In November 2015, The Nolen became the newest rooftop bar and lounge in San Diego’s bustling Gaslamp Quarter. Located on the 14th floor of the new Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp/Convention Center with a separate elevator entrance, the venue offers panoramic views of downtown, the Coronado Bridge and Petco Park. The craft cocktail program includes barrel-aged and draft classics and modern cocktails, while the food menu offers comfort-food-inspired classics with a selection of greens, flatbreads and snacks.
In November 2015, Entrada,a high-end Mexican restaurant, openedin Little Italy, San Diego’s hottest culinary neighborhood. Besides a seasonal menu of tacos with house-made tortillas, appetizers, salads, ceviche and desserts, the restaurant features a large central bar offering craft beer, tequila, mescal, wine and agave cocktails. A speakeasy hides behind the dining room, concealing a dark den with a DJ booth, dance floor and a different cocktail menu crafted around brown spirits and top-end brands.
In November 2015, Little Italy got sweeter with the opening of The Devil’s Dozen, a donut shop baking fresh treats daily. A venture by chef Brian Redzikowski, owner of the trendy Kettner Exchange located next door, the shop serves Madagascar vanilla, chocolate-glazed, cinnamon-sugared and old fashioned-style donuts, plus churro bites, donut holes and daily specials. Coffee from San Diego’s Café Virtuoso is also available hot or cold and can be savored while enjoying views of the bay at the store’s upstairs, open-air patio.
In early 2016, celebrity chef Brian Malarkey plans to open an expansive, new restaurant project in Little Italy. The Herb Shop will feature two concepts in one 12,000-sq.-ft. space: Herb & Eatery, a café and market offering breakfast, lunch and dinner and featuring a shop with an on-site butcher, produce, herbs, olive oils and cheese; and Herb & Wood, a dine-in-restaurant serving dinner nightly and brunch on weekends in an open-air dining area decorated with elegant lighting, a living herb wall and a garden-patio surrounded by edible plants. The restaurant’s menu will be centered around herbs, roasted vegetables, meats and wild caught seafood.
The vibrant uptown University Heights neighborhood will soon be home to Madison, a new upscale restaurant and bar slated to open in December 2015. Chef Mario Cassineri, partner and executive chef of BiCE Ristorante, will oversee the menu, which will have Mediterranean influenced dishes with classic Southern California ingredients. The restaurant will also have a full bar with cocktails, local beers and a wine program. The space’s design will feature mid-century modern and Italian décor with a Victorian era storefront, high vaulted ceilings, sky views and intricate wood joinery.
Owners of North Park’s The Smoking Goat have ventured into a second project in the trendy neighborhood. A more casual eatery located just one door over from The Smoking Goat, One Door North will feature pizzas cooked in a double-decker oven and a seasonal menu with shareable entrees, burgers, and side plates of locally-farmed vegetables. The beverage menu will include 25 beers on tap, beer cocktails, wine and craft-made ciders. The restaurant is projected to open in winter of 2015.
In winter 2015, Encontro will become the newest venue to join the North Park neighborhood’s flourishing dining scene. The design of the 90-seat space will feature found materials such as wood planks for the bar area and I-beams as bench seating. Inspired by the Spanish word ‘encontrar,’ which means to meet or to find, Encontro will be a fast-casual eatery specializing in protein and greens with 24 beers on tap, plus wine and craft soda. A walk-up window will be available for pick-up orders and late-night cravings.
Brew and Wine News
Opened in October 2015, Striders is a new downtown San Diego spot for horse racing fans. The sports bar is the only place in San Diego, other than casinos and the Del Mar Racetrack itself, where equestrian sport aficionados can wager. The two-story, upscale restaurant, bar and lounge features two outdoor areas, a large dining room and an open kitchen with chef’s tables and a horseshoe-shaped bar with 24 beers on tap along with wine and cocktails. The turf “Clublounge” on the second floor consist of a paddock bar, a wall of TVs broadcasting horse races from all over the world and balconies with panoramic views.
The uptown Hillcrest neighborhood welcomed a new craft beer hot spot in November 2015. The Brew Project features 24 rotating San Diego beers on tap, ranging from specialty releases by well-known breweries to new beers from smaller distributors all tucked into a cozy Victorian house. The craft cocktail menu specializes in locally distilled spirits and bottles of local brews and wines are available to take home. A lunch, dinner and brunch menu is also available and offers sharable plates, salads, tortas and burritos.
Uptown San Diego has become the new destination for urban wine enthusiasts. In October 2015, Négociant Urban Winery opened on North Park’s bustling El Cajon Boulevard. The winery and tasting room hosts charity and special events and shares the space with a coffee shop, Grinds & Vine, offering a lunch menu and premier Italian Lavazza Coffee. In December 2015, Vinavanti Urban Winery, the only certified organic winery in San Diego, opened a tasting room in Hillcrest. The 3,300-sq.-ft. space serves their selection of natural, unoaked and unfiltered wines, including Los Pilares “BPN,” a sparking Cabernet Sauvignon made “pét-nat” style, with four wines on tap and a rotating range of guest wines available by the glass, bottle or flight.
In December 2015, one of San Diego’s most influential breweries, Stone Brewing Co., debuted their first batches of beer brewed at the 10-hectoliter pilot brewhouse in Berlin, thus becoming the first independent American craft brewery to brew in Europe. Additionally, Stone Brewing Co. beers are now available at more than 40 locations throughout Germany, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands and United Kingdom, making the San Diego-based brand widely available in Western Europe.
Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, an iconic Gaslamp Quarter restaurant for the past 20 years, recently welcomed the acclaimed Samuel Geffroy as their new executive chef. Chef Geffroy has worked in distinguished kitchens in Europe, like Switzerland’s two Michelin-starred La Côte and at the 4-star Le Mont Paisible hotel. Chef Geffroy restructured Blue Point’s offerings with his classic French technique, bringing his fine dining experience into play. New menu items include a pan seared day boat scallops with ricotta gnocchi, bacon, Belgian endive, green apple, spinach and a citrus red bell pepper sauce and the yellowfin and Spanish octopus ‘Duo’ with swiss chard fondant and tomato confit, caper crostini and sauce vierge.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort has announced the appointment of new executive chef Todd Sicolo, who recently worked with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto at the Shelbourne Resort in Miami Beach. Chef Sicolo has held executive culinary positions at many iconic resorts including the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Phoenix and the La Costa Resort and Spa in San Diego’s North County. The chef will oversee all of Loews’ restaurants, including the elegant Mistral, and plans to make important changes to all menus.
Named one of the Best New Sommeliers of 2014 by Wine & Spirits Magazine, Tami Wong will lead the new wine program at Liberty Public Market’s in-house restaurant, Mess Hall. The restaurant’s menu will feature ingredients sourced from the market’s 30-plus artisans and vendors. Tami served on the opening team of acclaimed eatery Juniper and Ivy as Manager/Sommelier, where she garnered the “Award of Excellence” for the restaurant from Wine Spectator Magazine in 2015. Tami will pull from the market’s in-house wine shop, Grape Smuggler, curating her menu from a selection of nearly 500 bottles.
Culinary, Brew and Other Events
The 6th annual San Diego Brew Fest returns to Liberty Station on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, promising a fun-filled day of beer, food trucks and music. The event will feature dozens of local and international craft beers, as well as San Diego’s most popular food trucks. The San Diego Brew Fest’s proceeds will benefit Noah’s B-ark Pet Rescue, whose aim is to rescue dogs from shelters to find them permanent homes. Tickets are $40 for general admission and $50 for VIP; both include unlimited beer tastings, with VIP admission offering an additional hour of tasting time.
From downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter to the beaches of La Jolla and Coronado and beyond, visitors to San Diego can find amazing deals at top restaurants during San Diego Restaurant Week, from Jan. 17–24, 2016. The six-day celebration provides food lovers the opportunity to experience the region’s evolving dining scene for a fraction of the normal cost with special three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for just $20, $30, $40 or $50 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) at more than 180 participating restaurants. Lunch menus are also available for just $10, $15 or $20 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) at participating restaurants. Tickets or special passes are not required; however, reservations are recommended.
On Feb. 19–20, 2016, craft beer aficionados can celebrate the best beverages from around California and beyond at the San Diego Winter Brew Fest. Besides tasting beers from more than 40 breweries, attendees can dance alo g to the rhythms of live local music, savor local food and meet national and local vendors. The event will take place at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Outdoor Outreach and the San Diego Mountain Biking Association.
Enjoy these new and exciting San Diego dining opportunities!