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.


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.


Restaurant Week Picks: Fabulous French Fare

Restaurant Week is great time to branch out and try something a little unexpected. San Diego may be best known for the fish taco, but why not explore the culinary landscape with a little taste of France? From downtown to North County, French delicacies aren’t hard to find in San Diego during this Restaurant Week:

Cafe Chloe charms diners in the East Village

Café Chloe

You may have a view of downtown’s East Village, but at this elegant yet casual bistro, you’ll swear you’re dining just off a Parisian sidewalk. Prepared to be perfectly authentic, their steak frites paired with herbes de provence butter, green beans, yellow wax beans and honey onions followed by their famous chocolate pot de crème is the ideal meal when you can’t decide between haute cuisine and comfort food.

Cavaillon's dining room, smoked salmon and warm chocolate moelleux


This warm and friendly French hideaway in the North County neighborhood of Santaluz recently welcomed new chef Michael von Euw. Sample von Euw’s fresh updates on classic dishes with Cavaillon’s Restaurant Week offerings, including a delicate smoked salmon appetizer, sumptuous beef tenderloin and sinfully decadent warm chocolate moelleux for dessert, and you’ll be delighted to have made his acquaintance.

Bleu Boheme in Kensington - try the escargots!

Bleu Boheme

I love this restaurant so much, I married it! Well, that’s not exactly true, but I did have my wedding there. The rustic French farmhouse setting is just as charming as the traditional peasant-style dishes. One bite of their melt-in-your-mouth coq au vin, and you’ll fall in love, too. Be brave and try the escargots – you’ll be glad you did.


Street Scene Has Whatcha Want…Whatcha Want

*UPDATE: 7/20 – Really sad news, MCA’s cancer diagnosis .  Hope he recovers completely and soon.  Naturally, this health crisis has forced the cancellation of the Beastie Boys’ Street Scene appearance as well as the rest of their tour and new album.*

Namely the Beastie Boys, MIA, Conor Oberst, Of Montreal, Band of Horses, Girl Talk, Chromeo, Ted Leo, Devendra Banhart, San Diego’s own Wavves and The Dead Weather…Jack White’s new band.  Plus a whole passel of other live acts, on 5 stages over two nights in downtown San Diego.

No sleep till...San Diego?

No sleep till...San Diego?

On August 28th and 29th from 4 p.m. to midnight, the East Village will be alive with the sound of indie (…for the most part) music.  I went last year and had an amazing time.  All the crazy kids with their goofy get-ups (neon sunglasses, short shorts) and great music, too.

This year, they’re celebrating 25 years of  Street Scene and they don’t want the recession to dampen your party spirits so, they’re offering a “Layaway Ticket” that lets you to pay for your two-day pass in two installments – half now and the rest on August 6.  Two-day passes are $122 (plus service fees, of course) and are on sale now.  One-day passes aren’t available yet but sale prices and dates will be announced a bit closer to the show date.

Click to View the 2009 Street Scene Line Up


Hotel Indigo Debuts Downtown

Hotel Indigo San DiegoShake off the last of the construction dust, it’s time to put out the welcome mat! 

The Hotel Indigo San Diego opens for business today in the East Village neighborhood downtown.  Set just a block east of the Padres’ home at PETCO Park, the hotel is San Diego’s first LEED certified hotel – one of only 19 in the country. 

Among many ecologically-friendly elements, the brand-new 12-story building was designed for green roofs seeded with drought tolerant plants.  Up on the 9th floor, the roof is home to an herb garden with basil, spearmint, rosemary and tarragon for use in the hotel’s Phi Bar and Bistro. 

Local artists, photographers and designers were brought in to help interpret San Diego’s inviting coastal culture with artwork throughout the hotel.  The most striking example is the 40-foot tall glass sculpture on the building’s western facade.  Inside, large-scale photo murals of water and native plants are installed in the guest rooms and public areas.

Indigo Gaslamp-16The hotel features 210 guestrooms(including five suites) with oversized beds, plush bedding, hard wood-style flooring and spa-inspired showers with Aveda products.  Each one boasts a 37-inch high-definition flat screen and guests are have access to free Wi-Fi in their rooms and throughout the entire hotel.

The best place to log on?  Up on the green roof at the Phi Terrace Bar where you can snuggle by the fire pits and enjoy panoramic views of downtown. 

Or, better yet, you’re on vacation!  Stow the laptop, grab a beer and watch a game down in PETCO Park.

Click to view a gallery of more Hotel Indigo photos…

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