INCOMING: The Grill House at Big Ben

National City landmark gets its own local-food grill and specialty market


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While blessed with some of the best Filipino food in San Diego, National City isn't known as a haven for fresh, local, healthy food. Local guy Nick Salem looks to change that. Salem’s renovated a National City icon, Big Ben, which for 65 years was little more than a corner grocery store selling sodas and smokes, plus some homemade Mexican fare. A fire destroyed the building months ago, and now’s it’s reopening as a sort of Sprouts, Jr. for the city, with locally grown produce, education center, and an open-air restaurant, The Grill at Big Ben Specialty Market (108 E 8th St.). The Grill will be a full restaurant with house-smoked meats, seafood, whole-grain type fare. At the end of each meal, the Grill will give recipe cards so that shoppers can shop at the market and make the meals at home. It’ll also have a grab ‘n’ go section with smoked brisket, ribs and pastas for take out. They plan to invite local chefs to give healthy cooking demos to the locals, too—something that seems needed in National City, which has an obesity rate of a whopping 50% (highest in the county). Big Ben’s soft opening is Dec. 16, with a big ole grand opening Jan. 25.

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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