Guest Blogger

Carols and Barrels – A Holiday Beer and Wine Festival

Carols and Barrels

Carols and Barrels

Carols and Barrels, Buddy the Elf’s beer, wine and food festival of choice, is taking over the Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier on Saturday, December 3 for a holiday-themed afternoon of unlimited craft beer and wine samples, as well as small bite offerings from area restaurants. Additionally, there will be an ugly sweater contest, a special appearance by Buddy the Elf, photo opportunities with Santa, caroling, elves, reindeer games and more.

Carols and Barrels Tickets

Tickets are available for $45 for general admission, $75 for VIP and $35 for designated drivers.

General Admission

General admission tickets include: entrance from 2:00 to 5:30 PM, souvenir tasting cup for you to sippity, sip, sip from, unlimited beer and wine samples, holiday treats and small plates from local restaurants along with carols, elves and holiday cheer.

VIP Admission

VIP admission tickets include: entrance from 1:00 to 5:30 PM, one hour early entry to the fest, unlimited beer and wine samples, holiday treats and small plates from local restaurants, a souvenir pint or wine glass and private VIP restrooms.

Who Will Be There to Pour For All to Hear

Over 60 breweries, wineries and restaurants will be on-site to sample their holiday goodies. 

Participating breweries include:

Participating wineries include:

  • Coyote Oaks Vineyards
  • Casi Cielo Winery
  • Twin Oaks Valley Winery
  • Granite Lion Cellars
  • Turiya Wines
  • Martellotto
  • Sweetzer Cellars
  • Barefoot Wines
  • Quigley Fine Wines
  • South Coast Winery
  • Wilson Creek Winery
  • Ascension Cellars
  • San Antonio Winery

Participating restaurants include:

  • Aqui Es Texcoco
  • Gators Back Porch BBQ
  • Big Front Door
  • Dang Brothers Pizza
  • Senor Grubby’s
  • Primos Public Corner
  • City Tacos
  • Tostadas
  • The Cake Pop Shop
  • McGregors
  • Dirty Birds
  • Dog Haus
  • Gringas Tacos & Catering
  • Mitch’s Seafood
  • Gaslamp Popcorn
  • Food Should Taste Good

Who Carols and Barrels Help

Carols and Barrels benefits Cancer for College, which provides hope and inspiration to cancer survivors by granting college scholarships. Since its inception, the charity has granted nearly $2 million in scholarships to more than one thousand cancer survivors from around the country.

Guest Blogger

10 San Diego Restaurant Week Picks Throughout the County

San Diego’s cuisine reflects its history and culture – rich, diverse & colorful. Eat your way through the county with these 10 San Diego Restaurant Week picks.

Crushed

Let your tastebuds have a field day with a fusion of American, Mexican and Italian flavors, blended together for a unique culinary experience in the heart of Pacific Beach. Sip on an array of handcrafted mimosas, savor mouthwatering tapas and chill at this cool hangout.

Where: 967 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
> Find out more about Crushed

La Gran Terraza

LGT_FoodPhoto_2

Located on the University of San Diego’s picturesque campus, this farm-to-table bistro is a hit with locals and visitors alike. From the cozy fireplace to sweeping views of Tecolote Canyon and Mission Bay, La Gran Terraza is more than just a good place to eat, it’s a dining experience.

Where: 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110
> FInd out more about La Gran Terraza

Galaxy Taco

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We ate out @galaxytacosd.

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Cali-Baja cuisine is to San Diego what palm trees are to the beach and you can experience it at Galaxy Taco. It may sound like a typical taco shop but it tastes like a gourmet experience that will transport your taste buds to a colorful, savory galaxy far, far away. The fish tacos are a not-to-be-missed fan-favorite and when it comes to their specialty tequila menu, trust us, it’s out of this world.

Where: 2259 Avenida De La Playa, San Diego, CA 92037
> Find out more about Galaxy Taco

Mess Hall

Mess Hall - San Diego Restaurant Week

Photo courtesy of Robert Benson

A former military base transformed into a trendy town square celebrating the city’s history, make your way to Point Loma’s Liberty Station to discover the Mess Hall. This epic food hall will continuously surprise and delight your taste buds as the menu changes daily.

Where: 2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Mess Hall

Market Restaurant + Bar

This Del Mar hot spot has made a name for itself boasting impeccable service and some of the freshest and finest fish, meats and produce. Start with the Blue Cheese Soufflé & Cinnamon Poached Pears, you won’t be disappointed.

Where: 3702 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014
> Find out more about Market Restaurant + Bar

Vintana Wine + Dine

Located in an unsuspecting location of Lexus Escondido, this hot rod of a restaurant offers a tasty menu curated by local favorite Chef Deborah Scott and gorgeous patio views of North County’s rolling hills.

Where: 1205 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA 92029
> Find out more about Vintana

Rustic Root

Rustic Root

Photo courtesy of Davis Ink.

Plant yourself in the middle of the Gaslamp to discover a hip new hangout and the only rooftop dining space in the area. Surrounded by chic decorations including saucer pans, indulge in a creative menu from scrambled skillets to the RR Burger, featuring a bacon jam.

Where: 535 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Rustic Root

The Smoking Goat

A french feast awaits at The Smoking Goat in Uptown featuring sustainable and organic ingredients, boutique beverage offerings and a friendly neighborhood vibe. An optional three-course meal allows you to sample the menu and of course, there is no shortage of curated cheeses.

Where: 3408 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about The Smoking Goat

Peohe’s

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Dinner with a view 👌🏼

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It’s a San Diego truth, dinner and drinks taste better with an ocean view. One of the best places to find one is Peohe’s. Located right on the water’s edge on Coronado Island, this tropical treasure boasts a Pacific Rim inspired menu and a rockin’ sushi bar. Enjoy your meal al fresco, perfect for both a romantic rendezvous or a fun night out with family.

Where: 1201 1st St, Coronado, CA 92118
> Find out more about Peohe’s

BO-Beau Kitchen + Garden

Combining bohemian chic with an industrial vibe does not seem like an easy task, but Bo-Beau Kitchen + Garden has pulled it off beautifully. Located in the heart of La Mesa, be sure to grab a craft cocktail at the oversized handcrafted bar, and then treat yourself to the best Brussels sprouts this side of Belgium.

Where: 8384 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942
> Find out more about Bo-Beau Kitchen + Garden

San Diego Restaurant Week Details

When: September 25 – October 2, 2016
Cost: $10-$50
> Find out more about San Diego Restaurant Week

Ann Wycoff

Poke
 – The Hawaiian staple is trending in San Diego

Photo courtesy of The Lanai.

Poke photo courtesy of The Lanai.

Poke, which means to slice or cut, is a simple Hawaiian dish, traditionally made with chunks of raw tuna, seaweed and salt. But the everyday Hawaiian staple has evolved, with new incarnations popping up all over San Diego. The popularity of poke (pronounced poh-keh) can also be seen with the success of the I Love Poke San Diego event launched seven years ago by Nino “Neens” Camilo. “This event was created as our way of doing a backyard barbecue Hawaiian-style at the Bali Hai right on the water.  We’ve become one big family; chefs participate in this festival because it’s fun and there’s a good vibe,” explains Nino.

Always fresh, poke can be sold-by-the scoop at deli counters or found as an upscale appetizer at highbrow restaurants. According to Neens, different cultures have influenced on the dish. “Californians added the avocados; Asians the wonton chips, wasabi, soy sauce and more. In Hawaii, poke always comes with rice – serving it without rice is the equivalent of serving an American hot dog without the bun,” adds Nino.

Poke’s “new skool” is a diverse landscape with poke-inspired raw fish dishes with added ingredients that go beyond the traditional. Discover these top places around San Diego to get your aloha on and enjoy poke.

The Lanai

Head to this little Garden of Eden in Leucadia for authentic Hawaiian eats on a sunny patio with picnic tables. Chef Doug Moric delivers beautiful poke – we recommend the house with raw ahi with soy, sesame oil, sweet onion, scallions, togarashi, and Hawaiian salt or go Californian and add chunks of avo.

Where: 1114 N. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92204
> Find out more about The Lanai

Zarlitos

This National City family restaurant is known for its Filipino and Mexican specialties and Hawaiian-style poke.  Zariltos takes pride in their daily poke platters, offering good variety – think spicy garlic, ahi limu (seaweed), shoyu, ahi fuikake, ahi kimchi, salmon, tako and seared albacore. Not to mention Zarlitos took first place at the I Love Poke Festival in 2015.

Where: 505 E. 8th St, National City, CA 91950
> Find out more about Zarlitos

Fish 101

This local’s favorite in Encinitas, known for its sustainably caught fresh fish, dishes up sashimi grade albacore tuna poke appetizer with sesame, shoyu, sweet onion, wakame, and wonton chips, or try their poke bowl with rice, seaweed salads, fresh greens and cucumbers, perfect with a Ballast Point Pale Ale.

Where: 1468 N. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
> Find out more about Fish 101

Pokirrito

This fast-casual, build-your-own poke bowl concept comes from visionary Japanese chef Junya Watanabe. Diners move through series of stations selecting their own base (white or brown rice, or kale salad), vegetables, fresh fish, housemade toppings and sauces. You may also want to try their innovative sushi burritos.

Where: 4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
> Find out more about Pokirrito

Fishbone Kitchen

Grab a seat at the raw bar of this cool fish shop in Liberty Public Market food hall where you can enjoy lovely ahi poke presented in a martini glass.

Where: 2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Fishbone Kitchen

Chris’ Ono Grinds

This Hawaiian plate lunch eatery has poke made from sashimi-grade ahi tossed in Chris’ ono kine sauce. There’s also a delicious bowl with ahi, macadamia nuts, diced veggies all over rice, and drizzled with wasabi aioli.

Where: 4506 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Chris’ Ono Grinds

Bali Hai

Shelter Island’s Polynesian palace and iconic tiki temple since 1954 is another tropical outpost for poke. Dig into the house special, the Island Poke Bowl with ahi over rice and mac salad or savor their top-selling pupu – poke with avocado cream cheese, seaweed, masago (roe) and wontons.

Where: 2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Bali Hai

The Patio on Goldfinch

The striking Mission Hills eatery with its living green plant walls, fireplaces, gorgeous bar, and open-air patio serves up poke-style ahi tacos with soy-sambal marinated sashimi-grade ahi, Napa cabbage, crispy wontons, and cucumber salad. Delish.

Where: 4020 Goldfinch St, San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about The Patio on Goldfinch

Duke’s La Jolla

Named for the Olympic swimmer, movie star and man who brought surfing to the U.S. Duke’s just opened in La Jolla where you can sit on the swanky deck overlooking the Pacific and enjoy a little aloha. Order up the fresh poke tucked into crispy tacos with shoyu, maui onions, avocado, and wasabi crème fraiche with a Mai Tai, of course.

Where: 1216 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about Duke’s La Jolla

Chandler’s

The friendly restaurant at Cape Rey Resort in Carlsbad has a new chef, Teri McIllwain, and one of her menu hits is her take on poke. Head out to the fire pits and savor the Capeside Poke, a mélange of high-grade ahi, rainbow quinoa, Thai chili aioli, marinated seaweed, cucumber, lime and ponzu with wonton chips, perfect for a sunset snack by the sea.

Where: 1 Ponto Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92011
> Find out more about Chandler’s

Local Farmers Markets

From Hillcrest and Little Italy to Scripps Ranch, Encinitas and Oceanside, several companies are selling delicious poke to take home or eat while strolling the farmers market. Look for the San Diego Poke Company, It’s Raw Poke, and Iln Lyf Food.

Make Your Own Poke

If you want to make poke for yourself, Catalina Offshore Products reigns as the place for fresh fish. Talk to San Diego’s finest fish monger Tommy Gomes and he’ll lead you in the right direction.

Where: 5202 Lovelock St, San Diego, CA 92110
> Find out more about Catalina Offshore Products

Coming Soon

Good Time Poke

Keep an eye out for this new, casual daytime eatery in Pacific Beach that will front a tiki-themed speakeasy, The Grass Skirt, a hub for rum-inspired cocktails and nighttime fun. Opening Fall 2016.

Where: 910 Grand Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
> Find out more about Good Time Poke

Pokewan

This build-your-own poke concept, created by the owners of Love Boat Sushi, comes to Carlsbad in Summer 2016. The grab-and-go eatery will offer seven different types of fish with one special catch of the day and a variety of bases, sides, sauces and toppings.

Where: 2958 Madison St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
> Find out more about Pokeway

I LOVE POKE SAN DIEGO

This island-spirited celebration of Hawaiian culture and cuisine takes place in at Bali Hai on Shelter Island. It features Pokeland where 20 creative chefs compete for the “Best Poke” crown, and Foodland, a sampling zone with Hawaiian and Asian-inspired foods. Poke-making demos and live music add to the fun. Don’t miss this mecca for poke! And this year’s festival benefits the Ronald McDonald House.

> Find out more about I LOVE POKE SAN DIEGO

Ann Wycoff

Tiki Takes Off in San Diego

Cat Eye Club Tiki Drinks
Cat Eye Club Tiki Drinks

Tiki Drinks! Photo courtesy of Cat Eye Club

Exotic rum punches and smoking volcano bowls. Flower leis and fruit garnishes. Kitschy décor and flaming torches. Palm trees and palapa huts. Handcarved idols and Hula girls. Kool kats and kittens. The rummy Mai Tai stands as the anchor cocktail of tiki’s “hep retro” culture, but there’s also Zombies, Grogs, PainKillers and Scorpion Bowls, just to name a few.

San Diego’s tiki roots go way back to the 1950s with tiki evidence found in the architecture, art, bar scene, menus and more. And a new influx of tiki-style watering holes and eateries have recently opened their doors in San Diego celebrating this exotic lifestyle with its boozy beverages and Polynesian-inspired eats.

Old Favorites

Bali Hai Restaurant

A naval town and gateway to the Pacific, San Diego has long embraced all things tiki. Bali Hai, on Shelter Island, set the tiki tone in 1954 as a Polynesian paradise, replete with hardcarved sculptures, Polynesian artifacts, tapa cloths, and Mr. Bali Hai ceramic mugs cradling potent, rum-infused Mai Tais. Their Pacific Rim-style menu spotlights beautiful fresh fish, poke, Hamachi, papaya and shrimp salad, and more.

Where: 2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Bali Hai Restaurant

Crowne Plaza San Diego

Crowne Plaza San Diego (formerly the Hanalei Hotel) in Mission Valley is another mid-50s Mecca for tiki as it hosts the annual Tiki Oasis Convention each summer (August 18-21), drawing the country’s largest gathering of tikiphiles for pool parties and tropical fun.

Where: 2270 Hotel Circle N, San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about Crown Plaza San Diego

The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

This Mission Bay resort boasts island-inspired architecture, tropical gardens, koi ponds and a tiki torch-lit outdoor bar called Moray’s, a winsome spot for a Mai Tai and some sushi. The resort also hosts summertime luaus – Polynesian feasts with music, hula and torch dancers.

Where: 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
> Find out more about the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Kona Kai Resort & Spa

Kona Kai Resort & Spa inspires more tiki-style fun with its thatched-roof tiki bar and poolside cabanas for mojitos and Mai Tais. Belly up the bar for a Perfect Storm – Black Magic rum, ginger beer and lime – which pairs nicely with chef’s seafood poke, plump with tuna, salmon, and shrimp in sesame ginger ponzu with taro chips.

Where: 1551 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Kona Kai Resort & Spa

San Diego’s New Wave of Tiki

Cat Eye Club

While myriad bars and lounges are slinging tiki-style cocktails all over town, the Cat Eye Club offers up one of the best local tiki experiences in San Diego. Set in the East Village, a neon green tiki sign welcomes guests into the low-lit swanky lounge-think retro 50s-style, mod, pop culture tiki with its Mondrian glass wall, tiki carvings, fern wallpaper, lava lamps, and swimming fish on a flat screen.

A gorgeous hand-drawn menu helps imbibers navigate the map of fun libations with everything from Mai Tais on tap to artful group drinks like Goonies Gone Wild that arrive in treasure chests with billowing dry ice smoke and kitschy garnishes like golden coins and candy. Their cat-with-giant-eyes ceramic mugs are stylish, fruits garnishes outrageous and drinks super potent with various rums. 

As owner and dedicated tikiphile Frank Miller likes to say, “Tiki is an aloha state of mind. It’s vacation or an exotic escape from reality.” Cat Eye Club’s tropical tiki vibe is furthered enhanced by live music, karaoke weekly and island-inspired nibbles like tasty salmon poke with toasted quinoa and sesame seeds. Their must-try machetes–elongated quesadillas (housemade corn tortillas stuffed with kalua pork, manchego, and pineapple habanero salsa) – are delish.

Where: 370 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about the Cat Eye Club

Kindred

South Park’s revved-up vegan restaurant Kindred hosts “Permanent Vacation” Thursdays, a pop-up, tiki takeover with tropical elixirs and eats. Expect a rotating menu of nuclear rum drinks with fresh juices from bar whiz David Kinsey and Polynesian bites like orange miso-glazed seitin with grilled pineapple and a mango sweet potato aioli dipping sauce. Orchids and mid-century Exotica music add to the ambiance.

Where: 1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102
> Find out more about Kindred

The Nolen

The new high-design rooftop spot, The Nolen, has a tiki menu with five colorful refreshers like their Painkiller on draft with pineapple, orange, rum, coconut and freshly grated nutmeg. Or order up an off-menu Junglebird from their spirit savant, bar lead Andrew Larson. He will create a little fire element to the rum and Campari drink by igniting cinnamon. Bar grub like carnitas-jalepeno-salva-verde flatbreads or chili-glazed meatballs over Idaho potato frites soak up the rum.

Where: 453 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Nolen

The Grass Skirt

The owners of Little Italy’s social hub, Kettner Exchange, also have tiki on the brain. The Grass Skirt, their Polynesian-styled speakeasy, will descended upon Pacific Beach with a daytime poke eatery out front.

Where: 910 Grand Ave #101, San Diego, CA 92109

False Idol

Undergoing a redesign, Craft & Commerce in Little Italy will be home to False Idol, a high-design tiki bar featuring classic drinks nodding to old school tiki haunts like Trader Vics and others, curated by rum-meister Martin Cate. Their Coronado Luau Special features aged pot still rum with VSOP Armagnac, Grand Marnier, orgeat, fresh orange and lemon juice, a recipe originally created at the Luau Room at Hotel del Coronado, circa 1940s. Chef JoJo Ruiz will dish out a protein-hearty menu centered around Craft & Commerce’s new custom wood-fired grill.

Where: 675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101

It’s no wonder tiki is alive and well in sunny seaside San Diego – who doesn’t love good food, potent rum drinks in funny mugs, and uplifting music in a tropical ambiance. Exploring San Diego’s tiki culture and scene reveals that it’s not just a trend or lifestyle, it’s a state of mind.

Ann Wycoff

Local Favorites in San Diego’s East Village

Quartyard-1200x630

Downtown San Diego keeps evolving and expanding as different parts of city find their identities and offer exceptional experiences. In recent years, the East Village has truly transformed into a dynamic part of town with a mélange of new restaurants, coffee houses, cafes and bars fueling the scene. From fast casual

to fancy, here’s a guide to local favorites in the East Village.

A Day of Dining in East Village

Copa Vida

Start the day with a single origin espresso or exotic tea, along with an order of chorizo egg hash with jalapeno cilantro sauce. Lunch means turkey melts, Mediterranean couscous salads, and Croquet Monsieurs. The airy bright modern space also offers barista classes in coffee brewing, latte art and tea education.

Where: 905 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Copa Vida

Lucky Lunch Counter

For breakfast all-day or a low-fi lunch, retro diner Lucky Lunch Counter is home to a seriously good pastrami sandwich, ballpark hot dogs (nodding to the baseball-themed interior) and build-your-own salads.

Where: 338 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Lucky Lunch Counter

Rare Form & Fairweather

The Petco Park-adjacent deli and bar, Rare Form, serves up grilled cheese on rustic sourdough, seasonal sausages, and Cuban sandwiches, along with innovative craft cocktails like their herbaceous Basil G&T. After dining, trot upstairs to their gorgeous tropical bar overlooking Petco Park, Fairweather, for a rum grog or planter’s punch.

Where: 793 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Rare Form & Fairweather

Padres Game Day Eats

Bub’s at the Ballpark

A bustling hub for Padres’ fans that serves food late! Bub’s boasts the best chicken wings in the city – recommended with their Carolina Gold (barbecue with honey) or mango habanero sauces. There’s also corn dogs, sliders, tater tots, indoor basketball hoops, beer galore, game day specials and flat screens at every turn.

Where: 715 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Bub’s at the Ballpark

Quartyard

Before heading over to Petco, stop by Quartyard,an Urban Park constructed from repurposed shipping containers, for pre-game eats from food trucks and Sausage & Meat, craft beer, cocktails, and backyard games.

Where: 1102 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Quartyard

The Blind Burro

The Blind Burro, another high energy, bar-centric spot, spins out Baja-style coastal cuisine, cervezas and fine tequila. Try the salsa flights, rib-eye carne asada tacos, Mexican white shrimp and scallop ceviche, and their sweet potato-chorizo taquitos, paired with a Burro margarita with muddled jalapeno.

Where: 639 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Blind Burro

Salazar’s

For traditional Mexican, Salazar’s has been a family owned institution in the East Village since 1972. Think cheap beers, pollo asada burritos and shredded beef tacos.

Where: 1502 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Salazar’s

Hive Sushi Lounge

College kids flock to the Hive Sushi Lounge (1409 C St.), a cheap and cheerful haunt open nightly.

Where: 1409 C St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Hive Sushi Lounge

Basic

Another East Village anchor, Basic, is a lively lounge-y warehouse packed with locals enjoying thin-crusted pizzas, craft brews, cocktails, billiards and good music into the wee hours of night.

Where: 410 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Basic

On the Edge of East Village

Monkey Paw Brewing Company

On the outer edge of the East Village, Monkey Paw is a casual brew pub with gold medal beers spilling from the taps and is known for their Philly cheesesteaks, waffle fries and old-school jukebox.

Where: 805 16th St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Monkey Paw Brewing Company

Stella Public House & Halcyon

An artisanal farm-to-pizza concept coupled with 20+ craft beers and an open-air chill vibe makes Stella Public House another East

Village favorite. Not to mention it shares the space with Halcyon, a hipster coffee spot and bar that serves up breakfast, paninis, and coffee-based cocktails. Stella sports communal tables, wood-fired pizzas, and small plates like lamb meatballs, beet towers and speck-wrapped asparagus. Both spots overlook the greenery and public art of Fault Line Park.

Where: 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Stella Public House
> Find out more about Halcyon

A Bit More Upscale Dining

Water Grill

A mecca for seafood with a rockin’ raw bar, succulent shellfish platters, fresh line-caught fish and sophisticated wines.

Where: 615 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Water Grill

Bottega Americano

Bottega Americano also charms as a vibrant urban food hall with a whirlwind of visuals-chefs throw pizza dough and pull pies from the wood-fired ovens, ribbons of rainbow colored pasta hang on display, oysters beckon from the raw bar, salumi hangs from above, picture perfect pastries tantalize from the bakery, gourmets goods fill the market place, diners share plates at communal tables and mixologists sling scintillating sippers behind the bar. Floor-to-ceiling, black-and-white images fill the walls with 1950s glam shots from Italy. It’s a scene with gorgeous décor and truly reflects the best of the best in the East Village.

Where: 1195 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Bottega Americano

Arlene

From Motown to Trap Music – What’s Your Specialty?

From Motown to Trap Music, San Diego bars offer some great specialty nights each week.

If you’re looking for a night out with a fun theme or genre specific, here are four favorites in San Diego!

Motown Monday at Bar Pink

Motown Monday at Bar Pink

Bar Pink, located in the center of North Park, offers a great night of Motown music and old dance tracks. The bar is dark and the décor is reminiscent of the drunken elephant dream sequence in Dumbo, so you really can’t go wrong. Pink plastic bubbles adorn the bar area and black booths line one wall. Play pool or dance to the likes of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5 and Diana Ross. Songs are both originals and DJ edits of the classics so your feet will be moving and grooving all night long. Heads Up: This is a cash only bar.

Where: 3829 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Bar Pink

Trapped at The Office

Trapped at The Office

If you are a fan of bass heavy Trap music, UK Bass or Dub Step then this is the spot for you!  Every Tuesday resident DJ’s with special guests bring Trapped to The Office Bar in North Park. A small dance floor gets packed with fans of hard-hitting 808 drums and hi hat sounds.This night is unlike any other as it is hosted in a moderately sized bar rather than at a festival or large club, which provides a more intimate and engulfing experience. The bass fills the bar so be prepared to feel the music and bob your head to the beats.

Where: 3926 20th St, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about The Office Bar

Hickies & Dryhumps at El Camino

Hickies & Dryhumps at El Camino

A long time favorite of the San Diego locals every first and third Friday of the month, Hickies and Dryhumps, is a 90s only night at El Camino bar & restaurant in Little Italy. This night was aptly named for perhaps some of the behaviors of those who grew up in that era, but I won’t name names! This specialty night originated at another venue and has moved to three different locations because of its popularity. Social media reminds you every afternoon before the event to arrive early and always for good reason. The entry line will regularly be as long as the entire block! Hits from the 90s create a very nostalgic vibe for many of the guests. Everything from N’Sync to Snoop Dogg will be played with a slow jam or two to create the true 90s vibe. Be prepared to sing along. One of the pieces of this bar is the roulette and blackjack. You can either live roll the dice and try your luck, and do it at the Austrian site online roulette

Where: 2400 India St, San Diego, Ca 92101
> Find out more about El Camino

80s vs 90s Music at Whistle Stop Bar

80s vs 90s Specialty Music Night at Whistle Stop Bar

If you prefer a mix of decades, 80s vs 90s at Whistle Stop offers just that. Resident DJ’s Gabe Vega and Saul Q play the best from those decades and create a massively fun night out. Whistle Stop Bar is also cash only so come prepared.

Where: 2236 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Whistle Stop Bar

> San Diego Nightlife – The Hottest Party on the West Coast

Arlene

Fall-iday Cocktails in San Diego’s Mid-City

Holiday Cocktails - Polite Provisions
Holiday Cocktails - Polite Provisions

Warm up (or cool down) with a fall/holiday inspired cocktails.

When most people think of holiday weather, they don’t think of temperatures in the mid to high 60s…unless of course, you live in San Diego!

We may not have miles of Maple leaves changing colors on the SoCal coast or blankets of fresh snow covering the roads but we do offer some cocktails that’ll make you feel all warm and cozy inside, without the need to pull out the old leaf blower.

I’ve gathered a few places in the mid-city area that have created exceptional cocktails based on recommendations by friends in the bar industry here in San Diego so if you’re looking for something that reminds you of cozying up near the fireplace (or beachside bonfires here in San Diego), then take a gander at the following suggestions.

San Diego for the Holidays

Park & Rec’s Tiki Cocktails

Speaking of bonfires, nothing says San Diego winter like a tiki cocktail! I know it’s not your average eggnog, don’t worry we’ll get to those, but it is something you’ll want to try while playing corn hole or shuffleboard at Park & Rec, a bar that let’s you go experience recess all over again only this time with better tater tots! The Tiki Blinders, duly named after a television drama that is ironically set in prohibition-era London, is made with Irish whiskey, spiced rum, pineapple, lime blood orange liqueur and bitters. It is earthy and sweet with a slightly bitter finish. Lucky for us, there is no secret knock or password required for this delight.

Where: 4612 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Park & Rec

Polite Provisions’ Hot Buttered Rum

Polite Provisions, a cocktail bar reminiscent of the Edwardian era is located in-between the centrally located neighborhoods of Normal Heights and University Heights. It has created a delicious take on the classic holiday favorite for cold weather, Hot Buttered Rum, which is sure to keep you feeling the holiday spirit. It’s light silky texture is very easy to drink if you’re not one for spirit forward cocktails. Several spices including nutmeg and clove make this a drink that will reawaken memories of holidays past. Another notable cocktail is the Blind Date that includes a date infused rum, cream and brown sugar. Trust me, this one is way better than cousin Eddie’s nog!

Where: 4696 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Polite Provisions

Sycamore Den’s Noggin Boots & Chapman’s Fix

The final destination that has notable cocktails this holiday season is another Normal Heights mainstay named Sycamore Den. If you grew up in the 70s or 80s walking into Sycamore may give you childhood flashbacks before you even order a drink. Lined in wood and housing it’s own fireplace, Sycamore has an entire menu devoted to the cooler weather for you to enjoy. Another eggnog inspired drink named Noggin Boots, which you may do after a few of these, is creamy and slightly frothy with a touch of nutmeg. The twist to this cocktail is the coffee infused white whiskey, coffee liqueur and cacao rum that adds a slightly bolder coffee flavor.

On a more tart note, the Chapman’s Fix is served over crushed ice with “hints of apples, baking spices and America”. I’m not exactly sure what’s more American than apple pie but this just might be it. This rye cocktail also has hints of lemon, honey and cinnamon for the warmer San Diego days.

Where: 3391 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Sycamore Den

> Discover San Diego’s Dining & Nightlife Scene

John Alonge

Holiday Happenings at San Diego County Wineries

San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room - Wineries in San Diego County

San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room - Wineries in San Diego County

With the Holiday season fast approaching, what better way to start your celebration than a visit to one of San Diego County’s family-owned wineries? Many of the local winemakers host Holiday-themed activities at their vineyards, a perfect prelude to the coming seasonal festivities. Here are some suggestions for getting in the spirit while savoring local wines:

Principe di Tricase Winery and Christmas Tree Farm

Where else can you select the perfect Christmas tree while sipping wines made from Italian grape varieties like Nebbiolo and Aglianico? The owners of Ramona’s Principe di Tricase Winery also operate the Highland Valley Christmas Tree Farm on the same property. Choose a beautiful Monterey pine or a fragrant cedar from among the 6,000 trees while you enjoy award-winning wines crafted from the four acres of vineyards next door.

Where: 18425 Highland Valley Road, Ramona, CA 92065
When: Beginning the day after Thanksgiving
– Tree farm open Thursday & Friday 3:00 to 5:00 PM and Saturday & Sunday 9:00 to 5:00 PM
– Winery open Saturday & Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 PM
> Find out more about Principe di Tricase Winery and Christmas Tree Farm

Ramona Valley Vineyard Association Holiday Wine Trail

Purchase the $15 Passport for access to special tastings at 15 Ramona Valley wineries, along with a souvenir glass. Each participating winery will offer a special wine and food pairing, bottle purchase discounts and other Holiday merchandise at a discounted rate (charged at each winery).

Participating wineries: La Finquita, Hatfield Creek, Ramona Ranch, Milagro Farm, Mahogany Mountain, Lenora, Turtle Rock Ridge, Pamo Valley, Eagles Nest, Vineyard Grant James, Principe di Tricase, Highland Hills, Hacienda de las Rosas, Poppaea, Hellanback Ranch

When: December 5-6 and December 12-13
Cost: $15-$20
> Find out more about the Holiday Wine Trail

Sierra Roble & Shadow Mountain Wineries Holiday Open House

Take a drive up to the scenic mountains north of Warner Springs to enjoy a wonderful Holiday tasting experience. Enjoy a tasty bowl of posole soup at Shadow Mountain and delicious handmade tamales at neighboring Sierra Roble, paired with a variety of beautifully crafted wines.

Where:
– Sierra Roble Winers – 34810 Hwy 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086
– Shadow Mountain Vineyards & Winery – 34680 Hwy 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086
When:
Saturday, December 5
Time: 1:00 to 4:00 PM
> Find out more about the Holiday Open House

Ramona Ranch Winery Wine Crafting

Create your own Holiday ornaments while sipping delightful wines at Ramona Ranch. All classes include materials, instruction, wine and a guaranteed good time.

On Saturday, December 5th, Design Works will be on site for a wine tasting and crafting class. On Sunday, December 13th, Woodcrafter Jeri will lead participants in the creation of their own unique wooden snowman accompanied, of course, by a wine tasting.

Where: 23578 Highway 78, Ramona, CA 92065
When: December 5 & 13, 2015
Reservations: Call Teri at 619.925.5008
> Find out more about the Ramona Ranch Winery

San Pasqual Winery Cork Wreath Making Class

Make your own Holiday cork wreath at this entertaining class held at the charming San Pasqual tasting room in the heart of La Mesa. Class fee includes all materials, instruction and a glass of wine.

Where: La Mesa Village – 8364 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA 91942
When:
December 4 and December 18
Time: 6:00 to 8:30 PM
Cost: $35
> Find out more about the Cork Wreath Making Class

Edna Gutierrez

6 San Diego Restaurant Week Joints to Check Out This Year

Balboa Park Dining at The Prado -Courtesy Erik Isakson -exp. 7_2015Just when San Diego’s summer crowds start to fade, but the sun decides to stay, San Diego’s restaurants agree this is no time to rest. So they kick into high gear, to cook, prepare, boil and sear, fresh local veggies, meats and fish. All because San Diego Restaurant Week is here!

I am a poet and I don’t know it, but the truth is that it’s easy to get inspired with the delightful culinary scene that’s taking over San Diego, and it’s during San Diego Restaurant Week when locals and visitors get to try all the amazing dining options that abound. From September 20-27, more than 180 San Diego restaurants will showcase three-course prix-fixe dinner menus prepared with the best local ingredients for just $20, $30, $40 or $50 per person. Lunch prix-fixe menus are also available for $10, $15 or $20 per person.

With so many options around and just one week to spare is hard to decide where to indulge on that local fare. From new to hidden gems, to restaurants that showcase San Diego’s unique Cali-Baja scene, here are some lunch and dinner options to savor the fresh flavors of San Diego.

The Newbies

Galaxy Taco

Exterior courtesy Galaxy Taco
Lunch: $15
Trey Foshee’s Galaxy Taco opened this July in La Jolla and celebrates the culture and cuisine of Mexico with quality local ingredients.

Oceana Coastal Kitchen

Oceana patio night- courtesy Oceana Coastal Kitchen
Dinner: $30
Executive Chef Steven Riemer’s Mission Bay restaurant highlights the purity and flavors of local California produce and their commitment to sustainable ingredients.

Neighborhood Hidden Gems

The Patio on Goldfinch

the patio on goldfinch entrance
Lunch: $20
Nestled in the historic neighborhood of Mission Hills, The Patio on Goldfinch features a cheese cave, barrel-aged drinks and a seasonal food menu.

Waypoint Public

Waypoint Public Exterior courtesy Zack Benson
Dinner: $30
The relaxed bistro and beer bar in the artsy neighborhood of North Park specializes in a seasonal menu that can be perfectly paired with its wide craft beer selection.

Cali-Baja Scene

Bracero

Interior bar at Bracero courtesy Walter Wilson Studios
Lunch: $15
This acclaimed Chef Plascencia’s restaurant in Little Italy was one of the most anticipated restaurants openings of 2015 and showcases a menu that perfectly reflects San Diego’s Cali-Baja cuisine.

The Hake Kitchen & Bar

The Hake Edits-9 (1)Dinner: $50
Located in the heart of La Jolla Village, this restaurant’s Latin-inspired fare offers a modern interpretation of classic dishes.

San Diego Restaurant Week’s Get Social for a Good Cause

This year San Diego Restaurant Week & Sysco have joined forces with the “All For Kids Campaign” that aims to provide local, unprivileged children with school backpacks through a partnership with Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank’s Backpack Program. The social media campaign will give $1 for every participating tagged restaurant & hashtagged Instagram post.

> Browse 180+ San Diego Restaurant Week Participants

Brent Bernasconi

Hops on the Harbor – Craft Beer, Food and Amazing Views

San Diego Skyline & Coronado Bridge - Hops on the Harbor

San Diego Craft Beer – Check! Delicious Food – Check! Beautiful Views of San Diego from the Water – Check! These are just a few of the highlights of Flagship Cruises & Events‘ Hops on the Harbor.

The Craft Beer

Stone Brewing Co. - Hops on the Harbor - Flagship Cruises & Events

It’s called Hops on the Harbor for a reason!

Each month, Flagship features a local brewery’s line up pouring everything from famous San Diego style IPAs to pale ales to dark and delicious Stouts. During my cruise, we sipped on new (Ruination IIPA 2.0) and classic offerings from Stone Brewing Co. while also having the chance to talk craft beer shop with one of the brewers.

Ballast Point will be on tap in July and I believe it is required by law for you to try the Sculpin IPA before leaving San Diego! In August, Pizza Port will come aboard and hopefully be pouring the delicous Chronic Ale (trust me on this one).

For those indulging their craft beer friend/loved one(s), there is a full bar onboard that will happily mix up a cocktail or pour a glass of wine.

The Food

Just like its grape-derived sibling, the nuances of craft beer are best experienced when paired with delectable dishes. Flagship’s chefs know this and have prepared monthly menus that reflect the tastes and personalities of each brewery.

On the Stone cruise, I devoured amazing pulled pork sandwiches with an Imperial Mutt Brown Ale and rich chocolaty desserts chased by Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.

For the Ballast Point cruises in July, expect lighter fair and fresh fish pairings like pan seared halibut with citrus buerre blanc and grapefruit marmalade paired with a Grapefruit Sculpin IPA or grilled chicken with charred peach barbeque sauce paired with a BP Pale Ale.

Make sure you check Flagship’s website spielautomaten and view the menu before you hop aboard.

The Cruise

San Diego Skyline & Coronado Bridge - Hops on the Harbor

The whole Hops on the Harbor experience is made complete with amazing views of San Diego from the water.

Once aboard, grab beer and climb the stairs to the upper deck. Take a seat and wave goodbye to the USS Midway as the California Spirit sets sail toward the Big Bay. From there, you are treated to striking views of Point Loma, picturesque Coronado, the Coronado Bay Bridge, the San Diego skyline, and a beautiful sunset!

Make sure your camera’s battery is charged because you will be snapping a lot of photos!

If you get a little chilly and want to warm up, head back inside to dance the night away with live music…and maybe another beer! Or if you’re like me and have little to no rhthym, find one of the comfortable over-stuffed chairs and relax as the California Spirit returns to San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Hops on the Harbor Information

Where: 990 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Fridays
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Adult – $69.50
> Find out more about Hops on the Harbor