North County food news
The newly refreshed Flower Hill Promenade is North County’s newest mini-mecca for foodies. The news of Tracy Borkum turning the 7,000-square-foot Chevys eyesore into Cucina Enoteca this spring elicited a collective culinary cheer, and now chef Matt Gordon’s announcement that he will take over the former Paradise Grill space with Sea & Smoke also adds more fire to the food scene. Forging a new path from the Solace duo, this third restaurant will take a modern spin on American comfort foods, with a wood-fired oven as a centerpiece. Bells & Whistles will redesign the spacious indoor/outdoor setting into an airy brasserie upstairs and garden lounge and bar scene downstairs, so we can enjoy Gordon’s compelling cuisine and classic cocktails made with small-batch spirits this summer. Del Martians will also be able to get their grass-fed beef fix at the new Burger Lounge come early April. flowerhill.com
Look for AVANT to open in May at Rancho Bernardo Inn, replacing the ever-so formal El Bizcocho with a $2.5-mil contemporary redesign and seasonally driven menu helmed by executive chef Nicolas Bour and new chef de cuisine James Kozak, a Charlie Trotter’s Chicago alum. 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, Rancho Bernardo
Encinitas now has the first Native Foods Café in San Diego (three more locations are on their way). The “plant-based” restaurant serves vegan meals—all under $10. 127 North El Camino Real, Encinitas
Across from Flower Hill in the Albertson’s center, the Lululemon crowd and equestrian set are lining up at bBar Del Mar for superfood smoothies and chef Susan Sbicca’s healthy eats, like kale and quinoa salad. Urban Pi has replaced Pasta Pronto as a counter walk-up for organic salads and create-your-own Neapolitan-style pizzas with organic crust, organic wines, organic beers, and decadent “Sweet Pis,” like butterscotch pudding and pineapple-toasted-coconut-caramel pie.
Solana Beach finally has a worthy haunt, REAL, opened by a third-generation San Diego family, the Urquharts, who are determined to serve the perfect pizza, salad, and burger. Son Mark studied with famed pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani from Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, and brought in two ovens, one for artisan pies and the other for Neapolitan-style ’za that cooks in high heat for only 90 seconds. REAL has 12 striking salads designed by an editor at Bon Appetit, and a bar for cocktails and craft beer. 124 South Hills Drive
Flower Hill Feast!
Goodbye, Chevys fajitas. Hello, chef-y entrées and gourmet-to-go.