know your neighbors.

Hodad's Menu

Of course you visit Hodads for the food, burgers in particular. The burgers stick to the basics (it took almost 30 years for Hodads to develop two nontraditional burgers and only at the request of Guy Fieri) with a hefty patty, lettuce, onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise all stuffed between a bun. You can add cheese, bacon, and another patty if you are brave (and hungry) enough. They also offer vegetarian and meatless options. Make sure to supplement the meal with some fries, onion rings, or both. Also, forgo the soda and order a beer or a real milkshake to wash everything down.

Surf Dining

If you are staying in downtown and can’t make it to OB, this is a great way to get a taste of a true beach burger without having to go far. You can find the new Hodad’s at 945 Broadway Avenue, San Diego 92101.

Brent Bernasconi

Little Britain at Shakespeares Pub & Grille

Sign to Lead the Way

Getting to the UK can be a little difficult when all you want is a good pint with some fish and chips (though that will become easier when British Airways starts a non-stop flight from London to San Diego in June).

Luckily, just on the edge of Little Italy sits the Shakespeare Pub & Grille serving up Smithwicks (pronounced more like smid-icks) and shepherds’ pie daily.

At my previous place of employment, we always went to the Shakespeare to celebrate the completion of a huge project. It helped that my boss grew up in Manchester and liked the food at Shakespeare. These pictures were actually taken at a recent lunch celebrating the completion of a project I had started for them just before I left.

Food wise, I have always been fond of the shepherds’ pie but you can also enjoy some bangers and mash, curry chips (french fries doused with curry sauce), steak and kidney pie, roast beast with potatoes, and a whole other host of British food. Since the restaurant is located in the San Diego region, they are required by law (not really) to offer a burrito, so they took the curry chips and wrapped them in a tortilla. Brilliant!

A Full Bar

A big lunch like this requires a nice cold one to wash it down. They have a full bar but it is the full list of beers from the United Kingdom and Ireland I am always (and therefore you are, too) after. The beers include Smithwicks, Boddingtons, Newcastle, Ciders, and of course, Guinness. I just discovered they have a new IPA (my favorite and a popular style here in San Diego) called Union Jack!

If you come on a sunny day (which is almost every day), make sure to sit outside and enjoy the patio with a view of downtown. If you are there to watch a soccer match, you will need to sit inside to see one of the massive televisions.

Patio Seating for a Sunny Day

On the weekends, this place can be crowded with Premier League fans cheering on their favorite team (and yes, there other teams besides Manchester United) at all times of the day. During the week, you might even find a few diehards watching the game in the morning thanks to the 8 hour time difference.

Once a month they host a very popular trivia night. I would suggest arriving early because it is standing room only. I tried to go once and arrived about 15 minutes before the start and could not find a seat. Not a bad problem for Shakespeare to have.

So the next time you have the hankering for an English day or night out, take the Underground over to Shakespeare and feel British/Scottish/Welsh/Etc! (And yes I know that we do not have the tube, but you know what I mean)

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.

Candice

San Diego: Craft Beer Paradise

There’s no doubt about it – San Diego is a beer lovers paradise! With more than 35 local breweries, our city has more craft brewers than any other city in the country. Join me on a video tour of my favorite places to sample the best beer that San Diego has to offer.