Restaurant Week Top 40

What Troy Johnson would eat



Published:

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

 

 

CENTRAL CITY
(Little Italy, North Park, Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, etc.)


7. La Villa ($30)

La Villa is one of the most underrated restaurants in Little Italy. Along with Bencotto, they represent the modern blood infusion into the area's Italian food scene. The owners have proven their top-notch grub at their other spots, Il Trulli and Buon Appetito.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Niman Ranch pork belly w/ spiced apple puree, citrus glaze
Entree: Sweet potato gnocchi w/ crispy duck, pumpkin, fresh chickpea, wild spinach, sage
Dessert: Salted chocolate mousse w/ hazelnut-pecan prailine, Maldon sea salt

_____________________

8. Prepkitchen Little Italy ($30)

With the Little Italy location, Prepkitchen—the casual offshoot of chef Ryan Johnston and restaurateur Arturo Kassel's show-pony, Whisknladle—took a leap forward. The huge, salvage-decor space above the corner of India and Date is simply one of the area's coolest rooms to hang out in. And Johnston's a talent.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Crispy pork belly w/ faro, tangerine, charred escarole & molasses glaze
Entree: Crow’s Pass squash ravioli w/ quince mostardo, hazelnut, butter, Parmesan and sage
Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding w/ dates, brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg, candied orange and Chantilly

______________________

9. Azuki Sushi Lounge ($30)

A Bankers Hill sushi gem. Doesn't get as much attention as Hane, simply because Hane is tied to local icon Sushi Ota. I've never had a bad experience, and the design beats the hell out of Hane.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Spicy albacore tataki w/ Japanese cucumber, diced jalapeño, shichimi pepper, ponzu
Entree: 7-piece omakase sushi (chef's choice) w/ onikoroshi honjozo
Dessert: Crispy spring roll w/ banana, azuki paste and mascarpone cheese, vanilla ice cream

______________________

10. Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant ($30)

This is the casual offshoot from Del Mar's Market Restaurant + Bar. Chef de cuisine Ted Smith worked closely under Market's supreme leader Carl Schroeder. And since Schroeder is both an elite talent and a quality-control obsessive, Bankers Hill isn't much of a dropoff from the flagship restaurant.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Fuyu persimmon & prosciutto salad w/ arugula, fennel, toasted hazelnuts, cranberry-ginger vinaigrette
Entree: Mesquite-grilled local thresher shark w/ corn tamale, Swiss chard, braised tomatillo & poblano sauce
Dessert: TBD

______________________

11. Bertand at Mister A’s ($40)

The best view in San Diego. Downtown skyline. San Diego Bay. Planes taking off into the Pacific sunset (to the chagrin of Point Loma homeowners). Brilliant. And Bertrand Hug—owner, host, maitre'd—is just about the last of the old guard who believes in well-orchestrated, world-class service.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Scallop and shrimp "gratinée" w/ leeks, white wine velouté, Gruyere
Entree: 48-hour braised Brandt Farm beef w/ horseradish cream, root veg
Dessert: Vanilla bean cheesecake w/ blood orange couli, Amaretto ice cream

______________________

12. Brooklyn Girl ($30)

Michael and Victoria McGeath’s Mission Hills joint is just what the neighborhood ordered—something with less 1980s design, plus a killer pizza and greasy, lovely cornbread.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: All-Kale Caesar w/ lemon, anchovies, croutons, Parmesan, bacon & eggs
Entree: Mary’s free-range half-chicken in a pot (smoked, oven-roasted) w/ onions, carrots, red potatoes, thyme butter
Dessert: Rosemary crème brulee

______________________

13. Cucina Urbana ($25, $30 or $35—your choice)

At first, the droves came for the spectacle—the former white-linen Laurel gutted to become farm-chic Cucina Urbana. But the crowds just keep coming and coming. That proves Tracy Borkum and chef Joe Magnanelli have simply done things right.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Zuppa (chef's whim)
Entree: Brandt Farms ribeye w/ shallot al forno, gorgonzola potato croquette, spinach, smoked tomato vinaigrette
Dessert: Meyer Lemon cake w/ pistachio gelato, huckleberry jam, lemon curd

______________________

14. Farm House Café ($30)

Olivier Bioteau is one talented Frenchie, and though foodies would love him to expand, he’s apparently content with what he’s got—a claustrophobically tiny, pâté -peddling bistro that is always packed. Selecting his menu is easy—there’s only one option per course.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Tarte au brie (caramelized onion leek w/ brie fondue tart)
Entree: Grilled Berkshire Farms Pork New York w/ Yukon mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, caramelized apple, whole grain mustard jus
Dessert: Espellete chocolate lava cake w/ mango coulis

______________________

15. The Red Door ($30)

This is the neighborhood restaurant The Neighborhood always wanted to be. They've got an organic garden out back. They source local food. They pour small-batch wines. And chef Miguel Valdez churns out good riffs on unpretentious comfort food.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Local shrimp & chorizo w/ shallots, white wine, toms, cream, herbs, goat cheese and crispy cheese polenta cakes
Entree: Honey-glazed Mary’s duck leg w/ apricot-cranberry-walnut stuffing, sautéed garlic garden cauliflower & broccoli, Port reduction
Dessert: Wreck Alley Imperial Float w/ Karl Strauss Wreck Alley Imperial stout, vanilla ice cream

______________________

16. Wine Vault & Bistro ($20)

Every week is “Restaurant Week” at Wine Vault—a place known for remarkably high cuisine for remarkably low prices. At first, I thought for sure they were just buying frozen skirt steak from Sysco. Nope. It's all top-notch, fresh food. They just somehow (cheap overhead, wine retail) do it so much cheaper than everybody else in town.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Seafood chowder w/ bay scallops, venus clams, fennel, crispy fingerling potatoes, leeks
Entree: Sous vide skirt steak w/ scallion chimichurri, smoked black bean ragout, glazed veggies
Dessert: Cinnamon butter cake w/ vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate-raisin compote, 34-year-old PX Sherry drizzle

______________________

17. Barrio Star

Isabel Cruz is one of the best Mexican chefs in the city. The New York Times named her 2008 book, Isabel's Cantina one of the year's most notable. This is her laidback showcase on Bankers Hill.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Cup of pozole of the day
Entree: Pepita-crusted local seabass w/ jalapeño lime sauce, Mexican rice and steamed greens
Dessert: Flamed bananas

 

 

DOWNTOWN


18. Café Chloe ($30)

One of the first to trailblaze East Village, Chloe is still tops in Downtown. Everyone—from owners to chef Katie Grebow to staff—is all-in, like the most food-knowledgeable, sophisticated little family. The most charming bistro in San Diego.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Warm crottin goat cheese & fig salad
Entree: Mussels belgique w/ pommes frites
Dessert: Pistachio bread pudding w/ vanilla ice cream

______________________

19. Gaijin Noodle + Sake House ($20)

I overlooked chef Antonio Friscia for a long time, partially because I suspected a high-end club like Stingaree was more into bottle service than grub. But at every name-chef event, Friscia’s creations were among the best. Gaijin is his pan-Asian joint, where the focus is more on his food.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer #1: Tamarind-braised Beef tongue & cheek bao bao w/ steamed bao bun, jalapeño, cilantro, red rock sugar, peanuts
Appetizer #2: Yakitori (changes daily, but hope for Jidori chicken wing)
Entree: Gaijin drunken noodles w/ sake, beef, Jidori chicken, bacon, veggies, oyster sauce
Dessert: Mochi (Japanese stick rice cake)

______________________

20. Cowboy Star ($40)

My personal favorite steakhouse in San Diego. It’s as good if not better than the big, expense-account places, plus it’s got better/quirkier design (cowpoke chic) and chef Victor Jimenez gets more inventive than the usual steakhouse suspects allow. And the brown-liquor creatives at the bar are top-notch.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Tortellini w/ braised short rib, sautéed nettles, crispy Brussels sprout leaves
Entree: Venison loin w/ parsnip puree, pear-cranberry relish, sautéed chard, red wine sauce
Dessert: Chocolate bread pudding w/ warm butterscotch sauce and chocolate ice cream

______________________

21. Crab Hut ($40)

It looks and feels like some sort of Red Lobster chain. But rest assured, this Cajun-style fish joint is owned by a Vietnamese family who spent time in the bayou. Plus, you're getting either a whole dungeness crab or a lobster—with an app and dessert—for $40. Unbeatable.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Crab chowder w/ lump crabmeat
Entree: Whole dungeness crab w/ Cajun sauce
Dessert: Bourbon bread pudding

______________________

22. Donovan’s ($40)

After tasting most of the bigger steakhouse chains, I've always been most impressed by Donovan's. This isn’t an R&D lab of molecular gastronomy. It’s a steakhouse. If all you do is meat, you’re going to cook it perfectly every single time on instinct.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Caesar Salad
Entree: Twin prime filet medallions w/ bleu cheese and port wine demi-glace
Dessert: Crème brulee

______________________

23. Grant Grill ($40)

The Grant is a Downtown classic, and chef Chris Kurth is a farmers market diehard with a keen sense of the classics. Plus, the place looks like the mob might come in dressed in impeccable suits with starlets on their arms and have dinner with guns beneath their suit coats. Old Hollywood glamour meets dinner.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Fortified chicken boullion w/ chicken liver parfait, brioche, parmesan, cilantro and curried carrots
Entree: Molasses-cured duck breast w/ braised endive, savory granola, bergamot-scented duck jus, spice bread crisp
Dessert: Tahitian squash olive oil cake w/ pistachios, tangerine lace, ginger custard, brown sugar ice cream

______________________

24. Nobu ($40)

Nobu is not an inexpensive restaurant. When you offer top-notch sushi, have chef Nobu Matsuhisa's personal recipes, and serve it in a multimillion-dollar showplace, you have every right to charge more. So experiencing it at half the cost is an especially rare thing.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Creamy crab yuzu kosho w/ King Crab, Japanese pepper aioli and lime
Entree: Black cod with miso. The legendary dish. Worth it every time
Dessert: Meyer lemon roll w/ soufflé sponge, Meyer lemon curd, pistachio sauce, mascarpone sherbet

______________________

25. Searsucker ($40)

This is what started it for SD's hottest restaurant empire—Enlightened Hospitality Group (chef Brian Malarkey, nightlifer James Brennan, designer Thomas Schoos). I've found the food at most Malarkey spots hit-and-miss. But Searsucker's never been just about food. For grub, design, cocktails and vibe takent together... absolutely a winner.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Short rib "Cali-belgique" w/ horseradish and fried onion
Entree: Flat iron w/ "chuck" chimichurri and béarnaise
Dessert: Cinnamon doughnuts w/ malted dark chocolate cream

______________________

26. The Westgate ($40)

Chef Fabrice Hardel is one of, if not the best chef currently working in Downtown. The Frenchie has the classical training required of the old-world, ornate German restaurant, but he's also wildly creative and uses just enough modern magic (molecular gastronomy) to make a great meal without ruining it.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Hudson valley Duck Prosciutto w/ Parmesan-Reggiano soufflé, fig wonton, peppercress and grapes
Entree: Black Angus Beef Tenderloin w/ Weiser Farms potatoes, Sandeman Port wine, black truffle gello and grilled king oyster mushrooms
Dessert: Deconstructed banana split w/ banana tuile, chocolate-vanilla mousse and strawberries, almond flake ice cream

______________________

27. 1500 Ocean ($40)

It's The Del. Short of Amy Winehouse's ghost dirty dancing with Marilyn's on the bar, what new can be said of the place? Nothing. Except that their new executive chef Robert Hohmann has one hell of a pedigree—including a James Beard Award nomination for best chef in the Pacific region and sous chef at Mario Batali's Del Posto.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Burrata bruschetta w/ walnut pesto, coppa, black truffle gastrique
Entree: Moulard duck breast w/ cranberry, chicory, spaetzle, parsnip puree
Dessert: Chocolate polenta cake w/ spiced cherry, moscato sabayon

______________________

28. JSix ($30)

We let a singular tear loose when chef Christian Graves was named GM of Hotel Solamar, meaning he wouldn't be in the kitchen as often. But Graves is among the city's elite, a true talent with anything that swims. And he still oversees all that happens at the newly remodeled JSix.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Black Tellicherry pepper pappardelle w/ Parmesan cream sauce, cured pork jowl, sage
Entree: Caramelized Maine diver scallops w/ duckfat potatoes, roasted maitake, porcini-chestnut puree
Dessert: Walnut-chocolate tart w/ salted caramel, walnut crust, chocolate top

 

 

BEACH AREAS
(OB, PB, Mission)


29. Bo Beau ($30)

Simply the best thing Cohn Restaurant Group has done. Their partnership with impeccably romantic designer Philippe Beltran resulted in a candlelit room that raises human fertility by 300 percent. And chef Katherine Humphus' beef bourgingnon is one of the best I've had in San Diego.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Escargot w/ garlic herb butter
Entree: Beef bourgignon w/ braised short ribs, baby carrots, pancetta, mushrooms, pearl onions, fingerling potatoes
Dessert: Cinnamon roll (baked to order) w/ cinnamon butter swirl, vanilla icing, candied pecans

______________________

30. Firefly @ The Dana ($30)

Though attached to The Dana hotel, the Firefly has become a locals' favorite for lunch. it's got a great perch next to a small marina on Mission Bay, overlooking the Ingram Street bridge that looks, if you tilt your head right and strain your imagination, like the Coronado bridge. A recent tasting of chef Eric Manuel's menu was very good.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Deviled eggs w/ tobiko, house pancetta, cucumber salad, ginger dressing
Entree: Sofrito-brasied veal osso bucco w/ sweet potato puree, rapini
Dessert: Port and honey-poached pear and fig w/ Port semifreddo, vanilla wafer, graham cracker, honey sabayon

______________________

31. The Fishery ($40)

Pacific Beach is no culinary haven. But The FIshery is one of its gems, with chef Paul Arias cooking some of the best unpretentious seafood in the city. It only got better when they hired A.R. Valentien's chef de cuisine Tim Kolanko as general manager last year.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Steamed shrimp dumpling w/ fresh blood orange dipping sauce
Entree: Grilled albacore belly w/ kabocha squash and mushroom fried rice
Dessert: Coconut angel food cake w/ tropical fruit, blood orange sabayon

 

 

LA JOLLA


32. George’s California Modern (Dinner, $40)

Trey Foshee is one of the best chefs in the country. The expansive menu they're offering for Restaurant Week is an unheralded steal. Especially when it includes feelgood, super-sustainable items like grilled local sardines (don't write off the little guys til you try 'em.)

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Grilled local sardines w/ cedar, marinated mussels, aori ika (squid), wild fennel, whipped cream
Entree: Smoked Maine lobster w/ chorizo, pear, black truffle gastrique, sweet onion, Chino Farms beans
Dessert: Cider poached apples w/ honey cake, black tea custard, honey caramel, green apple sorbet

______________________

33. Whisknladle ($40)

This is where chef Ryan Johnston and owner Arturo Kassel first made their name with comfort food and craft cocktails. The original Snake Oil Cocktails—SD's first artisan cocktail supergroup—was formed at the bar. Everything's made in-house. Everything's very good, and getting better with Johnston hanging around the kitchen again more often these days.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Local halibut crudo w/ beet puree, Meyer lemon, puntarelle and Misuna
Entree: Confit of Moulard duck leg w/ crispy potatoes, savoy  spinach
Dessert: Orange cream semifreddo w/ coconut lace cookies, blood oranges and caramel

______________________

34. Nine-Ten ($40)

My first choice across the city. No one's blown my mind like Jason Knibb has. The fact that he's serving his Jamaican jerk pork belly as an appetizer for restaurant week? Well, I'd pay $40 for that dish alone.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Jamaican jerk pork belly w/ baby carrots, Swiss chard, plantains, black-eyed peas, spicy jellies and sweet potato puree
Entree: Roasted Baquetta sea bass w/ Asian pears, celery root, maitake mushrooms, celery root puree, yuzu-tangerine gastrique
Dessert: Pumpkin bon-bons w/ pumpkin gelato, devil’s food cake, spiced yogurt foam, black sesame meringue

______________________

35. Herringbone ($40)

Enlightened Hospitality Group is known mostly for the design of Searsucker, but I like this room more. Something about the old brick, arced air-hangar ceilings and the fact that they planted giant olive trees indoors. And chef Amanda Baumgarden is a talent.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Shrimp and local bass ceviche w/ housemade crackers, avocado mousse
Entree: Pan-seared, blackened Texas red fish w/ caramelized cauliflower, Concord grape, caper and Vadouvan butter
Dessert: Pumpkin and dark chocolate bread pudding w/ brownie crunch, chocolate hazelnut mousse, butterscotch

______________________

36. Seasons 52 ($30)

Along with True Food Kitchen, this is part of the new restaurant movement to create gourmet meals without the guilt. Everything on menu is under 475 calories. Alternative fats like avocado replace animal fats. I had the cedar-plank salmon at their grand opening, and I didn't miss the calories whatsoever. Plus, they're offering more food for the buck than any other spot.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Sonoma goat-cheese ravioli w/ organic tomato broth, roasted garlic, fresh sweet basil
Salad: Organic baby spinach salad w/ seasonal pears, toasted pine nuts, crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Entree: Cedar-plank roasted Pacific king salmon w/ roasted rainbow carrots, fresh asparagus, Weiser Farm roasted potatoes
Dessert: “Mini-indulgence desserts” (TBD)

______________________

37. The Grill @ The Lodge ($40)

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is one of SD's top properties. They don't skimp on talent. Sure, AR Valentien (the showroom) isn't taking part in Restaurant Week. But spending a day golfing Torrey Pines and ending with a three-courser with some craft beer doesn't suck whatsoever.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Winter squash soup w/ vanilla bean, sage and brown butter
Entree: Coq au Biere (brown ale chicken stew) w/ roasted breast, mashed potatoes and root veg
Dessert: Angel Food Cake w/ caramelized pineapple and whipped crème fraiche

______________________

38. The Marine Room (Dinner, $40)

San Diego's got two Master French Chefs, and Marine Room's Bernard Guillas is one of 'em. He and chef de cuisine Ron Oliver are globally-minded, using spices (pollens of all sorts) and techniques you don't usually see. And, yeah, the La Jolla Cove waves still massage those plate-glass windows.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Sea of Cortez crab tmbale w/ buttercup squash nectar, vanilla pearls, trout caviar
Entree: Dill pollen-spiced diver scallops and wild prawn w/ carrot-tangerine risotto, green papaya, tarragon white port reduction
Dessert: Trilogy of honey-chestnut gelato, cacao nib cordillera chocolate dome, orangecello pot de crème

______________________

39. Brockton Villa ($30)

The brunch-famous, upscale beach shack has one of the best views of La Jolla Cove. Chef Mareyja Sisbarro's "Coast Toast" is one of those must-eat entries on the SD food pantheon.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: “Epic Chowder” w/ sea clams, blue crab, bacon, Yukon potatoes, saffron cream
Entree: Lemon goat cheese Jidori chicken w/ pancetta cannellini beans, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, artichoke hearts, arugula, mustard-seed vinaigrette
Dessert: Coast Toast a la mode w/ Gelato Vera Tahitian vanilla bean

 

THE FAR EAST


40. Terra American Bistro ($30)

Jeff Rossman has been farm-to-tabling since most chefs were still trucking their frozen corn from Iowa. There's a burgeoning creative class out in La Mesa (Homes for under $2.2 million! WIth backyards!), and Rossman is the top chef serving 'em. If you're out east and would rather not spend $40 on gas to get to a $40 dinner in La Jolla, Terra is a fantastic option.

WHAT I'D ORDER...

Appetizer: Steamed Carlsbad black mussels w/ garlic, onions, peppers, cream, white wine herb broth
Entree: Karl Strauss Amber Lager-braised pot roast w/ mashed Yukon potatoes, local veggies, truffle oil
Dessert: Banana bread puddin’ w/ candied pecans, Maker’s Mark bourbon, butterscotch, whipped cream

 

 

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