Main Dish for November
Notes, news, must-taste events, and more
Bibimbap @ Chon Ju Jip
When San Diegans think Korean food, they expect a grill in the middle of their table. This is not that restaurant. I’ve been hard-pressed to find better bibimbap. The Korean classic—rice, noodles, spinach, veggies, your choice of protein—is served on a hot cast-iron plate, which cooks down at the table. The place is tiny—so show up early, or be patient. 4373 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
Pho @ Lucky Seafood
This spot is like a sidecar attached to Lucky Seafood supermarket in Mira Mesa. Quickest service in the world. Whereas other pho spots suffer from vague-tasting broth, Lucky’s pho is one of the richest, beefiest versions in the city. Pho is relatively hard to mess up, but if forced at gunpoint I’d name this my favorite in SD. 9326 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Mira Mesa
Champon @ Izakaya Sakura
A renovation has brightened up this Convoy staple. Still no sign outside (it’s next to the Marine Recruitment Center). The ramen is excellent, though I prefer the champon—a Nagasaki noodle dish you don’t find everywhere, with fresh baby squid, naruto, huge fresh pea pods, and killer broth. Just think of it like ramen spruced up with a creamier broth and more fixings. 3904 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
Nov. 2-11, Beer Week @ Various locations
Beer is the new Shamu in San Diego. A top-tier attraction, splash zone included. And San Diego Beer Week is a citywide celebration of the local crafters—whether it be Stone, Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Lost Abbey or Societe. There will be events for barrel-aged beers, sour beers, Belgians and ales and, well, everything. With over 350 events planned at various spots throughout San Diego County, it’s pointless to go into specifics.
Nov 13, 7-10 PM, Sinatra’s Supper @ Quality Social
Despite their tough, just-off-main location, Quality Social has proven it’s got staying power by constantly evolving. Last year they hired a new GM, chef de cuisine and a wine list designed by Jason Wagner (former wine director of NYC’s L’Atelier de Joel Rubochon). “Sinatra’s Supper” will be a recurring monthly ode to the Rat Pack’s underground supper club of the 50s, The Stork Club. A Sinatra-style crooner will entertain while diners take in a family-style feast of ye olden menu: oysters on the half shell (with Meyer lemon granita), Waldorf-style squash salad, fried chicken, pot roasts, milkshakes, devils’ food cakes, and brown cocktails aplenty. Reservations required.
Nov 28, 7 PM, Autumn Harvest Dinner @ Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge
Haven’t been to Coronado recently because it’s far and it seems as though you need an invite from a family that’s lived there for six generations? It’s OK. They play a lot of water polo, but Coronadoans don’t bite. Leroy’s is one of the few relatively new food spots on the island requiring a visit. Chef Gregory Chavez is hosting a five-course fall harvest dinner alongside Crow’s Farms owners. Expect Tahitian squash gnocchi, crispy skin sablefish, California quail two-ways, Brandt hangar steak and ricotta cannoli. With wine pairings for $60 a person? Steal.
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Just months after leaving Kitchen 1540 to become a partner at Delicias, chef Paul McCabe announced he’s leaving again to become executive chef of La Valencia, which is undergoing a massive overhaul. Sky Room chef Luke Johnson will remain, although the fate of the Sky Room is still up in the air with the re-concept
Red Light District in the Gaslamp, helmed by chef Jason Maitland, has closed. The space will be re-concepted and opened in January. No word on Maitland’s status at press time.
Brian Malarkey and James Brennan (Searsucker, Burlap, Herringbone, etc.) have opened Green Acre in Torrey Pines. Designed as a health-food oasis for the scientific community at Nautilus life-science campus, Green Acre is a twist on the workplace food-revolution seen at the likes of Google.
Rancho Valencia’s $30 Million overhaul is now complete and signature dining room Veladora is open to the public. The design is unsurprisingly inspired, including an original piece by famed British artist Damien Hirst. The bar, an equestrian hangout named The Pony Room, will have over 100 tequilas, plus California’s first Prosecco on tap.
Tracy Borkum—who brought Cucina Urbna to Bankers Hill—has announced she’ll bring her other concept, Cucina Enoteca, to Flower Hill Promenade. Going into the old Chevy’s, it’ll be a vintage feast for the eyes. She’ll even be selling the design elements at the restaurant and online, a response to customers who’ve wowed over her found-object décor.
Across the street, Urban Plates is spinning off a pizza joint concept called Urban Pie. It’ll be wood-fired fare in line with UP’s healthier, organic-style food, going into the former Pasta Pronto space.
Johnny Rivera, half of the team behind weird-funky-cool spots Hash House-A-Go-Go and The Tractor Room, has signed on to take over Brian’s American Eatery in Hillcrest. He’s planning a “Euro dinette” that will bring the classic late-night hangout back to glory.
At Liberty Station, chef Michael Alves has collaborated with a few local heavy hitters—chef Pete Balistreri (Tender Greens), chef Craig Jiminez (ex-Craft & Commerce) and Cohn Group sommelier Maurice DiMarino—to create the Portuguese-Italian spot, Roseville Cozinha. Expect fresh seafood galore to honor Loma’s fishing repute, plus wood-fired pies, craft beers, vino and cocktails.
It was announced this week that massive Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chao is taking over most of the bottom floor of Downtown’s abandoned Borders (6th and G Streets). They’ll sap up 11,000-plus square feet, but that leaves still 20,000 remaining to be leased. So expect more news from this space soon.
Tender Greens continues to expand their organic salad-and-charcuterie empire, signing on to take over the Greyhound bus station on Broadway in Downtown (next to the Sofia Hotel).
Ex-El Vitral chef Norma Martinez is set to open Chaplos in the next week or so. Located at 10th and B Streets, it’ll be a “vintage American” menu with oysters galore, bone-in rib eyes, shrimp cocktails, etc.—all tweaked with Martinez’s French-Mexican flair. The bar (a big, ornate beauty poached from SD classic Fat City) will have wines on tap, a trend that’s not going away.
Downtown, celeb chef Kevin Roberts—cookbook author, this year’s consulting chef for the New York Yankees, and former host of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters—has hatched plans for Kamikaze 7 in the former Seashore Gallery space. It’ll be a raucous sushi joint that ignores sushi’s monastic reputation, with 15 different kinds of sake bombs, a resident DJ, and a NYC designer who created Jay Z’s headquarters.