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First Bites: Now Open - September 2010


[Most Wanted] It’s crude, it’s fake, and it’s completely inappropriate, but Cheez Whiz is precisely what makes eating a cheesesteak worth the calories. One oozy, unctuous bite through the hot, melted Cheez Whiz steak sandwich from Gaglione Brothers (a location on Friars Road in Allied Gardens has joined the Loma Portal original) is like a stinging slap in the face of the everything-organic dining crowd. And it hurts so good. $6.95. gaglionebros.com

[Smashburger] The attack of the national burger chains continues, with new Smashburger locations in La Jolla and Del Mar. smashburger.com

[Cosmopolitan] Chef Amy DiBiase joined the kitchen at the Old Town hotel’s renovation project late in the game (just a few weeks before the grand opening), but after tasting the local fare based on ingredients available in San Diego in the 1800s, we can say this is one move that’s better late than never. oldtowncosmopolitan.com

[R Gang Eatery] opens in the former Bu­salacchi’s space in Hillcrest, with cherubic Top Chef contestant Rich Sweeney in the kitchen making tater tots from scratch. rgangeatery.com

[Analog] brings burgers, cocktails and live-band karaoke to the Gaslamp in a so-retro remodel of the old Mister Tiki’s Mai Tai Lounge space on Fifth Avenue. analogbar.com

[Prepkitchen] Whisknladle owner Arturo Kassel opens a Del Mar location of his popular, upscale take-out joint (the original is on Fay Avenue in La Jolla). ­prepkitchen.com

[East Village Asian Diner] New York City transplants Daniel and Michina Bohlen bring Korean noodle-house recipes to Encinitas in a modern, casual diner right on Highway 101’s main drag. eateastvillage.com

[Café Madeleine] South Park’s sweet new French café around the corner from Vagabond has us craving crêpes. Master French chef Marc Ehrler and fifth-generation French chef Patrick Ponsaty (both currently at Mistral in Coronado) are flying under the radar in the kitchen, cranking out French pastries and macaroons to die for.

[Blue Ribbon Pizza] Michael Mina – trained chef Wade Hageman left the fancy fine-dining digs at Blanca that originally wooed him to San Diego (from Las Vegas) and has now opened his own artisan pizza joint in Encinitas’ Lumberyard center. We instantly loved his signature chewy pizza crust (made with organic flour and takes three days to complete) and craft beer selection. blueribbonpizzeria.com

[Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant] is now open in the former Modus location, with a menu full of local ingredients, a killer burger and nothing priced over $20. (Watch for a full review in these pages next month.) ­bankershillsd.com

[Pizza Port] Ocean Beach gets its own version of the award-winning brewery and pizza joint that’s been bringing the craft-brew experience to soccer moms and dads at three locations in North County since 1987. pizzaport.com

[El Take It Easy] Locavore purist Jay Porter (of The Linkery fame) brings his organic, sustainable-dining pursuits a few blocks north to the former Apertivo location on 30th Street. Goat meat sliders, rabbit taquitos and chilly micheladas (beer, lime, tomato, salt and spices on ice) are some of our early favorites. eltakeiteasy.com

[Searsucker] After much fanfare (and likely much more to come), Top Chef darling Brian Malarkey has opened his flagship restaurant on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street in the Gaslamp. We dig the huge, exhibition kitchen (more Malarkey!) and the $10 lunch program coming later this year. searsucker.com

[Tikul] Puerto Vallarta proprietors Alberto and Renee Perez bring their brand of coastal Mexican food to La Jolla’s restaurant row along Prospect Street (in the former Pasquale’s space). We couldn’t get enough of the ceviche with jicama, mango and passionfruit nectar and the tamarind Margaritas at the grand opening. tikul.com

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