Food & Wine
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The lush grounds of The Lodge at Torrey Pines (11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, 858-453- 4420; celebratethecraft.com) set the stage for Celebrate the Craft, an annual confluence of culinary innovation, winemaking and art. This year’s festival, on November 2, includes demonstrations by chefs from San Diego’s top res - taurants, as well as growers, vintners, plein-air painters and culinary artisans from up and down the state.
Fresh Fish Tacos
For years, South Beach Bar & Grill (5059 Newport Avenue, Suite 104, Ocean Beach, 619 226-4577; southbeachob.com) has served some of the best grilled mahimahi, shrimp, shark and lobster tacos. Sit at the bar and gaze out the window at the pier as surfers, bikers and other curious O.B. denizens pass by.
Greek with a Gallery
Born in Jerusalem and educated as an attorney in Beirut, artist and restaurateur Ibrahim Al-Nashashibi didn’t pick up a paintbrush until he was 38. Today, his colorful abstract art lines the walls of his family-run Fairouz Café (3166 Midway Drive, Suite 102, 619-225- 0308; alnashashibi.com/cafe.htm). Muse over Middle Eastern scenes while sampling lamb meatballs, chicken with saffron and Lebanese pickled turnips.
The Naked Café (106 South Sierra Avenue, Solana Beach, 858-259- 7866; thenakedcafe.com) is a total surfers’ hangout, so you know, dude, it’s got to be natural and healthy. The vibe is way laid-back, the patio offers an ocean view, and on crowded weekends there is typically a wait for in-demand items like banana-blackberry pancakes, sunrise burritos and greentea lattes.
Peasant Soup and Pithy Russian Reads
The soft, candlelit ambience and hearty Russian-Georgian flavors of stroganoff and peasant soup dazzle the senses at Pectopah Pomegranate (2302 El Cajon Boulevard, 619-297-4007). Sage quotes from Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoevsky and other Russian scribes fill every available inch of wall and ceiling space, along with a haiku or two from inspired guests.
Li’l Kobe Sliders
San Diego’s most sumptuous Kobe sliders await you at the Guild Restaurant & Lounge (1805 Newton Avenue, 619-564-7584; theguildrestaurant.com), tucked into a quiet street of faded bungalows in the shadow of the Coronado Bridge. The mouth-watering mini-patties are served on grilled artisan bread with Humboldt Fog cheese, avocado, tomato, basil and arugula aioli.
Pitch-Black Palate Pleaser
San Diego’s most enigmatic dining experience, Opaque, has a new home at the W Hotel (421 West B Street, 800-710-1270; ). Guests order before being led by blind and vision- impaired servers into total darkness. Here, flavors and aromas are heightened in the absence of sight. To add to the intrigue, guests can opt not to know which entrée chef Vikram Katoch has prepared for them.
At its new 165-seat North Park locale (3794 30th Street, 619-255- 8778; ), the Linkery serves the town’s tastiest gour - met sausage, bratwurst and hot dogs. The selection changes daily and may include Viennese-street kasekrainer (cheese dogs), pork bratwurst and grass-fed beef dogs wrapped in homemade bacon.
Get the Spirit Gospel Brunch
Gospel acts from around the region deliver the Word every Sunday at the House of Blues (1055 Fifth Avenue, downtown, 619-299- 2583; hob.com/venues/club venues/gospelbrunch.asp). Feed your soul and fill your plate with cornbread muffins, smoked salmon, Southern jambalaya and white chocolate–banana bread pudding. Seating starts at 11 a.m.
The gelato at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara (7100 Four Seasons Point, Carlsbad, 760-603-6800) is made from scratch, and special batches are created with seasonal ingredients. Summer options include strawberry, peach and pistachio, and some flavors are sugar-free. Sit in the exquisite Lobby Lounge and split one order ($10), which includes three scoops and a biscotti. Get your valet parking ticket validated, and the whole outing, including tip, costs $15 tops.
Dark Chocolate Indulgence
At Chi Chocolat in Little Italy (2021 India Street, 619-501-9215; chichocolat.com), antioxidantrich dark-cocoa truffles are savored like fine wine, sold separately or in “flights” with similar characteristics. Every bite is an explosion of simple yet compelling flavors, such as cardamom, chile tangerine and luscious lavender caramel.
Wine Steals’ rustic, relaxed atmosphere went over so well in Hillcrest, a Point Loma location was opened last year at newly renovated Liberty Station (2970 Truxtun Road, 619-221-1959; winestealssd.com). An oenophile’s paradise, Wine Steals offers a great selection of hard-to- find wines at reasonable prices. Corkage fees are waived Monday nights for any bottle consumed in-house. On Saturdays, 4-6:30 p.m., guests can sample more than 25 wines for $10.