Main Dish for September
Notes, news, must-taste events, and more
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Welcome to the Jungle @ Cusp
Welcome to the Jungle @ Cusp.
The restaurant formerly known as Elario’s/Clay’s/The Grill is now Cusp—brought to you by the progressive, funky, eco-minded Kimpton Hotels (Hotel Palomar, Solamar). The redesign put some life into the old gal, and that 11th floor view is, for my money, the best in La Jolla (Soledad to the left, Shores basin below, water out front). Go after sundown, sip a Welcome to the Jungle cocktail (Banks Rum, Green Chartreuse, Demerera, fresh lime, egg whites & creme de violette) and have a jesus-I-live-here moment. 7955 La Jolla Shores Dr., 858.551.3620, cusprestaurant.com
Chicken Tsukune @ Yakitori Yakyudori
Meatballs on a stick. That’s essentially what tsukune is at Japanese izakayas like Yakitori. Theirs are especially good, the meat ground into a very fine, smooth consistency and grilled over the famed binchotan (pure, flavorless charcoal). Order it with ample sochu (try the barley version, more robust than rice or sweet potatoes) and Japanese businessmen blowing off steam. 4898 Convoy St., 858.268.2888
Lamb Barbacoa @ Aqui Es Texcoco
No, it doesn’t look like much—a Chula Vista strip mall with some fast food-ish restaurant design. But Aqui Es Texcoco’s lamb barbecue is a tradition I have to eat every summer when I crave smoke rings on my meat. Each order of super-juicy lamb comes with tortillas, salsas, lemon, cilantro and onion, plus some lamb broth. It’s a Mexican tradition, and my own. 1043 Broadway, 619.427.4045, aquiestexcoco.com
San Diego Restaurant Week
The Big Chicken
Free chicken! Everyone knows the way to test a real chef is to order the chicken—that empty canvas of a protein. If you can make the bland bird sing, then you’ve got skills. The alpha restaurants of Del Mar Hightlands (Burlap, Rimel’s, Mia Francesca, Davanti, Sammy’s, will chicken-off in the parking lot. I usually prefer my chicken in a bucket with a spork, and I will bring that prejudice to the event as a judge. All attendees will be able to taste and judge as well.
Sept. 15, 2012 | 2PM to 4PM
Del Mar Highlands Town Center (Second Level)
12955 El Camino Real
San Diego Restaurant Week
Spearheaded by Ingrid Croce, the SD Restaurant Week is one of the trailblazers of its kind in the US. Concept is simple. Restaurants set up three-course tasting menus and charge drastically less than they normally would. It gets newbies in the door, makes friends, lets you try something that might otherwise be a little spendy. And the “Week” part of the name is a joke at this point. Expect a notice saying “It’s been extended another week!”
Sept. 16-Sept. 21
Lunch $10-$20, Dinner $20-$40
San Diego Festival of Beer
It’s a collection of hops guts, all in the name of fighting cancer. San Diego Professionals Against Cancer host this little beer Mardi Gras every year, with some of the nation’s top craft brewers and local blues bands like Len Rainey & The Midnight Players. Feels liberating to walk down a municipal street, flagrantly drinking a stout.
Sept. 21 | 6PM to 11PM
Columbia & B Strees, Downtown