Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Celebrates Margarita Day

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town

What do you get when you mix tequila, orange liqueur and lime/lemon juice? Why a classic margarita of course. February 22 is National Margarita Day (NMD) and what better excuse to celebrate then by enjoying a Cadillac Margarita under the San Diego sun!

I know finding just one place to enjoy a great margarita in San Diego can be challenging. To help you out, here are a few places you can satisfy your craving throughout the county:

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town. Photo Courtesy of Prayitno.

Cafe Coyote

Cafe Coyote, located in the heart of San Diego’s Old Town, offers the perfect place to celebrate this classic beverage. For NMD 2012, you can enjoy one of 20 different flavors of margaritas for only $5 all day long. Don’t worry if you can’t make it today, they still offer a great selection of margaritas all year round, just not for $5.

El Vitral

If James Bond wanted a Margarita he would jetpack over to El Vitral in San Diego’s East Village for the delectable and $300 “El Chilango Margarita.” Made with Clase Azul Ultra, Grand Marnier 150, Del Maguey Tobola Mezcal, Palo Cortado Viejo Sherry, Lime Juice, El Chilango is a drink to sip and savor. El Vitral also has a slate of other more reasonably priced margaritas and over 250 tequilas to choose from.

Las Olas

For those in the North County, Las Olasoffers margaritas made with flavor infused in-house tequilas. Looking for something sweet? Order the fresh mango or strawberry margaritas. Feeling sweet yet desiring something spicy? Try the Pineapple and Chile Margarita for the perfect blend of spicy and sweet. With locations in Cardiff by the Sea and Carlsbad, you’ll have your pick for the most convenient place to sip and enjoy.

Casa de Pico

Casa de Pico's famous "Bird Bath margarita"

Casa de Pico

San Diego’s East County is all about “Go Big or Go Home” with its wide open spaces, mountains and lifted F-350s. Casa de Pico definitely follows this mantra with its enormous Giant Bird Bath Margarita. You might want to bring a friend (or two) with you or order one of their smaller options like the Casa de Pico Margarita, made with the same unique recipe since 1971.

There are plenty of other options for a great margarita in San Diego. Let us know your pick by leaving a comment below.

Robert Arends

Ready, Set, Eat! San Diego Restaurant Week Picks in East County

Casa de Pico's festive patio

The 7th Annual San Diego Restaurant Week, the region’s largest dining event, is just around the corner starting on January 15 and continuing through the 20th. With such a wonderfully diverse selection of eateries (over 180!) to choose from, how can you possibly narrow it down to a savory few?

A number of fine dines can be found in East County, from traditional Irish fare and zesty Mexican dishes to fresh seafood, sushi and farm-to-fork selections.

Following are my Top 5 restaurant picks in East County that are sure to please just about any pallette:

Anthony's Fish Grotto

Anthony's Fish Grotto

Anthony’s Fish Grotto

Anthony’s Fish Grotto in La Mesa is a San Diego landmark known for fresh fish and seafood (voted Best San Diego Seafood 13 years in a row), including luscious lobster, seasonal catches from local waters, pastas, Mama’s famous clam chowder and crispy fish & chips. Restaurant week dinner price: $20.

Terra American Bistro

Terra American Bistro - As Fresh as it Gets!

Terra American Bistro

At farm-to-table favorite Terra American Bistro, located in the east College District, Chef Jeff Rossman’s New American cuisine focuses on San Diego’s bounty of sustainable, organic ingredients and preparation styles from North, South and Central America. His Restaurant Week entrée menu choices include grilled local fish in a ginger-soy glaze, Karl Strauss Lager-braised pot roast and lobster macaroni ‘n cheese! Lunch/dinner prices: $15/$30.

Casa de Pico

Casa de Pico's famous "birdbath margarita"

Casa de Pico

At festive Casa de Pico in La Mesa, known for its award-winning Best Mexican cuisine, “every day is a fiesta!” As our winter weather continues to be sunny and warm, I suggest dining on the patio with its colorful umbrellas, splashing fountain and strolling Mariachis, while enjoying a birdbath margarita (or two 😉 with your meal. Lunch/dinner prices: $10/$20.

Hooley’s Irish Pub and Grill

Charming Hooley’s Irish Pub and Grill in La Mesa, voted Best Irish Pub in 2011 (San Diego Union-Tribune), features authentic pub fare and delicious traditional Irish dishes like fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, white wine chicken boxty (stuffed potato pancake) and corned beef and cabbage. Their award-winning corned beef tacos are an Irish twist on a Mexican favorite! Dinner price: $20.

Banbu Sushi delights

Banbu Sushi

The casually stylish Banbu Sushi in La Mesa perfectly melds classic Japanese design with the look of a modern bistro. Chef Horita Mitsuhiro prepares fresh sushi and a tempting new sousaku menu of original Japanese fusion creations. Dinner price: $20.

Make your reservations now for San Diego Restaurant Week. Bon Appetit from East County! 🙂

Robert Arends

San Diego Restaurant Week: Fine Dines in Coronado and East County

Two of my favorite areas of San Diego are Coronado – our postcard-perfect slice of paradise just across the bridge from downtown – and East County which constantly surprises me with its cool backcountry finds.

Narrowing down my favorite restaurants in each region wasn’t easy, as there’s a plethora of mouth-watering options, from French, Italian and some of the finest Mexican food in the County to farm-to-fork and coastal cuisine.

Blessed with a spectacular bay and seaside setting and easygoing island vibe, Coronado is a diner’s delight! My top three choices in the “Crown City” for San Diego Restaurant Week are:

  1. Sheerwater at the Hotel del Coronado is a refined, yet casual oceanfront restaurant featuring a “Fish by the Sea” menu of classic bistro-style cuisine with a focus on fresh sustainable seafood. Just steps away, the beach beckons couples for romantic strolls.

    Mistral's panoramic views of San Diego Bay.

  2. With floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of San Diego Bay and the iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge, Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort offers an idyllic backdrop for modern French delicacies prepared by chefs Marc Erhler and Patrick Ponsaty.

    Coronado Boathouse 1887 on Glorietta Bay.

  3. Coronado Boathouse 1887, located on Glorietta Bay across the street from the Hotel del Coronado, serves gourmet steaks and seafood. This “diminutive Del” is celebrating 40 years in the restaurant business and is a favorite with locals and visitors alike!

My top three East County picks are:

  1. Terra American Bistro, located in the East College District, brings farm to table dining to East County. Chef Jeff Rossman’s New American cuisine focuses on the local bounty of sustainable, organic ingredients and preparation styles from North, South and Central America.  (Bring Terra home with the chef’s new cookbook, From Terra’s Table.)

    Enjoy farm to fork cuisine at Chef Rossman's Terra Restaurant.

  2. Every day is a fiesta at Casa de Pico in La Mesa, known for its award-winning “Best Mexican” cuisine, festive atmosphere and famous birdbath margaritas [just one, please 😉 ]. Enjoy dining on the patio with its colorful umbrellas, splashing fountain and strolling Mariachis – ole!

    Festive patio dining at Casa de Pico!

  3. A favorite with locals and critics alike, the Grove Steakhouse at Viejas Casino in Alpine serves a fabulous selection of steaks, seafood, chops and delectable desserts in a luxurious setting. Go a bit early to explore the casino and outlet shops. Viejas, by the way, is celebrating its 20th anniversary!

    The Grove Steakhouse at Viejas.