From the Archives: San Diego Food Photography in the '70s
Feast your eyes on questionable backdrops and head-scratching cuisine from the 1970s
Left: October 1978, Right: October 1977
Page through our Best Restaurants issues of recent years and you’ll see overhead snaps of dinner tables, manicured hands reaching in, and closeups… lots of closeups. They’re all a far cry from our food photography in the late ’70s.
In the era of disco and shag carpet, our creative directors and photographers embraced overly styled, brightly lit smorgasbords. Bounties of seafood and meat against backdrops that would make modern foodies gasp. Care for a white tablecloth meal in a parking lot? Why splurge on a dinner cruise when you could just eat on an old wooden dock?
French food was having a moment in March 1979. The saumon régence from Mon Ami in North County made the cover, served whole, with what looks like red and green deviled eggs on the side. Neither can we discern what some of the mystery meats are in this interior photo from the same month (Where are the closeups when you need them?), but we can spot lemon and orange slices atop every dish.
It took until the early ’90s for us to start shooting plates from overhead. It’s fascinating to look back on how our tastes—both gustatory and artistic—have changed over the years, but at least there’s been one constant presence throughout: the wine.