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Info Tapas

News from San Diego's restaurant and bar scene.


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The Howlin' Wolf cocktail, part of Grant Grill's new menu dedicated to music legends.

Wade Hageman can cook. The one-time white tablecloth chef has become an Encinitas icon since opening his pizza joint, Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria. After that, he did a more full dining concept a bit east with The Craftsman. His foray into Hillcrest didn’t work so well (a story told by numerous, numerous restaurateurs who don't own Baja Betty/Urban Mo's/Gossip Grill). But now he’s announced he’s next concept—Open House, a riff on Asian flavors with his take on yakitori (Japanese barbecue), ramen, and poke. He’s secured the former spot of El Callejon, which passed into the restaurant afterlife in January after 22 years in business. It’s scheduled to open by the end of the summer…

Everyone’s favorite pork joint, Carnitas Snack Shack, is finally looking ready to open at the Embarcadero this spring. This space (1004 N. Harbor Dr.) will have cocktails from San Diego’s RMD Group (Fluxx, Sidebar, Rusted Root) and tons of outdoor waterside seating….

Hey, Del Mar. New chef in town for you guys this spring. Steven Lona is relocating from the L.A. area, the former exec chef of Bistro 45 (Pasadena) and worked under James Boyce and Craig Strong at Montage in Laguna Beach. He’s part of the team opening Tasting Room Del Mar (next to the Starbucks at 15th Street and Camino Del Mar) with a talented wine connoisseur in Rusti Gilbert, formerly of Addison at Grand Del Mar, which is like the Coachella of sommeliers…

I love Carlsbad. But its food and drink scene has needed to wake up and smell the decade for a while. It’s got some standouts, like Land & Water Co. (one of the best sustainable seafood chefs in San Diego in Rob Ruiz). But the most exciting opening-to-be is Campfire—creator John Resnick was one of the main faces and brains that helped Consortium Holdings (Craft & Commerce, Ironside) develop into a top-notch food and drink company. He’s hired Bells and Whistles to design his new 6,000 square-foot space, which will include a Quonset hut, for that post-WWII barracks drinking vibe. Carlsbad will be better off for this one, slated for sometime mid-2016…

I was mixed on my review of The Hake on Prospect Street a couple years ago, but have since returned and had some seriously good dishes (their ahi taco with jicama tortilla is pretty fantastic). And not a week goes by if someone asks proudly if I’ve tried the place. Well, now they’re adding 2,000 square feet to their subterranean semi-ocean perch, which means they’ll have a new outdoor dining space and an ocean view. Trying to do business on Prospect without an ocean view is like trying to do business on Morena Boulevard without a stripper pole…

Pizzeria Mozza’s sad and not terribly surprising demise at The Headquarters was big news. Now its replacement is nearly ready for business (early March). Flour & Barley is a concept from our bedazzled brethren in Vegas that does brick oven pizzas, plus Italian apps and over 150 draft, bottle and canned beers….

Westgate Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in Downtown San Diego. Looks like a fossilized doily, in a good way. They just announced their second annual Spirit of Baja Dinner, which’ll take place on April 15—inviting chef Javier Plascencia (Bracero, and new James Beard nominee) to collaborate with Westgate’s talented chef, Fabrice Hardel on a meal. Mezcal reception, Baja wines. You can buy tickets here.

Now that the craft beer movement is into its 30s, its expanding its horizons. No longer is it “just a lot of hops plus fermentation and a beard.” We’re seeing lighter beers, sour beers, and now, especially, citrus beers like Grapefruit Sculpin. Now one of my favorite breweries in San Diego, Green Flash, just announced its new lineup under new brewer Erik Jensen, and he’s got a Passionfruit Kicker (American Wheat Ale with passion fruit), a “Soul Style” (tangerine India pale ale). They’re also releasing “Cosmic Ristretto” this Friday, a Baltic Porter with espresso and Candico, a caramelized Belgian candy sugar. For more on the new lineup, click here

The other release of note is from the ever-awesome Lost Abbey. They’ve partnered with North Carolina's Wicked Weed Brewing and tomorrow (Feb. 24) will release the finished product—Ad Idem, a French oak-aged golden sour ale with peaches and brett. It’s a blend, between a brettanomyces blond ale and a sour blond ale, aged in neutral wine barrels with whole, local peaches…

Everyone likes a free meal. And Leap Year babies (those of you born on Feb. 29, feeling like you don’t exist every three out of four years) get a free one from the Hard Rock Café on Feb. 29….

I love pairing dinners, mostly because I like food and drink. But I also like poking fun of pairing dinners. And that’s what San Diego band Splavender will do on March 18 at Mike Hess Brewing. Instead of pairing the beers with food, the beers will be paired with original Splavender songs written for the beer. For example, the Honeysuckle & Sho’Nuff Beer, a rye imperial stout, will be paired with a deep, contemplative groovy synth song. Sounds absolutely ridiculous. I like ridiculous...

San Diego Magazine’s cocktail feature is coming out in the March issue. In there, I express extreme admiration for Grant Grill and mad-scientist cocktail guy Jeff Josenhans, who has ushered a slew of “firsts” into San Diego’s cocktail scene. However, more needs to be said about the Grill’s “chef de bar,” Cory Alberto. Well, now’s the chance to see his work. He just released a menu of cocktails inspired by his favorite musicians, including Howlin’ Wolf (Johnny Walker Red, cane sugar, chocolate, bitters and cigar foam), Ella Fitzgerald (Remy Martin 1738, Crème Yvette, rose water, tangerine, prosecco), Dick Dale (Mt. Gay Black Barrel US Grant Blend Rum, El Silencio mezcal, La Gitana sherry, tarragon orgeat, lime, pineapple, tiki bitters and a splash of absinthe), plus boozy odes to B.B. King, Ali Farka and Preservation Hall (the legendary venue in N’Awlins)…

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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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