5 To Try New Restaurants

bandiniFrontMediumHungry?  Just a little?

Here’s five new eateries to whet your appetite:

  • Claire’s on Cedros, an eco-friendly bakery and café, opened in Solana Beach earlier this month as the first freestanding restaurant in the U.S. to receive Platinum LEED certification. The laid back, dog-friendly restaurant offers organic eats (natch) for breakfast and lunch. 
  • Also in August, The Red Door opened in Mission Hills with affordable New American comfort food for dinner daily, lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends. Priced below $20, dinner entrees include cornmeal-crusted Cajun catfish with sweet potato-crab hash and a surf & “cheeky” turf with sea scallops, braised pork cheek, roasted garlic jus and crispy polenta.  Um, hello?  Yum. 
  • Here’s a double – Barona Resort & Casinoin San Diego’s East County opened two restaurants in July and both are great values (and good for those of us playing the penny slots).  Italian Cucina serves classic Italian dishes, pizzas, calzone and pasta all priced under $20 while Seafood Plaza offers grilled items, priced from $6.95 to $12.95, oysters at the raw bar and signature rolls at the sushi bar. 
  • In June, Cucina Urbana opened in Banker’s Hill adjacent to Balboa Park serving affordable Italian regional cuisine with a local farm-to-table ethos (no menu item tops $20). Crazy good starters include seasonal pickled vegetables, pate and other spreads served in mini mason jars and antipasti like amazing fried squash blossoms with ricotta, purple basil pesto and lemon aioli.  Innovative pastas and modern spins on classic Italian entrees round out the menu.  The restaurant is open daily for dinner. 
  • Also in June, a long-time San Diego favorite returned with the opening of Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad.  For more than 25 years, the restaurant was a fixture in Old Town and, once again, diners can enjoy the ambiance of Old Mexico with strolling mariachis, brightly colored umbrellas on a sunny outdoor patio, authentic regional cuisine and giant, frosty margaritas. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Okay, I can’t stop at just five.  Just one more because, in San Diego you can never have too many great new restaurants.  Especially when they’re serving up frosty margaritas.

  • Casa de Reyes in Old Town State Historic Park reopened in May with a new chef, menu and bright cheerful design. The restaurant has always been popular for outdoor dining so they doubled the size of the patio and added a new shade arbor and dramatic fire pits.  Salsas are made fresh daily; each burrito is served with a specially prepared sauce, and chili rellenos are made the old fashioned way with a creamy, homemade cheese sauce. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and – yes! – margaritas. 
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About Kate

I own, and use, a library card, a record player, a sewing machine and a meat smoker.  Ride my bicycle every day and will, sometimes, wear my roller skates in the house. Have a wealth of useless knowledge – for which you will be thankful when we’re teamed up in Trivial Pursuit.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego day?

Hike through the spring wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Watch the July 4th fireworks over San Diego Bay. Eat Julian Apple Pie a la mode and check out the autumn leaves. Ice skate and enjoy the twinkling holiday decorations at the Hotel del Coronado. All in the same day.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to be able to stop and restart time like that Twilight Zone episode back in the 80’s, “A Little Peace And Quiet,” but, you know, without the a-bomb at the end. Basically, I just want to avoid waiting in lines.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Brunch, without a doubt. Also, cocktails by the pool, outdoor movies in Balboa Park, scouring the swap meet for vintage finds, hanging out on the patio at the Casbah between sets, lawn games and backyard barbecues.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Give me uni plucked from the sea by local divers, a warm, crusty loaf from Bread & Cie, luscious Carlsbad strawberries, sweet local lobster in season and creamy Fallbrook avocados. And, most definitely, a grass-fed beef burger with Winchester gouda and a cold San Diego craft brew.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…

Honestly, I buy my records at the thrift store and depend on my husband to download new music. Lately he's been stacking the deck pretty heavy with 90's indie rock, bluegrass covers and drone metal.  Go figure.

For more San Diego dining dish, follow Kate on Twitter @katebuska.

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