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Main Dish for February


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HOT DISHES

Antecuchos @ Qero.

Unless slow-roasting a coworker, it’s hard to find a food with more taboo thrill than skewered animal heart. In Peru, the local specialty is anticuchos—a street food sold at every cart with a heat source. At Encinitas’ Q’ero, chef-owner Monica Szepesy marinates it in garlic, oregano, cumin, red wine vinegar, olive oil and aji panca (a Peruvian pepper sauce) for 24 hours, then serves it with either huacatay ocopa (a wonderful basil-esque sauce) or chichi morada (purple corn) glaze. It was Szepesy’s anticuchos that floored a largely Anglo Saxon, aorta-leary crowd at Celebrate the Craft a few years ago. Now a special-event item, she’s agreed to reprise the dish this month for SD Mag readers. It is Valentine’s, after all. Qerorestaurant.com

Cotechino Sausage-Stuffed Squid @ Prepkitchen

Until now, Prepkitchen has been a casual, understated little brother to Whisknladle—the La Jolla restaurant where chef Ryan Johnston and owner Arturo Kassel made their name. But the third Prep, opened this week in Little Italy, is a sprawling, elaborately designed stunner that rivals the mother ship. PK’s upstairs location on the corner of India and Date Streets boasts pane-glass views of the action below. The pork belly tacos—in mini corn tortillas with grilled pineapple, radish, queso fresco, onions and cilantro—are killer. But the cotechino sausage-stuffed squid is a real mindblower. Johnston jams the Italian sausage into large hulls of squid meat as if it was a bell pepper, then tops it with puttanesca and breadcrumb salsa. Makes fried calamari look like a slacker. Prepkitchen.com/little-italy

Lamb Doner @ Kebab Shop

San Diego’s hip lil’ kebabery is taking over. The East Village lunch favorite has spawned three more locations in Mira Mesa, Encinitas and, now, Little Italy. Just opened in the former Spicy Pickle spot, their famed lamb doner kebabs are perfect alternative if suffering from burrito overload. Spit-roasted shavings of lamb (or beef or chicken) go into flatbread with heaps of fresh produce (cucumbers, lettuce, tomato) and a garlic-bombed yogurt sauce that will realign your chakras. For a meal that’ll fill you up for six or seven days, try the Iskender—a pie-dish of buttery pita bread and lamb with tomato sauce. (Note: Be sure to apply generous amounts of their herb mix, located on each table.) thekebabshop.com.

NEWS

One of the restaurateurs behind Chocolat and Osetra have teamed up with Nobu San Diego’s head sushi chef and plan to open SD’s first high-end Japanese-Italian restaurant Downtown. 

Chef Wade Hageman’s Blue Ribbon Pizzeria is gearing up for their second location in Encinitas. 

L.A.’s legendary Border Grill is aggressively looking for their first spot in San Diego

Kimpton has hired famed designer Guila Jonsdottir of G+ Design to overhaul the restaurant at La Jolla Hotel

Yet another Sushi Ota protégé has opened a sushi joint in Downtown—soon to be a staple for the harbor crowd. 

North Park’s historic Lafayette Hotel just got an overhaul by local design firm Bells & Whistles, with chef Hanis Cavin (Carnitas Snack Shack) consulting on the restaurant. 

Terra’s owner-chef is opening a farm-to-table breakfast and burger joint in Mission Valley. 

Downtown’s Quality Social got a serious overhaul, with a big-shot GM, new chef de cuisine, top-notch wine program. The works. 

Is Tom Ham’s Lighthouse next on the “Remodeled San Diego Classics” list, a la Bali Hai? 

Now open: Raglan Public House, the new pub in Ocean Beach designed by Michael Soriano and owned by the guys behind Bare Back Grill. Corner of Niagara and Bacon Streets.

Bo Beau and Kemo Sabe in North County?

The owners of PB Sushi are expanding Downtown with Ogawashi, going into the former Red Zone Sports Bar. Twitter.com/Ogawashi5c

High-end chef Chris Sayre has bolted from Paradise Grill and will open Taco Banh in the former Hillcrest location of Café Vergnano. Tacos meet banh mi (Korean sammies) and farm-to-table, with craft beer. Somewhat like L.A.’s famed food truck, Kogi, without wheels. He plans to stay open late, giving La Posta a run for its money. Tacobanh.com

Lamont Street Grill, the iconic little restaurant in P.B., is set to undergo a remodel and reopen as The Patio on Lamont. facebook.com/ThePatioSD

Underbelly will officially expand into the upstairs with a Japanese whiskey and raw bar. With oysters, they’re looking to give a center-city alternative to Oceanaire’s famed happy hour. Godblessunderbelly.com

EVENTS

FEB. 10 
Dinner on the Diamond @ Petco Park.

Ever look at the Petco Park outfield and think, “Man, I’d love to throw a dinner party on that immaculate grass”? Dinner on the Diamond is your chance. The Padres fundraiser for youth baseball starts with cocktails at shortstop, then out to the centerfield grass for dinner and dancing. $200 and up. www.padres.com/awardsdinner.

FEB. 21
Barrel and the Beast @ Alchemy

It’s a four-course brew-and-chew as one of South Park’s best farm-to-table eateries, Alchemy, teams up with neighbor and legendary beer-bar, Hamilton’s Tavern, team-up for the first in a series of pairing dinners. $75. alchemysandiego.com.

ANY SATURDAY OR SUNDAY
Brunch @ Craft & Commerce

When Arsalun Tafazoli and Nate Stanton opened the arty Little Italy hangout, they spoke of wanting to have a killer brunch scene like other gastro-cities (New York, SF). Now it’s on. Their Bloody Mary is fantastic, with a big bolt of heat. Chef Craig Jiminez is serving up dishes like the jalapeno-glazed biscuit sammy with lamb sausage, ham, spicy queso and egg. If you’re not sure if you’d like to perk up or stay hazy, try their Stumptown Coffee cocktail with white rum and coconut syrup. Craft-commerce

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