» Newsletter Sign-Up
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Restaurant Week Top 40

What Troy Johnson would eat

(page 1 of 6)

San Diego Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week is upon us. Simple concept. Chefs create a special prix fixe menu. You pick an appetizer, entree and a dessert from a few options. And then they heavily, heavily discount the cost. So, go nuts.

Only problem? There are 187 restaurants this year. A boatload. So I Casey Kasem'd the list down to the RESTAURANT WEEK TOP 40. After eating at a majority over the last six years, I feel your path to enlightenment lays with these—the best, the brightest, the newest, the most generous. I thought about doing a Top 10, but every year the Top 10 are sold out or only have 5PM reservations available. Plus, maybe you just feel like sushi tonight, not fancypants California-Franco cuisine. Or, let's say you don't want to drive to La Jolla. This list will give you a quality handful of options—different cuisine, price range, menu—depending on your mood, appetite and geographical concerns.

I then went through every menu and pretended like I was ordering. By no means follow my menu choices. I just liked spending five hours of my day role-playing. And it gives you a decent idea of what they're serving. Click on any portion of our selects to go to the full menu.

Note: The following are NOT numbered in order of favorite. It's just proof I can count. Also, I only covered dinner. But some spots offer lunch, too.

NORTH COUNTY

(Del Mar to Oceanside, plus inland North County)


1. Market Restaurant + Bar ($40)

Carl Schroeder was the only SD chef nominated for a James Beard Award in 2011. He’s in a class of his own in the Via de la Valle corridor.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Roasted chile soup & braised pork shoulder tamale w/ lime-créme fraiche, Sonoma pepperjack cheese
Entree: Cast-iron grilled beef tenderloin w/ white cheddar-BLT souffle, forrest mushroom roast, Cabernet jus
Dessert: Lemon & vanilla bean meringue tart w/ candied kumquats, frozen yogurt, tangerine reduction

______________________

2. Amaya ($40)

No, Grand Del Mar’s show pony Addison isn’t running Restaurant Week. Their participation would make angels weep. But GDM does everything top-notch, and Amaya’s no mere consolation prize.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Grilled quail w/ chickpea blini, pomegranate jus
Entree: Roasted duck breast w/ spiced carrot puree, smoky red cabbage, honey-roasted turnips
Dessert: Warm honey-lemon financier cake w/ Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce

______________________

3. Mille Fleurs ($40)

Chef Martin Woesle is one of the elite talents in San Diego. While hot young chefs come and go, this Chino Farms diehard has simply made a long, distinguished career of doing things right.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Spicy salmon-trout tartare w/ shaved fennel, crème fraiche, wasabi caviar
Entree: Prime beef flat iron steak w/ porcini sauce, heirloom carrots, handmade rosemary spätzle
Dessert: Apple fritters w/ hot mulled cider, vanilla ice cream, chantilly

______________________

4. Pacifica Del Mar ($40)

Pacifica's got the best perch atop Plaza Del Mar. Pure Pacific Ocean eye-opium. And they've got a new exec chef in Stephany O’Mary-Berwald. Born and raised in Peru, she’s got a pedigree that includes exec positions at NYC’s Italian joint Bond 45, L.A.’s grab-and-go lunch spot Gram & Papa’s (exec) and Palihouse Courtyard Brasserie.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: White bean soup w/ herbed croutons and mascarpone
Entree: Sugar-spiced salmon w/ Chinese beans, garlic mashed potatoes, mustard sauce
Dessert: Vanilla bean crème brulee

______________________

5. Vintana ($30)

The Cohn Restaurant Group did a great job with this seemingly odd project—a massive, high-end restaurant atop a Lexus dealership in Escondido. Chef Deborah Scott has been a marquee name in San Diego since I was still lunchpailing it to Sunset Hills Elementary School (that's a Rancho Penasquitos shout-out), but Vintana also brings in sommelier Sheehan McCoy, fresh from England’s three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn. It's the most impressive view-restaurant in Escondido.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Pepita & sesame-crusted brie w/ jalapeño jelly, honey-roasted garlic, scallion flatbread
Entree: Lemon-thyme roasted chicken w/ buttermilk mash, sauteed greens, apple cider pan jus, glazed baby carrots
Dessert: Key lime tartlet w/ fresh berries, toasted coconut, meringue

______________________

6. 333 Pacific ($30)

Another Cohn entry. Oceanside was a fine-dining desert until 333 went in, and it's one of the stars of CRG's portfolio, specializing in boat-fresh seafood and enough vodka to make them honorary Russkies.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: White bean and tasso ham soup w/ pesto, grilled artichoke, parmesan
Entree: Tarragon-encrusted sea bass w/ warm red bliss potato salad, whole grain mustard vinaigrette, applewood smoked bacon, braised greens
Dessert: Apple streusel cheesecake w/ caramel sauce

 

SD Food Events

Alfredo Jaar: Muxima

2014.03.15

Alfredo Jaar’s Muxima (2005) brings together diverse ideas and significant cultural traditions as envisioned by one of the most important...

2014-15 Auditions – San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory

2014.04.01

Join the orchestra, make wonderful music and meet new friends with San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS). Audition registration is now...

What Troy is Eating

From hot dogs and hamburgers to lobsters and foie gras, a photostream of what our dining editor is eating.

Restaurant Reviews Archive

Restaurant Review: Amaya La Jolla

Restaurant Review: Amaya La Jolla

Amaya La Jolla has it all, and maybe just a little too much

Read More »
Archives:

» Market Del Mar Review

» Review: Sea & Smoke

eNewsletters