Frittelle Cacio e Pepe @ Cori Pastificio
There should be a law in San Diego that prohibits big restaurants in North Park. Especially at this corner of 30th and Upas, next to all the Craftsman homes and loping grassy hills of Morley Field. This is the place for neighborhood bistros, and Cori Pastificio is a pretty great new one. Taking over the space from longtime bakery Cardamom Cafe, chef Accursio Lota (ex-Solare, and winner of the Barilla World Pasta Championships in 2017) is handmaking pastas all day. I’d order anything from this menu save for the ravioli (needs to work out the fillings a bit). Excellent. But it’s the frittelle—basically Italian doughnuts, puffed with air and then filled with a creamy cacio e pepe sauce—that is their special brand of food crack that will have locals coming back again and again, each time with slightly tighter pants.
2977 Upas St., North Park
Smoked Chicken Sandwich @ Ballast Point
At some point in the last year, America decided it loved fried chicken sandwiches. We didn’t just like them, but desperately needed them in our lives, as much as we needed sunlight and oxygen and most of our family members. The mania got so extreme that a man was stabbed to death over a Popeyes fried chicken sandwich. Nuts. Now the chicksand fever has abated and we’ve got grander concerns, but this fried chicken sandwich with Asian slaw at Ballast Point is pretty wonderful, the perfect balance of bird, fry, bread, and sauce. In case you haven’t heard, Ballast Point is back in a small business owner’s hands after a few years under the Constellation Brands umbrella. Worth a revisit.
2215 India St., Little Italy
Cabo Azul @ Javier’s
I needed new pants so I found myself at one of my all-time least favorite places, the mall. Granted, if you’re going to spend a day at a prefabricated, culturally bleached promenade of capitalism, being skeet shot by the big guns of commerce—well, UTC Westfield is my favorite place to do that. They’ve made it into a miniature city, with some of the best local and national food and drink operators. Like Javier’s. Javier’s started as a cozy little Mexican favorite in Laguna Beach. In Laguna, money spews from the tailpipes of Italian sports cars. And some of that money has been invested in the upscale-ification of Javier’s. The Westfield location is stunning, one of the most beautiful dining rooms in San Diego. It is elective-surgery expensive. I’m not sure I’ll ever return because dinner is a mortgage payment. But that ambiance—so many candles it looks like a museum, the architecture bent and warbled like a Gaudi building in Barcelona—may lure me into more poor financial decision making in the future. If you go, definitely order the “Cabo Azul,” a plate of Maine lobster enchilada, poblano chile that’s grilled and filled with shrimp and Dungeness crab, and a shrimp taco. The Maine lobster ench is especially fantastic, with a creamy pasilla sauce. It costs $42. There is a $20 minimum per person at Javier’s. Don’t worry about it, you’ll hit that just by walking in the door.
4301 La Jolla Village Dr., Suite 1000