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San Diego New Places Opening Thread, Part Deux

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By the limited power vested in me as a Chowhound, I hereby start a fresh thread of an old topic. The old thread was getting too long and cumbersome to navigate, especially on a handheld device. It can be found at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668585

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  1. Just got back from Stacked, a new burger place in Fashion Valley.

    Mr11 and I had some very enjoyable burgers, handcut potato chips, and a decent five-dollar shake. The meat was certified "Angus" (not a terribly meaningful pronouncement, but not grass-fed, might just be the first name of the source, Mr Angus A. Steer) and they didn't cook it medium rare as requested. But it was still enjoyable.

    But even more enjoyable was my first experience with something for which I've long-waited: Electronic ordering from the table. Each table has it's own iPad in a special holder, and there is custom software with which one can easily evaluate and specify a myriad of options for each menu selection. Building and ordering custom burgers, pizzas and "sausages" is easy. This is a new paradigm in restaurant service, and it's overdue.

    After our entrees arrived, for example, we decided an otra vez of potato chips was desired. A few taps, and the order was in, just like that. Food arrived in a timely manner, too.

    I'll grant you this is far closer to the gastronomic experience one expects more from Cheesecake Factory than Cafe Chloe.

    But Mr11 and I enjoyed our meals.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Fake Name

      ugh... I guess I have to add this and elevation burger to my "casual dining" burger reviews.... I think the ipad in a restaurant was started by the French Laundry by having their wine list in the ipad?

      1. re: karaethon

        There were other restaurants long before IPads were even an idea from Apple who used Tablet PCs to have their long wine list online and so that you could order wines electronically, e.g. Aureole

        1. re: honkman

          Oh. Sorry.

          1. re: Fake Name

            ?

      2. re: Fake Name

        It's a cool idea, but also means more jobs gone.

        1. re: Josh

          I ate there on Saturday, and there were two waitresses manning the bar section (where I was seated) - and were necessary to help people order using the iPads. Its not a bad concept, but I don't see using an iPad to take orders escaping the chain/fast-food restaurant arena.

          1. re: jmtreg

            Ate at Stacked Sunday night. Given how busy it was and the number of staff running here and there, it doesn't appear to have reduced their labor costs. The burger was a good burger, moist and the carmelized onions were nice. I thought the fries were really good and the butternut squash aioli was great but a tad underseasoned - not a flick of salt and pepper can't fix, but the house ranch dressing and the chili were watery and bland. The ipad order seemed like just a gimmick but you can't blame the kitchen if your order is wrong!

            1. re: sdnosh

              I got your back! If anything, it seems like Stacked employs far more people than they should. You have someone that seats you and lets you know how to order, and then someone will check on you. Most the runners seems to multitask.

              I actually prefer the iPad thing to a Burger Lounge style of ordering - the food pacing is in your control, you don't have to wait if you want another drink or want to add an appetizer, and when you want your check you can easily ask for it and get it fast. Or slow. It's up to you.

              On the flavor taste side, we both ordered medium rare burgers and both came out medium. However, somehow the burgers were still very juicy - I am guessing it had something to do with the bacon or sauteed mushrooms haha.

              I liked Stacked, don't like Fashion Valley, but if you want to eat (espeically something besides Food Court or the dreaded Cheesecake Factory ) Stacked seems to be the best bet.

              -----
              Cheesecake Factory
              2015 Birch Rd Ste 705, Chula Vista, CA 91915

            2. re: jmtreg

              Delicias and iPads:

              http://www.wineanddinesandiego.com/in...

              1. re: Fake Name

                now THAT is a decent use of technology. The rest is just gimcrackery to this old curmudgeon. I almost apoplexied during the silly order process at Puesto.

                1. re: pickypicky

                  Gimcrackery! Love it.

                  Maybe we could at least start with something simple- paying for a meal.

                  Please no longer make me wait for you to bring me a piece of paper that I'll glance at and place my card on. Then I'll wait again for you to pick it up. Then I'll wait again while you wait for the authorization (while doing all your other duties), then I'll wait again while you bring it back to me.

                  Instead, when I make my open table reservation or when I appear at your hostess stand, I'll provide you with my text or email address. As you enter our meal into your service system, it will send me a link to my very own special "shopping cart" that keeps a tally of what I order.

                  When I'm done. I'll use my device to pay you, and I'll leave.

                  1. re: Fake Name

                    That's great!! I thought it was just me!! I would rather wait 45 minutes for my appetizer (which unfortunately has happened far too often) than wait 20 minutes to pay (which also happens way to often). Sometimes, just getting someone's attention to get the check is a chore. If I'm not getting dessert, I've gotten to the habit of asking for the check at one of the waitstaff check ups and handing them my credit card when they bring the check. I've always been very, very polite about it but still gotten some odd looks. But the odd looks beats the alternative of waiting and waiting. What happened to wanting to turn tables?

        2. in today's UT

          "Alex Munoz-Suarez, chief operating officer with the Batali-Bastianich Hospitality Group, which is looking to expand its pizzeria concept worldwide, confirmed that it has tentatively structured a deal with Terramar to locate a 4,200-square-foot Pizzeria Mozza in a two-story space within the downtown San Diego building."

          Full story is here: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20...

          19 Replies
          1. re: Fake Name

            I find it hard to celebrate more chain restaurants, even with that pedigree. It's going to mean trouble for locally-owned, mom & pop places, IMO. Catering to the audience that worships celebrity chefs because they're on the tv machine is not good for the development of an authentic local dining scene.

            1. re: Josh

              I understand your point about celebrity chefs and respect that you're looking out for the local food scene. It's a shame that some cities don't get recognized for their local cusine until they do have restaurants that are run by celebrity chefs. Maybe the introduction of a place like Mozza will put the spotlight on other great local spots - like Blind Lady, Bruno or even Pizza Port. In any case, I'll admit that I'm looking forward to the opening of Mozza to see if it's as good as the one in LA. Hope that doesn't make me a sellout.

              1. re: melee

                I totally agree that the celebrity chefs associated with Pizzeria Mozza can only help elevate San Diego's dining reputation. Let's not forget about Nobu Matsuhisa and Wolfgang Puck already have a stake in the area. I would also hope it forces the local chefs and restaurant owners to step up their game in the quality of food and service they put out. While SD is no where near a dining mecca, it's been pretty fun watching the dining scene evolve for the better and so quickly in just the last 2 or 3 years.

                -----
                Nobu
                207 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

                1. re: hungerpane

                  "it's been pretty fun watching the dining scene evolve for the better and so quickly in just the last 2 or 3 years."

                  Good point, hungerpane. I've particularly been pleased with such recent additions as Cucina Urbana, Blind Lady Ale House, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, Pizzeria Bruno, and Muzita Bistro. Bravo, SD, let's keep the ball rolling.

                  Cin Cin.

                  -----
                  Blind Lady Ale House
                  3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA

                  1. re: globocity

                    Feel free to add Bencotto, Counterpoint, Alchemy, Hane, The Smoking Goat , Blue Ribbon, Farm House, Cafe 21 and the new Terra to your list for me! Yes, keeping the ball rolling would be a good thing, considering these tough economic times.

              2. re: Josh

                It's in the "tourist area" of town. I think it should be fine.

                I for one am happy with the development, but I think the restaurants coming in should be similarly high quality to Mozza.

                1. re: karaethon

                  I spoke to the developer of the Old Police Headquarters project some time ago, and expressed my concerns that it would be another tourist trap, ie, Seaport Village. I made a point to say they need to gear it towards SD residents and not just for tourists. I was pleased to hear that the model they were going for was Grantville Market in Vancouver. If anyone has been, it's a great mix of locals and tourists. Let's hope they stick to their guns and not include a Ripley's Believe It or Not or an awful aquarium!

                  1. re: hungerpane

                    I think we're safe on the aquarium angle. Sea World already has that base covered

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      Not to mention LegoLand and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography...

                      1. re: RB Hound

                        :-)

                    2. re: hungerpane

                      That's been the idea from the start. A few anchor tenants (Mozza!) and a market-y thing like San Francisco's pier marketplace.

                      But the Port District has been squeezing so hard- they believe it's buckets 'o gold- tenants like those are not really possible.

                      Glad to see they're making headway.

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        Funny, the last time I suggested that the Seaport Village/Old Police HQ Bldg would be an excellent place for something like the SF Ferry Building/Farmers Market my post was deemed inappropriate and became an unpost. I would be quite happy to see Mozza become an anchor in such a development. Too bad Knight Salumi Co. didn't last long enough to provide us something like Boccalone. We need something special in that area.

                  2. re: Josh

                    Even if it is a chain it might help to elevate the level of quality in SD if they work on a similar level as in LA. I am all for supporting local business but if somebody from outside starts a business with superior products I will also support it. Quality of product is more important to progress the dining scene than being a local. But I also think that in case of pizza we have good places which can compete against Mozza - we went recently the first time to Blue Ribbon Pizzeria and had great pizza but also outstanding appetizers.

                    1. re: honkman

                      We enjoyed Blue Ribbon a lot when we went. We also had some really good pizza last night at Calabria. Definitely worth a try if you haven't been.

                      1. re: Josh

                        We haven't been to Calabria and also Bruno yet. How do they compare since they seem to serve similar style of pizza. And how are their choices beside pizza.

                        1. re: honkman

                          I prefer Calabria. We've only ordered pizzas there. Bruno is good, too, but has a softer dough and a bit of a heavier hand w/ toppings and sauce.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Just tried the pizza at Calabria last night. Interestingly enough, my wife and I both thought that the pizza crust didn't have the same woody flavor that we would get from a Bruno pie. Their pizza seemed a lot less substantial, both in the crust as well as the toppings. (For instance, we got the "four seasons" pie, which had four toppings on it. Except they only put one topping on each quarter of the pizza, so you missed any combination of topping flavors. Made it a little bland.) My wife thought that the pizza toppings were not as hot out of the oven as a Bruno pie. The pizza also seemed to come out of the oven really fast. I'm guessing that Calabria might be running their oven at a higher temperature than they do at Bruno, which would account for the many of the differences. We both still prefer Bruno's neapolitan pizzas, but to each his own.

                            While we were eating, I noticed a delivery from "Specialty Produce" which you are probably familiar with. I know you're a big on restaurant sourcing, so I figured I'd give you the heads up.

                      2. re: honkman

                        More importantly, I think, is that burgeoning business help the economy. Sure, getting quality food in SD is a priority but I find it more thrilling to have creation of jobs.

                        Hey maybe our fine city can become a double threat of superior,local craft beer AND great pizza.

                        1. re: globocity

                          Completely agree that the economic impact of newly opened restaurants is always big independently if the owner is local or not (I can also not understand if other people write that restaurant deserve to close like in the Jake's La Jolla discussion). But I didn't mentioned it before because every time I try to write something beyond just food it gets normally deleted and I get an email from the moderatot

                  3. Arggh........Enough with the burger joints already! Habit burger opening in Mission Valley and Carmel Mountain Ranch.

                    http://www.habitburger.com/

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: hungerpane

                      So does that mean you don't want to hear about Slater's 50/50 opening up in Liberty Station. They're a growing chain out of Anaheim. Their big claim to fame is the burgers made of 50% ground chuck and 50% ground bacon. Bacon make an appearance in other menu items such as their mac n' cheese, a shake and even a brownie.

                      1. re: sdnosh

                        Wow, TWO bubbles. Burgers and bacon.

                        So tired of hearing about these.

                        1. re: sdnosh

                          I looked at the menu for Slater's 50/50. The breakfast burger is a 50/50 burger (half bacon, half beef), a slice of cheese, a fried egg, a scoop of guacamole, and some chipotle mayo wedged between two glazed doughnuts.

                          I don't know about you, but there just seems to be something deeply wrong with that....

                          1. re: wrldtrvl

                            After the fried egg, the description of guacamole, chipotle mayo and TWO glazed donuts makes the whole thing seem like it is sliding off a cliff into an ocean of molten lava.

                        2. re: hungerpane

                          I can still remember back when they were called Hamburger Habit instead of The Habit; I have fond memories from my college years in Santa Barbara. I guess they wanted people to know they were more then just burgers. Still, additional options are never a bad thing and if the new investment helps the economy then I am all for that.

                          1. re: hungerpane

                            Not to quibble about quick serve burger joints, their ubiquitous nature, or the relative degree to which they're "chowwworthy;" yet the Habit is an interesting chain in that they are the only QS joint which in my mind gives In and Out a run for their money. As such, I'm happy to see them finally make it to SD.

                            1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                              Burger Lounge?

                              1. re: Josh

                                No, I was referring to the Habit. Burger Lounge is gourmet Quick Serve and definitely chowworthy. :-)

                              2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                Dang, the Habit looks fab...love their menu and beer selection..
                                Sweet..

                                www.mylocalhabit.com

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  That's not the chain. Local Habit is new gastropub in Hillcrest.

                                  The Habit is a chain of burger joints.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    oops..
                                    Thanks Josh!
                                    Have you been to the Local Habit?

                                2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                  Update. Just ate at the Mission Valley location and unlike in Goleta, they no longer allow you to call temperature on the burger. In my mind this is key and one of the main points that kept them close to In and Out (not many know you can get a rare burger at In and Out). It would appear the new money into the chain has also come with a more defined corporate identity. Other advantages remain, salads, sweet potato fries, real avocado and bacon additions etc. keeping them a heavy contender in the Quick Serve burger category.

                                  1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                    I'm surprised that you could order a rare burger at In and Out, especially considering their patties are probably 1/8" thick. They must cook them for maybe 10 seconds on each side to get them rare.

                                    1. re: mliew

                                      It stunned me as well. They come close most of the time.

                              3. Never would have guessed that Brian Malarkey/James Brennan would ever be looking east of the 15! They are looking to take over the former Gio Bistro and Wine bar in Downtown La Mesa. Now all of the beautiful people of East County will have a place to go.....

                                http://www.lamesatoday.com/profiles/b...

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: hungerpane

                                  Wow. As you all know, I'm a big restaurant-business believer. But even I question the rapidity with which these guys are expanding.

                                  Wonder who's got the money? Must have some very good VC ties.

                                  Hey, if they can pull it off, good for them!

                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                    I agree, it's pretty shocking to see them expanding so quickly..............sorta like Subway! It's just good to see other parts (besides the urban and coastal neighborhoods) of the county getting in on the new restaurant action.

                                    1. re: hungerpane

                                      Happy to see other parts of the county get restaurant action? Me too!

                                      1. re: hungerpane

                                        Shouldn't be too shocking.

                                        1/2 of that team did the same thing with (mediocre) nightclubs before it all ended in tears.

                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                          Yep - perhaps the next bubble is restaurants.

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            Could be.

                                            We already had a boutique hotel bubble and nightclub bubble.

                                            1. re: stevewag23

                                              Food truck bubble.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                BURGER bubble. As bad as the Mac n cheese bubble of 2009.

                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                  There was a "steakhouse bubble" back in 2003-2008 during the striped shirted mortgage broker era.

                                                  Every chain steakhouse had representation in the gaslamp before they started folding.

                                                  Anyone seen LG's Steakhouse lately?

                                    2. re: hungerpane

                                      Wow, downtown La Mesa. I think that would be a very interesting location for them to take over. La Mesa Blvd. is very underrated.

                                    3. Restaurant Hinotez (mentioned in the older thread) officially opens today. I'll likely be checking it out sometime this weekend. There is a picture of the menu on the 4-letter and it seems to be all noodle dishes for now.

                                      1. And the transformation of North Park continues..............Rosaria Pizza is now The Foundry. Craft beer and gourmet fusion food(?) I've been wondering when this cool block of University Ave. would be rediscovered. The iconic Glenn's Market on the same block is moving next door to The Foundry, I hope they keep their sign.

                                        http://www.facebook.com/northparkfoun...

                                        1. Bahn Thai, which means Thai House, opened a few doors down from El Zarape in University Heights. The owners of this tiny joint (think original Sab E Lee) said they will be open everyday till 11pm....nice.

                                          1. Looking forward to the opening of Tiger! Tiger! on the ECB (El Cajon Blvd) next month. Check out their FB page to see some photos from a recent preview party during Bike the Blvd. The owners of BLAH seem to know what they are doing.

                                            http://www.facebook.com/pages/TigerTi...

                                            1. Looks like there's a new place in the Gaslamp:
                                              http://losangeles.grubstreet.com/2011...

                                              I'm so sick and tired of comfort food menus, but I know I'm still going to get suckered into trying it because of their cocktail menu...

                                              118 Replies
                                              1. re: shouzen

                                                His food at Blvd16 was really good but he cooked in an underappreciated hotel restaurant with a bad location. Not surprised he is moving. If he continue cooking like in LA it will be an interesting "competition" to Chef Graves as both have similar styles

                                                1. re: honkman

                                                  Not surprised he didn't succeed in Westwood - there's a total identity crisis with that location where the students think it caters too much to the (non-student) Bel Air residents and the rest of LA thinks it caters too much to the students...

                                                  His food looks like it's worth a visit.

                                                  1. re: karaethon

                                                    That location in Westwood is kinda a train wreck. The building is downright ugly and most locals still think of it as the old Holiday Inn. Also the demographics of the area have changed, and I am not sure that kind of restaurant would really work in Westwood now. I wish him better luck down here.

                                                    -----
                                                    Holiday Inn
                                                    1617 1st Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                  2. re: honkman

                                                    H, that is exactly my thought, that he might be a great compliment to what Cristian Graves is doing at JSix. Looks like the Gaslamp just got a bit more interesting?

                                                    -----
                                                    JSix Restaurant
                                                    616 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                      Yes, I think the Gaslamp/East Village starts to get some interesting restaurants - Cafe Chloe, JSix, Grant Gill, Cowboy Star...
                                                      Simon Dolinky actually worked on Christian Graves as sous chef.

                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                        And don't forget if you head north less than a mile from EV/Gaslamp, there's Carl Schroeder at Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant.

                                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                                          Here is my opinion aout Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant:

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/712559

                                                          And yes, we gave them recently a second chance and even though it wasn't horrible there are many, many better options in SD.

                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                            I can certainly dig almost every aspect of the mighty Honkman's take on Bankers Hill except one key point. That is I disagree that Jaynes, Chloe, and especially Farm House (which I do not care for at all) represent much, if any of an improvement on the theme. I've eaten at Jaynes & BH at last six times (due to a combination of my own accord and friends "dying to try it for themselves."), and Chloe countless times over the years. And while I'll say none of them are even close to bad, neither are they are good enough to go to without some coercion or convenience. Quite honestly, if I had to choose between them, BH wins if I'm allowed to dine at the bar and stick to small plates & dessert. Bottom line this is not a ringing endorsement for an establishment owned by one of my favorite SD chef's.

                                                            1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                              I want to like Jayne's Gastropub, I really do. The atmosphere is charming, particularly considering it's location. And while I can appreciate paying over $15/plate, the food just doesn't seem to warrant the prices. Granted, I've only eaten there twice. But both experiences left me feeling wholly unsatisfied.

                                                              When I'm left with only naming Cucina Urbana as my go-to restaurant in central SD, I'm also left feeling hopeless about our current choices.

                                                              1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                Food and restaurants (and reviews about) are always subjective and obvious everybody has a different preferences. There are differences for us between Cafe Chloe (by far the best of all "bistro-style" restaurants in SD) and Jayne's and Farmhouse but even after a recent visit to Banker's Hill it is still one of the weakest "bistro-style" restaurants in SD with many others we prefer, e.g. Smoking Goat, Alchemy, Cucina Urbana, Urban Solace etc. All of them have for us significant better cuisine and service.

                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                  I don't know why I can't edit my previous post - if we compare this style of restaurants ("bistro-style) in SD with other food cities like SF or LA there are three restaurants in SD which I think would survive in those cities (for different reasons) - Cafe Chloe, Linkery and Urban Solace.

                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                    While I really don't like the Linkery,and believe Chloe's best days are long past, I say agreed and agreed to both parts of your post. I certainly like the latter mentioned class of restaurants better than Chloe, FH, & BH. While I'm not as gloomy about Central SD as "globocity" I think that is only because I'm bolstered by the simple elegance of places like Charisma, Starlite, and Yu Me Ya.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Starlite
                                                                    3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                    1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                      Just curious why do you think that Cafe Chloe's best days are long gone ? We are eating there often 2-3 times a months for the last six years and feel that the quality has gotten better particularly in the last 1.5 years.
                                                                      BTW, what do you like about Charisma ? - I think I have never seen this place mentioned on CH

                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                        Perhaps they have had a resurgence. I haven't eaten there in about a year, however it just became a poor value. My last meal was a steak "salad" that was on a few shreds of frisee, and I do mean a few shreads. Thus it was not exactly a steak and not exactly a salad. Just $14 for 3 oz of choice meat, moderately seasoned with a garnish. Unfortunately this presentation just became more of the rule rather than the exception for me, so I drifted away.

                                                                        Charisma is a small family run restaurant. They come from Napoli and the Bronx :-). Just good consistent southern Italian food. A nice break from the mediocre Busalacchi dominated cuisine that seems to dominate SD's Italian fare.

                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                          Charisma is in the old Chilango's space across from Ortega's on University in Hillcrest. I have a Brit friend who really likes it.

                                                                      2. re: honkman

                                                                        Interesting - I think Alchemy would do well elsewhere, too. And also Starlite.

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Starlite
                                                                        3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                          The success of a restaurant depends on many things but sometimes it's an interesting "game" to think about which restaurant would survive if you move it to another city ( with the same menu, service, pricing structure). Many of the restaurants in SD would survive in areas with not too much competition, e.g. good move from Cucina Urbana to open in Irvine and not in LA. If we are talking about areas with very high competition like LA or SF you might be right that Alchemy might have a chance but I don't think Starlite. We really like Starlite (and often end up for a midnight cocktail) and it fits in SD but for a place with strong emphasis on food and drinks/cocktails their food is good but not outstanding but their bar program is quite disappointing - not overly unique cocktails which hardly change ever on the menu prepared from hardly trained bartenders. Especially the last partis disappointing as it could be relatively easy fixed but it is very disappointing to sit at the bar and see how badly they prepare the cocktails. Starlite reminds us a lot on Tar Pit - similar vibe, quality of food, service but the quality of thr drinks are worlds apart. I really would hope they would try to fix it as it would make Starlite a stand-out place and not only something which found a good niche in SD.

                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                            Interesting perspective. I haven't ever sat at the bar. I'll have to try that sometime.

                                                                            I've been to some places in LA that I thought were really overrated, so it's clear that even places who don't execute well can survive there, given the right location (26 Beach, a great example).

                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                              Another interestin hypothetical question id since we often discuss on this board that we wish good restaurants from other cities would open in SD is which of these would actually have a chance to survive in SD. I would be curious to hear other opinions on favorite restaurants from others and if they believe they could make it in SD (again with keeping menu, service, ambience and pricing the same). Just to start with a few:

                                                                              Pizzeria Mozza - yes
                                                                              Osteria Mozza - no
                                                                              Animal - no
                                                                              Providence - no
                                                                              Gjelina - yes
                                                                              Harfields - no
                                                                              AOC - not sure, most likely not
                                                                              Incanto - no
                                                                              La Folie - no
                                                                              SPQR - yes
                                                                              Commonwealth - no
                                                                              Coi - no

                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                If you put providence inside one of the high end hotels around town, grand del mar, or auberge where a restaurant can afford to lose money, I could see it doing well and becoming a destination for out of town folk.

                                                                                I could see incanto doing well if you put it in a neighborhood like University heights, mission hills, north park or south park.

                                                                                1. re: chezwhitey

                                                                                  I don't think the menu of Incanto would do well in SD, it's way too offal heavy. Remember talking with Chef John from Better Half that he tried to use chicken liver (beside chicken liver pate) and homemade blood sausage and customers immediately started to complain and Incanto is much, much more offal focussed.
                                                                                  I heard that Addison isn't doing really good and Providence is more fish and unusual flavor focused which would be an even harder sell

                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                    Man, are we podunk.

                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                      Is Addison not doing well b/c of their food or b/c the economy is in the toilet? I can't imagine that they would have the same # of people who are able/willing to put down a chunk of change for a dinner on a frequent basis like it was before Sept 2008.

                                                                                      1. re: daantaat

                                                                                        I've heard they are doing very well. They've won a lot of awards for their wine list, and they have a bunch of events coming up in November including hosting a fundraising event for Bocuse d'Or.

                                                                                        1. re: daantaat

                                                                                          I heard from several people that they went on weekends and often half of the tables were empty throughout the night.

                                                                                    2. re: honkman

                                                                                      I'm no LA eater, so I've only heard of (or read about) Animal, Providence and AOC but haven't even been to these three.

                                                                                      I dunno, I looked at the Animal menu and pics of the food on Y**p (it’s a swear word!) and it seems like the price point is fine and overall the menu should be a hit for the (I’m guessing) the twenty and thirtysomething crowd in SD that also dig porkbelly (for example) and it’s isn’t that much of a stretch for the rest of the pig or whatever part of the animal. I’m guessing you say no because of the 20% (or whatever) of the menu is so-called "strange" parts…

                                                                                      1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                        I found Animal to be unremarkable. I like Gjelina and Ammo much better (not really the same, but still farm-to-table).

                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                          We like Gjelina but Animal is one of our favorite restaurants in LA - unusual successful flavor combinations, high quality ingrrdientd and great people working there

                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                            We must have ordered wrong. We thought it was OK, but we enjoyed our recent meal at The Linkery a lot more.

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Linkery
                                                                                            3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                      2. re: honkman

                                                                                        I agree that the success of a restaurant hinges on many factors, so in this game, do we also include the management style? If so I think your critique of Starlite is spot on; yet I think it only mitigates against their success with the small spectrum of the dining public who now identify themselves as cocktail snobs. Take Tractor Room, the food is almost comical; yet their cocktail book and general competency of their bar staff are hard to match in this city. Accordingly I think both could work in a variety of cities, as the management of both establishments want to be cool and listen to critique. I also differ with you on Incanto & Animal. While Incanto is known in food circles for their specialty whole beast meals, their day to day menu is full of strong California influenced Italian cooking. On the numerous nights I have dined with them, a small few are having offal. It is true that places like the Better Half did get some push back when introducing offal, but places like the Cafe Cerise did not. SD has a dining public that will support this approach, but it takes very focused marketing to make it work. Providence definitely works here. If Oceanaire can keep em coming back, Providence would instantly become the gold standard of the Gaslamp (I ask for Cimarusti's forgiveness for using the two in the same sentence). Similarly with Commonwealth and AOC; the Wine Vault & Bistro and to a lessor extent, The Third Corner have been working the same angle. Given its superiority, I can't see why it wouldn't draw. Lastly La Folie. Given it is one of my favorite restaurants in America, if I didn't think my home town would support it, I'd have to just shoot myself in the head...

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Oceanaire
                                                                                        San DIego, CA, San DIego, CA

                                                                                        Starlite
                                                                                        3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                                        The Tractor Room
                                                                                        3687 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                                        Wine Vault & Bistro
                                                                                        3731 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                                        Third Corner
                                                                                        2265 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107

                                                                                        1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                          " It is true that places like the Better Half did get some push back when introducing offal, but places like the Cafe Cerise did not."

                                                                                          Cafe Cerise didn't get push back?

                                                                                          It died a brutal death.

                                                                                          And it was probably putting out some of the best food in san diego at that time to an empty house.

                                                                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                            It was probably about 5 years ahead of it's time.

                                                                                            1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                              The death of Cerise wasn't because they were making their own charcuterie and featuring offal from time to time. Location, management decisions, and just daring to be first was more of the issue. It was my favorite restaurant, and I counted Jason as a friend. Its demise was a loss for the city, and one of the reasons why we can still have debates about whether outstanding restaurants like Animal could make it here.

                                                                                              1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                I used to love going to Cerise for lunch and getting the charcuterie plate. It was a ridiculously generous serving of first-class charcuterie for a little more than $10. A total steal, and I still miss it to this day.

                                                                                              2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                I would love that you are correct with most of your assumptions but I highly doubt it. (And I agree with stevewag23 that Cafe Cerise is not really a good example as Chef Seibert mentioned beside the not perfect location that the low acceptance of not-mainstream dishes were also one of the reason for the end of his restaurant.). We could argue back and forth about all these restaurants and their chances of success but I think very general speaking one of the main problems (beside many others) is that for some reasons not the same percentage of people in San Diego compared to other cities like SF or LA are willing to spend similar amounts of money for high quality food, especially if it is out of their comfort zone. (And it is very fast out of their comfort zone). Most of the mentioned restaurants from other cities have relatively high prices (Providence (which in my opinion would never work in the Gaslamp), Animal, La Folie, Osteria Mozza etc.) and simply would either have to lower the quality/style of their dishes or not survive. And unfortunately I also think you might have to shoot yourself in the head...(but we will remember you during a great tasting menu tasting menu at La Folie)

                                                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                                                  "percentage of people in San Diego compared to other cities like SF or LA are willing to spend similar amounts of money for high quality food"

                                                                                                  Forget whether the food is in the consumers comfort zone or not, the bottom line is that people in San Diego do not put the same value on food as those in other cities (for many reasons and we could debate those all day and night into the next century.)

                                                                                                  I think people in San Diego actually do "get" and understand good (but not esoteric) food, the bigger problem is that they aren't willing to pay for it. We all have an idea in our mind as to what is a fair price for what is on the plate in front of us. When the price for that plate exceeds the perceived value that the diner has for it a nail goes in the coffin for both the menu item and the restaurant.

                                                                                                  In this economy the perceived value for the plate - i.e. the plate is worth the price paid for it in the eyes of the diner - will rule for a while longer. That said, I do firmly believe that the discussions about the creativity (or not) of local chefs, their ability to continue to mold and shape the dining habits of SD and introduce new ingredient, menu ideas and flavor profiles is vital to growing and educating the dining community. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the direction each topic ends up taking isn't the point, the point is the discussion and putting the issues on table.

                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                    To extend what you're saying a little further, DD, because the market in general in SD puts such a lower value on fine food, it puts restaurants that want to sell fine food in a reL bind, since they can't easily charge for it. Restaurants have to either take margins so low as to risk going out of business, develop a parallel program of high-margin/low-quality items to support their quality jones, use entertainment/view/design as their primary attraction, or strike a vein of tourists or rich people. Most places, constrained by capital, take the first or second option, either of which leads to struggles to maintain consistency.

                                                                                                    It will be interesting to see if the new restaurants coming into SD from other cities (like Mozza) bring their prices (and thus quality) down to the San Diego norm, or if they can get away with serving better food and charging for it, or if they bring their quality down and still charge a premium, which would be tempting since there 's not the Bay Area kind of insistence on quality here.

                                                                                                    In any event, given that the economy in SD shows no signs of getting better in the next 5-20 years (until we embrace labor-intensive industries and get a lot more money circulating locally) I think the best we can hope for is a few small pockets of people with the means and desire to spend a premium to keep quality food available in local places. Or it's equally likely that efforts at quality will be financially constrained to just flour based foods like pizza, polenta, sandwiches/burgers. Or it will just all be garbage. Hard to tell, really.

                                                                                                    My observation, in terms of Honkman's question, is that a restaurant like Animal, serving protein driven dishes (as opposed to flour driven dishes) and not having any other element of attraction (entertainment, design, nightspot) would not be able to survive in SD, because there's not a large enough pool of people who can/will pay the prices required. That kind of restaurant, which is about the food and conversation, doesn't seem to work here at a size of more that about 40 seats (like Farm House). Another restaurant which is amazing, that wouldn't work here IMO, is Merotoro in Mexico City, for the same reasons...it requires a large audience of people who will pay a premium to eat excellent food in a space made primarily for conversation.

                                                                                                    I have more thoughts on this issue that will share at greater length elsewhere in the future, I've been thinking a lot about it.

                                                                                                    1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                      One thing I think would help restaurants in san diego is to stay open later and "transform" into a little more of a "nightclub/lounge" at night after dinner hours. People don't want to eat late in san diego, however it would help restaurants bottom line if they would capture the drinking crowd later.

                                                                                                      If you go to almost any (halfway decent) city in the world, a huge cornerstone of restaurants/nightlife is the restaurant that stays open later and gets the lounge drinking crowd.

                                                                                                      San diego has restaurants and nightclubs as distinctly different entities.

                                                                                                      The restaurants close promptly at 10. Then the lounges and clubs get busier.

                                                                                                      The populations of the two seem different as well. The restaurant crowd skews older, the post 10pm crowd skews younger.

                                                                                                      Rarely will you see the same people intersect.

                                                                                                      Starlite is a place that kind of does this. Barely. But there should be 20-30 Starlites.

                                                                                                      I know if I was going to the trouble of opening a restaurant, and had a full bar, I would not be shutting it down at 10pm. I would be lobbing the state to stay open past 1:30am.

                                                                                                      I am not sure if there is a law that prevents this. Or if san diego nightlife is not sophisticated enough to embrace this.

                                                                                                      Anyone know the answer?

                                                                                                      1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                        What about Anthology- is that the model you're suggesting?

                                                                                                        I've been once for a charity event and enjoyed it.

                                                                                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                          There's no law against it specifically, although most restaurants in order to get their liquor license have to agree to no entertainment, no dancing, no music audible in street, etc. The SDPD and City don't want restaurants turning into nightclubs after dinner service.

                                                                                                          That said, I don't think there's a big market for that either, most of the busier nightspots outside the main entertainment areas of town traffic in lower-end beverages than would be appropriate in a good restaurant (that's where the market is) and while there are higher end lounges in the main entertainment areas like Gaslamp, most residents looking for a good meal are unlikely to go there. So the markets for good bars and good restaurants don't overlap very much. There are some exceptions, like Starlite, and I'd say Searsucker is in that mode too of a busy nightspot and serious restaurant. But not many,

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          Starlite
                                                                                                          3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                                                          Searsucker
                                                                                                          611 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                                                                          1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                            Thanks for explaining it.

                                                                                                            " in order to get their liquor license have to agree to no entertainment, no dancing, no music audible in street, etc."

                                                                                                            What is the hold up? Is it the music being heard from the street?

                                                                                                            "The SDPD and City don't want restaurants turning into nightclubs after dinner service."

                                                                                                            Maybe that is the biggest hold up. Real short sighted thinking by the PD and city government. They are leaving a lot of money on the table.

                                                                                                            "There are some exceptions, like Starlite, and I'd say Searsucker is in that mode too of a busy nightspot and serious restaurant. But not many,"

                                                                                                            Yeah, I agree there are not many.

                                                                                                            Even Starlite and Searsucker barely pull off the "restaurant transforming to a lounge/nighclub" that is the bread and butter of many cities' night world.

                                                                                                            1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                              It's my understanding (and I'm so rarely wrong) that there are two licenses needed to create the restaurant/lounge concept- a liquor license and a cabaret license.

                                                                                                              Many older places- think Bar Pink, Desi's, Ould Sod have both, grandfathered in from way back when.

                                                                                                              From a business standpoint, a cabaret will bring people in, and once they're in, they'll drink. The margin on drinks is HUGE, the margin on food is much less so, and the costs to deliver (kitchen, chef, etc) is far more complicated.

                                                                                                              If one can get a liquor/cabaret license, why would one even consider serving food- it's a revenue suck. It's a service they have to offer- it's part of the license agreement (that's why so man crappy bars have little kitchens to serve microwave nachos) but every dollar spent on food, is one less dollar spent on drinks.

                                                                                                              1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                SD is straight up hostile to cabaret concepts. Your absolutely correct in that they leave money on the table all over the place by not giving hospitality entrepreneurs room to innovate, Our laws restricting food trucks for example are arcane. Bottom line, a city with our climate should be the Monaco of America, or at least the New Orleans of the west. Gambling, all night clubs, street vendors etc.

                                                                                                                1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                  "the Monaco of America"

                                                                                                                  I like that.

                                                                                                                  And I agree 100%.

                                                                                                                  And that is the crushing thing about san diego, it has all the potential in the world and so little of it realized.

                                                                                                                  I mean, go to a place like Montreal, horrible weather, so little of God's given gifts like san diego. And what do you see? Energy, Great Restaurants, Vibrant Nightlife, and People out in the streets enjoying life till all hours of the day and night.

                                                                                                                  The tag line for san diego should be:

                                                                                                                  "San Diego, The Next Great City of The World. Always has been, Always will be."

                                                                                                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                    "San Diego, The Next Great City of The World. Always has been, Always will be."

                                                                                                                    That should be sent to the Chamber of Commerce on a bronze plaque.

                                                                                                          2. re: jayporter

                                                                                                            It's not just San Diego cuisine, it's art as well. Look at the final days of the Sushi Art space. While it never thrived, it finally shuttered- it couldn't support itself, despite some very solid offerings.

                                                                                                            San Diegans will enjoy mainstream art, architecture, and food. But the boundaries of all those are pretty rigid.

                                                                                                            But how about those craft beers, huh?

                                                                                                            1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                              But that's what I don't understand. There is little doubt that many chefs in this city have the ability to cook on the same level as chefs in LA or SF (but are afraid to do so or lose their business). In addition, there are still many high paying jobs in SD, e.g. IT, biotech, medical devices etc. and even though the median income might not be on the same level as SF ($67K vs. $81K) it is still on a high level in California (and higher than LA ($67K vs. $55K) and the US but there is a hugh difference in people willing to pay for high quality food in SD compared to SF and LA. Why ? Is the background of the people in SD so much different than LA and SF or something else ?

                                                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                Yes, people here are fundamentally different in their background, and more importantly, their aspirations, than people in LA or SF. Look at the kinds of people who are elected to city government in each city, for example, or the kinds of industries that thrive, the quality of architecture both old and new, the commitment to quality of life issues like effective urban planning and transit and pedestrian/bike viability, and so on, and so on.

                                                                                                                1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                  Yeah, I agree.

                                                                                                                  "IT, biotech, medical devices" doesn't compare to film, music, fashion and entertainment as far as people wanting to go out and eat good food. Very different population.

                                                                                                                  People from LA and SF are also way more well traveled. They have better airports with direct international flights.

                                                                                                                  I travel a lot, and trust me, traveling internationally from san diego is very difficult to say the least.

                                                                                                                  Therefore, people in those two cities are exposed to more types of food and have an appreciation for it.

                                                                                                                  There is almost a 10 year gap from when some food, or type of cuisine arrives in New York and trickles down to san diego.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                    How funny, I started to answer Honkman's question and then deleted it because I didn't have time to finish it. But your first 2 points were exactly the ones I was going to make.

                                                                                                                    Yes, San Diegans are fundamentally different than LA or SF, and our rootstock is, ultimately, less diverse. I was even going to comment that I thought San Diego was still very much Pete Wilson's (former Mayor, CA Gov and U.S. Senator) San Diego. For as much progress as the city has made it is still very much a fiscally conservative city (well except for those City Council retirement benefits, but that's a different discussion). San Diego's roots are midwest core values at their bedrock, LA and SF's are not.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                      Than in short the is little hope for significant changes in the overall restaurant scene in SD to expected in the future since you can't really change the demographics of a city? (And yes, I know there were some changes in recent years but in the moment I feel that we are going one step forward and two steps back). BTW Jay, any chance you could start something with Gavin on a permanent basis, I really would like to keep him around.

                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                        I would not give up hope. It just depends on your timeline.

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                        Will it happen soon? I say no. The economy is stagnant enough that fast progress is unlikely. The best concepts working right now are the not-over-$20 part of the market.

                                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                          I think there will be change but it will not be dramatic, nor will it be quick. For whatever reason it's easy to get complacent here in SD and until residents and diners get out of price/value as a fundamental defining point for food and meals in SD, change will only be incremental.

                                                                                                                          Change does happen. A couple weeks ago in the SuperDiners column they asked them to recommend their favorite dive bar. I got a big chuckle out of the fact that more than one of them mentioned Albie's Beef Inn in Hotel Circle. In the 60s when I was growing up here, that was considered a really nice, in fact very good, restaurant with a clubby atmosphere (dark, nudes on the wall) great steak. It's still serving steak (probably the same cut, the same way), still has the same nude pictures on the wall, but now it's considered a dive bar. In part it's become a dive bar because everything else has gotten so much better. Things move and change, the rate of change is just rather glacial.

                                                                                                                          Consider two other old SD warhorses, The Marine Room and Mister A's, both were considered fine dining in their day, but it was very traditional, conservative dining, not especially creative. Both have continually reinvented themselves but neither is cutting edge, nor do they want to be.

                                                                                                                          And finally...I've heard any number of people wish that something like SF Ferry Building would go into the old Police Building space that's being redeveloped. I love the idea and I think that the success of farmers markets like Little Italy and Hillcrest really demonstrate that San Diegans will come out and support that concept. That introduces people to the ingredients and the idea of farm-to-table, eating close to the source, etc. What that concept doesn't do is teach people what to do with what they can buy at the farmers market. It assumes they already know what to do with it, and that's a false assumption. We already have 2 generations and are working on a 3rd that don't know the basics or how to cook. What San Diego really lacks (big time) are adequate cooking schools offering interesting course. We've got Great News! with their steady diet of Chicken!Chicken!Chicken! courses. They may teach technique and recipes, but I''m not sure how much they really encourage any kind of creativity or adventursome eating. The Bay Area has several very good cooking schools - Tante Marie, Ramekins and even a grocery store, Andronico's, that present interesting classes that stretch the home cook. So put a farmers market into the Police Building but then show people how to cook what sold there in creative ways. Once the consumer can make it better (and more creatively) than the restaurant the restaurant will need to change and get better in order to retain customers.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Marine Room Restaurant
                                                                                                                          2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

                                                                                                                          Albie's Beef Inn
                                                                                                                          1201 Hotel Cir S, San Diego, CA 92108

                                                                                                                          Mister A's Restaurant
                                                                                                                          2550 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                            "So put a farmers market into the Police Building but then show people how to cook what sold there in creative ways."

                                                                                                                            That won't even rattle the cup of the Port District. They're not in this to raise all culinary boats with a high tide- they want money- and a lot of it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                              So how much has that Police Building brought the Port District in the last 24 years? That sure has been good income, eh?

                                                                                                                              As I said before in a now disappeared post the city would benefit immensely by giving the Police Building AND Seaport Village a high-quality tasteful makeover and do what S.F. did with the Ferry Building. Then they need to exercise some quality control over the tenants to ensure it gives local, innovative, high quality businesses a chance and isn't overrun by run-of-the-mill, mediocre schlock vendors. The developers are worried about the lack of an "anchor tenant," reflecting their mass-market, shopping center-oriented mindset. Come on! People come to Seaport Village now even though there is really nothing compelling there. Why not give them something decent for a change? San Diego needs the buzz *and* a kick in the pants. This is one obvious way to get San Diego to live up to the "America's Finest City" moniker that we've all become so cynical about.

                                                                                                                              1. re: nileg

                                                                                                                                I don't disagree at all.

                                                                                                                                But the Port wants a lot of money for that property and the market about which you (and others, myself included) fantasize will not produce the revenue the Port wants.

                                                                                                                                Seaport does. It's a profitable operation, the port gets a return.

                                                                                                                                Again, I don't disagree with you. But I also believe the port has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to bring a revenue stream. And I also agree going in the hole for 24 years (has it been that long?) was not a good plan.

                                                                                                                          2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                            My opinion on that -- I would say that, yes, it is unrealistic to expect significant change in the SD dining scene in the next 5-20 years. In fact, I think the radical progress that has happened the last 5 years was too much for the market to bear, I expect things to recede about halfway, and for 2017 to look a lot like 2007 in San Diego.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                              I hope so. I made a lot of money in 2007.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                Now you really depressed me

                                                                                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                  Would you like me to post more humor? I know you appreciate it so....

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                    If it is a different joke - go ahead. The Berlin one was great the first few time.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                      Oh, fine.

                                                                                                                                      That's setting the bar awfully high.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                        Well, there's always Paris, or is that Perris?

                                                                                                                              2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                You had better find Gavin a place in North Park, because according to him thats the only place with a sense of community in San Diego. It also better have good signage and not near a Rubios or any sort of mini-mall.

                                                                                                                                1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                                                                  That's not what he said if you don't take some sentences out of context.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                    He did say he wanted to be in North Park, he did rag on the fact the building that Blanca was in was part of a mini mall with a Rubios and a CPK. That is what he said not me, If I am reading it wrong please enlighten me. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek maybe it was sarcastic maybe it was self-deprecating humor. I can't tell because it was written, I didn't hear the tone in which it was originally said. It just comes across to me as a giant cop out. You and Jay Porter can defend him all you want and I really hope something works out for him, but for me, it still comes across as sour grapes and maybe he can make a tasty vinegar out of it. Hageman, sfter he left Blanca, opened up a Pizza place in a mini-mall in Encinitas that has "gasp" a Ace hardware in the mall and it too has poor signage. He seems to be doing o.k. the last time I was in there.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                                                                      Since you gave me permission to defend him all I want :-) ...when I talked to Gavin about it right after they closed, they were specifically not looking in North Park, they were looking in other central SD neighborhoods. I think the way it was reported in the press made it easy to read as a diss on the location and the desire to move to NP, but in actual conversation (even though he used a lot of the same sentences) it came off a lot differently.

                                                                                                                                      Much like Wade's Hageman's post-Blanca place (which I love) is close to his home, in a part of town he knows well and is integrated into the community, I took Gavin to be saying that it made sense to work close to home for a lot of reasons. That's just how I took it, and I do know from experience that the way things are reported in the press don't always convey the way in which something was said. I'd encourage you to give him the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                                                                                      I've never heard Gavin have any sour grapes, although like anyone in his situation I think he is making an effort to figure out where and how he can do the food he does and make it work. I think we all want to see that happen, because his food is really good.

                                                                                                                            2. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                              San Diego is a small midwestern city that happens to be on the west coast.

                                                                                                                              A friend of mine has speculated that the real reason for our comparative lameness is that a) the trains didn't terminate here, and b) no major port for trade - vs. Los Angeles and San Francisco, which benefited hugely from those things.

                                                                                                                              To me a great indicator of the difference is a place like LACMA, with its cafe serving high-end food and drink to large crowds of people paying money to enjoy art.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                Well, you can’t go wrong with good old-fashioned Midwestern sensibilities. You can’t! Though I think you’d all be doubly crabby about options in a small Midwestern town - though there can be gems.

                                                                                                                                I have enjoyed following this thread today, esp. JP and DD.

                                                                                                                                1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                                                                  I completely disagree with your opening premise.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                  "San Diego is a small midwestern city that happens to be on the west coast."

                                                                                                                                  Not even close. If you spent any significant time in small midwestern cities you'd change your tune pretty quickly.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                    How would you characterize it?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                      We have a few gems that stand out, which do differentiate us. But the places here that are popular, that pack people in, are not our best and brightest, not by a long shot.

                                                                                                                                      If they were, then Hash House wouldn't have a mob of people waiting for 1+ hours on the weekends, and Cafe Cerise wouldn't have died its ignoble death.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                        Below is what I said earlier today about SD as compared to SF & LA. The military reference also applies to any so called "mid-west" sensibilities. Bottom line, the Navy & Marines bring em in when they're young, then they retire here because they had such a great time in their twenties. I stand by my whole thread that all we need is better focus on overall quality at the mid-tier to educate the dining culture to appreciate the haute cuisine. Then we'll not only keep the Cafe Cerise's, we'll foster more.

                                                                                                                                        "In an attempt to answer Honkman’s query, as a third generation native I see SD as transient town with a disproportionate amount of its club/restaurant going demographic coming from the military, and a city council that historically is hostile to club & restaurants. This group of diners needs scaffolding to be ready to spend $200 per person for a fine French meal. However, they also need restaurants that can deliver on that price point. Therefore, the key as I see it is building from the ground up. So while I too am very interested to see how the Mozza’s of the world do here, I’m much more interested in seeing the success and growth of the Starlites, Linkerys, and Café 21s of the city as indicators of our culinary future."

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                          But why should any restaurant focus on more high quality food/ingredients if they can sell enough dishes with less quality ingredients ? Yes, there are some people in the restaurant business who are truly interested in having in impact on the dining culture of a city and/or region but most of them are not. (And that is not a problem of the restaurant industry but throughout many industries that many are not interested enough in their jobs to "go the extra mile"). I completely agree qith many that the demographics of SD doesn't favor big changes in the culinary world in the future and I doubt that education alone will change it significantly. Only significant changes in the demongraphics (new industries, less military) will change it

                                                                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                            Oddly, reading Steve Jobs' biography is pretty illuminating on this point. Most people go into business to make a profit, but he saved Apple by instead focusing on making great products, which then led to them making profits.

                                                                                                                                            I take that to mean that if the sole motivation behind your business is profit-making then you won't wind up with anything special. I've been taking culinary classes, and as I meet more professionals in this industry, the more dismayed I've become by the pervasive POV that all you do as a restaurant owner is buy low/sell high, and whatever you can do to make that happen is what matters.

                                                                                                                                            I can't imagine a place like Laja coming into being from such thinking, or really any of the great restaurants I've eaten at.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                              "Only significant changes in the demographics will change it" <-- bingo.

                                                                                                                                              As you say, new industries is the key, and particularly higher paying jobs and attracting successful creative types. But why would hordes successful architects, designers, photographers, music producers, writers and creative software developers choose San Diego over SF, LA, Portland or Seattle, given how much more those cities to do cultivate a higher quality of life, which is typically what's important to the boutique/creatives.

                                                                                                                                              The Ferry Building v. the Police Building is a perfect example: selling out to the right anchor tenant, and developing the PB like a Seaport Village mall, will maximize immediate revenue to the port. BUT it will do nothing to build the long term financial prospects of our area, unlike the Ferry Building which galvanizes the city and makes it a place worth moving to. I'd argue that the Port District is actually shirking its fiduciary duty to its constituents by sacrificing the long-term growth of the area's economy for a short term gain.

                                                                                                                                              To tie this thought more explicitly into the discussion about San Diego restaurants (sensitive to the moderators' desire to keep things on point), without a commitment by the citizenry and its representatives to push for better restaurants and other "quality of life" facilities like a permanent greenmarket, pedestrian plazas, and bikeways, the city will never attract enough tastemakers for us to have many good restaurants.

                                                                                                                                              Watching the cultural and economic landscape in San Diego, I don't see any chance of the general population making a commitment to quality of life amenities. So people who care about those things -- who tend to be the highest earners, who determine where emerging industries locate -- will look at Seattle, Durham, Boulder, Brooklyn and other better quality of life cities, and those places will develop better restaurants, while San Diego goes the other direction.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                                "But why would hordes successful architects, designers, photographers, music producers, writers and creative software developers choose San Diego over SF, LA, Portland or Seattle, given how much more those cities to do cultivate a higher quality of life, which is typically what's important to the boutique/creatives."

                                                                                                                                                Easy. It's the weather.

                                                                                                                                                And while these folks are here, it does not mean they are making a living and following their bliss at the same time. I can say with 30 years of experience in the advertising photography business, the mantra is the same as restaurants- it will never be like NY, Chi, SF or LA. The high level creative demands nor the nice fees associated with those are available for a *very* small portion of the market.

                                                                                                                                                And interestingly, there are some very talented creatives here in town- top-tier folks. But when local advertising clients land a national-level creative clients, they take their business to LA, because the percieved value of SD's talent pool is at the commodity level.

                                                                                                                                                That's why some of my best clients came from out of the market- they didn't know that SD was a small town- they just cared about the quality of the work. I could charge 10x to a Chicago-based client for essentially the same work I'd do for a SD client. And if I estimate a job for a CHI- based client with the numbers I used for locals, I wouldn't get the job. It would be clear to CHI that I was not at the business level appropriate to their status.

                                                                                                                                                I see the restaurant market in a very similar way.

                                                                                                                                                About bliss. With deep roots in a creative industry, I've seem SO MANY follow their bliss. Photo schools like Brooks churn blissed-out children each year, many far more talented than I, and nearly ZERO of these ever work a single commercial job, except as assistants. Following bliss is a cute idea, but it's a numbers game. Of 1000 bliss followers, one might actually do something. At those odds, it'd be faster and more efficient to follow one's bliss to the roulette table. Heck, people have been following their bliss to art majors for a long time. English majors, too.

                                                                                                                                                And restaurants. How many lives savings, homes, cars and futures have been lost in the restaurant business here in SD?

                                                                                                                                                Jobs was more than a bliss-follower, He had a business savvy to go with it, and it could be argued that business acumen is what carried his day. Obviously, he had to have products and ideas that were better than others- but there are a LOT of good ideas that never make it.

                                                                                                                                                I like Super Sergios.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Super Sergio's
                                                                                                                                                4125 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                  Obviously he had business acumen, and I'm not suggesting that people should simply follow their bliss without having the necessary skills and knowledge to back that up.

                                                                                                                                                  The point I was trying to make was that the business acumen was in service to making something high quality. McIntosh stereos, for example, are a successful niche business making high-end audio gear. Obviously they also know how to make it a profitable business since they've been around so long, but they didn't meet with success by churning out cheap crap.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                Last word for me on the subject. I owned Cafe Vid in the mid 1980s and not only were we the first video night club in America, we were also the first restaurant to serve sashimi style blackened ahi as part of fully legit Cajun menu in SD. Before we flamed out, I also did late night dining, and late night "brunch" in an attempt to hold our club kids in. Bottom line, I've lived trying to do things right and stretch the edge in this city; yet I'm not about to cop out and say we can't move the scene forward in any meaningful way without a wholesale change in demographics. Obviously things take longer here for the reasons mentioned, but in addition to the local challenges, far too often restaurateurs are not looking to build on the market that exists in creative ways. SD while lacking in quality high end spots, does have a wide array of good ethnic eateries that offer up foods out of the mainstream, that not only stretch people's palates, they meet the so called "value conscious eater" ethos that is railed against on these boards. So while Jay is ready to retire to Omaha, I for one find solace in these eateries and the strides made to date on the higher culinary fronts. As Fake Name aptly pointed out, the best things going right now are the concepts working at $20 and under. These are the entities I referred to earlier as providing the scaffolding necessary to take the main stream diner to level of appreciation for the types of restaurants those of here spend our lives in.

                                                                                                                                                "But why should any restaurant focus on more high quality food/ingredients if they can sell enough dishes with less quality ingredients?"

                                                                                                                                                The answer is simple, as the scene progresses so will the need for all but the spots located in the most trafficked areas to raise their bar. I for one am not going anywhere, so I will continue to lend my energy to bring that brighter day to the fore. The Steve Jobs mentality works everywhere, that type of entrepreneurship, and the emergent trends of Slow Food, the growth of local farmers markets etc. all give me hope that I will one day be able to count more local restaurants than I have digits that can out cook me. I look forward to this as I'm getting old and lazy.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                  Jay retiring to Omaha? Naw, I think he's going a south, just a few miles out of the county...where the food *is* more creative, interesting and a remarkably good value ;-).

                                                                                                                                                  The Steve Jobs metaphor is really just a reworking of the old Josephy Campbell quote "follow your bliss" ...he made products he felt compelled to make, that interested him, not because they were logical at the time, but because he wanted to and they made sense to him. But it would do well to look at the entire Campbell quote which goes "when you follow your bliss, doors will open where you wouldn't have throught there would be a door; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else"

                                                                                                                                                  Steve Jobs did follow his bliss, doors did open (iPod, iPhone, iPad) and the door was there for him, no one else. In the chef world the best example I can think of is not local, but it's Rick Bayless. He fell in love with Mexican cuisine and culture at 14 and followed that path. He's done more to introduce the American dining public to Mexican food than any other single person in the U.S. and has been amply rewarded for it (tho' I'm not convinced his upcoming acting gig is a good idea). It was more than being in the right place at the right time with the right concept, it was doing what one feels compelled to do and that provides some personal fulfillment and satisfaction. And then, of course, there was Gene Roddenberry who boldly went where no man had dared to go...

                                                                                                                                                  The point is, who in the SD chef community is following their bliss, doing what they find personally satisfying and perhaps willing to take the risk and not always calculating the ROI.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                    I'm from San Diego, I can't handle the Omaha weather. Their restaurant scene, though, is something I hope we can learn from.

                                                                                                                                                    More to the point, like you, I have a lot invested in this town - it's my home town, and where I've lived my entire adult life - and I hope to have a positive effect on the city's culinary progress. That said, my observation is that only small pockets of San Diego are open to the idea of better food at a slightly higher cost than your average Sysco place. Those pockets represent the chance for a good food scene in SD, but I don't think they can support the number of restaurants that currently are reaching out to them.

                                                                                                                                                    (and, yes, as DD suggests, the cuisine in our wine region south of here is a magnet on many levels.)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                                      Loved to see more restaurant owners have 'get togethers' at their restaurants for their community to show them what to do with that bunch of spinach or that chicken they just bought at the their local farmer's market..don't think most have a clue.
                                                                                                                                                      I think it would be a win win for all..plus, it would raise the bar of eating well, instead of just filling the belly mentality.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                        I notice that Sea Rocket Bistro does a lot of classes like that.

                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                        Sea Rocket Bistro
                                                                                                                                                        3382 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                                          They do, and I've been to them. The classes are good but the space is awkward but everyone kind of works around it and everything kind of works itself out in the end.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                                        Jay, just for the record, I think you do have a positive effect on SD, and concepts such as the Linkery & El Take It Easy are they very type of establishments I have in mind as scaffolding the dining public of our fare city. Its funny that DD mentions Bayless, as I nearly spiraled into a rabbit hole digression of spinning Honkman's list of concepts that wouldn't work to "Concepts that Would Build a Dining Culture." All in all we want the same thing. Hopefully between all our efforts it will be realized in our lifetimes.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                          A Bayless-esque style of Mexican restaurant would have a pretty hard road to hoe here in the land of taco shops on 3 corners out of 4. In spite of San Diego being quite literally on the border most locals have no clue about Mexican cuisine. His concept would only work because of his name. Besides, his current interest is Baja, he's publicly stated the food in Baja is "amazing". Locals aren't exactly crossing the border in droves to try what really can be some pretty amazing food and wine.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                            I'd happily go to a Bayless concept- will it have a drive-thru?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                              No, I think Super Sergio's has that market cornered. But I understand you can do a fly-thru at O'Hare in Chicago and get a pretty respectable torta. If only at Lindberg...<sigh>

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Super Sergio's
                                                                                                                                                              4125 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                              Candelas has made it work, and for a short time The Latin Room (with Cien Anos chefs) made it work. I think the latter went down for reasons other than food. People don't head south for tons of reasons, man I don't even go down anymore (will somebody just get me a Century Pass?!). In any event, Bayless would do fine here. Cantina Mayahuel would love to see Bayless come town, if for no other reason to grease the wheels for their next concept. DD your in charge, go get him.

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Cantina Mayahuel
                                                                                                                                                              2934 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                Bayless would do fine, but the concept without his name wouldn't. Upscale Mexcian is a tough sell in a city with a taco and burrito mindset.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                  Well DD I wouldn't call Frontera upscale and it certainly matches Candelas, El Vitral, and Barrio Star on price point and far exceeds them in quality of presentation and flavor profile. Now Topolobampo without his name you might be right, unless the critics fall over themselves and the ownership group is politically savvy. But we digress.

                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                      Generally speaking, I enjoy dining in Omaha more than I enjoy dining in San Diego. Then again, I spend less time there, so I don't burn out on the places I love.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                              "Another restaurant which is amazing, that wouldn't work here IMO, is Merotoro in Mexico City, for the same reasons...it requires a large audience of people who will pay a premium to eat excellent food in a space made primarily for conversation.

                                                                                                                                              Had lunch at MeroToro this past July. One of the best meals I've had all year...crab risotto followed by an impeccably prepared grouper. With a limonada that lunch cost me a bit under $500 pesos ($40 USD). I do not begrude one centavo of that bill, but a $40 lunch, no matter how beautifully prepared isn't going to fly in San Diego anytime soon. Few people I know here would pay that for dinner. It's just not worth it to them.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                This is why I have returned to this board after such a long absence, as here I live with brethren who are more cynical than myself about the possibilities in San Diego. Before I have that last meal at La Folie and do myself in, I'll say this. While I agree with DD that there are people in SD who get food, unfortunately there aren’t enough of them. Accordingly I cannot accept the proposition that people are unwilling to pay for things they cannot necessarily grasp. If we contrast SD to SF, the main difference I see is that SF’s mid-tier restaurants dominate in quality and preparation and in the process foster a culture of sophisticated diners. Take for example Rose Pistola; its price point matches or undercuts virtually every Busalacchi / Vigilucchi franchise yet there isn't a single Italian restaurant in this city that matches its quality.

                                                                                                                                                In an attempt to answer Honkman’s query, as a third generation native I see SD as transient town with a disproportionate amount of its club/restaurant going demographic coming from the military, and a city council that historically is hostile to club & restaurants. This group of diners needs scaffolding to be ready to spend $200 per person for a fine French meal. However, they also need restaurants that can deliver on that price point. Therefore, the key as I see it is building from the ground up. So while I too am very interested to see how the Mozza’s of the world do here, I’m much more interested in seeing the success and growth of the Starlites, Linkerys, and Café 21s of the city as indicators of our culinary future.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                                Interesting article about trends for next year - http://www.4hoteliers.com/4hots_fshw....

                                                                                                                                                Wonder what year some of these will happen in SD

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                  Great link. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                    I thought it was pretty interesting

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                    Much of this is already happening, and if we'd just let the food trucks run it would happen faster. I worked with Tabe BBQ before Chef Todd left and we were doing some legit Korean fusion. Besides as the Latin population grows in all 50 states, we will see offal cuts more in stores (think Northgate Market) and more restaurants will follow.

                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                    Northgate Market
                                                                                                                                                    606 N Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92025

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                      Northgate, Pancho Villa and Vallarta already sell all the offal parts, really not that hard to find in SD. You can get a quarter, half or whole hogs head at Northgate for your next pot of posole ;-)

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      Pancho Villa's
                                                                                                                                                      3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                        And you get pretty much every part of chicken, pork and beef at many asian markets

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                          I suspected as much, but since I don't routinely shop at Asian markets I didn't want to saying something that wasn't quite accurate in that regard

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                            Does anybody know the sources of mexican and asian markets for the meat ? I don't expect organic quality but often the prices are so low (even compared to Von, Ralphs etc.) that I would be really curious to know where do they get it so cheap to still make money out of it and how does the quality compares to other large "regular" supermarkets.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                              They may be dealing directly with packers, but then so are the mainstream super markets. They may be buying sides or whole animals and breaking them down rather than the primals that many grocery stores buy. Northgate and Pancho Villa have a whole cadre of (mostly Mexican) butchers working. Or their buyers could just be negotiating some great deals.

                                                                                                                                                              Mexican meat cuts are quite a bit different than what you'd find at a regular grocery store. With the beef and pork, many of the cuts are thinly cut as opposed to steaks, chops and roasts. They may be getting more milage out of the same amount of meat because of the way it's butchered (but that is really just a guess on my part)

                                                                                                                                                              I have purchased meat at both Northgate and Pancho Villa. The meat from Northgate has been fine, pretty much on par with Ralph's, Von's or Albertson's. I've had mixed results at Pancho Villa. The first few times I bought meat from their meat counter it was really nice (especially the maciza, <pork butt more or less>). But then I got some carne asada meat that was way tough and had a slightly off flavor. That was followed by some chicken that looked and tasted fine but produced some gastro distress, so I quite buying meat there and ahven't for the last 3 years. I've thought about trying them again because PV is closer to me than NG. If I were to buy one meat at either Northgate or Pancho Villa it would be pork. It's pretty much a staple of the Mexican diet and they move tons of the stuff. The pork I've gotten at both stores has been very good.

                                                                                                                                                              More than the meat, the thing that has always amazed me at the Mexican markets is how low the prices are on produce, and often the quality is way better than the regular super market. Pancho Villa is actually owned by the Boney family and the produce prices at PV are lower than Henry's/Sprouts and Windmill Farms and the selection and variety larger in some cases. It's usually the identical pack to their mainstream stores but prices significantly less.

                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                              Pancho Villa's
                                                                                                                                                              3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                Interesting. I always assumed the majority of the price difference was due to the fact that they probably have less overhead in terms of keeping stores pretty, staff pay, etc. I would have guessed that they have less negotiating power than the huge chains like Safeway, but I don't know...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                                                  Northgate is actually pretty large with stores all over SoCal. Vallarta is pretty big too. You may have actually hit on a big factor...are they union houses and if they are, how does their negotiated salary schedule and benefit package compare to the big chains.

                                                                                                                                                                  All these guys do big business with the packers, they all have pretty good purchasing power.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                Don't know about quality of the chain supermarkets since I've never bought meat from them (not for any particular reason except they never have the cuts we want), but I find the stuff at Asian supermarkets highly variable. In general, it seems the meat from Japanese markets is consistently good. With the Chinese and Vietnamese markets, sometimes it's very good, sometimes it tastes a little off....

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't buy "regular" cuts too often at asian supermarkets (use it more for pork belly to make bacon or chicken gizzard, hearts etc) but often compare the prices and they were always surprising low and I agree with DD same with the produce.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                  Some, not all, Mexican markets buy half carcasses of beef from a company called Bro-Pak (not sure of the spelling). They slaughter at the same processing plant (Manning) used by Brandt and other small niche producers. I don't know of anything about Bro-Pak meat that is different that any other commodity meat, except that it's available as "swinging beef", but there could be something. By getting it as sides, their on site butchers can break it down.

                                                                                                                                                                  Other places I've seen buy primals or large muscles from a huge packer like IBP, and break it down from there.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jayporter

                                                                                                                                                                    Actually, Jay, you might be one of the best people to ask about this:

                                                                                                                                                                    I've heard there are no abattoirs in San Diego? Is that true? If so, is the closest one really in LA? I ask because I am looking for a source for FRESH (still warm from the animal) cow or pig brains

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                                                      The nearest USDA inspected plant for beef is in LA, and for pigs the nearest is outside Atascadero. Restaurants and stores can only sell meat from USDA plants. However, as a private citizen you have more options, including state inspected abattoirs or doing it yourself (or having a friend do the kill and slaughter). There are ranchers in San Diego that I'd guess could help you. I'd start by contacting Jack at Taj Farms (they're on Facebook and the web), he's got a lot of meat animals.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                    In Bourdain's book, he talks about how markets who sell fish go to a central market to buy fish for their stores. Typically, whatever is leftover is bought by the asian markets at the very end. Not sure if meat is done the same way also.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                            Thank you for mentioning Urban Solace. I like their food, a lot. Their wine menu isn't bad either. You made a good point about US, Chloe, and Linkery being able to hold their weight in cities such as SF or LA.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            Linkery
                                                                                                                                            3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                                                            Urban Solace Restaurant
                                                                                                                                            3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                                            3. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                              Yep, the old Suite & Tender becomes Saltbox. And I'm with you on the proliferation of places doing comfort food. Trust me, I love my truffle mac n' cheese and grass fed burgers like the next guy, but this is getting monotonous. But as others have said, this new chef sounds interesting.

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Suite & Tender
                                                                                                                              1047 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                                                                                              1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                We stopped by Saltbox for dinner after Noble Experiment tonight and I'll be honest - I went in skeptical and came away rather impressed. The menu is very reasonably priced (total bill after tax/tip came up to $84 for a cocktail and 7 small plates) - they also sent out 2 cocktails and a taste of their tuna crudo on the house, so it was not an insubstantial meal by any means.

                                                                                                                                Highlights for me were their house-made beef jerky (really flavourful, if a touch dry - apparently they are working on that aspect) and an oxtail jam (braised/shredded oxtail with tomato compote and molasses bread). Also really liked the ham/cheese bites (gougeres split open, filled with a creamy ham and cheese filling). Wanted to try their flatbread but apparently their new oven has not arrived yet. In general, I found the kitchen a tad liberal with the salt, but this didn't trouble my dining companion. I'm glad to see another good dining option in the area (especially on 5th Ave, which might rank as one of my least favourite streets in the country).

                                                                                                                                Also, their bar program seems pretty impressive - designed by a former bartender at Milk & Honey and featuring house-made tinctures. The cocktails we tried were very nicely balanced, if a bit precious.

                                                                                                                                1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                  Thank for the report, sounds like it's worth checking out.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                    I went in hopeful but left unmoved. Knowing now that the full menu is available in the downstairs lounge/bar, this may present a better option for the menu as a whole. We tried several of the same dishes, but also gave the brisket sliders, beef cheek tacos with snap pea kimchee, and lobster corn dogs with ginger remoulade a run. We found the food competent, yet the flavors were surprising dull. A few minor missteps like serving burnt toast with the oxtail jam, not having menu items available (lamb tamales), and unremarkable service (runners dropping plates without any explanation or knowing who ordered the dish) on a slow mid-week evening gave us pause. I agree with your assessment of the bar program, but still found it a bright spot. They have begun a lunch service, so I believe I'll give that a run through on my next visit. So far I can say it's a fine spot for a bar nosh and a good drink; yet I'll have to reserve judgment as to whether it warrants consideration for a sit down meal.

                                                                                                                                2. Juan Chou's has opened in South Park in the former El Camino location. How can they charge $12 for a street tacos plate, when I can drive a few miles south to Tacos El Gordo in National City for the same thing for less than half the price? Interior looked nice, but not as cool as the interior of the former El Camino.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                    I'd rather just go get the real deal at Tacos El Gordo for $6 (as you said).

                                                                                                                                  2. Could the torta be the next trend (yeah..... I'm talking to you, burger)? I sure hope so! We all have our favorite banh mi joints, so bring on the Mexican sandwiches!

                                                                                                                                    Bolillo Tortas is opening in a 2,100 sq ft. space in the Gaslamp across the street from Cost Plus. The manager (soon to be former) of nearby Candelas is the owner. Open till midnight Sun-Thurs, and till 3am on Fri/Sat. Check out the construction pics on their FB page -

                                                                                                                                    http://www.facebook.com/BolilloTortas...

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                      I honestly think tortas are going to take off & reach more of a "mass market", for lack of a better term, but tortas are still trying to get well known outside of the border area/hispanic communities so it will take some time. I honestly don't see Tortarias surviving in the Gas Lamp Quarter though as the folks down there tend to be 20 something partiers (who are all trying to pretend they're high rollers for the night) or out of town tourists from middle America. The partiers are attempting to impress their dates while the tourists from Nebraska have no idea what a torta is so they make an unlikely demographic to be targeting.

                                                                                                                                    2. There are many things that turn me off about LA, but it's restaurants/chefs/foods aren't one of them. As if the news of Pizzeria Mozza opening downtown wasn't exciting enough, now there is buzz that Katsuya by Starck (as in Philippe Starck) is coming next. In addition to job ads for GM positions in Houston and Miami, there is also one for San Diego on their website. Anyone been to Katsuya? Looks like a lot of style, but what about the substance?

                                                                                                                                      http://www.sbe.com/katsuya

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                        It's looking like the location of Katsuya is at the Andaz downtown. Does that mean Quality Social is on it's way out?

                                                                                                                                        http://la.eater.com/tags/katsu-ya

                                                                                                                                        Did you also catch that IDG (Boa, Sushi Roku, Katana, and Delphine) was looking at the same spot for their Boa Steakhouse concept?

                                                                                                                                        http://www.innovativedining.com/

                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                          The reality is that the "Philippe Starck" name is pretty watered down these days and is basically for lack of a better term, wh*ring his name out.

                                                                                                                                          (It is no surprise he has finally landed in san diego). I wouldn't be shocked if Oklahoma City is on the drawing board for him also.

                                                                                                                                          It's not 1995-2000 anymore.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                            How certain are you that Katsuya might be opening in OKC, or is this just another failed attempt to knock San Diego's dining scene once again? Speaking of which, are you still convinced that we have no restaurants still serving past 9pm on any given day?

                                                                                                                                            Pssst........you should know that Starck designed the recently opened Alain Mikli store in San Francisco. And in case you're wondering what he's been up to these days, here's an article about him that appeared in Curbed just last month...

                                                                                                                                            http://curbed.com/archives/2011/09/09...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                              Settle down Guy Fieri; not everything is "great".

                                                                                                                                              Read my posts history, my posts are extremely balanced.

                                                                                                                                              I think you got my point, which is that Starck slaps his name around more liberally than he used to.

                                                                                                                                              Which is why I said, "It's not 1995-2000 anymore."

                                                                                                                                              And no, there are not many decent restaurants in san diego serving past 9pm.

                                                                                                                                              But I am taking a global view, not a local view.

                                                                                                                                              I have been to 15 different countries (more cities) this year and I would say san diego has the least amount of good late night restaurants of any country (or city) I have been to.

                                                                                                                                              Just so you can see my perspective. Not sure what your perspective is.

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the article, you helped make my point.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                For some strange reason, I'm actually enjoying our dialogue, Steve. You are actually bringing out the best in me.

                                                                                                                                                My contribution to this forum is to pass on news and information about new restaurants/businesses opening up. Since I'm all about facts, I have no problem being corrected, but at the same time, will call BS when I see it.

                                                                                                                                                That said, are you really trying to compare San Diego's late night dining scene to places like London, Madrid, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Paris, Mexico City, etc (see, I can name drop places I've been to, as well)? If that's the case, then I'll definitely agree with you that our options are weak. Heck, I'd even say NYC closes early compared to those places mentioned. It's pretty safe to say that this country as a whole, probably has the earliest dining hours in the world, wouldn't you agree?

                                                                                                                                                What I'd really like to know is which restaurants you frequent in San Diego that close by 9pm?

                                                                                                                                                And I just checked, out of the 50 largest metros in the U.S (Keep in mind, SD ranks 17th), I've been to 44 of them. I'm talking driving around in and/or staying overnight. How many have you visited? And which one of those, besides the obvious, did you find to have plenty of late night dining options to choose from?

                                                                                                                                                Finally, I only linked that Starck article to show you that he's still busy working today. I'd be curious to know what you have contributed in the design world to feel worthy enough to call him a sell out?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                  "If that's the case, then I'll definitely agree with you that our options are weak."

                                                                                                                                                  Glad you agree.

                                                                                                                                                  Let me know which cities close earlier than san diego.

                                                                                                                                                  Because I haven't been.

                                                                                                                                        2. And the LA invasion continues.....either that, or SD is becoming an outpost for Top Chef alumnus and food show celebs ( Brian Malarkey, Troy Johnson, Sam the Cooking Guy, Marcella Valladolid, etc)!

                                                                                                                                          It's been years since I ate at their Santa Monica location, but it appears Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger aka the "Two Hot Tamales" are looking at San Diego for a possible Border Grill location.

                                                                                                                                          http://la.eater.com/archives/2011/09/...

                                                                                                                                          http://www.bordergrill.com/bg_sm/bg_s...

                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                            Troy Johnson is from San Diego, FYI.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                              And Marcella is from Tijuana

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                And as much as I am NOT a fan of Brian Malarkey, he was cooking at San Diego Oceanaire BEFORE he wore his silly hat on Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                Oceanaire
                                                                                                                                                San DIego, CA, San DIego, CA

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                  Since she was born in SD and films out of her Chula Vista home, I think we can claim her as one ours.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                Sam Zien is based out of Carmel Valley

                                                                                                                                                1. re: steveprez

                                                                                                                                                  I still get a kick out of Sam's appearance on the Today Show, when he told Kathy Lee and Hoda to be quiet.....I love how it went viral

                                                                                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov9k_y...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                    the one and only time I made an attempt to sit thru the Today Show and it was a jackpot!

                                                                                                                                                    Sam Zien is also related to the owner of Alesmith, Peter Zien, one of SD's finest breweries (and he makes some tasty cheese).

                                                                                                                                                2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                  And does being "featured" on Food Network count as making a celeb? Local pastry chef Rachel Going's (Market, Banker's Hill) famous butterscotch pot de creme is featured on Monday night's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on Food Network.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                    I like the flavor on the butterscotch pot de creme, but wow, is it ever sweet. Probably one of the only butterscotch desserts I've never finished because it was so sweet I was going to get sick :-(

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                      That particular dessert tends to be. Do you like the one at Mozza?

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                      Heck yeah, I'll take it! Any San Diego exposure is a good thing!

                                                                                                                                                      Other "celebs" I recall with SD ties are Amy Finley (winner of Next Food Network Star), Corner Cupcakes winner of most recent Cupcake Wars, Rich Sweeney of R Gang Eatery, Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room (Today Show appearance earlier this year), Devilicious on The Great Food Truck Race and The Trails Eatery on Restaurant: Impossible. I'm sure there are others.....

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                        Next month, we'll be able to add Nine-Ten's Jason Knibb to the list after he appears on Iron Chef America and goes up against Bobby Flay.

                                                                                                                                                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/iron-chef-...

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                        Dude, if you're going to knock people for being from LA, make sure they're actually from LA. And there's nothing wrong with a San Diegan being a food celeb. I know that its all cool to flame San Diego restaurants and all, but do try and get your facts straight.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jmtreg

                                                                                                                                                          LOL....after re-reading my post that you replied to, I can see where your frustration is coming from and should clarify what I meant to say, since it might not have been clear to you and others.

                                                                                                                                                          My comment about an "LA invasion" refers to the recent interest by LA-based restauranteurs and celebrity chefs wanting to set up shop in San Diego. This is actually a good thing because it must mean that outsiders believe San Diego has potential to become a great foodie city. Also, it should give a wake up call local restaurants owners to raise their bars when it comes the food and service they provide.

                                                                                                                                                          And my Top Chef/food celeb reference was to point out the fact that we DO have them here. It wasn't meant to bash them. It's always great to have San Diego mentioned on food shows and channels.

                                                                                                                                                          Feel better now? ;-)

                                                                                                                                                      3. I don't know whether to post this or scream?!? The Counter is coming to 6th and G downtown.

                                                                                                                                                        1. And the love fest between the Food Network and San Diego continues.....

                                                                                                                                                          Troy Johnson has tweeted that former San Diegan and renowned pastry chef Keegan Gerhard is opening DBar Desserts. From their website, he and his wife have impressive resumes (anyone know which French bistro he used work at when he lived here? Read his bio). Extraordinary Desserts, Chocolat and Eclipse better keep an eye on this guy.

                                                                                                                                                          http://www.dbardesserts.com/

                                                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                            I believe it was the beloved and sadly long gone Pirets.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                              Ah Pirets, loved eating brunch there & pastries there.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                You and everyone else ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah I guess that was kinda obvious. Thankfully Bread and Cie fills that gap for me now, albeit in a different manner.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                  One of the most beloved restaurants in SD...miss it so much!
                                                                                                                                                                  Wish someone would bring Piret's back..

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                I used to work w/ Keegan at Piret's. We were both co-workers under one chef, then I came back and worked under him until he left. His replacement was a real tool.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                  Ah yes, Piret's......I can still recall their original Mission Hills location where The Gathering is now. My friend used to be a waiter at their La Jolla Village location.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                  D Bar is opening in Hillcrest and going into the new building currently under construction next to Urban Outfitters. FYI, the other half of the new structure will be occupied by Snooze Eatery this coming winter.

                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.snoozeeatery.com/

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                    cow cousins??

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                      Does that mean they take out an entire family of cows at the same time? Maybe it's time for me to turn vegan........

                                                                                                                                                                3. Remember when I first mentioned that Pizzeria Mozza might be coming to San Diego, then shortly after it was announced that they had signed a lease to open at the Old Police Headquarters development downtown?

                                                                                                                                                                  Well, a blurb on Eater (where I first read about Pizzeria Mozza coming here) says that Thomas Keller ( The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon) will open a location in San Diego within the next two years. Someone has to be playing a bad joke on us, right?

                                                                                                                                                                  http://eater.com/archives/2011/07/27/...

                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                    Not necessarily. If I'm not mistaken, he spent some time in O'side growing up

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                      Just looked up his bio, and it says he was born in Oceanside. Wouldn't it be great if he came back "Home"?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                        According to wikipedia, his parents were a Marine drill instructor and a restaurateur.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                      I could see him expanding his Ad Hoc concept in many more cities including SD

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                        Oooo, Ad Hoc fried chicken. Then I'd better start my diet right now :-)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                          Great! You and DiningDiva just made my night! I also think a Bouchon Bakery would make a great neighbor to Mozza!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                            Finally a place to get kouign amann in SD? :)

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Heard from a local food industry person over the weekend that Danny DeVito and his investment partners have bought the Top of the Cove property. Planning on putting in fancy restaurant and big night club like the one he had in Miami (I said "had", because the venture there has closed). Walked by today and the "For Sale" sign and numerous locks have been removed.

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't believe that the one in Miami had anything resembling a "nightclub". To my knowledge it was just a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                          Comment on Devito's in Miami from yelp:

                                                                                                                                                                          "Apparently I hear that this restaurant is now closed, which doesn't surprise me at all. Let's just hope it doesn't pop up ever again."

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds like it'll fit right in.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                            You read my mind foodiechick. I was just going to ask if anyone knew of plans for the defunct Top of the Cove location. Hate to waste a good view, but hoping whatever goes in is not a nightclub.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. Last week, a proposal by the owners of Neighborhood and Craft & Commerce to turn the old St. Cecilia Chapel on 6th Ave. into the Church Ale House and Restaurant received approval by the CCDC. Sounds like a cool development and it should help to better link Downtown with Uptown.

                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sandiegobeerblog.com/tag/c...

                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                              While my first inclination would be to see remain a performance space (possibly due to the romantic memories of Sledgehammer Theater), Church Ale House is probably the best usage. I agree the location would provide a good link to Bankers Hill & Uptown and bolster other businesses such as Wet Stone Wine Bar and Tin Can Ale House.

                                                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                                                              Wet Stone Wine Bar & Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                              1927 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                What?!? No props to the tranny bar next door to Tin Can? LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                I thought the same thing about keeping it a performance space, at first. Then remembered that Cortez Hill could use some life on its streets. The concept of a large beer hall sounds great if they can pull it off. With talk about running a streetcar up and down either 4th, 5th or 6th Aves to Hillcrest, this would be a nice fit for the neighborhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                  My bad, the SRO Lounge is a classic; yet I don't think they get a direct bump (no pun intended) off the Church project. The street car and the so called BRT bus program is something I'll believe when I see the ground breaking ceremony. Especially since back in the day before the first trolly line was built, MTS trotted out the "Master Map" at the Del Mar Fair showing virtually every inch of the city being covered...somebody forgot to build about 85% of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm with you on "seeing is believing" in regards to the street car to Hillcrest.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Ready for this? The recently closed La Playa Bistro in Pt. Loma will become Gabardine. Yup, the Malarkey/Brennan empire seems to be taking over the area. Cohn, who?

                                                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                I think its sort of funny you mention the two in the same sentence. They had better be careful with this rapid expansion, or it may prove more fitting then they ever thought possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cohn versus Malarkey/Brennan. Seems like we are having a restaurant collapse, just like the banks.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm still waiting for Ingrid Croce to come out with guns ablazin.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                                                                    Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                      My guess is this all ends in tears.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                        For some.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree. They should just have just 2 or 3 restos at the most to focus on. What ever happened to quality, not quantity?

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, that might be right up there with the worst names ever.Couldn't they think of a name that isn't associated with leisure suits from '70s? Point Loma is a sailing community, so maybe a fabric associated with sailing? I hate to say it but even "canvas" would probably be a better name..

                                                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                                                    Point Loma Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                    4856 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: melee

                                                                                                                                                                                      Canvas is a much better name for the Point Loma area. You should send them a email now so they can nip it in the bud.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: melee

                                                                                                                                                                                        These are names I'd lobby for:

                                                                                                                                                                                        Dacron
                                                                                                                                                                                        Pleather
                                                                                                                                                                                        Velour
                                                                                                                                                                                        Naugahyde

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm still waiting for Muslin Terrace.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Serving Middle Eastern specialties, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                        Gabardine!!

                                                                                                                                                                                        You can't make this stuff up! (Why even try!!)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe it will be GabarDINE?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                          Some information on the chefs running the different new Malarkey/Brennan restaruants

                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                            Just got a tweet that the La Mesa location is @GinghamEats. It will be opening next month.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess that's the name, so as not to confuse anyone looking for a fabric store in the Village...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                              One of my employees lives a block or so away from Gingham. He says they've been going gangbusters on the remodel. The place *is* huge, but the inside was pretty choppy and the kitchen was totally in the wrong place for internal flow. My employee says it looks like they've ripped out the old kitchen and are repositioning it. If they do, that would be a good thing. Anxiously awaiting the opening

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Anyone been to Snooze Eatery..
                                                                                                                                                                                            Menu looks fab..

                                                                                                                                                                                            www.snoozeeatery.com

                                                                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                              Had breakfast there this morning. I enjoyed it. It's kind of the antithesis to Hash House. Reasonable portions, higher quality ingredients, good flavors. We'll be back.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                Awesome Josh..
                                                                                                                                                                                                What did you have?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was an open-face Cuban sandwich-inspired breakfast. Half a baguette, lengthwise, with pork, pickles, and sunny side up egg. Hash browns on the side. The wife had pancakes and had favorable things to say about them. She had the pancake of the day, which was a carrot cake pancake w/ ginger ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds fab..
                                                                                                                                                                                                    They were featured on the CW 6 news this morning..

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have been there a few times as well and have enjoyed it. What I love is the idea of the pancake flight, a taster of three pancakes of your choosing. It was great to share on the table as a starter with some coffee. I do get the complaint about the noise though. When it's busy, it can be very loud! Just go early before the crowds...

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Went a couple weeks ago, it was good BUT SO LOUD I wanted to get the check and get out ASAP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Isn't their a turned down volume thingy on those hearing aids?
                                                                                                                                                                                                    ;o)

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I eaten there a couple of times and for a dedicated breakfast place I think they shine brightly in Hillcrest. I agree with Josh in that they stand as an opposite to Hash House & Tractor Rm. on portions, but can't say they excel on quality. The place is no Farmhouse or Cafe 21, so at the end of the day it will depend on if you want a good cocktail to go with breakfast. If so, you'll be at Tractor, of not Snooze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It does look good and you can never have enough good breakfast places!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Has anyone been to Wang's in North Park or the Carnitas Shack yet? Of the two, the Carnitas shack seems more suited to my tastes, but I am curious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jmtreg

                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/822473

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jmtreg

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Haven't been to Wang's yet but the Snack Shack doesn't disappoint. Not exactly sure why their first home made sauce is a catsup rather than a salsa, but as long as the latter follows all will be right in the universe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Been to Wang's two times now and I can describe it in two words for you, "PF Chang's". Nice addition to North Park's bar dining/bar scene, but just don't go strictly for the food. People at the bar seem to be having a good time, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Totally agree about Carnita's. Pretty tasty stuff coming from a shack. And the fact that they are open till Midnight every night makes it even better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Completely agree with that assessment of Wang's. I thought the same thing. PF Chang's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. I noticed the other day that Daddy-O's, a West Point Loma Blvd. strip mall hamburger joint w/a hot rod theme, had closed and they are replacing it with a.....wait for it....wait for it...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        ANOTHER BURGER PLACE!!!! This one is chain with 15-20 stores called BGR The Burger Joint. Anyone ever heard of these guys?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not surprised, went once the food was meh, the only OK item was the happy hour beer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I liked Daddy-o's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Felt honest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Speaking of burger joints...two new ones in Point Loma: Harbor Town from the Waterfront family and Slater's 50/50 a mini chain out of orange county. Anyone been yet?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Went to Harbor Town last weekend. Simple, affordable, decent food, drinks and setting for the boat peeps in the area. Grill may need a little more accumulation of grease before it is on par with it's big brother Waterfront.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good to hear...this is the old Roseville location, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, old Roseville location. They even have a Roseville sign hung inside. I agree it's not quite up to par with Waterfront just yet and some of my friends thought it was a bit greesy also. I just figured that was part of the opening kinks that will need to be worked out. I would be interested to see if they change up their menu as they go along. I think to really capture the Point Loma crowd, they may have to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Well, we knew this was coming.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Look Ma, another burger joint! According to the latest issue of Riviera Magazine, Unami Burger of LA is currently scouting 3 locations in the San Diego area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. What a bunch of Malarkey.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                            According to Eater, Gingham (pics in link below) is set to open on New Year's Eve, Gabardine in in February and Herringbone in April.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://la.eater.com/archives/2011/12/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am still waiting for the announcement about Muslin Terrace. Should be the most interesting Malarkey spot yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And just what, exactly, is Milk Butter Chicken

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wonder. Buttermilk fried chicken and trying to be cute with the wording and failing? What ever it is putting it in a category called Oil Boil is very unappetizing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, somehow I don't think hipster cute is going to fly in La Mesa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of my employees lives very close to Gingham, they were actively distributing the menu prior to Christmas on the street one day so he picked it up and brought it in to work. We all thought the appetizers looked promising, but were confused by some of the oh-too-trendy terminology on some of the entrees. We agree with you that "oil boil" does not sound particularly appealing, tho' it does make real clear that it's most likely a deep fried item :-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The (much needed) remodel is apparently quite extensive but well thought out and will solve some of the lay-out issues that have plagued that spot. I'm not going to run right out on NYE to try it, but I am curious as all get out to see what they've done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also looking forward to trying the place. I hope that they can get enough people buying the venison, bone marrow, charcuterie and other plates that they expand the types of game meats they offer and feel like they can be more adventurous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Great that they stayed with local choices but wish they had made more of an effort on the beer list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Can't wait to check out Gingham once the buzz dies down. I give Malarkey lots of credit for venturing out of the familiar urban neighborhoods to make his presence known. This could be the start of a downtown renaissance that La Mesa has been waiting for. No reason why it can't have a sort of restaurant row thing going on like they have in San Marcos. Our East County neighbors already have a few little gems like Himalayan, BMH, Lisko, Pubcakes and Terra, so Gingham should only add to the list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          HP, I am hoping that you're right. Downtown La Mesa actually isn't that bad, it just needs to fast forward about 20 years. It's very walkable and friendly with a small-town vibe. I am so hoping Gingham does well enough to encourage some other higher end locals to give it a go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Johnny B's burgers are terrific, the San Pascul wine tasting room may not have the biggest and the best wines, but their wines are local and they're nice folks, Por Favor needs an overhaul, and perhaps the candy at Centrofoli (or how ever it's spelled) isn't exactly See's or Chuao, but La Mesa Blvd. has so much potential. I can see a "Culver City-esque" revivial happening if the right players all decide to move east a few miles :-). A couple of trendy galleries, a couple of successful restaurants is probably all it'll take.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like the Culver City comparison. CC is a great example of a town that has been revitalized with a vibrant food/drinks scene. Of course, having Sony there helps. But it's good to see Malarkey invest in an area that isn't exactly the obvious choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I like your vision, DD! You are right in that La Mesa Blvd. just needs a facelift and I think Gingham is just what it needs to help update it's image. A brewpub/alehouse would be another great addition to the strip (hint hint to Blind Lady). If only Terra had moved to the village instead of the El Cajon Blvd location. We can dream, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Terra and Pubcakes are on a pretty godforesaken stretch of El Cajon Blvd. for sure. The only thing uglier than Terra's location is their jumbo sign. Not sure exactly what Chef Jeff was thinking when he ordered that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Having spent 3 years trying to make of go of it two blocks down from Terra, I have a special disdain for La Mesa. Watching the Riviera struggle has told me not much has changed out there. I will be curious if Malarkey's buzz (and hubris), is strong enough for this decision to pay off. As he said himself in Grub Street..."I wouldn't do it if I didn't have the talent" some one forgot to tell him that "talent" isn't what matters out there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I could definitely see going to Gingham for dinner then wandering over to Hoffers for a cigar and a beer. They have a really good selection of beer on tap but hardly ever get mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JRSD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I had errands in La Mesa today so I took a really short detour through the village to check out Gingham. Opening day is tomorrow and it was a beehive of activity. Looks like they'll have to pull an all-nighter in order to be ready, tho'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good move.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Just in time for the next recession.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Menus:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dinner: http://la.eater.com/uploads/Gingham%2...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lunch: http://la.eater.com/uploads/Ginham%20...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Just in time for the next recession".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't get it. What are you talking about?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Island

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the rumored double-dip recession that hopefully won't happen...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Is it safe to say that noodles and sake will be the next big thing? Underbelly looks to have some nearby competition with Gaijin Noodle House opening soon in the Gaslamp. Kanpai!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. The Native Foods Cafe website says it's opening in Encinitas around March/April. Anyone know where the location might be?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://nativefoods.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, I answered my own question. The address is listed in the locations page of their website. Looks like it's in the same center as Trader Joe's. I'm sure this place will do well there, although it would have been nice if it was on the Coast Highway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I curious why you want the native foods cafe on PCH instead of ECR. The City Council wants the "old" downtown core along PCH to be redeveloped, which thay have done a fine job with. The problem is that they don't seem to care much about the ECR corridor leaving it to be fast food central and the poor step-child of the city. Really more people in Encinitas live east of the 5 than on the beach side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. It's great that Troy Johnson is the new food critic at San Diego Magazine! Less than 2 months in, and he's reporting the following........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -Doug Manchester opening a new restaurant on Prospect Ave. in La Jolla. Cousin to Addison?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -Culy Warehouse in East Village to become Block 16 Union & Spirits. Includes a bar/club with deli counter open till 3am. Opening in May

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -The owner of Basic and URBN is opening Gang Kitchen in a 5,000 square foot space next door to Broken Yolk in East Village. Asian Fusion opening this summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            - Both The Smoking Goat and Bencotto expanding into adjacent spaces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/media...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/media...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              great news about Smoking Goat, the current place is cramped.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, I agree. Just hope that they're able to keep it's neighborhoody feel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Glad their expanding. Ate there NYE and have to say they're making the best food in the neighborhood right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Jason Maitland, of Kitchen 1540 fame, is heading to the Gaslamp to open Red Light District (Former Sushi Itto location). This should help raise the bar for the neighborhood's food reputation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://blog.discoversd.com/san-diego-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ......and speaking of Kitchen 1540, Brandon Hernandez is reporting that the new executive chef they've hired comes from the Four Seasons Whistler Mountain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He also reports that the chef from Ritual Tavern in North Park is headed to the the new cafe at the soon to open SOL Market at Liberty Station.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.solmarkets.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Recently ate at Kitchen 1520, and it was delicious. Staff was knowledgeable, food was excellent, and general service was good. Hope they'll be open for longer hours soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Another tidbit from Troy Johnson/San Diego Magazine: Chad White signs w/ Malarkey to helm Gabardine in Point Loma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And speaking of fabrics, Gingham debuted yesterday - http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/j...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I knew it was an extensive reno, the place is now HUGE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's probably been said elsewhere, but I'm wondering if Mr. Fedora will be involved with a venture in Hillcrest called "Leather".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ...or Sackcloth?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I heard he is opening a El Savadorian/Balinese tapas bar/rave club called "Rayon" soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        East village watch out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'El Savadorian/Balinese tapas bar/rave club'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ha..love that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, can't wait for their "full moon party" specials!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ; )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        you guys are killing me with the leather and sackcloth...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ; )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't Chad White a chef/partner at SeaRocket Bistro? Hadn't it been previously reported that the a Cohn chef by the name of Paul something or other had signed on as the exec chef? And I'm still waiting for them to get with the program and change the name to CANVAS!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I really like your idea of CANVAS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They are saying that Chad White will still be a partner at SeaRocket, and will be Executive Chef and Partner Gabardine. I am looking forward to this opening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can't take credit for CANVAS, I heard someone recommend that here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Good point. I always forget about that....but not for long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I guess not all cool things come out of Hollywood. According to Eater, Dillon's Irish Pub is headed to San Diego. Looks to me like an ugly step sister of The Tilted Kilt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://la.eater.com/archives/2012/01/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://dillonsirishpub.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Meh. Now if they were talking about Tom Bergin's moving down here, different story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah Bergin's, a few late nights. A few too many.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ditto :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Cremolose (company from Palermo) will open on 5th in the Gaslamp quarter - gelato, small plate, pastry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.cremolose.com/index.asp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Looks like they are open now....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/media...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cool, I'll have to check it out for lunch sometime soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Heard the owners of the Beach Club are renovating the old Hennesey's in PB, will open around March. It's going to be called Duck Deck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Sounds like the Brooklyn Girl opening right around the corner. Also sounds like the concept could remind us of Piret's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kudos to Mike and Vic for opening Brooklyn Girl in the fall..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If anyone can pull this off, it's those two..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Can't wait..exactly what SD needs..bringing back Piret's..with their take...they'll frigging kill it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Who are "Mike and Vic"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Models from the Ukraine..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Owned Trattoria Acqua in LJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I heard Prep Kitchen will open in Little Italy by the end of the month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good addition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, they have their work cut out for them with their "2nd floor" location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Time will tell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dined there last night and the place was hopping. Usual Prep Kitchen menu with daily flatbreads and special meats. Last night was milk braised pork shoulder which of course didn't suck. One interesting aspect of the space is they have extensive "open" seating in the bar at which people can order a full dinner. Last night they seem to expect two servers to handle the volume for food & cocktails. This wasn't working. I chalk it up to first week tremors that will work themself out. Other than this small glitch everything else was spot on. This is easily their best space and raises the bar in Little Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Had lunch there a little while ago, and was unimpressed with the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So unimpressed, I can't even remember what I ate. I think the burger was one of the items. Average.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Might still be a good place for a cocktail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking of waiting, that's just what we did at PrepKitchen. I've always been a fan of the one in La Jolla, and while the space is interesting, it is loud, it appears they are understaffed (perhaps this is a patterns, not just first week tremors) and the food was bland. It was quite different from all of my experiences in La Jolla.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, "bland" is a good way to describe it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        May try it for a cocktail and apps soon though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Well, something appears to finally be going into Crescent Heights' old space at 655 West Broadway. The application to serve alcohol notice in the window said something like "Sora Restaurant Group."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Soras that came up from searches were either sushi places or italian. Anyone know anything about this one?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Up to the minute info.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That must be pretty new.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was wondering when someone would try that location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Remember Crescent Heights was the undisputed "Best New Restaurant in San Diego" that year it opened. As the ink on their awards were drying, they folded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A continuation of San Diego's "Wolfgang Puck Curse".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not familiar with that restaurant group, although many times they use DBA's as names on those that have no relation to prior restaurants or what the restaurant will be named.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hopefully something good moves in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Looks like the head chef of Nobu and the owner of Chocolat are opening Sora in the old Crescent Heights location, and will be a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant. Troy Johnson has the scoop here and it sounds pretty interesting:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/media...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Love love reading what T Roy has to say...Japanese/Italian fusion..interesting..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crescent Heights..why does that sound familiar..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wishing them all the best!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Crescent Heights is the name of a major street in LA. I recall he named it after that for some reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "SD’s first Japanese-Italian concept"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          False.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He is forgetting about Crudo in the old Spagettiteria location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You sure, Steve? I'm fine bein wrong. But I thought Crudo was basically sushi and a dance club.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            --Troy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Prepkitchen tweeted that the Little Italy location opens today at 5pm........yippee!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Saw the space last nightafter a dinner at Davanti & it looks great. So glad they have come to my part of town

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Near term openings in Encinitas from Patch:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dos Palmas Panaderia and Grill is slated to open on Leucadia Coast Hwy May 5 in a newly built building. http://encinitas.patch.com/articles/u...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Native Foods Cafe is slated to open in May, in the shopping center at the corner of Encinitas Bld and El Camino Real. http://nativefoods.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Craftsman New American Tavern will also open its doors this summer in the space formerly occupied by Savory. Owner Wade Hageman, the mastermind behind Blue Ribbon Pizzeria, told Patch he plans to offer “simple dishes done well,” including house-made sausages and his spin on macaroni and cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://encinitas.patch.com/articles/w...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Wich Addiction is now open in Mira Mesa across Mira Mesa Blvd from Green Flash Brewery. The address is 6625 Flanders

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wich Addiction is the B&M restaurant of the owners of the Devilicious food truck. The current menu is similar to items that are offered on Devilicious in terms of gourmet sandwiches and sides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: karaethon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Do you know (even roughly) the hours at Wich Addiction (lunch/dinner what days)? Their website wasn't too forthcoming. Looks like they might be still trying to figure that out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I went last week and the menu said 11am to 7pm. Not sure if it is really up to speed yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think it's 10am-7pm M-F and 10am-2pm on Saturday, closed Sunday

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: karaethon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks folks! We stopped by last night. I have to say it was pretty tasty, and I'm looking forward to eating my way through that menu. Last night we tried the beef stroganoff yummies, the corned beef sandwich and the short rib poutine. Next time I'll have to get a salad to balance everything out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's nice to see something in the neighborhood that fills that narrow restaurant gap between WineSellar and Habaneros.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It looks like they bailed on evening service due to lack of local residents, and they now are open for breakfast and lunch only.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Amici's East Coast Pizzeria opening today on Prospect in La Jolla.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://lajolla.patch.com/articles/ami...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bizzwriter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Is this where the old IHOP used to be?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Correct-o-mundo. And the fabled (and short-lived) Panini Cafe. Not the best location on Prospect. I'll let their ovens break in for a while before I check it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bizzwriter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is great news. Amici's was one of my go-to choices in the Bay Area while I lived there. I'll be checking out the La Jolla shop this afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Papa Luna's Empanadas on Garnet in Pacific Beach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen from Wade Hageman going in in Hillcrest where the African place used to be on University and 5th St.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.blueribbonrustickitchen.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh and Salt and Cleaver in Hillcrest too on 5th as well, was supposed to Sausage King, but had to change the name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scottca075

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Szechwan Cafe has been open for one week. The menu and food remind me of Spicy City. (on Convoy Street across the street from Super Sergio)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scottca075

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just finished lunch and beers at Salt and Cleaver....too much in a violet haze to report, but LOVED IT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. There’s been a little back and forth about LW's SD BBQ elsewhere on this board, but time for a separate post. This new place (in Clairemont, down from Keils) is currently undergoing a spongy-soft opening, and things are obviously not quite together just yet. The carry-out menu says that all meats (chicken, pork, brisket, turkey) are cooked “low-and-slow” over hickory hardwood. That’s a big draw if genuine. Maybe this is done off-site, or maybe they have excellent kitchen ventilation/filtering -- I didn’t smell any smoke when I was there today. I think the place is putting itself directly up against Phil’s and Bull's, frankly, and boldly calls its BBQ “San Diego Style”. Maybe so, whatever that means. Neither Phil’s nor Bull's are “San Diego Style”, that’s for sure. They're popular Texas-style places for those who like that style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I lived in North Carolina for many years and remember the pig-pickins’ -- huge on-the-farm gatherings with a gigantic rented grill and a whole pig turning since dawn, where in the afternoon you served yourself directly from the rotating pig with a large fork. Then you added a vinegar-based chili sauce. For me, that’s been my BBQ baseline, the best I’ve ever had. It’s not in the slightest like Texas Style, which I really don’t really like that much. But those are the two best-known styles, Texas and Carolina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LW’s seems to be trying to offer an alternative to both of these. It's not the sickeningly-sweet thick Texas BBQ style exemplified by Phil's, nor is it the thin, tangy-hot NC style. The flavor of LW’s sauce is different, with a pronounced cumin overtone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The small, stark, order-at-the-counter restaurant has a number of El Yucateco hot sauces available, which is in the right direction since their sauce needs heat (for people like me), but the El Yucateco brand is a bad choice. Don’t misinterpret: I do like El Yucateco (especially the Mayan Kutbil-Ik) but the El Yucateco sauces (well, maybe the Red) can't at all marry with LW’s cumin-y BBQ sauce. I tried the Mayan, and -- yuk. Castillo brand salsa habanera (which I get at Carnival) tastes much more like ripe habaneros than any of the El Yucateco sauces, and would go much better with LW’s BBQ sauce. Maybe I'll bring my own bottle next time I go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We shall see how LW’s does, but it would be good to have an alternative to Phil’s and Bull’s nearby. I very rarely go out for BBQ in San Diego because I haven’t found anything worth going out for. I’ll go back to LW's and see how it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Today I had a pulled pork sandwich there. Not thrilling, but decent, a little different from the norm, and tasty. The meat was flavorful, tender and juicy. Not yet ready for thumbs up or down, but hey, I think today might have been their first day in business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      47 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed on the lack of decent BBQ in town outside those in the know's back yard efforts. Try Brazen in Hillcrest as another alternative for quality smoked meats. Their sauces also lack appeal, bit they handle a brisket better than most in Ca.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think you've got Texas-style BBQ confused with St. Louis-style BBQ-- I (have to) visit Texas at least once each and every year, and I've eaten at about half of the famous places in Texas-- including Lockhart, which is usually considered the BBQ capital of Texas. Texas BBQ is all smoke-- no sauce at all on the meat, just a dry rub. Served with pickles, onions, and sliced bread or saltines. One or two of the places do offer a sauce (as a condiment) but it is nothing like what you'll find at Phil's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Been to Coops?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Second only to my own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Is Coops still open?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                YES!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What's with all the rumors today? The parking at OPH was a wildfire rumor based on one person's FB post, based on a misprint somewhere, then the Coops closing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                All is good here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW- DD, what's the kind of Borrego that's cooked in a pit? Tapentada or something?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think I just know it as barbacoa for lamb or cochinita pibil for pork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PS, thanks for confirming that the parking info was a misprint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No, I haven't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ahhh, Doc. Gotta go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like the rib tips. There is better BBQ, but not in this town. I find the side dishes to be meh, but the meat's good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    OK. I'll put it on my list and make a note to try the rib tips when I go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Went over to Coops in Lemon Grove for the rib tips today. I like the place -- tiny, nicely smoke-smelling inside, and with a serious-looking BBQ clientele. Definitely fits into the “joint” category. Flavorful, very tender rib tips with a nice enough rub, but even so I dipped them in the dark sauce from the squeezer (as opposed to the vinegary spicy orange-colored sauce in a bottle). I think I picked up flavors of brown sugar, molasses, and Worcestershire in the sauce. Coops calls their BBQ “west Texas” style, which evidently means more direct heating than in central or east Texas (from what I've been reading, anyway, which has only made me more confused)? I haven’t a clue, but I can say this: The rib tips I had today were tasty enough to be worth the 16 mile drive to check them out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the push, FN.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I dunno...I saw Costco is selling smoked, pulled pork meat (without sauce). Might be easier than begging for dinner party leftovers. ;D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Retracting generosity in 3…2…1..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, about two or three months ago. Unfortunately they don't have a jukebox that I can mention here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, just nowhere near the level of great BBQ that I've had from about every little town within 100 miles of Austin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The best Texas style I've been able to find around Southern California is from a guy named "Big Mista" that sells his BBQ at farmer's markets around Orange and LA counties. Drove up to the South Central LA farmer's market a couple of years ago on my day off and I was not disappointed. Some day I'll hopefully get a chance to hit up Bludso's in Compton, I've heard some decent things about that place too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ikeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You can get Bludso's on LaBrea now in the old Tar Pit place (which is really missed) with some cocktails

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For any of the San Diegans that remember Gellerosa BBQ (used to be downtown), apparently the folks are back in business in Pasadena, now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.bonniebssmokin.com/bbss/ou...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm curious if it tastes the same, but don't know when I'm gonna be able to get up there, myself. I hope it's as good as the old SD place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have no experience with BBQ so I am curious to hear from people who have eaten at the "benchmark" places what they think about Barnes BBQ (Memphis-style) in Lemon Grove. We had it about a year ago and liked it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Barnes & the long gone but not forgotten Fargo were in my mind the best spots SD could muster. By "best" I mean closets to the expression of their respective style. That being said I thought Barnes lost a step when they moved to LG but it's been a while since I've eaten there. At the end of the day, talking BBQ in SD is analogous to discussing tacos in Salt Lake City as it is all a simulacra.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ikeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Berlin, now Austin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OF COURSE there is better BBQ in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Arrgh.