Celebrating Misión 19’s Fifth Anniversary

By Wendy Lemlin

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When Misión 19 opened in 2011, the sophisticated, stylish restaurant was a game changer for the Tijuana dining scene.  The city was just beginning a rebound from some tough years—years when the crossborder tourist stream had slowed to barely a trickle and when even residents were less enthusiastic about going out and socializing at night. Now, five years later, Tijuana is widely acknowledged as a hot culinary destination, and chef/owner Javier Plascencia’s star is shining brighter than ever. Misión 19 has had a lot to do with that. Continue reading

Duke-ing It Out

The long-awaited Duke’s La Jolla is a winner

By Wendy Lemlin

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     I’ve always been a fan of Chef Anthony Sinsay.  Since I first tasted his creations at Harney Sushi, where he was one of San Diego’s first chefs to experiment with the then-P1150666revolutionary magic of “molecular gastronomy”, and later at the now-defunct Burlap, I’ve been more than a little in awe of his ability to coax multi-layers of flavor from relatively simple ingredients.  I was expecting great things from him at the newly opened Duke’s La Jolla, but even so, on my recent visit I was wowed by how the Exec Chef is able to let his sparkling culinary personality shine within the confines of a corporately owned restaurant group with numerous eateries in California and Hawaii. I think his creativity will be very instrumental in modernizing the traditional menus of a long standing brand. Continue reading

Bracero Brings It!

by Wendy Lemlin

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After months of delays, and about a year of anticipation, Bracero Cocina de Raiz finally opened in mid July. The first restaurant in San Diego proper by Baja mega celeb chef Javier Plascencia (Romesco in Bonita, Mision 19 and Erizo in Tijuana, and Finca Altozano in the Valle de Guadalupe) and partner Luis Peña, opened its Little Italy doors to much foodie-world buzz and advance reservations booked several months out.

Was it worth the wait? In a word, yes!

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Baja Food & Wine Week at Dobson’s

By Wendy Lemlin

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If you love the sophisticated side of Baja food and wines—or haven’t experienced it yet and want to see what all the accolades are about—-you’re in luck! All this week, from March 9-14, the iconic Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant takes diners’ palates south of the border with a four course prix fixe dinner paired with the renowned wines of the Guadalupe Valley.

Created by Chef Martin San Roman, the menu and wine pairings look like this: Continue reading

Gourmet Dining With Farmers, Friends & A Fisherman

By Wendy Lemlin

Ok, I admit it.  Life can taste pretty sweet when you’re a food writer.  It’s especially enjoyable when gourmet dining amidst great conviviality with the growers, harvesters, and curators of the delicacies on the plates in front of me.

This was the case last night (January 15) at San Diego’s Red Door Restaurant and Wine Bar for the Baja edition of their Farmers, Friends & Fisherman Dinner series, which proved so popular that seating spilled over into The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge, Red Door’s adjoining sister restaurant. The seasonal series showcases area farmers, fishermen, ranchers, and wine or spirit makers who personify Red Door’s sustainable, local and organic credo. Continue reading

Fusion Tapas at Cueva Bar

by Wendy Lemlin

Interior of Cueva Bar

Interior of Cueva Bar

Ok, so I guess I’m pretty late to the party, because, despite the fact it’s been around for a few years, I just recently discovered Cueva Bar, an absolute gem of a tapas and wine bar in University Heights.  I’d walked by it on several occasions as I was coming or going from the summer concerts at Old Trolley Barn Park, but, maybe because I don’t live in the neighborhood and am not over that way too often, I somehow missed the fact that Cueva Bar is a perfect place for tapas. And wine. And more tapas. Continue reading

A Toast to TOAST Enoteca & Cucina

by Wendy Lemlin

street view of Toast Enoteca & Cucina

Toast Enoteca & Cucina in East Village

TOAST Enoteca & Cucina, serving modern Italian Cuisine in San Diego’s East Village has been on my “must try” list for quite some time, and after finally doing so last week, I can only ask myself, “What the hell took me so long?”  It seems I’ve been seriously missing out for the four years the wine bar and restaurant has been open. Continue reading

Bravo for Zarco

By Wendy Lemlin

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I’d be willing to wager that for most of you reading this, downtown Chula Vista is not the first place you’d think of—or at all— when deciding where to go for a fantastic dinner and amazing wine selection. Yeah, me neither—that is, until my recent visit to Zarco, Cocina De Baja, in the heart of Chula Vista’s 3rd Avenue shopping district. There, among shops whose windows display the most colorful of flouncy quinceanera dresses, Chef Flor Franco has converted the commercial kitchen of her highly successful Indulge Contemporary Catering company into a first rate showcase for her take on the much acclaimed cuisine and wines of Baja California. Continue reading

Vessel Restaurant at Kona Kai Resort and Marina Reopens After Makeover

By Wendy Lemlin

Vessel, the flagship restaurant at Kona Kai Resort and Marina on Shelter Island, has set sail with a new look, a new chef, and soon, a new menu.

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Food Indigo: Indigo Grill Reborn

by Wendy Lemlin

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So—you know what it’s like when you run into someone you used to be friends with, but, for one reason or another, haven’t seen in a couple of years, and in the meantime she’s lost 25 pounds, had some major “work” done, colored her hair, completely changed her style of dressing and now, all of a sudden, is bubbling with energy and personality and looking all stylish and hot? On one level, she is still the same friend that you’ve always known and loved, but on another level you’re like, “Damn, who IS this person?”

Well, that’s how I felt when I walked through the new doors of the re-concepted and remodeled Indigo Grill on the corner of India and Cedar Streets in San Diego’s Little Italy for the restaurant’s big reveal party. First opened in 2001, Indigo Grill was one of the earlier collaborations between the Cohn Restaurant Group and Chef Deborah Scott, and for years was the only trendy, non-Italian cuisine eatery in the newly-hip neighborhood. Continue reading